Tuesday, 2 May 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Lemass: The Taoiseach made a comprehensive statement on the reasons for the introduction of the Prices and Incomes (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1970, and on the circumstances under which it was withdrawn, in winding up the debate on 17th  December, 1970, on the Estimate for his Department. The Taoiseach stated that while the Bill was before the Dáil the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish Employers Confederation informed the Government that they were prepared to ratify a national agreement on wages and salaries, and that plans were being made for the formal signature of the agreement. He said that, while the agreement provided for increases greater than the Government would wish in the light of the economic situation, they believed that a voluntary agreement resulting from free collective bargaining was, if it had regard to the national interest, preferable to solutions imposed by legislation.
He said further that the provisions in the proposed agreement for curbing the use of strikes or other industrial action held out real hope for greater industrial peace. He indicated that, despite its faults, the Government were prepared to accept the agreement then proposed as being on balance in the national interest, if it were observed in the letter and spirit with which it had been negotiated. The Taoiseach indicated that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions had asked that the Prices and Incomes (Temporary Provisions) Bill be withdrawn in order to enable them to ratify the proposed agreement in accordance with a direction given by a special delegate conference, and had given a firm assurance that they intended the agreement to work. The employers had, the Taoiseach said, asked that some legislative arrangement be available to protect the agreement. The Government, after careful consideration, and bearing in mind particularly the assurance given by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, had, the Taoiseach said, decided to withdraw the Bill.
The Taoiseach indicated that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions had  asked that the Prices and Incomes (Temporary Provisions) Bill be withdrawn in order to enable them to ratify the proposed agreement in accordance with a direction given by a special delegate conference.
Mr. Tully: Will the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the decision to withdraw the Bill was not made because of the fact that if it was not done the agreement could not be signed? In other words, does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the statement which has been made that the Government forced the unions to make this agreement is not correct and that, in fact, it was a voluntary agreement entered into and had nothing to do with the withdrawal of the Bill? It was withdrawn by the Government on their own account.
Mr. Lemass: There was a request from the ICTU and also from the employers federation for some legislative protection for the agreement and the Government decided that it was in the national interest to withdraw the Bill at that time.
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