CBI Chief Heaps Praise on Blair; Marshall Encouraged by Economic Policy

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Praise for the Government's economic and business policy came last night from the Confederation of British Industry - usually one of the most critical voices against Labour.

CBI president Sir Colin Marshall described the relationship between his organisation and Mr Tony Blair's Government as a "largely mutual philosophy".

Sir Colin said the CBI had been encouraged by the Government's approach to the economy and he hoped the Fairness at Work White Paper on workers' rights and union recognition would prompt co-operation rather than confrontation in the workplace.

The White Paper, published last week, should not be a "political pig prod," he warned.

Sir Colin, addressing the CBI's annual dinner in London, where Mr Blair was the guest of honour, also urged the Prime Minister to continue to regard the battle against inflation as a top economic priority.

The British Airways chairman expressed satisfaction with the Government's approach to the economy.

He said: "The economy was our principal pre-election concern, but we have been encouraged by the way the Chancellor has seen eye-to-eye with the CBI when it comes to stability, sustainability and economic development.

"Central to our largely mutual philosophy is the need to combat and control inflation, ahead of almost all other economic considerations."

On the Fairness at Work White Paper, which last week laid out the Government's plans for new employee rights and trade union recognition arrangements, Sir Colin insisted that in most instances its provisions should be no more than a back-up to voluntary agreements.

"I believe it is very important not to take this legislation in isolation, but to consider it against the background of what is really happening in the workplace. That is, by and large, productive partnerships between employers and trade unions. …