- (1) For the purpose of the settlement of trade disputes in manner provided by this Act there shall be a standing industrial Court, consisting of persons to be appointed by the Minister of Labour (in this Act referred to as "the Minister"), of whom some shall be independent persons, some shall be persons representing employers, and some shall be persons representing workmen.
- (2) A member of the Industrial Court shall hold office for such term as may be fixed by the Minister at the time of his appointment.
- (3) For the purpose of dealing with any matter which may be referred to it the Court shall be constituted of such of the members of the Court as the Minister may by order, given either generally or specially, direct.
- (4) The president of the Court, and the chairman of any division of the Court, shall be such person, being one of the independent persons aforesaid, as the Minister may by order, given either generally or specially, direct.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I take it that the first four Amendments on the Paper are all of the same nature, and therefore I suggest that we should take the discussion on the first Amendment.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "a standing."
I think your ruling, Mr. Chairman, will make it simpler for us to state our case. I would like, first of all, to refer to a statement made by the Leader of the Labour party which, I think, was completely misunderstood, and upon it a great deal depends. My right hon. Friend said that when this Bill had emerged from the Committee stage there would be a conference of trade union leaders who would decide their attitude towards the Bill when it reached the Report stage. The question may be put, "Why not let this Bill pass through Committee?" Our reply must be that we may certainly anticipate the continual and determined hostility of that conference to this Bill unless 124 in its Committee stages it is very materially improved from our point of view. We thought that improvement could best be secured by separating the dissimilar parts of the Bill, and now that the House has decided that question we ask the Committee to assist those of us who are seriously seeking the peace of industry and the erection of the best machinery to secure it. We ask for assistance in so improving this Bill as to make it acceptable to the conference which will take place in the course of a very few days.
I have argued during previous stages of this discussion, and in this I think the Minister of Labour wholly agrees, that your work of arbitration very largely depends upon the personnel of the Courts that you create and mould. The law of this country stands high in the regard of the great majority of Englishmen, and it does so because of the uniform impartiality displayed in its application and administration. This Bill is really proposing to supplement the law, or, rather, to be a law within a law to establish Courts that will have very great powers, at least in regard to those who come before them, whether they come voluntarily or in response to public pressure. Therefore, it is all-important that the personnel of those great Industrial Courts should not be merely above suspicion but should be of such a character as to invite people to come before them to have their cases decided. As a rule, before the ordinary Courts of law people now only go to them when they are driven, or when there is come element of compulsion in respect of a dispute about property which drives people before the ordinary Civil Courts. By here you are proposing to establish a third form of Court, namely, an Industrial Court, and the expectation will be, if you do establish these Courts, that people will make the fullest use of them.
The complicated character of these thousands of occupations which are carried on 125 to-day inevitably occasion almost every hour of the day some dispute in industry, and we are fortunate in having so many of these disputes amicably settled either by negotiation or by methods of arbitration. The Minister of Labour informed the House last week during an earlier stage of this Bill that there were some 800 instances where Arbitration Courts had given awards, and that only in three had those awards been set aside and the men had struck work against the awards. I think it is important that we should constitute our Courts in such a form and in regard to personnel in such a manner as to attract these quarrelling parties and not merely establish confidence, but that gradually there should be evolved a habit of mind to go before those boards which by their constitution and personnel have become recognised as proper places for referring these differences for settlement. I am sure that no one, speaking on these matters, can express himself in terms which would cover absolutely the whole variety of views which exist in the trade union mind. There are some who believe that it would be better that the trade unions should not have the appointment of representatives even in the sense of having the right to suggest certain persons not to say actually elect them or choose them on these Courts. There are others who have no confidence in the Court unless they feel that their side is specifically and definitely represented. Those who hold that view do so because they say that many of these awards depend upon the knowledge of the Court of the circumstances under which the claims have arisen.
I have acted upon a dozen or so arbitration Courts dealing with a very great variety of occupations, and the arbitrator is fortunate whose experience has given him some very general knowledge which I do not claim to have in excess of any other man, but the arbitrator is fortunate who has had a very varied experience of the inner workings of a large number of our trades and industries, because when he comes to give judgment he gives it with a greater knowledge of the circumstances and the causes out of which the claims have arisen, and therefore the working-class view in the main, though not unanimous, is that the Courts ought to be so constituted as to include persons who will have a practical knowledge by their past experience or association or attachment of these different industries to qualify 126 them for giving a decision upon the questions which have to be settled. We would like in all these instances that whether men are drawn from the employers' or the workmen's side they should keep in mind that they are there in the capacity of judges to a great extent, and they should imitate the judges who sit upon other benches in the higher Court in applying as large a measure as possible of the judicial mind which has distinguished the Courts of this country.
Next to striving after a fair decision a knowledge of the industrial circumstances and the conditions under which claims have arisen is of very great assistance to those who have these cases to decide. For these reasons I should like the right hon. Gentleman, in the early stages of our discussion on this Amendment, to indicate his intentions, because the Bill as it is appears to me to prohibit entirely the appointment of all such persons. I do not question the motive or criticise the wisdom which has been exhibited in the case of previous appointments so far as Arbitration Courts have been set up, but they wore temporary, and they were merely experiments. Here is a Bill proposing to make permanent a new and important feature in the industrial affairs of this country, and therefore it is essential that at the very beginning the personnel of these Courts should be so arranged as not only to retain confidence but actually to attract persons into the Arbitration Courts in order that quarrels should be settled in the Courts rather than be settled by strikes and stoppage of work.
Those of us who have responsibilities in relation to this Bill have been misunderstood in our efforts to state fairly the trade union position, and I hope I shall not be ruled out of order if I deal very briefly with this point. We say that this matter ought not to be hurried, and we have pointed out that trade unions exist in hundreds and cover millions of members, and they have not yet had an opportunity of dealing with these questions and have not been brought together to consider them. The answer given to us is to the effect that we ought to raise ourselves out of the position of representing our trade unions into the position of representing our constituents. The answer to that is that this Bill proposes to deal mainly, if not solely, with the conduct of trade unions. The words "trade 127 unions" may not be found in the Bill, but when the Bill was being drafted the Minister and his assistants would be thinking every moment in the terms of trade unionism and in the terms of these organisations. The argument, therefore, does not apply with the same force which in ordinary circumstances it would do when hon. Members of this House desire to consult their constituents. As soon as this Bill is put through, it will be applied to trade unions and employers' associations only, and we think that we are best serving the public and national interest when we try to get legislation of this character to meet the views both of employers' associations and the great trade unions as well. I suggest, therefore, that we cannot leave out of account the position of these very numerous organisations, and the supreme desirability of attracting their goodwill by the details of this measure, in order that, when finally passed, it may be the means of improving and increasing that degree of the conciliatory spirit which we wish to see in the industries and trades of the country.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I will not attempt to put in language which would in any sense equal that of my right hon. Friend the objects with which we propose to establish these Industrial Courts. I, therefore, adopt his point of view when I proceed to deal with the character of the Court which is to be set up. Perhaps it will facilitate the understanding of the House if, in response to the request of my right hon. Friend, I say briefly what is the mechanism which we contemplate. We propose, in the first place, a Standing Court, and my right hon. Friend, in the language which he has used, has paid a tribute to the value of experience in this regard. You want, indeed, a body of people who are able to take a comprehensive view of the Labour question and, in particular, who are able to take a comprehensive view of the wages question. Every set of wages in every trade is related in some degree to every set of wages in every other trade. You cannot dissociate what is decided in one case from what may be asked in another case. Therefore, it would be futile to have a Court ad hoc for each case that might come up, because then you would get a series of dissociated judgments which would have no relation to each other, and which would tend to cause confusion where you hoped for harmony. Ac- 128 cordingly, you must begin with a Standing Court. It will remain for the Committee to determine what the precise number should be, because at the present time my mind is not made up. You must, however, start with a nucleus of men who have had experience and whose experience grows with their work.
I think I shall meet the other parts of my right hon. Friend's Amendment when I proceed to give a description of what we shall have in addition to the Standing Court. I agree with the view he has expressed that we could scarcely hope to get that judicial attitude which we desire if we appoint men directly either by an employers' organisation or a trade union organisation for the purpose of deciding a particular case. It would be impossible to have a judicial atmosphere in such circumstances because what you would do would be to send a man there to represent your case and not to judge it. On the other hand, we do require that in most cases there should be people skilled in the particular trade to give advice to the Court. Recognising the advisability of such advice, we propose to have panels of assessors, and that, I think, meets the four Amendments on the Paper. We propose to have panels of assessors drawn from the employers' side and the employed side, and we propose that these shall be appointed in consultation with the trade union organisations on the one side and the employers' organisations on the other.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether the panels would be panels of persons having the same power and performing the same functions as the panels of assessors of the Board of Trade for arbitration cases that have been in existence for some eight or ten years?
§ Sir R. HORNE
That is a class of institution that I contemplate, and it is a system which is familiar to everyone who has had to do with those industrial disputes. That is the character of the Court which we suggest, and the way in which the matter will be worked out, according to our view, is something like this. If a case is reported to the Minister, and if he, after consideration, regards it as a case-which requires to be dealt with by some-method of conciliation other than that which he might immediately apply through his own Department he can do 129 one of three things, always provided that the consent of both parties is given. He can refer the matter to the Industrial Court, providing that it may sit with the necessary assessors, or he can refer it to a single arbitrator if the parties so desire, or again, he can refer it to an Arbitration Court upon which there will be an independent chairman and representatives both of the employers and employed, selected in that case by the parties concerned from the panels which have been described. In response to an apprehension which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Hodge), we propose, if the Committee agree, to adopt an Amendment which he has put forward and which provides wherever you have current and operative in any trade means of settlement already agreed upon, then the Minister shall not refer it to any of the means I have already described until he is assured that the ordinary means of conciliation in the trade have failed. I think that mechanism will meet all points of view, and I hope it will be possible under these circumstances for the Amendments which are immediately before the Committee to be withdrawn.
We are very pleased, I am sure, to hear the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman. It does not go the full length that we would have liked, but the fact that he has consented to continue the panel system undoubtedly will give great satisfaction to the Labour movement. I should like, however, to be quite clear, before accepting the suggestion with regard to our Amendments, that the persons drawn from the panels of employers or from the panel of workmen, the trade unions, are more than assessors. This is of essential importance to us. As I understand the functions that the panel arbitrators have had to perform in the past, the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be withdrawing from them much of the power that they formerly possessed. I myself have been a member of a panel arbitration Court on a good many occasions. We usually heard all the evidence that could be submitted by both the employers and workmen's representatives, and the chairman, who, of course, had the final say in the matter, waited until he saw whether the representative from the chairman's panel and the representative from the workmen's panel agreed, and, if they did, he merely issued the award. 130 If they failed to agree, he said that it was his business to act, and, having heard the evidence, he gave his award, which might-disagree from the decision at which the other two would have wished to-arrive. I may say that I was never a member of a Court where the representative from the employers' panel and workmen's panel failed to agree and where the award was not issued accordingly by the chairman. Those powers, I think I am right in saying, are more than the powers usually held by assessors. There are legal Gentlemen, including the Solicitor-General, present, and I want to be perfectly clear on this point.
The panel system has really commended itself to both employers and workmen in a way never expected when they were set up, if I remember rightly, by Lord Buxton, who was then at the Board of Trade. They have really worked and given considerable satisfaction, and I do therefore hope that my right hon. Friend, before we pass from this Amendment, will be able to assure the House that the functions that the panel representatives have been able to perform in the past will be continued. They have been made more acceptable on both sides because the conciliation schemes that have worked best and worked longest have been those cases in which, first of all, there was an attempt to get a settlement on the basis, of conciliation, and in which, if they failed to agree on the basis of conciliation, they retained the power to appoint one by the employers and one by the workmen, the two agreeing upon the third party, who should be the chairman. The panel system secured the greatest confidence from the representatives of both employers and workmen, because it was the nearest akin to the practice which had grown up over a good many years. I have been chairman of two conciliation boards on the workman's side. We always worked on that principle, and so I can speak from experience, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the more conciliation you can introduce in the first instance, apart from arbitration, the better it is for all concerned. My objection to this Bill is that there is too much arbitration and too little conciliation. One of the things I regret is that there is a proposal in the last Clause of the Bill to repeal the old Conciliation Act of 1896. It seems to me that is a mistake, because the very 131 term "Conciliation Act" encourages people, both employers and employed, to think that there is some value in a scheme of conciliation. But there is no conciliation in this Bill so far as I can see. It is arbitration in. the first place and then it is Courts of Inquiry, which are different things to schemes of conciliation. In the minds of thousands of trade unionists this Bill is now clouded with suspicion, and I wish even now it could be possible for us to have put into the Bill something that would encourage employers on the one side and workmen on the other to go in for schemes of conciliation, and where they fail to then have resort to the old panel system with the powers to which I have just referred. I was very pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he had responded to the invitation of the steel trade, and was arcing to adopt an Amendment that would give power to contract out of the Bill.
Then I have misunderstood the Amendment. As I read it, where there was a conciliation scheme for adjusting differences by mutual arrangement between employers and employed the Ministry does not propose to act.
§ Sir R. HORNE
My right hon. Friend surely remembers that this is a purely voluntary arrangement, and there can be no talk about contracting out therefore. People need never come to this tribunal unless they wish. If the right hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Hodge) has a scheme in his particular trade for conciliation then undoubtedly he is free to use it, and it is not until it has failed that the Minister can make any reference to any further procedure, and even then the Minister, of course, can only do it with the consent of the parties.
I have only hurriedly glanced at the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman said he was prepared to accept, and it does appear to me that under it, first of all, conciliation is to be tried, and where that fails then there is power to set up an Arbitration Court. I think it would be an immense advantage if it could be possible for employers and trade unionists to go outside the Act altogether, and I cannot understand how it is, seeing that we have had the steel trade working on 132 this principle of conciliation and voluntary arbitration all these years, and seeing also that other trades have been working for so many years on the same principle, I cannot understand why the Government should be afraid to trust the two parties most vitally concerned. I am very much disappointed to hear the right hon. Gentleman is going to keep these powers in spite of any effort that may be made by employers and employed to set up voluntary schemes for avoiding disputes. I regret that, notwithstanding such efforts, they are still to be kept inside the Act. Unless I am entirely mistaken that will not commend itself to the great number of trade unionists, and I doubt whether it would even commend itself to the great body of organised employers. I hope that even now, or at any rate on the Report stage, these matters will be taken a point further, and it will be provided that where the Minister can be satisfied that proper provision is made within the scheme for conciliation and arbitration they will be entirely free of the Bill.
I do not read it so. I do not think it is. I find nothing in the Bill encouraging schemes of conciliation. I have already said that the last Clause repeals the Conciliation Act of 1896. There is nothing in the Bill, so far as I can see, to set up or continue the panels that have been so acceptable in the past to both employers and employed. The Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend seeks to substitute the panel system for the Court of Arbitration. He has good reasons for that. I want to be perfectly clear on the point. I am referring, of course, to the Amendment which has just been moved, and on which Hangs a, series of Amendments, the object of winch is to cut out the Industrial Court, to refuse to make that Court a permanent piece of machinery, and to substitute for it a system of panels. I understand the right hon. Gentleman will not accept the Amendment for removing the Court, but that he is prepared to supplement the Court by continuing the system of panels with all the powers that they had under the old panel system. If we can be assured on that point it will probably shorten the Debate on this Amendment.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am afraid I hare not succeeded in making myself clear to the 133 Committee. Let me reiterate the fact that nobody is compelled under this Bill to go before the Industrial Arbitration Court at all; everybody is free to adopt the system which has been in operation in any particular trade. Take my right hon. Friend's trade, the iron and steel trade. The old arbitration system, the conciliation system, in vogue in that trade, is still open to the trade, and it is only if it breaks down on any particular occasion that there is any necessity to come to the Industrial Court at all, and then only if they want to do so. Let that be perfectly clear. My right hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson) talked of the panel system set up under the powers of the Conciliation Act, and regretted the suggestion that that Conciliation Act should be repealed.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I did not connect the panel system with the Conciliation Act. The Conciliation Act was passed many years before the panel system was established.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon I misunderstood what he had in his mind. Let me make this clear to the Committee. The Conciliation Act did nothing at all except in the first place to allow Conciliation Boards to be registered. That was no advantage. There are more Conciliation Boards in existence to-day which are not registered than there are which are registered, and the Conciliation Boards which are not registered have all the functions and powers of the Conciliation Boards which are registered. Therefore the Conciliation Act does nothing at all to help conciliation. What it does do is to allow the Minister of Labour where a dispute is in existence or apprehended to offer conciliation. It can be refused. The real effect is this. So far as the Conciliation Act is concerned in its terms it does not in effect establish conciliation and where conciliation has been successful it has been because the parties wanted to be conciliated. All that has been done under this panel system has been this, that in view of the fact that formerly the President of the Board of Trade and now the Minister of Labour might offer to intervene for the purpose of bringing about a conciliation, he for his own purposes establishes a panel of persons whose names he can suggest to the parties to 134 the dispute. That is how the panel system arose. It was purely a voluntary affair, but it came to be taken advantage of by a variety of trades. The President of the Board kept a list of representative people in the industries, and that list he could consult with a view to their being invited to act as arbitrators in particular disputes. I propose to continue that panel system for that purpose. The arrangement accordingly is this. If you have, as in the iron and steel trade, a system of conciliation you will go on as before until it fails, and even then you would only voluntarily come to the Minister for Labour. Consequently if you wish, when you do come to the Ministry of Labour, to have instead of an Industrial Court an Arbitration Board under the panel system to which you are accustomed, with representatives of employers and employed, you will have an independent Chairman nominated by the Minister, and you will have a board on which the employers' and employés' representatives will have their vote as members of the Court. That is the class of arbitration which the right hon. Gentleman referred to. If it is a matter that can be settled by a single arbitrator you can say to the Minister you want a single arbitrator and he will be able to nominate one in consultation with you. If you do not want that but want an Industrial Court you will get a Court composed of experienced men accustomed to dealing with disputes. That Court will consist of the Chairman, a man who will have knowledge of the labour point of view as well as the employing point of view and you will have a nucleus of permanent judges who will have the experience required and will be able to bring a judicial mind to bear on the matters in dispute. That Court may also have assessors and in that case the the assessors will not have a vote. Obviously they will be there to advise. But in the other case of the Board of Arbitration to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, the assessors will have their vote as before. I am sorry to have inflicted myself on the Committee again, but I hope I have now made clear my position.
I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that while he is in the habit of dealing with practically every industry in this country he has not been in the habit of dealing with the major industry, namely agricul- 135 ture, and I would like to suggest that on this Court of permanent officials there should be one with a special knowledge of that particular industry. I feel sure that will be a source of great confidence in future should any dispute arise in that industry which would necessitate recourse being had to that Court. Fortunately that industry so far has been remarkable for the absence of disputes. I should be very grateful if the right hon. Genlteman will take that matter into consideration and see if he cannot appoint some official with the qualifications I have stated as a permanent member of that Court.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill did not deal with one point in answering the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes, that is, in regard to the question of conciliation. As I read Clause 2 of the Bill, there will be in the Minister ample power to refer to the Industrial Court any matter for conciliation, as distinct from settlement, if he so chooses. Under Subsection (1) of Clause 2, I think the power is inherent, but possibly the Minister of Labour would answer this specific question before we pass from this Amendment. If it is not included in Clause 2, will he agree to put in any verbal alteration which is necessary to confer on him the power of using the Industrial Court for the purpose of conciliation, should the parties so desire it? I imagine it is quite clear to the Committee that the existing methods of conciliation will continue untouched by this Bill, and that everybody will be able to continue to use those methods as at present. The only question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes is whether this Court is intended to deal only with arbitration and not with conciliation. I very strongly agree, with him that it is desirable that there should be power in the Minister, if he thinks fit, at the request of the parties to refer the matter to that Court for conciliatory purposes.
§ Mr. HODGE
I trust that the Minister of Labour will never make the mistake of making his Arbitration Court a Conciliation Court. It would be an absolute failure, because on one day they would be conciliating and the next day they would have to give a decision against one of the two parties whom they were trying to conciliate. May I say we are quite satisfied with the answer the 136 right hon. Genteman has given? We are glad he is going to continue the old panel system, which has worked very well. He knows, as a result of the deputation which met him this morning from employers as well as work-men, that we want to be excluded from the Bill. If during the past sixty years we have not needed anybody's services, I am sure we shall not need them in the next sixty years, because the schoolmaster has been abroad. It will interest the Committee to know that in one section of the iron and steel trades there has not been a strike for sixty years, and in another section—a later section—there has not been a strike for thirty-one years. That is as between associated employers and associated workmen. What we should like to see in the Bill would be a Clause providing that when the workman and employers agree upon a standard of wages, that standard should be mark applicable to all outside employers. I do not know whether or not that comes within the scope of the Bill, but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that it is a direction in which his mind might work in the near future.
We are all indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the very clear explanation he gave us, but I should like to be clear upon one point. As I understood him, he limited himself to saying that the Bill and the Clause with which we are now dealing do not interfere with any existing machinery, so that if there is machinery in a trade or industry in operation, nothing in this Bill interferes with or abrogates the power of that machinery.
That is quite clear. Is that also applicable to trade or industries with contemplated machinery? As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have at this moment set up machinery which I hope will be successful. The machinery is not now in operation. It is entirely different from this, and I want it to be made quite clear that nothing in this Bill applies to any machinery set up between employers and employés as distinct from machinery already in existence.
§ Sir R. HORNE
That is quite clear. Any machinery which is in existence at the time of the dispute can be used by the people who have set it up, quite irrespective of the Bill altogether. Nothing in the Bill interferes with the operation of that machinery. As to the question put by my hon. and 137 learned Friend (Mr. Leslie Scott), the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hodge), with his very long experiene of these industrial disputes, has given the correct answer. You cannot have a body which is both a conciliation tribunal and an Arbitration Court. It is impossible to unite their functions. Under Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 there is complete power in the Minister to take every means which seem expedient to him to bring about a settlement of the dispute, and that involves all methods of conciliation open to anybody.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. A. SHAW
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the words "and one or more shall be women."
In reply to an interruption to his speech on the Second Reading, the Minister of Labour indicated that, in his view and that of the Department, it would be desirable that the services of at least one woman should be available on the Court. The effect of my Amendment is to provide for the presence of one woman or more of experience who shall be available to be called in every proper case. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that, although in the Bill as it stands there exists the power to appoint a woman, it is desirable that the House of Commons should indicate by the express insertion of such an Amendment its view of the desirability that cases which concern women shall be considered by a tribunal on which women are present. My own experience for some fourteen months as chairman of an Arbitration Tribunal with women as colleagues was that the experience of women in dealing with these women's cases was quite invaluable. I cannot imagine any Arbitration Tribunals dealing efficiently with cases in which women are concerned without the experience and guidance of women who have made a special study of these matters. I am sure the Amendment will commend itself to the general opinion of the Committee.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I regret to say that I cannot adopt the words suggested by my hon. Friend. It is not that I fail in any way to appreciate the value of women's services in connection with matters of dispute on any questions which may arise regarding women's wages or work, for undoubtedly it is of the greatest importance that the knowledge and experience of women should be brought, to bear upon the judging of those cases. But the Court 138 which is contemplated in the first place will not consist of large numbers, and I cannot promise that the permanent Court should have as one of its members a woman—at any rate, at this stage. I shall see to it that women are put upon the panels of those who may be co-opted as assessors to advise the Court or for the purpose of being put on an ad hoc Arbitration Tribunal. I hope what I have suggested in that respect will meet the desire of my hon. Friend.
§ Major HILLS
I have heard with some disappointment the speech of my right hon. Friend. May I call his attention to one fact which has not yet been, mentioned? This Bill puts the Arbitration Court in the place of the Interim Arbitration Board set up under the Wages Regulation Act. That Board found its origin in the Special Arbitration Tribunal set up at the Ministry of Munitions. During the War a body called the Special Arbitration Tribunal was set up which was practically the controlling and deciding body in regard to women's wages. Its work was perfectly invaluable. It consisted partly of women. When the War came to an end, the work of that Special Arbitration Tribunal was transferred to the Interim Tribunals under the Wages Regulation Act. By this Bill the work of those Interim Tribunals is to be transferred to the Industrial Court. There is a tremendous case for putting women into the position they have held since the War and hold now of sitting on the Courts which regulate women's wages. I hope my right hon. Friend will not finally close 5he door to this suggestion. It is quite clear there will have to be some regulation of women's wages. When the 30th September comes we cannot let things go back to where they were before the War, or let women's wages go back to 12s. or 13s. a week. It would be a great disaster if women were shut out from the body which must be the body to control and regulate their wages. I do not press for an answer now if we cannot get one, but I do press most strongly for further consideration of this point. It is vital in the women's interest that Courts that decide their wages should consist partly of women. I trust my right hon. Friend will further consider this very important point.
I should like to supplement the appeal made by the hon. and gallant Member for Durham (Major Hills). We set out in our Amendments to take out this permanent Court, but the 139 Committee decided to retain it. In the next year or two, at any rate, many of the cases coming before the Court may involve a considerable number of women workers, in fact, there may be cases coming before the Courts in which the employés are exclusively women. If the right hon. Gentleman between now and the Report stage will go into the matter and try to arrange for words to be introduced making it possible for a woman to be added to the Court, on the understanding that she would only be called upon in cases where a good part of all the employés were women, I think that would give very great satisfaction to the Committee. I hope he will go into it from that standpoint and see whether he cannot arrange something in harmony with the terms of the Amendment.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I should be very glad to adopt the suggestion. Of course, there is nothing in the Bill at present which in any way excludes the appointment of women or makes it incompetent to appoint them. All I said was that I could not undertake that in the first permanent Court there would necessarily be a woman, but I gave an assurance that when women's questions were being raised there would be women who would sit, not necessarily as members of the Court, but as advisers to the Court. I understand that more than that is asked, and I certainly should be very glad to give consideration to it between now and the Report stage.
§ Mr. A. SHAW
I am both surprised and grievously disappointed at the reactionary tone which has been assumed by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think the thousands of working women in the country will feel to-morrow that they have been fairly treated by the Government for which they voted at the General Election, and I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henderson) that this is a question of vital importance, not only to the women themselves, but to every man in this country. The right hon. Gentleman seems entirely to forget that the interests of men in this question are at stake just as much as the interests of women, and if we are to be faced with a situation in which, without a woman upon the Court, decisions may be taken which will make the wages of women in this country sink down to the low levels at which they stood before the War, it is a very bad look-out for men.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I think the hon. Member cannot have recognised or made himself acquainted with what has been done by the Ministry of Labour during the last year.
§ Mr. SHAW
I probably know as much about that as the right hon. Gentleman, and I can inform him that it amounts to very little. I can further inform him, from an acquaintance with this question before ever he touched it, that the great development in the wages of women workers during the War was not due to his Ministry, but to the wise work of his colleague who is at the Ministry of Munitions. It was he who appointed the arbitration tribunal, on which I served, and which created for the first time a really high standard of remuneration for female labour. I am extremely disappointed to find now that this question has been thrown back to the Ministry of Labour, that a reactionary standard is assumed by the right hon. Gentleman. It does not mean that a woman will be placed on the Court to interfere where the wages of men are concerned, but that she will be there able to be called upon by the Minister in a proper case, and the cases where she would be called upon are the cases where the wages of women are concerned. It only means that the House of Commons will provide that where women's cases are concerned there shall always be one woman available and in close touch with the development, of general wages' questions. Such women exist. I have served with two who would not detract from the strength of the Court which my right hon. Friend is to set up, but would add strength to it, and their judgment should be available. If my right hon. Friend suggests that those who favour putting a woman on a tribunal which has to deal with questions of vital import to women are actuated either by malice against the Ministry or by complete ignorance of the facts—
§ Sir R. HORNE
The hon. Member is really misrepresenting me. My interpretation was due to the suggestion that I was attempting to force down the wages of women. I interrupted and said the hon. Member had not realised what had been done since the War. So far from women's wages being forced down, advantage has been taken of every possible means to force them up. If the hon. Member was the recipient of my correspondence he would rapidly realise that.
141 I was not paying attention to anything else he had said on the question or suggesting any reactionary policy at all.
§ Mr. SHAW
I never meant to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of forcing down the wages of women, but that he was resisting a proposal which would tend to maintain the level which women's wages have attained. I seriously doubt whether, if you set up a tribunal without the element of experience which women can give, women will realiy trust the tribunal, and I doubt whether they will be willing to forego the advantages which they may expect to receive from a stride in order to place-their case before a tribunal from which women are excluded. I really think it would not have been going very far if the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the Amendment. It in no way ties his hands. It leaves him free to appoint women or not, just as he pleases, if in proper cases he chooses to provide that there shall be a woman on the Court in close touch with the development of the situation, and therefore able, from her experience and knowledge, to add to the weight which would attach to the decisions of the tribunal in the cases which come before it. I feel very much inclined, as this is a matter of serious principle, to carry my protest into the Lobby. I would ask the hon. Member (Mr. Graham), who has a great personal knowledge of this subject, to give the House the benefit of his experience and views.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I should hardly have intervened but for the very strong appeal which has been made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw). I am utterly unable to appreciate the attitude of the Minister of Labour on this point. Not that I fail to appreciate and gladly recognise the offer he has made that the matter may be considered between now and Report. I should advocate the inclusion of women on the Industrial Courts on much broader grounds
§ even than those urged by my hon. Friend Even in cases in which no women are involved at all in an industrial dispute it is desirable that women should be members of a Court of that kind, because there is no industrial dispute affecting men in which women are not directly or indirectly interested also. But the main consideration which prompts my intervention is that I quite fail to reconcile the attitude of the Minister of Labour on this point with one of the most valuable Reports which have ever been presented within recent times—the Report of the Cabinet Committee on Women in Industry. The leading consideration which was urged in that Report was the question of equal pay for equal work, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that in the industrial progress of this country we are rapidly moving towards a great contest on that most important issue. Considerations arising from the advocacy of the principle of equal pay for equal work which was urged by that Cabinet Committee will come almost immediately before the Industrial Courts of this country of whatever kind. From that point of view alone I am utterly unable to understand the right hon. Gentleman's attitude in not making definite provision in this Bill for the inclusion of at least one woman on the Industrial Court. I do not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of seeking to exclude women at all. I do not suggest that for a moment, and I appreciate the offer which he has made. But we should not leave it to the chance of between now and Report. The matter is one of high principle and great practical importance. On these grounds let us include it definitely now in the first Clause of the Bill, and act in harmony with the Report of the Cabinet Committee.
§ Question put, "That the words 'and one or more shall be women' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 119.
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Rees, Captain J. Tudor (Barnstaple)||Tootill, Robert|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Royce, William Stapleton||Wallace, J.|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Lunn, William||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Short, A. (Wednesbury)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|McMicking. Major Gilbert||Sitch, C. H.||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)||Wignall, James|
|Murray, Maj. C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)||Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Sturrock, J. Leng-||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Newbould, A. E.||Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|O'Grady, James||Swan, J. E. C.||Young, Robert (Newton, Lanes.)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Rae, H. Norman||Thorne, Colonel W. (Plaistow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||A. Shaw, and Major Hills.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridgs, Mddx.)|
|Allen, Colonel William James||Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Gretton, Colonel John||Perring, William George|
|Armitage, Robert||Griggs, Sir Peter||Pinkham, Lt.-Colonel Charles|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro')||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hn. W. E. (B. St. E)||Pratt, John William|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hacking, Colonel D. H.||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Barnston, Major H.||Hamoro, Angus Valdemar||Purchase, H. G.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Betterton, H. B.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Blane, T. A.||Hilder, Lieut-Colonel F.||Roundell, Lt. -Colonel R. F.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rowlands, James|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Stanley, Col. H. G, F. (Preston)|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Hume-Williams, Sir Wm. Ellis||Stewart, Gershom|
|Carr, W. T.||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jodrell, N. P.||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Knights, Captain H.||Vickers, D.|
|Colvin. Brig.-General R. B.||Lloyd, George Butler||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Lorden, John William||Wardle, George J.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H||Lynn, R. J.||Warner. Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Dawes, J. A.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||White, Col. G. D. (southport)|
|Denison-Pender, John C||M'Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Dixon, Captain H.||Macmaster, Donald||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Martin, A. E.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Eyres-Monsell. Commander||Mitchell, William Lane-||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Moles, Thomas||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Foreman, H.||Morden, Col. H. Grant||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Forestior-Walker. L.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Nield, Sir Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Capt.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parker, James||Guest and Colonel Sanders.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
§ Major HILLS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "for such terms us may be fixed by the Minister at the time of his appointment," and to insert instead thereof the words "during His Majesty's pleasure."
The object of this Amendment is to make the Court into a permanent Court, a member of which cannot be removed except by a vote of both Houses of Parliament. I differ from hon. Members opposite. They want a temporary Court; I want a Court of the most permanent character, and composed of the best men you can get. I want all the experience and knowledge of a permanent Court, and I want it to consist of members who for 144 a long period of years have belonged to tine Court. I want no conflicting decisions. Unless you get the experience of permanent members you will not get that knowledge. I want the status, the dignity, and the tradition of a permanent Industrial Court. I want something which stands up and to which all the community can go if they like, without compulsion; a Court which stands up bold and dignified, and in which everybody has trust. Incidentally, I hope the members of the Court will be well paid, so that poor men can serve on it, and I hope that the Court will be worthily housed in a fine and dignified building. I want this permanent Court to be independent 145 of all Governments. I do not want it to be a mere branch of a Government Department. I want the Court to be such that the subject can appeal to it, even when the Government is the other party; a Court from which the subject can always get a fair decision. In the railway strike we had the Government as one of the parties to the dispute. I want there to be such a Court that everybody will have confidence in it. I do not want there to be any suspicion of Departmental pressure on the chairman and members of the Court. I know the Minister of Labour too well to accuse him of malpractice of that sort. I know how uprightly and fairly he will administer this Court, but he is not a permanent Minister. Governments come and Governments go. I want this Court to be set up so that no Minister, even if he wished to do so, could possibly influence its decisions. I attach the very greatest importance to this Amendment, and I hope the Government will accept it.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I sympathise with everything my hon. Friend has said. The Court ought to be one which is completely independent, and certainly, so far as I am concerned, in the setting up of it what I desire above all things to do is to make a Court which will not only be impartial but will be known by everybody to be impartial, so that it will get the whole confidence of the whole country. The way to get the most complete impartiality is by appointing men upon the terms which my hon. Friend suggests, but I would beg the Committee to remember that we are here acting tentatively. We have to get to know, first, how the Committee is going to get to work, and I ask that this Amendment should not be forced upon us now. Everything should be done to give the people who are appointed an established position which will put them in a position of confidence in themselves, and if my hon. Friend would agree not to press this matter he may rely upon the discretion which is imposed in the Minister so far as the staffing and initiation of the Court is concerned.
§ Major General Sir NEWTON MOORE
There would be nothing novel in the constitution of the Court as suggested by the Mover of this Amendment. Members who have given any consideration to the Arbitration Act in Australia will remember that the chairman of the Court is a judge selected from the judges who possess the 146 necessary qualifications, and he is supported by two assessors, one appointed by the employers and one by the employés.
§ Major HILLS
I am impressed with what my right hon. Friend has said as to the experimental character of this legislation, and I do not think I ought to carry the matter further. Therefore, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the words "the Minister may by order, given either generally or specially, direct," and to insert instead thereof the words "it may direct."
That would have the effect of allowing the Court to appoint its own sub-committees. It seems to me a very peculiar procedure to establish this very important Court, which is to have extremely important duties, and then to take away from it the power to appoint its own sub-committees. If you leave the Sub-section as it is the Court will not be able to appoint its own sub-committees. The Minister of Labour can step in and appoint the sub-committees of the Court. We do not know how many people are going to compose this Court. We do not know whether it is to be three, twenty, or forty. In every case, presumably, the full Court will not sit, but certain members of the Court will sit to adjudicate on a dispute, and I do think the Court ought to have the power to appoint its own sub-committees which are going to adjudicate. You must have confidence in the Court If the Government steps in and takes away this power you are really detracting in the eyes of the country from the authority of the Court itself.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend has said, and following out what I have just said as to the Court being recognised as a completely impartial Court, I am prepared to substitute these words, "as the President may by order, given generally or specially, direct." That will put in the hands of the President of the Court the duty of constituting the Court in each case. If the hon. Member will allow me to move the Amendment in that form I shall be quite agreeable.
Would not that be even more dangerous? If you want, and I am sure you want, to establish confidence in the Court, it would be unfortunate if it goes forth that the President has more power than the rest of the members. I think it would be better to leave it to the Court than to the President. In absolute practice we know how it would work out. It is dangerous to suggest that the President should have more power than the other members of the Court.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I would accept what the right hon. Gentleman says if I could see it working out well from the executive point of view, but I am afraid one person must be responsible for collecting the Court and deciding who shall sit. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks for a moment he will see that it is advisable to leave it in the hands of the President. As I interpret this matter, the Court, will be a very small thing until we see how it works.
§ 8.0 P.M.
I want to safeguard the possibility of being in the hands absolutely of one man, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put in the words "after consultation with."
I would still prefer to retain the power in the hands of the Minister. There may be questions to be raised sometimes, and our only safeguard is that we can question the Minister but we cannot question the President. I do not see why in this instance the Minister should depart from his original intention.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I am very glad to hear what the Minister has said. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). I would have preferred to leave it entirely to the Court, but I am quite willing to accept the modification that these sub-committees should be appointed by the President in consultation with the Court. Hon. Members looking at the Bill will see the finger prints of the Executive all over it. My object in moving the Amendment is to take away a little of the power of the Executive, which is so enormous in every Department of the State.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am prepared to move an Amendment in the form suggested. I am perfectly certain that the Court will 148 be completely impartial, and to that extent will not be capable of being moved by the Ministry, but will be completely detached from all possibility of suspicion of that kind.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (3), leave out the word "Minister" and insert instead thereof the word "President."
§ Leave out the words "by order, given either generally or specially." and insert instead thereof the words "after consultation with the Court."— [Sir R. Horne.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next two Amendments have been disposed of already by the decision of the Committee.
§ Major HILLS
I am not quite clear whether my Amendment would not cover the appointment of assessor. I quite agree that as far as membership is concerned the point is disposed of, but my right hon. Friend indicated an inclination to accept an Amendment as to the appointment of women assessors.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir E. Pollock)
The hon. Member for Durham (Major Hills) has been placed in some difficulty as to the appointment of women where the wages and conditions of labour or terms of employment of women are before the Court. I think there was some misunderstanding when the Question was put and we had a Division. As I understand, my right hon. Friend said definitely that he is considering the exact position which was raised by the Amendment which was before us, find in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson) undertook on the Report stage of the Bill to see that the matter was in a saris factory position. It is very difficult at a moment's notice to be quite clear that you have got the right words. When you have a point raised it 149 is very often possible upon the Report stage to say whether or not the true intention of an Amendment is embodied in the Bill. My right hon. Friend gave an undertaking to deal with this matter on Report. The hon. Member was dissatisfied, and went to a Division, but under the Clause as it stands we must not forget what are the powers which my right hon. Friend has. We have already passed the Bill, which was entitled "a Bill to remove disqualification on account of sex," and the effect of that Bill must not be forgotten.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
No, but I have every hope that in another place it will receive a welcome on its return, because it came from the other place. We sent it back with a few Amendments, and I do not think it will have lost its welcome, and I believe that its parents in another place will recognise their own child and pass the Bill into law. If my anticipations are not ill-founded then it must be remembered in regard to all Bills hereafter that we may pass that a woman is not disqualified by sex from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial office or post. Therefore, as the Bill stands, as I read it, it is quite possible, if the Sex Disqualification Removal Bill passes into law, for the Minister who is exercising his powers under this Bill to appoint a woman. In those circumstances the right hon. Gentleman will see, if, as I understand, in cases where the conditions of employment of women are concerned, the assistance of a woman assessor is desired, it will be quite unnecessary to give power to appoint a woman because under this new Bill you are no longer debarred from appointing a woman where you have got to appoint a person. That is a fundamental basis from which we start. My right hon. Friend has given an undertaking that he will deal with this matter on Report. In those circumstances I trust the position will be regarded as quite satisfactory. It is because I rather understood that a certain amount of misunderstanding had been created by the attitude of my hon. Friend that I stood up to remove it. I feel sure that toy the time the Report stage is taken, if there is still any difficulty felt, it will be cleared away.
The Committee must welcome the statement of the learned Solicitor-General, and we will 150 hope that something will tie done on Report to clear the matter up, because the fact that we had forced a Division on the question may create a slight misunderstanding in the minds of some people. I had no doubt in my mind that the promise made would still hold good, notwithstanding the Division. The question of the panels might be made a little clearer on the Report stage. I do not see any direct reference to the panels, and the conditions in which the persons so appointed are to discharge their duties, and I would not like to have the panels left unexplained by the actual words in the Bill.
§ Mr. A. SHAW
My right hon. Friend is quite correct in his suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Horne) will not consider the view to which he gave expression withdrawn, because of the Division which has taken place. Some of us found it necessary to carry our protests into the Division Lobby, but we hope that the Minister, on the merits of the case, will still remain of the opinion to which he gave expression. The Solicitor-General said that some difficulty was caused to the Government by having at a moment's notice to apply their minds to the Amendment.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
What I said was not that there was difficulty in applying their minds to the Amendment, but that there was difficulty in saying at the moment how any particular Amendment fitted into the words of the Bill.
§ Mr. SHAW
It was dispatched on Saturday, and the matter, therefore, rests between two Ministers—the right hon. Gentleman and the Postmaster-General. Apart from that, the Government have had months to think over this. We have had an interval of twelve months during which women were represented in these Courts, and I do not think it is any wild Amendment that where you have a general Court to consider particular proposals that general Court should have at least one woman on it. I am much obliged for what 151 the right hon. Gentleman has said, and we shall watch with interest the Report stage to see whether the undertaking which he has been good enough to give has been carried out to the satisfaction of those who have the interest of women workers at heart.
§ Question put, and agreed to.