HC Deb 20 July 1933 vol 280 cc2043-63

6.51 p.m.


I beg to move, to leave out the Clause.

This Clause alters considerably the language of the procedure under Section 19 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930. The Minister will be aware that in that Section any application for a variation of the times has to be made by a joint body in the industry. This Clause makes It possible for an application to be made either by the employers' organisation or the workers' organisation. It therefore takes away the proviso that the application must be made by a joint body. The Road Traffic Act has only been in operation for two and a half years and we on this side of the House feel that no sufficient evidence has been brought forward to justify this alteration. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane), who has gone to considerable trouble to be here this afternoon in order to deal with this Amendment, in moving this new Clause upstairs said that some of the unions concerned had held the employers' organisation to ransom with regard to application for a variation under Section 19 of the Act of 1930, but the trade unions concerned deny that absolutely. They say that they consented to two variations of Section 19 of the Road Traffic Act, and those variations were ordered by the Minister, after he had consulted the industrial court.

Those two variations passed out in March of this year, I think. One section of the industry, I believe the passenger section, made a joint application, which was conceded, but the workers' organisation in the goods section refused to co-operate with the employers in making this variation. Presumably, be- cause the application was not made jointly we get an alteration of the language of the section in the Act of 1930 in the language of Clause 25 of this Bill. The unions did not hold the employers up to ransom, nor did they threaten to do so. What actually happened was this, that under the variation that was given in 1930, or in early 1931, when the workers agreed to join with the employers to apply for that variation, they were promised that if they did so the employers would agree to the setting up of certain joint machinery for dealing with the many problems that confront the industry; but when the employers had got the variation they refused to carry out their promise, even though it was common knowledge in the industry that certain parts of the variation were being violated by the employers. Therefore when the workers were asked again by the employers to join with them, they refused, because they felt that they had not had a square deal with regard to the previous application.

Simply because a body of workers, rightly, refused to join with the employers, we have the Minister coming along in a new Bill and completely reversing the language of the Section in the Act of 1930. We say that no case has yet been put up for this alteration. I think the Minister will agree that since the Armistice there has been a good deal of pleading for co-operation between the representatives of capital and trade unions, and that has reflected itself in more than one Act of Parliament providing that there shall be joint application before any variation is made. Here we have the unions being flouted. It appears to us that the Minister, if I may say so with all respect, has listened too much to the employers in this case and yielded to their point of view. We say that the language of 1930 is all right for the purpose. Representatives of the workers are prepared to co-operate with the employers when they are satisfied that they are getting a square deal. The unions concerned feel very keenly about this alteration and we hope that the Minister will see his way to delete the Clause and to allow the language of the Act of 1930 to have a fair chance. We say that two and a-half years of the Road Traffic Act is an insufficient time to justify any alteration. We are satisfied that up to now there has not been sufficient evidence brought forward to justify the change.

The Minister said in Committee that it might be that the workers' organisation would say to the employers "Unless you agree with us that all men shall be members of the trade union, we shall not join with you in this application." I am informed that up to now no such thing has happened, but I will be perfectly frank with the Minister and the House by saying that if such a thing had happened I should have sought to justify it, because in an industry like the transport industry, where collective bargaining is the accepted principle, it is essential that you should have the workers in that industry within the unions, so that their point of view can be put forward whenever the occasion requires. A non-union man has no right to take the advantages gained by the unions without taking his share in contributing towards the getting of those advantages. There has been no case of the kind that the Minister quoted in Committee. There has Men no holding of the employers to ransom. We hope that the Minister will see his way to delete this Clause and to allow the Section of the 1930 Act to operate.

5.59 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

It has been made perfectly clear to the House that the railway magnates and the other magnates are to be congratulated because the Minister has met them. He has not met any of our wishes up to date. Labour has appealed in vain to him. We had an Amendment to provide that the examiners should be highly skilled men but the Chairman would not allow it to be moved. It was ruled out of order. We also made an appeal to the Minister, in vain when we asked that the fair wages clause should be recognised. That was turned down. If, as the Minister said, this matter affects only a few individuals, it would be a different matter, but Harrods and Lyons and other "C" licence holders are away with their advantage. It is not a few individuals; it means that many individuals will have a great advantage over other people.

We have been far too kind in dealing with the Minister of Transport. We are appealing to him to leave the 1930 Act as it is. This is a new business, and the legislation dealing with it is new. The Act of 1930 has only just been passed. Under it, the employers of labour and the trade unions directly affected make a joint application, but the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) comes along, and in the most scientific fashion I have ever known, slips through an Amendment in Committee by which he inserts the word "or," and the Bill now means that the employers can come along quite independently of the workmen and make an application. The desire of the Labour movement is to have peace in industry, and they have had to surrender time and time again in order to get peace; but now, when it suits a certain section of employers, they get the hon. Member for Huddersfield to come forward and drive a wedge into the industrial movement of this country. We shall have rival factions set up and do away with all negotiations. We have been successful in avoiding trouble in this country for some time, and if ever there was a time when we should strain every nerve to keep peace in industry it is now, and in this particular industry, on the roads and the rails of our country, on our ships and our canals, and, in the immediate future, in the air.

This Bill was drafted for the express purpose of trying to organise this new industry which was in such a chaotic condition, and it was brought forward by the Minister of Transport at what was supposed to be the opportune time; at a time when it was essential that we should take stock and see that everything was in the best possible condition, so that when the wheels of industry are set humming again we shall be in a position to take advantage of the improved conditions. We have this Bill, which has the blessing of every section of the House except Labour. Those who are best able to judge tell us that as far as the workers are concerned it might just as well not reach the Statute Book, because it is not going to serve any useful purpose to them. This Clause makes their condition even worse. If all employers were decent and could be approached at all times, the position would be quite different. We should not need Acts of Parliament. But we have employers of labour in this country, and in this business, who are as ruthless a set of employers as ever drew the breath of life.

If you travel from the City of Glasgow in an omnibus to the Hamilton Division, a distance of 30 miles, you find that the conductresses are not allowed to sit down. I have asked them repeatedly to sit down when they have been in a state of collapse owing to the heat. They have to stand the whole of the journey, unless they take a risk and sit down. They are not doing anything, they have punched all the tickets and collected all the money, but they have to stand in this hot sultry weather, and they are enjoying just as good weather there as you are getting in London. The penalty for sitting down is that they are laid off for one day, that is, they lose a day's pay; and because these girls have taken this risk, being so desperate, they are now to be laid off for two days for daring to sit down. I would like to see the daughters of Members of Parliament being up against a situation like that. These are the daughters of my class who are being treated in this fashion, and the Minister of Transport is going to be responsible for the continuation of these conditions because he is allowing bad employers a way out. The bad employer, the ruthless individual, can steal a march on the good employer; he can cut down prices, with the result that the good employer, through sheer force of economic circumstances, has to follow the conditions imposed by the bad employer. For these reasons, I appeal to the Minister to accept the Amendment. He has accepted no Amendments from us, and there is no denying the fact that no Opposition ever dealt more kindly with a Minister than we have both to-day and in Committee. Surely we should get some concession for the working classes.

6.8 p.m.


The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has exaggerated considerably the effect of this Clause. In reply to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), I suggest that it, was inserted in the interests of the employés of road haulage firms. That may be argued from two points of view. First, that by the insertion of this Clause the employés, no less than the employers, now have the right to make an independent appeal to the Minister of Transport for a variation of the conditions of labour as laid down in Section 19 of the 1930 Act. That, surely, is an advantage to them. But on other and more important grounds it may be argued that the insertion of the Clause is in defence of the employés, and is not inserted merely in the interests of employers. The hon. Member for Normanton said that no case had been made out for the contention that the employers had been held to ransom. I do not want to dispute his facts, but I will indicate the sort of thing which has come to my notice. Section 19 of the 1930 Act lays down in general terms the hours of labour for a man employed on these road wagons. They are allowed to work 66 hours per week, if the employer employs them to the full extent. It suits a good many employers not to employ their men for 66 hours per week; they would rather employ them for fewer hours, and vary the conditions under which they work.

After the passing of the Act of 1930 a certain batch of employers desired to make an application to the Minister to vary the conditions laid down. In the first instance they secured the assent of the employés' representatives and obtained a variation of the Act of 1930. The effect of that was that, instead of working their men 66 hours per week, they undertook in return for that concession to work them a good deal less. That variation came to an end in March of this year. The employers said, "It is good for the employés as well as for us; we will renew the application." Let me make it clear that the employés wanted the variation to be continued. But the employers found that the trade union would not unite with them in making the application. The trade union said, "If we join with you, we want you to do certain things on our behalf."

The hon. Member for Normanton has suggested that that was in pursuance of a bargain made when the original application was made. I do not know whether that is true or not, and I am not going to contradict it, but if it is true it has absolutely nothing to do with the issue. It would be quite wrong for an employer, once he made an application for a variation of terms under Section 19 on behalf of his employés and in the interests of his own business, to allow extraneous considerations to be brought in. If such a bargain was made it was a very wrong bargain to make. But I do not think it has anything to do with the issue. The position then was that the employers found they were unable to make this application on behalf of their own employés and their own behalf because the trade union would not join that with them in making that application unless they consented to certain other conditions that the trade union wanted to impose—conditions which had nothing to do with the issue at all. What is the consequence? The employer is faced either with the prospect of breaking the law in his own interests and the interests of his men, or with suggesting some alteration of the Act as is here made.

I think it is a perfectly proper and reasonable alteration that, instead of an application being made jointly by the employers and the employés, it may be made by either. There are very considerable safeguards against such an application for a variation of the terms of Section 19 being granted too easily. The Minister may make a variation only if the matter has been referred to the Industrial Court for advice, and provided he is satisfied that such a variation will not be detrimental to the public safety. I think, therefore, that it is quite wrong and false to argue, first, that this is an alteration of the Act of 1930 that is detrimental to the interests of the employés in this industry. I suggest that it is is an alteration definitely in their interests on at least two different counts, and that to introduce such matters as trade union methods on this question of road transport has nothing to do with the issue, and that the House would be well advised to reject the Amendment.

6.18 p.m.


The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) has put plainly before the House the difficulties that arise in this matter. I must confess that, from my own point of view, I regarded this matter as a matter of principle and that I have done so ever since, very early in my conduct of the Ministry, it was brought to my notice. This inquiry by the Industrial Court is supposed to relate entirely to the question of the hours of drivers, and in fact depends, before it can ever be heard at all, on agreement, which may in its turn depend on quite other factors. I am not going into the history of the past few months, nor am I going to apportion blame and say whether this side or that side was held up to ransom, but it is obvious that under this system that possibility is inevitable. I think it is entirely wrong that the Industrial Court should be debarred from a consideration of this question of hours simply because one side or the other is making use of its power to obstruct the application for the sake of getting some other advantage.

Whether or not we agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) on the question whether all people should be in trade unions, does not matter. I am sure he will agree that the way he wants to see people brought into the unions is by persuading them that the proper place for them to be is inside the trade unions. The hon. Member does not really want to see unwilling people brought into trade unions, because the employer is faced with the choice of either having to insist on these men joining the union or losing the right to apply for these lower hours. Because I recognised that this raises a question of principle, as soon as I saw my hon. Friend's Amendment on the Paper I communicated with those concerned and reported that it seemed to me that it was impossible to resist this Amendment. I have already informed the House that I am meeting Mr. Bevan and a deputation this week, and he will raise this subject. I hope that we shall be able to achieve some result. Frankly, I say at once that I think that, this having been fine, this possibility of blackmail, let us say, hung over the heads of employers, having been removed, it is now up to them to do something in their turn to meet the union. In my discussions with Mr. Bevan I shall be only too glad to put myself at the disposal of both parties and see whether we cannot come to some agreement on that very unfortunate difference which has prevented this application hitherto being put before the Industrial Court.

6.21 p.m.


We are indebted to the Minister for the fact that he is going to meet Mr. Bevan to deal with this matter, together with the other matter which we discussed earlier in the afternoon. But I think the Minister is much too sensitive in dealing with this particular matter. In his closing remarks he referred to the question of blackmail.

As far as I know there has been no such suggestion at all.


I made that perfectly plain. I am not saying that any such thing has happened, but it must be obvious to hon. Members that if anyone wanted to use blackmail they could do so. That I consider to be undesirable.


I am sure that the Minister in dealing either with the employers or the trade unions will find that they are not going to use any Section of any Act of Parliament for the purpose of blackmailing one side or the other. The case upon which the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) put this Amendment down in Committee is known, and it is the one case that has been referred to since this Section of the 1930 Act has been in operation. The Minister said in Committee that he was not basing his acceptance of the Amendment on the one case. Knowing the case as I do, I do not think he could base his reason for the acceptance of the Amendment upon the case which was referred to by the hon. Member for Huddersfield. Let us see what the case actually is. The Road Traffic Act came into operation in 1931. The employers' associations on the goods side and the passenger side met. There was agreement at the first meeting to make application for variation of the hours. That application was made and it was agreed to. The variation was to come into operation on 1st April; that was fixed by the Minister. A joint application for variation was made by the employers' association and the trade union on the goods side, and a joint application was also made by the passenger side. The Minister, on the advice of the Industrial Court, agreed to variations in both cases. These variations ran for a period of two years.

When the discussion took place between the employers' association and the trade union on the goods side it was understood that an attempt would be made to set up joint machinery in order to enable the trade to deal with its problems in an organised way. It was agreed between the workmen's representatives and the employers' representatives that a joint council should be set up to deal with any matter which might arise in connection with their industry. When the variations were through, no attempt along these lines was made by the employers at all. No attempt has been made to keep within Section 19 and the variations. Earlier this year the Minister intimated to the associations and the trade unions that the variations expired on 31st March, and he asked for any observations. Meetings were then held between the association and the trade unions on the passenger side, and it was decided to submit an application for further variation. There was no difficulty as far as the passenger side was concerned.

The case was carried to the Industrial Court and later the Minister made an order for new variations to run for a period of two years. On the goods side the trade unions and the employers' association had meetings, but in view of the practice of the employers during the past two years and the failure to implement the promise which was made two years ago, and their refusal seriously to consider the question of machinery for the industry, which had been agreed to two years previously, it was held that the trade union should not agree to the application being made for variation. I should have thought that the Minister himself would have taken the whole of the circumstances into consideration. If he cared he could have consulted both sides. I am not asking him to consult only the Road Transport Federation or the employers' side, but to get the two sides together and to see whether it is not possible to bring about an agreement whereby this machinery, which the employers two year ago held was desirable but never put into operation, could be set up. Had that been done there would have been no difficulty. I do not anticipate any difficulty in the future.

I am sure that if the Minister had had considerable experience in negotiating either with the employers' side or the trade union side he would see how right it is that joint applications should be made to an Industrial Court for a variation of this kind. What is going to happen? All kinds of applications will be made by all kinds of organisations for a variation of hours. There will be an application and an objection. The result will be chaos. There has been no attempt to blackmail either from the employers' side or the workmen's side. Instead of doing what he is doing, it would have been better if the Minister had got the parties together and had tried to overcome the difficulty. Two years' experience is not long enough to try out the Section of the Act of Parliament. One difficulty which has arisen as a result of the variation of the Act is not sufficient to justify the Minister in coming to the House and asking the House to agree to a variation of the Act. I hope that the Minister will agree to the Amendment

that has been moved, and will try to get the trade unions and the employers' federation together to agree. Surely it is not to be said that pressure has to be brought to bear on one side or the other to snatch some slight advantage.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'organisation' in line 13, stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 168; Noes, 30.

Division No. 276.] AYES. [6.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Milne Charles
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Gibson, Charles Granville Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Gillett, Sir George Masterman Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Morrison, William Shephard
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Moss, Captain H. J.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Greene, William P. C. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John O'Connor, Terence James
Aske, Sir Robert William Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Petherick, M.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Pato, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'prn, Bilston)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gunston, Captain D. W. Pike, Cecil F.
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanes) Guy, J. C. Morrison Potter, John
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Hales. Harold K. Procter, Major Henry Adam
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th, C.) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Blindell, James Hammersley, Samuel S. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Borodale, Viscount Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Braithwaite. J. G. (Hillsborough) Harbord, Arthur Ratcliffe, Arthur
Briant, Frank Hartland, George A. Ray, Sir William
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Harvey. George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Rea, Walter Russell
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Roberts. Aled (Wrexham)
Burghley, Lord Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Burnett, John George Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Runge, Norah Cecil
Butt, Sir Alfred Holdsworth, Herbert Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Horsbrugh, Florence Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney. N.) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Carver, Major William H. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hume, Sir George Hopwood Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Somervell, Donald Bradley
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Spender, Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Clarke, Frank Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Spene, William Patrick
Clayton, Sir Christopher Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Conant. R. J. E. Lambert. Rt. Hon. George Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cranborne, Viscount Law, Sir Alfred Stevenson, James
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lewis, Oswald Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Cross, R. H. Llewellin, Major John J. Summersby, Charles H.
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Lloyd, Geoffrey Turton, Robert Hugh
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Loder, Captain J. de Vere Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lyons, Abraham Montagu Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Denman. Hon. R. D. Mabane, William Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Doran, Edward MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Drewe, Cedric Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Duggan, Hubert John McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Weymouth, Viscount
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) McKeag, William Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Wills, Wilfrid D.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertl'd)
Everard, W. Lindsay Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot Wise, Alfred R.
Fermoy, Lord Mander, Geoffrey le M. Withers, Sir John James
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough. E.)
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Merriman, Sir F. Boyd TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Ganzonl, Sir John Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Mr. Womersley.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Cove, William G. Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Cripps, Sir Stafford Grithffis, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Cape, Thomas Dagger, George Grundy, Thomas W.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Davies, Rhys John (Wosthoughton) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Healy, Cahir Logan, David Gilbert Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Hirst, George Henry McEntee, Valentine L. Thorne, William James
Jenkins, Sir William Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Tinker, John Joseph
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Mainwaring, William Henry Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Kirkwood, David Parkinson, John Allen
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Price, Gabriel TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Lawson, John James Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G.

6.39 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 26, line 13, after the word "such," to insert the word "national."

The effect of this Amendment would be to make the words in the Clause read: or on an application by any such national organisation. The Minister is altering the whole bearing of the system of organisations being able to get interviews with him on these questions, so much so as to make it possible for any single organisation to make an application, and there is no definition in the Clause to indicate what is to be the standing of such an organisation. It can of course he either a workmen's or an employers' association but we believe that it ought to be an organisation of national standing. The Minister in agreeing to meet such an organisation would know that they were placing before him a case on behalf of a large number of people and that in hearing them he was not wasting his time. At the moment there are all kinds of organisations in this trade. In connection with the road and rail traffic there are many subsidiary organisations all of which probably think that they have as much right to be heard as the larger organisations. While they may hold that opinion, it must be apparent that if a body of this kind is in a frail state owing to lack of numbers or weakness of organisation, its representations can really have no effective bearing upon a case at issue.

We contend that the organisations to be included in this provision should be responsible organisations whether of workers or of employers and that they should be national organisations in the full sense of the term. If an organisation is not able to speak nationally it can only speak for a section, and if we are going to put section against section we shall have greater trouble and difficulty on these questions than. we have had hitherto. The Minister ought to give serious consideration to this Amendment. We are not putting it forward in any grandiose manner but we feel that there is something lacking in this Clause, if it merely provides that the Minister is to meet any kind of organisation regardless of standing or representative character. The organisations with which he deals ought to carry the weight of the whole body of people concerned, whether employers or workmen, and ought to have a national status.

6.42 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

I cannot hold out any hope of accepting this Amendment. In the first place, it would be extremely difficult to define "national." Any body might call itself "national," and I do not know how the hon. Member would propose to define the word.


A national organisation is one which is accepted as being national in the sense that it speaks nationally for the particular section in industry with which it a concerned.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

Accepted by whom?


By the Minister of Labour.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

Then he is to settle whether an organisation is national or not. Is that the point? We do not see any reason why a body of workers or a body of employers, say in Yorkshire, or Lancashire, or in my own county of Durham, should not be able to make representation with regard to the period of driving laid down in Section 19 of the Act of 1930, if they find that their own particular industries are concerned in one way or another. It is true, of course, that any variations sanctioned by the Minister would apply to the whole country, but we cannot see why a section of the community should not voice their opinions on what they believe should be applicable to the whole community, or as to what they regard as necessary for the whole community. We cannot accept an Amendment of this kind which in our opinion would be unnecessary and unwise.

6.43 p.m.


I have seldom heard a less "thought-out" answer to a pro- posal of this kind. The hon. and gallant Gentleman apparently does not attach the slightest importance to whether questions of this sort are settled nationally or are settled district by district. I thought he was already well acquainted with the very large and vital issues which arise on this question. It has long been a subject of debate and I thought that by now there was almost universal agreement as to the desirability of having a national point of view and not a sectional point of view, placed before the Government or before the Ministry on these issues. The system which has been encouraged, as regards both workers and employers' organisations has been in the direction of bringing them into great national bodies capable of representing the united opinion of one side or the other on any point at issue. It has been held undesirable in the cotton industry, for instance, to have the employers in one little town speaking with one voice, those in another town speaking with another voice, and those in a third town saying something different from all the rest, nobody knowing which voice represents the view of the general body of employers.

It has been thought desirable and necessary to create national bodies capable of presenting to the nation and the Government the point of view of cotton manufacturers or steel manufacturers or any other section of employers. In exactly the same way it has been thought desirable to get together the operatives or workers in organisations which can represent the view of all the workers in the industry, and where you are dealing, as you are here, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, with points which will be decided, not for one section of the country or another, but nationally—a word which I think everybody understands who has ever thought about this matter at all—the question is, Do you want, in arriving at that settlement, to get the national view of the employers and the workers, or do you want to get the sectional views from Cornwall, Lancashire, Scotland, South Wales, London, and everywhere else, all of which may be different? I should have thought that, as a mere matter of the convenience of the Minister in consulting in a matter of this sort, he would have desired, first of all, to get all these smaller interests in the country to one national view, in order that they might present it to him and he might know how to act upon it.

It seems to me that he will encourage the breaking-up of national organisations into district organisations, and set back the clock of progress as regards conciliation in the whole of the industries which are concerned here. This Clause deals with joint industrial councils, conciliation boards, and similar bodies, and therefore the refusal of this Amendment is a direct encouragement to break clown a national system of conciliation and to encourage sectional systems of conciliation, the very thing which everybody who cares about conciliation has been trying to combat for years past. The excuse which the hon. and gallant Gentleman gives for not accepting the Amendment seems to me to be highly unsatisfactory.

6.48 p.m.


I hope the Minister will reconsider his decision because he cannot have seen the danger that may result from it. He is importing an entirely new principle into these matters. In the course of his short statement, he claimed the right of any small part of the community to make representations to the Ministry, and he said that the general body of the country would have to abide by the decision arrived at on the representation of that small body of opinion. It may be a small trade union in some outlying part, and there may be certain things in that locality which make them ask for a certain change to be made which may not be acceptable or in any way favourable to the rest of the country, yet the Minister, on their representations, can make the change for the whole of the country. Again, the employers in a part of the country may make a. representation to the Minister, and the obligation is placed on all the employers throughout the country to fall into line with his decision, arrived at on the representation of a small body of people only. I suggest that if that is to be the situation, we are laying down a principle for all industries, of all types, which will eventually lead to considerable disorder, because any small section, either of workmen or employers, can come along, make representations to the Minister, and get a decision, and that decision will affect the whole of the people in that industry.

7.50 p.m.


I hope the Minister will consider the possibility of adopting the word suggested here, because I am certain that it is wise, in the national interest, to do all that we can to encourage national organisation, whether of employers or employés. One of the complaints made against this country in the past has been that it is so difficult to get an effective organisation in regard to industrial matters generally, because we have in some respects a chaotic system of organisation among both employers and employed. We want to favour these national organisations, because the great national trade unions have great responsibility, they have a great deal more experience, and can look at things from a broad, national point of view; and anything which tends to encourage sectional interests in different parts of the country is directly against the general trade interest of the country. Whether it is a national joint industrial council, or a trade union, or any other form of conciliation machinery, I believe, from my own personal experience, that it would be very wise indeed for this House to give every encouragement to national organisation. The more we place power and responsibility in a large sense in the hands of trade unionists, the more they will respond to it and the more they will be able to play their part in the constructive building-up of industry in this country. I hope, therefore, the Minister will consider whether there is any really serious objection to putting in this word.

7.52 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

I do not suppose the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) would ever consider anything that anybody else had thought could be well thought-out if it disagreed with what he thought. That is his usual line of argument. But I think hon. Members opposite are rather exaggerating the case. It seems to me that all that is wanted is that bodies of representative people, whether employers or employed, should be able to initiate a movement for a variation, and then that the Minister should say whether he considers that any such change is desirable and how much weight he should give to the views of any body that approaches him. Hon Members opposite need not think for a moment that the Minister will be led away by any little sectional body that comes to him, but he will, if necessary, as a result of this approach, give a decision—


Without consulting anybody else.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

The Minister is asked, by some body of workers or employers, not necessarily calling itself national, though very likely representing national opinion, to make a variation, and if he considers that variation desirable in the interests of the whole community, he should be in a position to make it. My point is that there is no reason why it should not be possible for representative local organisations to bring forward their views to the Minister.

7.54 p.m.


It may not be a great local organisation; it may be half-a-dozen disgruntled people, and the reason my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) takes the view that he has done is that he belongs to one of the greatest and strongest trade unions in the country. Neither that trade union nor the trade union Which represents the medical profession would ever allow that their interests should be discussed and determined without their being heard. There are lots of little tin-pot organisations up and down the country, representing all kinds of points of view, from the doctrine of the laying-on of hands and making you better that way, to those of psycho-analysis; and the British Medical Association would see the Government in Jericho before it allowed them to legislate on a medical matter without the British Medical Association being heard. The hon. and gallant Gentleman would be one of the first to stand at that Box and defend that big national organisation.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM indicated dissent.


I know the hon. and gallant Gentleman better than he knows himself, because I pay attention to what he says in this House, and I know that he always supports a certain kind of vested interest and never supports the interests of the working class when expressed through a national organisation.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

Not at all.


When we have been discussing the coal situation he has always supported that side which has been opposed to the Miners' Federation on this very issue, and that is that we should have national rather than sectional agreements. In our view, nearly all the trouble in the mining industry is caused because the employers, supported by hon. Members similar to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, have always contended that any small organisation shall

be considered, and not the national organisation. I cannot help feeling that, instead of reproving my hon. and learned Friend, the hon. and gallant Gentleman, from his own point of view of always supporting the big national organisations of the law and medicine, ought to have been on our side.

Question put, "That the word 'national' be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 24; Noes, 188.

Division No. 277.] AYES. [6.56 p.m.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Grundy, Thomas W. Mainwaring, William Henry
Cape, Thomas Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mender, Geoffrey le M.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Healy, Cahir Parkinson, John Allen
Cove, William G. Hirst, George Henry Price, Gabriel
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jenkins, Sir William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dagger, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, David Thorne, William James
Edwards, Charles Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Tinker, John Joseph
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lawson, John James Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Logan, David Gilbert
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. Groves and Mr. G. Macdonald.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Denville, Alfred Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Dickle, John P. Law, Sir Alfred
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Drewe, Cedric Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Leckie, J. A.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Lewis, Oswald
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Liddell, Walter S.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Llewellin, Major John J.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick
Aske, Sir Robert William Ford, Sir Patrick J. Lloyd, Geoffrey
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Ganzoni, Sir John Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Gibson, Charles Granville Lyons, Abraharn Montagu
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Gillett, Sir George Masterman Mabane, William
Borodale, Viscount Granville, Edgar MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas McCorquodale, M. S.
Boyce, H. Leslie Greases-Lord, Sir Waiter Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Greene, William P. C. McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Brass, Captain Sir William Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John McKeag, William
Brient, Frank Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Broadbent, Colonel John Grimston, R. V. Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Guy, J. C. Morrison Marsden, Commander Arthur
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hales, Harold K. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Burghley, Lord Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)
Burnett, John George Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Milne, Charles
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hammersley, Samuel S. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Caporal, Arthur Cecil Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morris-Jones. Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Carver, Major William H. Harbord, Arthur Morrison, William Shepherd
Castlereagh, Viscount Hartland, George A. Moss, Captain H. J.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) North, Edward T.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. O'Connor, Terence James
Chapman. Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hedgers, Captain F. F. A. O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Clarke, Frank Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Patrick, Colin M.
Clayton, Sir Christopher Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Pearson, William G.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Horsbrugh, Florence Petherick, M.
Conant, R. J. E. Howard, Tom Forrest Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cowan, D. M. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pike, Cecil F.
Cranborne, Viscount Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Potter, John
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Cross, R. H. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Pybus, Percy John
Cruddas, Lieut-Colonel Bernard Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rameden, Sir Eugene
Davies, Maj. Gee. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Jones. Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ratcliffe, Arthur
Denman, Hon. H. P. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth) Rathbone, Eleanor
Ray, Sir William Somervell, Donald Bradley Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Rea, Walter Russell Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsen)
Reid, David D. (County Down) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Rantoul Sir Gervais S. Spens, William Patrick Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Stanley, Hon. o. F. G. (Westmorland) Weymouth, Viscount
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Runge, Norah Cecil Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Summersby, Charles H. Wise, Alfred R.
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Templeton, William P. Withers, Sir John James
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Thompson, Luke Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness) Torten, Robert Hugh TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Smithers, Waldron Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
and Mr. Womersley.