HC Deb 01 March 1944 vol 397 cc1442-5
Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 6, line 19, at the end, to insert: (3) Where—

  1. (a) by virtue of any provision made by or under any Act, employers of any class are required, in taking persons of any class into their employment (whether in all cases or not and whether absolutely or subject to exceptions), to restrict themselves to, or to give preference to, persons for the time being included in a specified pool or register; and
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  3. (b) under the said provision, all persons included in that pool or register are in the employment of a specified body when not otherwise employed; and
  4. (c) the occupation in which a person to whom this Act applies was last employed before the beginning of his war service is such that the taking of him into his employment by the person who, but for the provision of this subsection, would be his former employer is affected by the said provision,
the said body shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be the former employer of that person. In the course of the Second Reading Debate my right hon. Friend said that in the case of the Merchant Navy, the docks, and so on, in which pools were formed under emergency legislation in order to take the place of the individual employer, the workers concerned would have the right to be reinstated to those pools. On further consideration of the Bill we came to the conclusion that in order to carry out the Minister's intentions words something like those of the Amendment should be added to make the position quite clear.

Sir Robert Young (Newton)

I should like to ask whether this Amendment applies only to seamen and others of that character, or does it apply generally to engineers who have been under various employers?

Mr. McCorquodale

This Amendment refers to two cases where, under emergency legislation, pools of employed persons have been formed. At the moment there are pools for dockers and Merchant Navy seamen, and there may be others before the end of the war.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

Is the employer clearly defined in a case like that? I am not conversant with the system of pools of employment in the dockers' industry, but are we clear that the obligation will fall on some specific employer?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

The position in the dock industry is that before the war a man was casually employed and therefore virtually had no employer, although he might go back on to the register in order to give him a right to apply for work. That was all the right he had. During the war two schemes have been established which after the war must become one scheme. One is the Ministry of Transport scheme on Merseyside and in Glasgow, formed for special reasons, but the more important is the National Dock Labour Corporation scheme, under which responsibility is accepted for guaranteeing the man his income, so that instead of going back on to the register, which gives him only the right to apply for work at the dock gates, he goes back into the pool and, if there is no work, participates in the guaranteed week, like others who have been in the pool all the time. The same thing applies to merchant seamen. A pool has been established which takes care of a man when he is not on board ship and has no individual employer. Under this arrangement we reinstate the man not merely on the register but in the pool, so that he gets all the rights of the people who have been at home during the whole period.

Sir Irving Albery (Gravesend)

It is not clear to me from what the right hon. Gentleman has said whether in connection with such a pool as the Dock Labour Corporation pool the Corporation will be treated as being legally the employer?

Mr. Bevin


Major Manningham-Buller

Supposing the pools cease to exist after the war, who then will be the employer?

Mr. Bevin

In that case we should be right back to the position where the men had only the status of casual workers, but I have no fear that the pools will disappear. In building, shipping and the docks—I think in the case of the building trade it has not yet extended there—generally speaking I think we may take it that in the case of casual labour that system will be the order of the day.

Sir I. Albery

I have one last question to put. Among dock labourers there are many men who were registered and then for some reason became unregistered. How will they stand? The Bill provides for those who were in the employ of an employer within a certain time. How will men under the pool system be affected as regards this question of time?

Mr. Bevin

There was registration at every port and men were on the register. If a man was on the register when he was called up, then, the pool having now taken the place of the individual employer from the point of view of liability, he will be able to establish his claim before the Reinstatement Com- mittee —if there is a dispute—to go back into the pool instead of going back on to the register, which has been superseded. The man is in a safer position and has greater security.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. McCorquodale

I beg to move, in page 6, to leave out lines 20 to 23.

This is really a drafting Amendment. The words which it is proposed to leave out cover the definition of "undertaking," and we think that would come more appropriately in Clause 20, with the other definitions.

Amendment agreed to.