HC Deb 06 May 1952 vol 500 cc159-60
4. Mr. Frederick Lee

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take action to ensure that the refusal of an employer to accept an employee sent to him from the employment exchange to fill a vacancy of which he had given notice, on the grounds that the workman is a member of a trade union, shall become an offence under the Notification of Vacancies Order.

Sir W. Monckton

No, Sir. I am advised that there is no power to include in this Order any provision making it an offence for an employer to refuse to engage a particular worker.

Mr. Lee

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, as the Order now stands, he is, in fact, forced to accede to the recognition of the principle of the closed shop against trade unionists by employers who do this sort of thing? As he has brought the trade unions into partnership with him as special agents in running the Order, does he not see how anomalous that position is? Could he not do something to deal with it?

Sir W. Monckton

The difficulty about answering the Question otherwise than I did is the advice I have about what can be done under the Order. I am advised that it cannot be done by amendment of the Order, and that was the point which was put to me.

Mr. Lee

As this Order was framed in conjunction with the N.J.A.C., would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree to reconsider this aspect of the matter—which is a new aspect and could not have been foreseen at the time—with the N.J.A.C. and take their advice on it?

Sir W. Monckton

The difficulty about that is that it is not so much any disagreement which has to be resolved; it is what powers are authorised by the regulation under which the Order was made. I am told that it could not be done by amending the Order. It is a point which has been discussed with the unions.

Captain J. A. L. Duncan

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that although this Question refers to a case in Dundee, there is another case of the very opposite character in Dundee; and will he do nothing to alter the Order?

Mr. Speaker

That is another matter.

Mr. E. Fernyhough

Does the Minister realise that so long as the law permits an employer to refuse to engage a man merely because he is a member of a trade union, it is rank hypocrisy for the Tory Government to bar the Durham County Council because they do the opposite?