HC Deb 03 April 1957 vol 568 cc534-6
Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 8, line 6, to leave out "(a)".

Mr. Speaker

It appears to me that all the Amendments proposed to Clause 10 might be considered together.

Mr. Maudling

This Amendment follows some discussion that we had in Committee when it was represented to us by hon. Members opposite that the existing machinery for joint consultation should be continued and that joint consultation should continue on a national basis, and not be broken down to an area basis. As I said in Committee, I was very much impressed by the strength of the argument put forward by hon. Members opposite. In particular, the hon. and gallant Member for Hull, West (Captain Hewitson) not only put forward a strong argument for retaining the present system, but was kind enough to offer us some advice in the matter in the drafting of Amendments. The Amendments now on the Notice Paper result from the consultations which have taken place with the hon. and gallant Member and some trade union experts whom he was good enough to bring along to help us in this matter.

The first five Amendments proposed to this Clause, taken together, would mean that the same system of national arrangements would be continued for joint consultation as is to be continued under this Clause for negotiation on wages and similar matters. That, I understand, is exactly what the Opposition wish that we should do. The final Amendment proposed to the Clause is in a sense consequential. It is consequential, in a way, on the Amendment accepted in Committee that education and training should be specifically included in the matters covered by the joint consultative machinery.

Under the 1947 Act, as amended by the Bill, the boards will have a duty, in consultation with the appropriate trade unions, to establish the facilities for training and education. The effect of the new subsection (4) in the proposed Amendment in page 8, line 38, would be that in determining what are the appropriate trade unions for the purpose of that duty laid on the boards the boards shall have regard to the general consultative machinery which has been set up. I think that that is in a sense consequential, and we have had the benefit of very good advice in the framing of these Amendments. I think they are in line with the views expressed in Committee and I hope, therefore, that the House will accept them.

Mr. Palmer

As the right hon. Gentleman says, we had a very good debate in Committee on this matter. As we saw it, the defect in the Bill was that in relation to the joint consultation machinery the intention of the Bill as drafted was that it should be regionalised and not on a national basis. That, of course, was not the case in relation to wages and salaries, but it was so in regard to negotiations and that was a departure from the 1947 principle. The trade unions objected—I think quite properly—and very strongly, to the departure. Some of my hon. Friends and I expressed the trade union objections to the change when we spoke in Committee upstairs. I join with the right hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to the influence which the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull, West (Captain Hewitson) had on the mind of the Committee.

10.0 p.m.

The necessary Amendment has been brought in and we are glad to have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that this has been discussed with the unions. I have confirmed the trade unions' reactions, as the right hon. Gentleman would expect. We are again grateful to him for the necessary change that he has made and I am certain that the trade unions will also be grateful.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 8, line 13, after "for", insert "(a)".

In page 8, leave out lines 19 to 32, and insert: (b) the promotion, improvement and encouragement of measures affecting the safety, health, welfare, education and training of persons employed by the Electricity Council or by Electricity Boards, and the discussion of other matters of mutual interest to that Council or those Boards and persons so employed, including efficiency in the operation of the services of the Council or the Boards.

In line 33, leave out "paragraph (a) of".

In line 38, leave out "paragraph (a) of".

In line 38, at end insert: (4) In so far as the Generating Board or any Area Board are required by subsection (2) of section two of the principal Act to consult with any organisation appearing to them to be appropriate with respect to the performance of their duty under that subsection to provide, or assist the provision of, facilities for training and education, the Board, in determining what organisation is appropriate, shall have regard to any machinery established for the purposes of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section.—[Mr. Maudling.]