§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
I beg to move.That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Industrial Disputes (Amendment and Revocation) Order, 1958 (S.I., 1958, No. 1796), dated 30th October, 1958, a copy of which was laid before this House on 3rd November, be annulled.The fact that the Government were ready to accede to the request of the Opposition that this Prayer might be taken at this hour and so provide an opportunity for an all-day debate is, I think, an indication of the gravity with which the House in general views all matters concerned with industrial relations. I think that it is useful that a 1156 debate on the annulment of this Order, which, so far, appears to have been advantageous to industrial relations, should have a fair run and that every hon Member who manages to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, should give his views upon it.
I do not think that we can deal with this Prayer in isolation from the general background of collective agreements, because we have prided ourselves in this country that we have managed in our industrial relations to improve industrial peace, to reduce the number of days lost in disputes by voluntary methods, and Parliament, from time to time, has merely come along to help along the voluntary machinery freely entered into by both employers and union organisations.
It must be remembered that collective agreements are very comprehensive documents. They not only deal with wages and conditions of work, but with things like overtime, piece rates, bonus rates, holidays, and so on, and because they are comprehensive documents it frequently happens that matters of interpretation of those documents cause difficulty between both sides of industry. In the event of an agreement not meeting a particular position, what happens about the change of that agreement? These comprehensive, collective agreements have always required the help of an outside body, and Parliament decided, when it passed the Conciliation Act, 1896, and the Industrial Courts Act, 1919, that voluntary machinery should be so aided by the Government, and this duty now falls upon the Minister of Labour. Therefore, in the circumstances that have arisen, we have voluntary arrangements for the fixation of wages and hours and conditions of work, with the Government in the background, armed with the necessary Parliamentary power, to assist in the settlement of disputes when that aid is invoked or requested.
We changed from this practice in 1940. It was during the stress and strain of the war, and at a time of extreme national urgency that, to avoid the dislocation of industries and services by stoppages of work, for the first time in our industrial relations Parliament introduced an element of compulsion in the arbitral system. Under the Order of 1940, strikes and lock-outs were declared unlawful unless the Minister of 1157 Labour had been notified of the dispute well in advance and had failed within a time limit stated in the Order to bring about a peaceful settlement. That Order became widely known as Order No. 1305. It was, indeed, the Order which I abolished in my short period of office as Minister of Labour. A new Order was introduced and it is the new Order which the Government have decided, in their turn, to annul without putting in its place permanent legislation.
Before we can adequately consider the present Order, there are two points about the 1940 Order which ought to be brought to the attention of the House, because I think that they form the background of the Order which we are now to discuss. In the first place, I think it must be understood that the Order of 1940 was made by unanimous agreement between the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress, through their representatives on the Joint Consultative Committee, which was set up by the National Joint Advisory Council, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour is Chairman. That recommendation was a unanimous one to the late Mr. Ernest Bevin when he was Minister of Labour, and it was to the effect that matters in dispute in any trade or industry which could not be settled by means of the existing negotiating machinery for dealing with questions about wages and conditions of employment should be referred to arbitration.
It is very important to quote the actual words of the recommendation. They were that a dispute should be referred to arbitrationfor a decision which will be binding on all parties, and no strike or lockout shall take place.It was in pursuance of this recommendation that Order No. 1305 of 1940 was made.
So, from the first, this element of compulsory arbitration was one which had been voluntarily agreed by both sides of industry in the best interests of industrial relations in the light of the conditions at the time, namely, total war. It is fair to add that the trade union movement and, believe, employers consistently up to that date strenuously opposed the principle of compulsory arbitration. I shall not go into the arguments for and against 1158 compulsory arbitration, but I should like to make known the fact that there had been this strenuous opposition to compulsory arbitration right up to 1940.
As a result of that opposition from both sides of industry, it was readily agreed by the then Government that if either side wished to contract out of the agreement, then the Order would be reviewed, or perhaps it was even stronger in those days. I think that probably the words were to the effect that the Order would be revoked if either side wanted to opt out of compulsory arbitration.
Therefore, the first point that I make is that compulsory arbitration was not something which was originally introduced by this House and imposed upon industry, but was, in fact, imposed upon industry with its full concurrence and. indeed, unanimous recommendation.
The second important issue that arises out of the 1940 Order is this. In no respect did that Order supersede any of the existing machinery for conciliation, investigation and voluntary arbitration which the Minister of Labour already possessed. What it was intended to do was to ensure that before a trade dispute reached the stage of a stoppage of work the dispute would be brought—and I want to emphasise these words—by one or other of the parties to the notice of the Minister. This, again, is an important departure from the previous legislation, under which the Minister had power to order inquiries and reports or, alternatively, to submit a dispute to arbitration only if both sides agreed that it should go to arbitration.
In 1940, a second very important change was made, and it was that either side, with the concurrence of the other side, could raise the matter and give notice to the Minister, who would then act in accordance with the Order. It is true to say that the bulk of disputes from that day, and before, have been settled quite outside this sort of machinery and quite outside the machinery of the Order now before the House. Nevertheless, those were the two departures to which I draw the attention of the House, because I think that this will develop the argument in relation to the Order of 1951.
The 1940 Order remained in force until the summer of 1951. During the period prior to that date, it was made 1159 perfectly clear to the Government of the day that the illegality of strikes and lockouts could not continue without bringing that part of the law into disrepute. In the event of a sudden strike by a number of men—a hasty strike, which might not last more than a day—it was impossible to bring the force of the law against each.of the individuals concerned. It was clear that because of the impossibility at that stage of enforcing the law concerning the illegality of strikes, something must be done to produce administrative means which not only would have the force of law, but would remove the farce of part of the existing law being completely ignored.
Discussions were accordingly begun once again with both sides of industry, in the same way as discussions had taken place prior to 1940 with the late Mr. Ernest Bevin. These discussions took a long time, but, without going into detail as to the arguments adduced by one side or another concerning variations of the wording and the like, agreement was finally reached on a draft Order, which, subsequently, was submitted to the House and approved, cancelling Order No. 1305 and producing the new Order No. 1376.
I must be perfectly fair by quoting a few words of mine to show that the right to have the Order reviewed was again left with either side of industry. It is no part of my case today that neither side of industry—I am thinking of the employers—could ask the Minister to abrogate the Order. On 2nd August, 1951, when dealing with the Order, I said:I have informed the representatives of the organisations with whom I have had discussions that if at any time either side wish the Order to he discontinued it will be reviewed immediately. But I venture to hope that this may not be necessary and that the Order may provide a piece of machinery suitable for our peacetime requirements and capable of rendering the maximum assistance to industry in the settlement of disputes peaceably without recourse to lockout or strike."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1951; Vol. 491, c. 1626]From that brief review, I turn to the Order which we are seeking to annul. We hope that as a result of our debate the Minister may have second thoughts. I ought, first, to say that there is not the slightest objection from anyone on these benches that so many years after the war we should get rid of Orders made under the Defence Regulations. That is not part of our case. What we do say, how- 1160 ever, is that the Industrial Disputes Order of 1951 has been so advantageous in helping to preserve industrial peace that while we have no objection to the annulment of the Order made under the Defence Regulations, we are strongly of opinion that what is best in the Order should be enshrined into our law by permanent legislation.
When we considered what to do concerning the new Order that was to replace Order No. 1305, we realised that a new approach might need to be adopted for peacetime purposes. I will not go into all the arguments. Suffice it to say that we produced an Order which divides matters into two parts, one relating to issues and the other relating to disputes. That was new and it seemed to me to be a sensible approach to a number of problems, some of which I will mention.
Let us consider the question of issues. Again, through the years there has grown up the practice of voluntary wage negotiating machinery in all sorts of industries. Very little difficulty arises as a result of these negotiations. At the same time, it has always been part of the case of good employers to say to the trade union side, "What will you do about employers who undercut these rates?"
It was usually the case that the employers who undercut the rates employed workpeople who were difficult to organise from a trade union viewpoint. Possibly they employed female labour, which comes in from school and leaves work at about the age of 22, people who have no interest in an occupation as a full-time career and to whom, therefore, trade unionism means little or nothing. In addition, it must be remembered that a large number of workshops employ fewer than 10 people. They are so small that it is virtually impossible for any trade union organisation to get round to all and sundry and get the organisation to such a strength that it can enforce rates and conditions upon these employers by the withdrawal of labour. In any case, the whole idea of the joint councils and the rest was to preserve industrial peace and not to create unrest.
The trade unions, therefore, were being placed in a difficult situation. They were told that joint machinery was designed—and they agreed to it—to preserve industrial peace. Equally, good employers were entitled to ask what would happen 1161 concerning those employers who would not pay the rates. On the other hand, the unions did not have the full authority, nor was it physically possible without assistance, to enforce upon the other employers the rates of the good employers.
That was the reason for the issues part of the Order. It merely means that when machinery exists for negotiating wages and conditions and an employer—he may or may not be a federated employer; usually he is non-federated—refuses to pay the same rates to his workpeople who are members of a trade union, that union is able to turn to the Minister and invite the Industrial Disputes Tribunal to consider the case as an issue. The Order specifies precisely what the result will be.
The Industrial Disputes Tribunal is able to award that the rates which have been freely negotiated shall be applicable to the employer who has resisted paying the rates and they become a contract of service. If the employer does not observe the fair wages and conditions of work which have been negotiated by the two sides of industry through the proper machinery, the union can take the employer to court for failing to carry out his contract of service with his employees. That is an eventuality that no employer would face. The consequence is that the issues part of the Order not only benefited the workers in industry, but it benefited every good employer who joined with the unions in agreeing wages and conditions.
All I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman is this. I cannot understand any employer going to the Minister and saying, "I want this abrogated." What is in his mind if he does? Have the employers said that? Is it that they want now to opt out of a good deal of joint negotiation? I should have thought that this part of the Order, which safeguards the good employer, would be something which the good employer, equally with the trade union men, would want to keep. If some of the good employers are now saying, "We do not want this Order," is that a sign of the new times, that, as unemployment increases, it will be an embarrassment?
I am bound to show the other side of the coin, that when there are many employers in an industry who do not pay the recognised rates negotiated by the 1162 joint machinery within that industry it is very difficult for that joint machinery to get any improvements in the wages and conditions of the workers for whom it operates. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman: have employers said that they want to be rid of the whole of this Order? And, if so, does that mean that we are in for a new round of fights between organised workers and the employers, with this protection gone from both the good employers and the workers?
I cannot interpret in any other way the desire of the employers to be rid of the issues part of the Order. I am optimistic only in this sense, that I think the Minister said, when we were discussing these matters a few days ago in the House, that he was taking another look at the issues part; and so I hope that today he will say that the employers are not asking for the issues part of the Order to be abrogated, but that they would like to see some new agreement. If not I can only say that the most pessimistic interpretation will have to be placed upon their action.
The second part of the Order deals with disputes, and here it is a question of wage negotiations within the recognised machinery. Most of the joint industrial councils and other wage-fixing pieces of machinery contain within them methods of arbitration when there is failure to agree. A good many do not, but most of them do. The purpose of this part of the Order, therefore, was to provide for some outside help when the machinery itself had not operated satisfactorily, and there was a need for someone to bridge the gap and so prevent an outburst leading to an industrial dispute.
It was worked out carefully. The whole idea of the Order in my mind and the minds of my advisers was to strengthen the voluntary machinery. Therefore, by the second part of this Order we wanted to encourage the voluntary machinery to set up its own arbitration courts, its own arbitration machinery, so that it would not need to have recourse to any outside help. It was my intention, had we not been kicked out of office by an ungrateful public, to pursue throughout the whole of industry the idea of getting their own methods of arbitration, their own wage-fixing machinery, so that the need for 1163 reference elsewhere would have become very small indeed.
I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman shares that view and has probably pursued that line of action himself, but this second part of the Order strengthened that machinery, because it did not permit the Tribunal to deal with a case itself; if machinery existed for settlement of a dispute by arbitration within the agreed machinery it referred it to that machinery. But what it did was to make that decision a final and legal decision.
This Order dealt with industrial disputes in these two ways. It provided a number of other things which I need not go into in detail, because many of them are well known to hon. Members who will be taking part in the debate. But I am satisfied of this, that while 1,160 cases have been referred to and dealt with by the Tribunal, hundreds and hundreds of cases were settled outside the Tribunal machinery because this Order existed. None of us can say what that figure is, but many people in industry, on both sides, have said many, many times that undoubtedly the mere existence of this document, the mere fact that the Industrial Disputes Tribunal was there, the mere fact that one could make those decisions contracts of service, that one gave some legality to what had been agreed through the voluntary machinery, did prevent a tremendous number of disputes.
I understand that of these 1,160 cases about 18 per cent. came under Part I, that is, the issues part, and 82 per cent. under the disputes part. Of the decisions 22 per cent. were in favour of the employers' case and 78 per cent. were in favour of the unions' case. It should be borne in mind that where a union won a case on issues that was as much to the advantage of the employer as it was to the union.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
When the right hon. Gentleman talks about 22 per cent. and 78 per cent. does he mean that those percentages related to issues or to disputes, or are they grouped as one?
§ Mr. Robens
They relate to both. I said of the 78 per cent. of the cases that inasmuch as they related to issues the decisions were as much to the advantage 1164 of the employers, I think, as to the advantage of the employees, the workers in industry.
When we turn to the public service we get a very different situation, but, at the same time, proof of the value and strength of this Order in that sphere. Let us take the National Association of Local Government Officers. It has about 250,000 members engaged in the public service. It is an organisation not affiliated to the T.U.C. It has time and time again expressed its policy as that of not taking strike action to enforce its demands. This is a very substantial principle to which N.A.L.G.O. has adhered, and, no doubt, in the interests of the public generally. Local government officers, therefore, have steadfastly carried on their tasks, sometimes under duress because they have not been properly treated in relation to wages and conditions; but they have carried on, and have relied upon this Order to put matters right.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Is it not true that even as late as June this year the Association refused to pass a resolution agreeing to strike action because it had faith that the Government would not bring in an Order to remove the Industrial Disputes Tribunal?
§ Mr. Robens
Yes, that is true, and I am very glad that my hon. Friend has emphasised that fact. We have 250,000 people who are in the public service and who have been denied this freedom to strike because they have relied upon this Order to see that justice is done to them. This is a very important matter.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Is it not equally true that the dispute about the pay and service of the clerical employees of the National Health Service was settled not on the basis of the document, but through the ordinary arbitration court?
§ Mr. Robens
No. The Minister refused to sanction the agreed rate. If the Minister had told the Whitley Council beforehand that he was not going to accept its recommendation, then those Health Service clerical workers could have used this Order and could have got their wages. It was deceit on the part of the Minister of Health, who told them, 1165 after the Council had made it recommendation, that he was not going to accept it.
At this Box I said at the time that if he had been honest with them, if he had told them what he told the official side, that he was not going to agree to a wage increase, they could have taken it to the Tribunal, and, no doubt, got their advance. They have only got their increase in pay because the Government had to find a way out of their embarrassment by a regrading scheme, in which they have done a tremendous amount of regrading, carrying rates which, in effect—I am speaking now without the book—give virtually the increases which the Whitley Council had agreed to.
§ Mr. Iremonger
But is not the right hon. Gentleman a lap behind? It was from a settlement made as a result of the Noel Hall Report. The matter was by agreement referred to and settled by the arbitration court under the Industrial Courts Act, 1919.
§ Mr. Robens
We are not talking about anything settled under the 1919 Act. We are talking about the Industrial Disputes Order, 1951, No. 1376, and I have already said nothing in that Order contravenes any of the Minister's power under the 1919 Act or of the provisions of the 1896 Act. Therefore, though his intentions are perhaps good, the hon. Member is not quite with us at this stage.
Local government officers have only this Order to rely upon, now that they have given up the right to strike. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) said that as recently as June N.A.L.G.O. had said once again that its members would not strike, because it relied upon this Order to compel local authorities which were not paying the rates voluntarily agreed upon at a national level to bring themselves into line. That is the case. I have details of cases which N.A.L.G.O. has taken up, but I do not think that I need weary the House with statistics at the moment. Suffice to say that any of the local authorities which were underpaying the national agreed rates could be brought into line by reference to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
§ Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isleworth)
The police and the fire brigades have always been excluded from the 1166 Order, despite the fact that the Home Secretary makes regulations. There have been disputes on occasion with individual fire authorities, but by means of the machinery within the Joint Advisory Council the fire brigades have been able to bring the local authorities into line, except in one case which was somewhat delayed.
§ Mr. Robens
I do not understand the relevance of that. The truth is that the police have certain responsibilities and there is a Measure, concerned with conspiracy, which deals with water, electricity and gas undertakings. We are not concerned with the police, who, by law, are prevented from striking and, therefore, have other methods of dealing with these matters. We are concerned with a quarter of a million local government officers. The hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris) is entitled to make a case for the fire officers, which is easily answered, but there are a quarter of a million local government officers who could strike if they so wanted.
The law does not prevent them from striking, but they have said that they will not strike because they rest on what Parliament has done to protect their interests. That is to say, as I have said, every local authority which does not carry out wages and conditions, agreed voluntarily and nationally, can be brought into line by reference to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. That is the only point I make. It seems to me a valid case when this Order is the document that protects the interest of these quarter of a million officers and prevents any strike anywhere in local government offices and yet this is the document which the Government now wish to throw on one side without telling us that they are prepared to bring in new legislation.
What is the case against the retention of the Order, not in its present form but in a new form of legislation? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour will be frank with us and will tell us what case has been made out. As I understand, two points have been made. First, the employers say that the present arrangement is one-sided, in the sense that when the Industrial Disputes Tribunal has made an award the employer has to pay, otherwise he can be taken to court for breach of contract of service, but, if an award is made the other way, 1167 the employee merely has to give a week's notice that he has broken his contract of service and his employers no longer have a hold upon him.
Surely, it is a rather David and Goliath argument. Surely, big industries are not raising that as an issue to break down a most useful piece of legislation in industrial relations. The Minister, apparently, has been prepared to take the whole of this argument solely from the employers, because the T.U.C. has been against revocation of the Order. Therefore, if that is the argument it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to say precisely, and give us very good examples to prove, why the whole Order should be annulled on the basis of a few cases of one-sided arrangements. Alternatively, he should say that the one-sidedness is so great as to require giving the employer an advantage now rather than preserve industrial peace by means of the Order.
What were the arguments adduced by employers that led the right hon. Gentleman to decide to get rid of an Order which has existed for eighteen years and must have saved innumerable days of dispute? [An HON. MEMBER: "A review was promised."] Of course I promised a review, and I say that the right hon. Gentleman is entitled, indeed is under an obligation, to review the Order.
The second case against the retention of the Order is the refusal by unions to appear before the Tribunal. But we must have all the facts on the table. I understand that there have been four occasions when a trade union has refused to attend the Tribunal. In view of the 1,160 cases which were involved, I should not have thought that to be a good enough argument for revoking the Order.
I believe that there is no difference between either side of industry in the desire to reduce the number of days lost in industrial disputes. That being so, every endeavour should be made to have a review before revoking an Order which everybody must admit has been an additional piece of machinery to avoid industrial disputes and has worked successfully. Every possible effort, in terms of a review by the Minister, should have been made.
In this context, I should like to offer some criticism of the right hon. Gentleman. My information is that this matter was put to the National Joint Advisory Council and that during the eight months which followed nothing was done until 1168 the Minister announced that he had decided to revoke the Order. He knew that the employers had said that they wanted it revoked and that the T.U.C. felt that it was in the best interests of industrial relations that it should not be revoked. He also knew that both sides have no objection to a revocation of the Order provided that some permanent legislation is put on the Statute Book in relation to it.
The right hon. Gentleman is well-known for making speeches throughout the country in favour of adherence to the idea of securing the best possible relationship and partnership in industry, and he has said a great deal about joint consultation. In view of this, I do not understand why he did not practise joint consultation a little more himself. Why did he not bring the leaders of the trade union movement and the British Employers' Confederation together under his chairmanship and hammer out these things? I believe that if he had done that he would have been probably surprised at the success obtained.
I want to say this last word to the Minister, in all seriousness. I and my hon. Friends on this side of the House are not wanting to see any extension of industrial strife; we want to see industrial strife brought to a minimum. But whatever the Minister may say today, the scrapping of this Order, without anything of a permanent legislative nature taking its place, will be taken by people everywhere as being a retrograde step in industrial relations.
This action will be considered alongside a whole series of things that the Government have done in the last twelve months. It will be alongside the very strong advice given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to arbitrators to go easy on wage claims. It will be alongside the refusal of the Minister of Health to sanction the agreement arrived at for the clerical workers in the National Health Service, and it will be alongside, what we very well know to have taken place—the pressure put upon the chairmen of nationalised industries to interfere with the free voluntary wage arrangements in their industries.
It will be seen, too, as an attempt to weaken the influence of the trade union movement by the Government, who have always resented the fact that the trade 1169 union movement is the strong foundation upon which the Labour Party and Her Majesty's Opposition are based. In the post-war years we have kept party politics, by and large, out of industrial relations, and I hope that we can continue to do that and can work towards industrial peace. I say to the Minister that he would be wise to scrap this Order only if he has new, permanent legislation to take its place.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour and National Service (Mr. fain Macleod)
I must say that I found more to agree with in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) than I thought I would. Although I have a number of specialised criticisms, which I shall come to in due course, there is one general criticism which I should like to make now. I do not think that he answered—I do not think that he really even posed—what is the principal dilemma behind this debate today. It is this. If the representatives of industry hold differing views, does the Minister of Labour impose on industry a system of compulsory arbitration or does he recognise that such a system can only rest on agreement? That is the real question to which we have to address our minds in this debate.
I agree that in 1940 a most important step in the history of arbitration was taken. It was a new and important departure, and the Order No. 1305 of 1940 was part of a bargain. It was reasonable, of course, if strikes and lockouts were to be abandoned for the duration of the war and, perhaps, for sometime afterwards, that a man could ensure that he could get a hearing of his case, even if those in dispute with him would like to deny him that hearing. That was the logical bargain and logical position reached in 1940.
After the war, the then Minister of Labour the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) consulted the National Joint Advisory Council, and the Order was continued on the clear understanding that it could be reviewed and, indeed, revoked at any time at the request of either side of the Council. I will come to the pledges given in a moment, because they were a little more specific than those which the right hon. Gentleman indicated 1170 in his speech. The House will also remember, I think that it was in 1950, that as a result—I will not say "result" although it was a contributing factor, but after the prosecutions following the gas workers' strike, it became clear that one-half at least of this war-time bargain was no longer acceptable to a large part of industry and, in particular, to the T.U.C.
So, in accordance with the undertaking that had been given, a review took place and the outcome—this review was started by the right hon. Member for Southwark and I think that three Socialist Ministers of Labour took part in it; but the pride of place goes to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth—was the final Order No. 1376 produced in the high summer of 1951. This, again, was a bargain, but it was a bargain, of course, from which the logic had disappeared, as, I remember, was clearly pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) in the debate which we had on industrial relations some months ago, because the prohibition of strikes and lockouts, never very effective anyway, particularly in 1944, a very unhappy year from that point of view, disappeared, but the obligations concerning disputes and issues remained.
The cases which may be dealt with are of two kinds, disputes and issues. A dispute, of course, is a matter relating to wages and conditions, a claim for new wages rates or conditions; and an issue is the question of whether a particular employer can be compelled to observe wages and conditions not less favourable than those already settled by some negotiating machinery. For the moment, if the House will permit me—and I am sure that it would be convenient to keep these two separate in one's mind as I think there is a different approach to the two—I will concentrate on disputes.
I regard issues as a very different matter and I should like shortly to put my views before the House. I would add that, at the moment, most of the correspondence which hon. Members have been receiving over the past few days, and the right hon. Gentleman's anxiety about a single recalcitrant employer, are essentially issues and not disputes.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that there 1171 was a difference of view among employers and that the Government had to decide whether they would impose compulsory arbitration because of differences of outlook among the employers. I listened very carefully, and I hoped that the Minister would refer to the trade union section, because there are two parties involved in this Order. If there is a difference of view among the employers, surely the Government could have taken some cognisance of the trade union point of view, if they are desiring to preserve peace, and I hoped that the Minister would have referred to his negotiations with the trade unions on this point. Would he say what negotiations he has had on this point, and give the dates and the type of people he actually met in the trade union movement?
§ Mr. Macleod
I am coming to that. I thought that I had made it clear that I would try to answer the question which I posed at the beginning of my speech. I did no more than state the question. I am not passing from this question of consultation with the trade union movement.
It is also common ground between us—and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned it again—that there is no objection to this Order going. Indeed, I think that we would be glad to see the Defence Regulation go, because it enables the Minister to prohibit a strike. The issue between us is whether something permanent should be put in its place and, if so, what? I come to the undertakings given. The right hon. Gentleman admitted, I think, that quite clear undertakings had been given about the previous Order—the 1940 Order—yet the undertakings he gave about the 1951 Order were limited to a promise of review. That is not so. The most categorical undertakings have been given in both cases, as I shall show.
The right hon. Gentleman, speaking on 26th May, 1951, referred to his consultations with the two sides of industry about the future of the Order. He said:It was understood that the Order would be reviewed, or even withdrawn, if either the trade unions or the employers' organisations or the Government itself were of opinion that such a step was necessary or advisable.That is clear and he has already quoted quite fairly what he said to the House when he produced the Order. He also 1172 knows, however, that to the three sides of industry, in clarification of the agreement reached, the most categorical undertakings were given. These were that if, following a review, either side still considered that the Order should be rescinded, then the Minister would take the necessary steps to that end.
As final proof of this I will read two sentences from the report of the T.U.C. in September. 1951, after the new Order was made, when Mr. Thomas Williamson, as he was then, speaking against a reference back of this part of the report—because there had been great differences not just before 1940, but since 1940 as well, in the trade union movement on the position of compulsory arbitration—said:It is one of the provisions of the acceptance of this new Order that we can examine defects and give notice to the Minister of Labour that we require amendments to the Order, or, indeed, its termination.So there can be no question that the undertakings were not specific in both cases. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, they may "require…its termination." Those were the words used. I am not making any charges of a breach of faith by the right hon. Gentleman. He is entitled to change his mind, but it is important to remember that those undertakings were given. They were not given to just one side of industry alone; they were given to the whole of industry, and they pledged the Government of the day. Those pledges were firm and unconditional but, more than that, I think that those pledges recognised the position as indeed it is, because compulsory arbitration in my view cannot be continued without a broad basis of agreement.
The whole basis of our industrial system is voluntary negotiation and agreement between the two sides. Here, we do not differ. Where we differ is in the argument we are having today as to whether there should be a prop of compulsion behind it in certain events. During the war, and, I think, also in the years following the war, compulsory arbitration played a very real and valuable part, but I do not see it playing that part in the future, and I think that the determining factor must be what industry itself feels about it. The situation did not arise, but I am confident that if the two sides of industry had 1173 agreed that the continuation of compulsory arbitration was desirable the Government would not have decided to bring it to an end.
Let me be clear on this point. I am doing in 1958 exactly what the right hon. Gentleman was called on to do in 1951. He then, on review, implemented the pledges of his predecessors, and because one side of industry would no longer accept the ban on strikes he made an Order which removed the prohibition. Now, on review, the continuation of the other half of what I have called the wartime bargain has proved not to be acceptable to the B.E.C. and I have carried out his pledge.
I tell the right hon. Gentleman frankly that I genuinely believe that in my place he would have done the same. I think he would have felt he had to do so, but I will give him this: there would have been this difference. If I am right in thinking that these pledges are so categorical that he would have felt impelled to do it, he would have done it reluctantly because he would think perhaps it was a mistake to take this step. I have no reluctance, because I believe that, on the merits of the case, quite apart from agreement or disagreement, the decision was wise. That is the real distinction between us.
§ Mr. Robens
The difference between 1951 and 1958 is that in 1951 I carried out the obligation to my predecessors but I struggled hard to get something new. In 1958, on this occasion, the right hon. Gentleman has done nothing about getting something new but he has told us why, namely, that he, too, does not believe in it.
§ Mr. Macleod
In 1951, the right hon. Gentleman also renewed for the future undertakings which I find myself called upon to fulfil. Frankly, I believe that the validity of agreements between the two sides of industry must rest ultimately on the good will of the parties. It is unrealistic to pretend otherwise. I do not believe that, just because certain parties were ready to give up liberty of action in war, anyone in this House would dream of putting forward proposals for compulsory settlement of disputes now; and it would not be right to contemplate legislation of this kind.
1174 Two main questions have been asked. First, what takes the place of the present disputes procedure? May I remind the House again—hon. Members are being very patient with me—that I am coming to the matter of issues in which they are particularly interested. Secondly, would it lead to an increase in the number of strikes?
On the point of what is to take the place, essentially the changes will be a development in the working of the voluntary system which we all want to see. It may be expected that the Industrial Court, which deals now with only about 40 cases a year, will have a heavier load to carry. It may be that the conciliation services of the Ministry, both national and at regional levels, will be used more than they have been in these past few years. Above all, I think that those will be a strengthening and a growth of voluntary agreements and that some industries may wish to consider whether they should adopt some built-in arrangements for arbitration, as so many other industries have already done successfully.
Will the abolition of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal lead to more strikes? I am confident that it will not. I think it is easy to exaggerate the part played by the Tribunal in keeping peace in industry. One thing is clear, that the existence of this Tribunal had no effect on the great losses of man-days and of production that have occurred in recent years; for example, in the engineering and shipbuilding strike last year and the London bus strike of this year. Indeed, the Tribunal has been used to only a very limited extent for the settlement of major disputes and the vast majority of cases before it have been of a minor character.
One word on the timing of the action on the Order now before the House. The ending of a Defence Regulation, if it were done without any time for continuing the consideration of those disputes, which were either being discussed or on the point of being put to the Tribunal, would have meant that the Industrial Disputes Tribunal came to a sudden end. Therefore I thought it right, in this Order, to extend the period of time from 10th December to March so that the cases in the pipeline could be dealt with.
On the question of consultation, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, and in answer also to the hon. Member who 1175 raised this point, Ministers are, of course, always in difficulty about consultation. If they consult too much they are told they should have consulted the House first, and if they consult too little they get into the kind of trouble that I am in this afternoon. The position was that these talks started early, in February, 1957. It has been known for some years that it was Government policy to get rid of Defence Regulations, and talks started very nearly two years ago. Those talks continued with the T.U.C. and B.E.C. until January, 1958. Since then, although no further meetings have been held with the T.U.C. and the B.E.C., there have been discussions with such people as N.A.L.G.O. and the local authorities.
The position—and this is made absolutely clear in the Report of the General Council of the T.U.C. to this year's Bournemouth Congress—was that those discussions had finished, that they had been reported to the Minister and that the Minister was taking a decision on the matter. There was no expectation—I assure the House of this—that further talks would take place. The last words make that clear:In May, it is understood, the Ministry began talks with local authorities and some other organisations. The Minister has not yet announced what decisions he has reached.In the hand-out that it issued about the time that my decision became public, the T.U.C. said:Last January talks at the Ministry of Labour failed to find a bridge between these different opinions. In face of this disagreement between the two sides the Minister had to take his decision.That is precisely the position on consultation. I should regret it very much indeed if the T.U.C. ever thought that I had been discourteous to it in any way, but I think those two quotations make clear that over a period of time the discussions had been taking place and that the position had finally been reported to the Minister in January of this year, and after he had taken the views of such bodies as N.A.L.G.O. and the local authorities he would announce his decision. That is what happened.
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am interested in the dates. The Minister mentioned January, 1958. With whom did the talks take place during that period? Was it with himself? Was it with his Department? Was it with both sides of industry? If 1176 the Minister was not involved in those talks or if the talks were with both sides of industry, perhaps with the Joint Council, might not it have been appropriate for him to meet the T.U.C. to get a further explanation of its point of view? One realises that there are big difficulties in this matter. There is a large section of workers in the trade union movement who do not want compulsory arbitration; they will never have it. For another section, including N.A.L.G.O., it is their saviour. It is a very complex matter. Might not it have been advisable for the Minister to take some attitude about it instead of leaving it to his Departmental chiefs?
§ Mr. Macleod
The talks took place with my Permanent Secretary and my Chief Industrial Commissioner, and the position was that the deadlock was reported to me. I knew the T.U.C. and B.E.C. views exactly. [Interruption.] It is perfectly fair for the Opposition to criticise me and to say that I should at that stage have called the parties together. The right hon. Gentleman made that criticism, and I do not resent it. I merely tell the House that I am satisfied that I knew the position and that such an intervention from me would have been of no value at all in view of the positions which had been taken up.
I now turn to the question of issues and would remind the House that an issue is whether an individual employer should observe terms and conditions negotiated whether or not he was a party to the agreement. Any such award not only can but does become an implied term of contract and can be enforced in the civil courts. It is true that only twenty-six of the cases decided last year were issue cases, but I accept also, on the analogy of the policeman on the beat, that if it had not been for the existence of the Tribunal there would probably have been a substantial number. I do not in any way rely on the small number of issues that came before the I.D.T., but I want to put to the House why I regard issues as a very different matter from disputes.
In the first place, the starting point for the determination of an issue is a voluntary agreement which carries the broad assent of a substantial proportion of employers and workers in an industry. Therefore, the issues procedure has the 1177 effect of extending the provisions of voluntary agreements. A rather similar system exists in the wages councils, with the difference that such an agreement can be enforced even if the two sides, employers and workers, have been in disagreement on the wages council and perhaps by the majority decision of the independent members the award has been made.
This is the position about issues. Earlier consultations with the employers and the trade union representatives did not reveal any agreement between them to retain an issues procedure in isolation, but it is probably fair to say that issues played a comparatively minor part in the thoughts of those discussing these matters. It has now come into much greater prominence as the result of the deadlock over disputes. Therefore, when I met my National Joint Advisory Council it seemed to me that there might be some common ground on both sides of industry which could lead to agreement about some form of issues procedure, and I suggested informally, and have since suggested formally, separate talks on the problems of issues. I should like to assure industry and the House that those talks are not designed just as an exercise in procrastination, which has been suggested. It may well be that, without continuing the full rigidity of the I.D.T. procedure, we can find methods which will resolve some of the problems that will remain.
Hon. Members have been made fully aware—N.A.L.G.O. is extremely efficient in making its views known—of the view that N.A.L.G.O. takes, that if it is not able to use the issues procedure to secure uniformity of conditions of employment among local authorities it will find itself in a very difficult position. It is true that the Industrial Disputes Order and its predecessor enabled the local government service to ensure universal acceptance of recommendations which were made by the various National Joint Councils. I should not want to be too doctrinaire on the question of to what extent such a service should rely on its own machinery rather than compulsory arbitration, and I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris), who will no doubt develop the case, is on a perfectly fair point in relation to the fire services in the interven- 1178 tion which he made. In any case, I would not wish to be doctrinaire about the matter.
That there is concern in the local authority field is an added reason for giving particular attention to some scheme to deal with issues, because local government has a fine record in the peaceful settlement of disputes, and this is certainly due to the responsible attitude of N.A.L.G.O. and other trade unions on the one side and the local authority associations on the other. I acknowledge that there is a problem here, and I should like to help. N.A.L.G.O. has recently discussed the situation with my officials, and I understand that they are to have talks with the local authority associations.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
As the machinery now in being has resolved many difficulties with the local authorities, what alternative scheme does the Minister now suggest?
§ Mr. Macleod
For me to answer that question would be premature. There are a number of possibilities. There is the 1934 Act for the cotton industry. That is worth looking at from this point of view. There may be the development, first of all, of voluntary machinery between N.A.L.G.O. and the local authorities. There may be an extension of the powers of the Industrial Court. There are many possibilities. I mention these only to show that it is perhaps too early to pin one's faith on any one of them at the present time.
§ Mrs. Slater
if the Minister is putting these forward as suggestions which might take the place of the present machinery, how long have such organisations as N.A.L.G.O. and persons such as journalists and bank employees to wait before they have any real assurance that something will be done about it?
§ Mr. Macleod
The position on the general question of talks is that I have issued the invitations. Whether the talks should take place in the Ministry of Labour or, in the first instance, directly between the two sides of industry is largely a matter for arrangement. I see no reason why these talks should not commence at once. After all, the Order is valid until March next year. I certainly hope there will be no delay if the parties are ready to talk.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
Before the Minister leaves this very important part of his speech, may I ask whether he realises that a very large section of organised bank employees are not recognised by some of the banks? If there is no attempt in the usual way at industrial negotiation between the two sides, it seems that it is premature for the Minister to be talking in the way he is doing.
§ Mr. Macleod
I should not have thought that it needed much prevision to realise that the next section of my speech was bound to be devoted to the N.U.B.E., and so it is.
It has been suggested that the disappearance of the I.D.T. will make employers less likely to recognise trade unions for bargaining purposes and, again, the National Union of Bank Employees has brought this point to the attention of many hon. Members. We should, however, draw a clear distinction between the position of the N.U.B.E. and N.A.L.G.O. in relation to the I.D.T.—and for this reason. The Industrial Disputes Order was never designed to influence either one side of industry or the other to enter into negotiations, and questions of recognition were expressly excluded.
Moreover, there would have been no hope of getting agreement on any other basis, and the requirement that those who use the I.D.T.must habitually take part in the settlement of terms and conditions of employmenthas meant that, in practice, as to the main part of the banking industry, the N.U.B.E. has not been able to use the I.D.T. at all. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that if, in 1951, it had been sought to extend the Order so that any organisation could use it, irrespective of its status in negotiation, there would have been no chance whatever of agreement, and I am fairly sure that the T.U.C. itself would have been the firmest opponent of it.
Therefore, the difficulty in which the N.U.B.E. finds itself is essentially one of recognition between itself and the employers—
§ Mr. Macleod
Certain employers, perhaps. I am sure, however, that the House will realise what a disastrous thing it would be if a Minister of Labour started to lay down to employers which associations they should or should not deal with, and I am quite certain that the House, as a whole, recognises that.
The right hon. Gentleman—if I may detain the House for just three or four minutes more—said that he thought that the attitude of the employers was, perhaps, in some way linked with the position of unemployment today. In all fairness to the employers, I must refute that. The employers put forward their views, which were essentially for opting into the compulsory system, in 1957. That was at a time—and the employers have not changed their views in any way since—when employment was almost at record heights and unemployment at almost record low levels, and I do assure the House that this review, which was started then, has no connection with the present level of unemployment—
§ Mr. Macleod
Indeed, in so far as the unemployment situation is relevant to such a matter as this, it is relevant, again, to the issues, rather than to the disputes sides of this Order, and I have already made clear my willingness to consider any agreed proposals on that side.
I should also say that although it is true that, from time to time, there have been criticisms of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal—all tribunals come in for a great deal of criticism, and it is much easier to criticise an arbitrator than to be one oneself—for my part, I gladly pay sincere tribute to Lord Terrington, who has been Chairman of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal for the whole of its existence—and of the National Arbitration Tribunal before it since 1944—for the excellent work that he has done; and to the independent members and representatives of employers and workers who have served with him.
On the basis of the case that I have tried to put, I hope that the House will consider the position which confronted me. Quite deliberately—although, I think, the quotations I have given are firm enough to justify it if I wished to do so—I make no charge of breach of faith against the right hon. Gentleman if 1181 he should choose to oppose this Order in the Lobby, but I must say that, in my view, the case is clear, the promises quite unqualified, and he would be wise to consider carefully the effect of a vote, bearing in mind what the Labour Government said to the whole of industry.
The case I put before the House, if I may sum it up, is, first, that as regards disputes, however valuable compulsory arbitration may have been in war, and, perhaps, for a year or two after the war, it should not, in the long haul of peace, continue, but that the voluntary system has an important part to play. On the subject of issues, I recognise the strength of the case put forward by N.A.L.G.O. and other bodies, and I hope that the talks that I still expect to start soon will have a fruitful ending. On that basis, I would invite the House to reject this Prayer.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
With more than his usual clarity, the Minister has seen to it that the House is not left in any doubt as to the reasons that have compelled him to seek to rescind the Order of 1951. However, looking at the issue as dispassionately and objectively as possible, it seems clear that the success of his manoeuvre today rests, in the ultimate, on at least 4 per cent. unemployment. That he has to face, because I am fully convinced that, in addition to the reasons he has given, there are others, chiefly economic, that have prompted him to take this action at this time.
In his opening remarks the right hon. Gentleman referred to the history of this Order, and to the history of that which preceded it—No. 1305. Both of them have been extremely important in the history of negotiation between trade unions and employers, and both of them placed an obligation of responsible conduct upon responsible men to find responsible resolutions for difficulties that might arise.
Order No. 1305 was inaugurated during the emergency of the war. It was something new, and, at the workshop level—which is also important in these considerations—its impact was fairly violent. The men realised that in time of war, and in the national interest, they were called upon to give up their dearest and 1182 most cherished weapon—the right to strike—in order to fulfil our war commitments. In addition, they knew that in the 1914–18 war, great profits were made by certain people, and that some industries on war work spiralled wages, whilst others were not able to take the same advantage of the situation.
To ask the men on the workshop floor to accept that Order was asking a lot, but they did accept it. It also meant that the shop steward committees, which acted in the factories to preserve individual rights and demarcations as between one union and another, had, for the first time, to get together as a joint shop stewards organisation and, in the interests of the war effort, to sacrifice some of their rights and obligations.
This action meant a considerable waiving of their previous privileges, and was something not lightly undertaken. It must be remembered that until the entry of the Soviet Union into the war, shop stewards had a very difficult time with Order No. 1305—a very difficult time. It must be remembered, too, that it is at the shop level that the majority of discussions start, before reaching boardroom level, and before going on to ultimate decision by employers and trade union executives. This shop level must not be disregarded, but it is that level that the Minister has disregarded today.
I do not think that he fully realises what this Order will do. We have now conditioned workpeople to seventeen years of direct arbitration. The Minister must look forward to a considerable amount of trouble if he cannot find a solution to these problems in any other way.
The difficulties arising out of Order No. 1305 were realised at an early stage by the T.U.C. In 1946, 1947 and 1948 it realised that among the general body of its members there was a feeling that their inherent rights and privileges, including the right to strike and the right to direct action, should be restored. The T.U.C. discussed this question for three or four years running, and it was left to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) to produce an Order which would release the men in the factory from these restrictions.
At that time we had unofficial strikes, and matters came to a head in the crisis 1183 of 1950, when 1,400 London gas maintenance men went on strike, ten of whom were prosecuted under the Act and sentenced to one month's imprisonment each. On appeal that sentence was reduced to a fine of £50. That, along with the sentences passed upon the seven dockers a few months later—their case being tried by the Lord Chief Justice, and the jury disagreeing upon the evidence, resulting in the case being dropped—was an indication of the way in which the wind was blowing.
Recognising the considerable economic difficulties of the country and realising the need for a build-up of exports and the rebuilding of devastated factories and houses, the T.U.C., together with my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth, produced a suitable Order— the one which the Minister now wishes to scrap. The T.U.C. approved all the proposals con-tamed in that Order relating to the settlement of disputes by the Tribunal.
I ask the Minister to cast his mind back to the establishment of arbitration machinery under the Arbitration Act of 1824 and the later Act of 1872, further amended by the Conciliation Act of 1896, which is the cornerstone upon which was based the Industrial Relations Division of the Minister's Department. There followed the Act of 1919, and various Orders imposed in 1940 and 1951. The Minister has now decided to scrap those Orders. I wonder whether he realises exactly what he is throwing away. I believe that some of the factors which have led the Minister to take this action are concerned not with matters of negotiation or procedure, but with economics.
The Minister is aware that in the better-placed export industries, with long order books and with a capacity for looking after themselves—by virtue of their associations, monopoly or otherwise—the workers have been able to win awards by voluntary negotiation. This has meant that other unions which are in association with those industries but are not quite so strongly placed because their employees have a lower level of skill, or no skill at all, have had to submit wage claims to their employers in order to hold the balance between their members and members of the more strongly placed unions.
Those claims have gone to arbitration. The Minister regards the arbitration tribunals as a built-in inflationary issue in 1184 the national economy, and it is the intention of the employers' federations, through the Minister to get rid of this part of the Act. If the Minister believes that unemployment has been at too low a level, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated a few weeks ago, he is in for considerable trouble. After seventeen years of arbitration and negotiations members of trade unions will look forward to a settlement of their claims by arbitration machinery but will find that it is non-existent.
We shall then be faced with a trial of strength. Is that what the Minister wants? If he does it is not a very good augury for himself, or his Government—or any other Government, because, in annulling this Order he is, in effect, telling the employers' federations to go ahead. He is telling them that the arbitration machinery has gone and they can refuse wage claims. If the Government is defeated at the next election the new Government will have the same trouble on their plate. That is not a very nice prospect for the nation.
I was interested in the Minister's comparisons of the number of days lost by strikes during certain periods, and the effectiveness of the arbitration tribunal in reducing the number of disputes and the number of days lost through strikes. Not having the same references as are available to the Minister, it was difficult for me to carry out the necessary research, or to obtain the figures necessary to give a clear picture of the situation. I can only compare like with like. For this purpose I take two periods in the industrial life of this nation, the first from 1919 to 1925 and the second from 1945 to 1951. The comparisons are somewhat startling.
From 1919 to 1925 there was no Industrial Disputes Tribunal, although there was from 1945 onwards. As the Minister will remember, after the 1914–18 War there was a hectic two-year boom and then in the remaining years between the wars there was never less than a 9 per cent. rate of unemployment. The number of days lost owing to industrial disputes between 1919 and 1925 totalled 203,250,000 whereas the number of days lost in the period from 1945 to 1951 was 13,250,000. Industrial Court awards for the two periods were, respectively, 1,168 and 1,409.
1185 I do not want to take an unfair advantage of the right hon. Gentleman. It would probably be wrong to assume that a 20 per cent. increase in the number of awards was responsible for a 90 per cent. reduction in the number of working days lost, but there is a connection between the two factors, and the Minister must surely see that they show the value of the establishment of a negotiating body to which disputes may be referred.
An analysis of the first 400 awards shows a remarkable set of averages which is by no means favourable to the unions. There is a remarkable trend towards compromise. Between 1951 and 1954, there was a total of 55 claims of national application. In three cases the claims were settled wholly in favour of the unions, which is 5½ per cent, of the total. The claims settled partly in favour of the unions in this period were 46, comprising 83½ per cent. of the total; and the claims settled wholly against the unions were six, comprising 11 per cent. of the total.
The figures of 46 and 83½ per cent. are the most instructive, for within those figures were contained the essential basis of compromise which the right hon. Gentleman wants to throw away. Regarding local application, there were 114 claims, 32 of which were settled wholly in favour of the unions, comprising 28 per cent.; 51 settled partly in favour of the unions, comprising 45 per cent.; and 31 settled wholly against the unions, comprising 27 per cent.
There were 60 claims on wages and other issues, 24 of which were wholly in favour of the unions. comprising 40 per cent.; 30 partly in favour of the unions, comprising 50 per cent., and six wholly against the unions, comprising 10 per cent. On issues affecting conditions of employment, there were 50 claims, 32 in favour of the unions, comprising 64 per cent.; 11 partly in favour of the unions, comprising 22 per cent., and 7 wholly against the unions, comprising 14 per cent.
Those figures give a graphic picture of a period in the development of our national economy which is most vital. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I take the view that there are certain factors which are germane to the Opposition and to the Government in 1186 this country. They are the performance of British industry, our ability to earn our living, our ability to balance our payments and our ability to compete in the world. All these factors are embodied in the compromise figures which I have read out.
It is not my intention to weary the House with more figures, but I want to go back for a moment to the position relating to production. It is true that throughout the country there has been a gradual switchover from former skilled operation in industry to a general level of semi-skilled operation and mass production. This process will be further encumbered by progressive automation as it spreads in industry throughout the years.
If one studies the wage charts of the higher-paid skilled employees and of the general run of labour one sees that there has been a narrowing of the gap. It is true, also, that there has been a narrowing of the gap between high incomes and middle class incomes. That is the trend. Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to open up these gaps again? Is it intended to force unions catering for general labour into open dispute with the employers by this means while allowing the larger and more powerful unions to fix their own terms by negotiation?
If that is the intention of the Minister, then he is completely misjudging the strength and determination of the unions catering for general labour who built up their membership tremendously during the war years. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look once again at the problems which he has raised today by bringing forward this Order, and to realise, as I said in my opening remarks, that, in the ultimate, his success or failure will depend upon the level of unemployment in the country. If the level is high, that will mean the end of his Government.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
I have not often spoken on industrial subjects, and I would like to make it quite clear that I do so today with only one object in view, and that is, if I can, to make a constructive contribution towards the furtherance of better industrial relations which, I am firmly convinced, are second only to international peace where the future of this country is concerned. I 1187 think it no exaggeration to say that any serious troubles in the exporting industries at present could, in a matter of weeks, damage our foreign trade to such an extent as to undermine the standard of life of the whole population for generations to come. That, I think, is beginning to be recognised.
People blame certain sources of popular information, instruction and amusement, but I think it is generally agreed that people are getting much more instruction on the subject of the elementary facts of life, and I believe that they are beginning to think about them much more. I venture to think that if the House were to treat this question of industrial relations as in any way a party or partisan issue we should be quite out of touch with public opinion as a whole, and I am certainly not going to do anything of that kind.
I would say at once that I believe that if we could avoid having a Division upon this issue today that would be something that the country would appreciate. Personally, I have never been able to regard this question in a party way. I have in my own constituency applied that principle, and I can ask my constituents to bear witness to it. There is a great deal more industry in my constituency nowadays than many people realise. As far as the House is concerned, I have tried to follow the same rule, and, as a result of that, I hope I may be allowed to say that some of the best friends which I have made in the House during the short time that I have been here are those who represent trade union interests.
Perhaps I may add, in view of what I am hoping to say, that there is nothing new about that in my family. There was a man named James Heald, an ancestor of mine, who was the Member of Parliament for Stockport just over 100 years ago. He was closely associated with Disraeli, of whom he was a personal friend, in the early days of Tory democracy. Among other things I have found out from looking at the Reports of debates is that he insisted on the implementation of the 10-hour Act and other legislation affecting factories, particularly concerning the employment of children. He was consistent in his views. He was even described in his obituary notice as an enlightened Conservative.
That may sound very surprising to hon. Members opposite, but for those who 1188 wrote about those things in the year 1850 I think that it meant something. Nowadays, of course, it is taken for granted. It was his friend Disraeli, although he was no longer in the House, who introduced one of the most important pieces of legislation from the point of view of trade unions that ever existed, removing one of the great bars against their extension and organisation, in relation to conspiracy. I hope, therefore, that I may be acquitted of any charge of introducing any kind of prejudice or bias. I was brought up to believe that class hatred is definitely evil.
I entirely support the view of my right hon. Friend that the Industrial Disputes Order should go. However, that is not the end of the story, as I will try to show. We need not waste time over the Order. The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said what I intended to say about it. I am sure that he is as much of a student of constitutional law as I am and that he will agree that having Defence Regulations still in force in important branches of our law twelve and a half years after the termination of the war is wrong. He will agree that the time has come when the Order should go. That is why we should seriously consider whether we should have a Division, when there is no dispute on that point, and when a Division will give a totally wrong impression.
Speaking solely for myself, I am convinced by what my right hon. Friend said about the impossibility of introducing new legislation imposing compulsory arbitration. That is the proper test. We should not continue with Defence Regulations something which we would not be prepared to enact as substantive legislation today. It is enough to leave the point of the actual destination of the Order in that way.
However, the Order covers other provisions besides those dealing with the compulsory adjudication of disputes. There is the "issues" machinery, which I understand to have been very effective, and which allows the Minister to take the opinion of the Industrial Court—and paragraph 11 of the 1951 Order further enables the Minister, in the most flexible way, to obtain the opinion of a much respected body. Those two matters are in a different category.
1189 I sincerely hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to be as definite as we can possibly ask him to be about what is to be done in those two cases in the future. We have all had communications from N.A.L.G.O., and some of us know of other cases as well, where there is some apprehension about the future. I am perfectly certain that my right hon. Friend does not intend those organisartions to suffer.
I very much regret, without wishing to be controversial, that anything should have been said against employers, and almost against my right hon. Friend, accusing them of deliberately setting out to cause trouble and to deprive members of trade unions of a fair hearing. Nobody seriously believes that, and I hope that we shall not hear any more of it in the debate. However, all concerned, the Minister, trade unions and employers, must surely get together to work out something suitable for fresh legislation.
There is a practical advantage in referring issues to a tribunal on specific points, and in a general and flexible right of consultation on matters arising out of them. There is also a second and much more important aspect. I would describe it by using Napoleon's words, although he was talking about something very different, when he said that moral considerations were three-quarters of the game. That is as true in peace as it is in war. Anything which helps to show that the Government are anxious to seek industrial peace and to ensue it is tremendously valuable at this time, as all will agree.
Whatever some people may say, hon. Members know that that is the attitude of my right hon. Friend. The trade union leaders know that it is his attitude, but there are many individual trade unionists who do not know my right hon. Friend and his outlook. They fall an easy prey to the apostles of disorder and class hatred. Trade unions are having a difficult time and need the help and support of all people of good will.
As the Prime Minister recently pointed out, official strikes have been nothing like as bad as they might have been. The recent trouble, the plague from which we have suffered, has been that of unofficial strikes. Some say that repressive legislation of one kind or another is the 1190 answer, but I am not prepared to accept that, except in the last resort. However, it might come to that if the trade unions find that they are unable to restore discipline where it needs to be restored, and unable to enforce it where it needs to be enforced. Public opinion might become so strong as to become irresistible, so that whatever party was in power would have to take some action.
I should greatly regret that. Such a thing has happened in Australia, where ballots and things of that kind have become necessary. The proper approach is to give the trade unions a chance first and to wish them luck, as I do, since they are fighting our battle against Communism every day. I hope that there is no hon. Member who would not wish them well in that battle.
If they are to succeed, it is necessary for the individual members of the union to realise their responsibility and their power. It is their responsibility to work their own institution—which is something which we take for granted, although it is one of our fundamental principles to retain the trade union system, which can be maintained only by the action of its own members. They have the power, too, because, as we have been told, if only 15 per cent. of the members of a union take part in the union's affairs the Communist threat can be tackled.
It is the finest antidote for that dangerous thing to have an effective trade union organisation. The leadership can succeed in its efforts only if it can rely upon good and voluntary discipline. That requires two things in combination, loyalty of the members to their leaders, and confidence in the relationship between the trade unions and the Government. We ought to do nothing which we can possibly avoid to destroy that and we should do everything we can to improve it. I therefore hope that we will all realise our responsibilities in the House—at any rate, when strangers are present!
What is said here may have repercussions elsewhere. I believe that my right hon. Friend will give very sympathetic consideration to the requests that have been made to him, and that will be made to him, I think on both sides of the House, that he should try to satisfy those who are genuinely concerned about this matter. I am referring now not to compulsory arbitration in industrial disputes, 1191 but to the "issues" aspect, and the machinery which goes with it.
If my right hon. Friend can give us an assurance that would be acceptable, it would enable us to go away tonight, not after a violent discussion but having had an opportunity of expressing our points of view and feeling sure that my right hon. Friend will do what I know he will, work really hard for a satisfactory solution acceptable to all parties. Hon. Members opposite must realise that they might be in a position—I will not add anything in parenthesis after that—before long of being the Government and that it would then be necessary for them to work with employers as well as with workers. We are all partners in this matter.
I very respectfully suggest to my right hon. Friend that he can afford to rise above party controversy today, as he has done often before, and as the right hon. Member for Blyth has been good enough to recognise by reference to the speeches he has made in the country. If my right hon. Friend can give a satisfactory assurance he will further increase the confidence which so many people already have in him because of his statesmanlike approach to the handling of this subject, which is so vital to the country.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Joseph Slater (Sedgefield)
I count it a privilege to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) in a debate of this kind. He said at the commencement of his speech that he wanted to interest the House only in industrial relations. I believe that he was sincere in that approach. I remember the part he played in placing upon the Statute Book one of the most important pieces of legislation this Government have been privileged to introduce, and that was the new Mines Act for which the people in my industry were very grateful.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), who opened the debate on this side of the House, covered a very wide field and gave the reasons for the introduction of this Order. He was followed by the Minister of Labour, who agreed with most of what had been said by my right hon. Friend, who was Minister of Labour in the Labour Government. The present Minister of Labour sought on this occasion to take us back to 1951 and to a speech then made by the present General Secretary of the General and 1192 Municipal Workers' Union, Mr. T. Williamson, as he then was known.
When the right hon. Gentleman refers to speeches by trade union leaders, he should try to bring himself in line with the present position. He should read the speech that Sir Tom Williamson made at the Trades Union Congress this year at Bournemouth. That would bring the right hon. Gentleman up to date.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Richard Wood)
What my right hon. Friend has in mind was merely to draw attention to the meaning of the speech made by Mr. Tom Williamson, as he then was, in 1951 in regard to the Order.
§ Mr. Slater
It is gratifying to know that the Parliamentary Secretary can jump to the support of his right hon. Friend, when we seek to draw attention to what has been said by the General Secretary of the General and Municipal Workers' Union and what his reaction was in 1951. Many of us have had experience of appearing before industrial courts. I could go back to the time when I was a member of the Durham County Council and we had to appear before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, presided over by Lord Terrington, on a claim by N.A.L.G.O. We, as the employing people, lost our case and N.A.L.G.O. was successful in its application.
Immediately upon the decision of the Minister of Labour to revoke this Order about industrial disputes there was bound to be a reaction in the country. Naturally, the question now being posed is why the Government should take this step. The Order has been in existence for seven years, and although no one would claim that it has been perfect, nevertheless many of my hon. and right hon. Friends believe that it has worked well for seven years. If the Minister holds that because of the imperfections of the Order something should be done, why has he not sought to improve the Order by removing the imperfections instead of revoking it?
It is common knowledge among those who are familiar with these matters that meetings were held in December of last year and January of this year. I have read reports of those meetings, made to the General Council of the Trades Union 1193 Congress, the British Employers' Confederation and the nationalised industries. No doubt many forms of argument were used on that occasion, either for the retention of the Order or for its elimination. We were told by the Minister, and this is recorded in the report of the Trades Union Congress, that the deliberations ended without any form of agreement. The view of the British Employers' Confederation was that arbitration on the model provided by the Order of 1951 should be open only to those industries where both sides agreed in advance to contract into it. If what they were asking had been agreed to, I wonder how many members of their association would have contracted into an agreement, in view of the opposition of the parent body of the association? My personal opinion is that the results would have been negligible.
On the other hand, the opinion of the Trades Union Congress was that we should leave well alone. They said that here we had an Order that had done a useful job so why seek to interfere with it unless to put something better in its place? The existing Order does not do that but throws out provisions which have worked very well and puts nothing in their place except a wrecking piece of direction. Therefore, I submit that the conclusion to be derived from the action taken by the Minister on this occasion is that such organisations as the British Employers' Confederation, not being able to establish their point of view at meetings with the T.U.C. and the nationalised industries, they are now to be given cover by the Minister in getting rid of the Order altogether.
Let us face the fact that they did not want it in any circumstances. Therefore, it must go, and hence we have this amending Order which the Minister seeks to introduce. The Government should not overlook the fact that it is as vitally important today to take employees working inside industry along with them as it is to take employers of labour with them. No one should know that better than the Minister of Labour. We know he has had many anxious times since he took over the duties of his Department. Many of us can remember when he sat on the back benches before he graduated to the position he now holds. The reasons for those anxious times cannot be assigned 1194 to one particular section, and the Minister must know what will be the result if this new Order is implemented.
I have always held the view that one of the most important duties each of us has in life, whether in industry or outside mixing with the general public, is to awaken among our people a sense of individual responsibility. I fully realise that it is no easy task to achieve that purpose, which one is desirous of seeing come to pass. Some may say the aim is all right, but we shall never achieve it. Why do people say we shall never achieve it, and why do they make such admissions as that? Why should they become so pessimistic about such an ideal and aim in life? I think it is because they believe that those responsible for the Government at this moment are so obsessed with keeping intact the power and interest of the industrial barons of the country against the rights and privileges of the ordinary members of society. Naturally, hon Members opposite will disagree with these sentiments, and that is understandable. Where does their main interest lie? Is it with the worker inside industry? I do not think so, for, if so, they would not be supporting the amending Order.
In my constituency there is a new town called Newton Aycliffe, the smallest of the new towns. Many of the people on the staff of Newton Aycliffe came to work there from various parts of the country and have had local government experience. How will the revocation of this Order affect them? The greater part of those people are members of N.A.L.G.O. and, as has already been cited, they do not believe in any form of strike action. I am informed by the local branch at Newton Aycliffe that just over a year ago, the staff side of the Whitley Council for new towns staff presented a claim for an increase of salary, which they felt fully justified. The claim was for an all-round increase of 10 per cent. This claim was designed, I am given to understand, so that their salaries would be brought into line with those of local government service. On that application the employers refused to negotiate and the staff side took it to arbitration, with the result that they were granted an increase of 3½ per cent. by the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
Even that increase left the new towns staffs well behind their colleagues in local government service, but they had been 1195 given an award. If it had not been possible for them to take their case to arbitration those people and others elsewhere in the country would not have got even that 3½ per cent. increase. If the 1951 Order goes, what is to happen to the staffs of new towns? Is it not true that they will be entirely at the mercy of employers in any future negotiations? The following resolution has been forwarded to me by the secretary of the branch at Newton Aycliffe:That the Newton Aycliffe branch of the National and Local Government Officers Association considers that the decision of H.M. Government to abolish compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes militates against responsible trade unionism; protests against the decision; and urges that action be taken to retain provision for compulsory arbitration in those public services covered by the Association's membership, for which no satisfactory alternative exists.These people have no other form of redress apart from the interest taken in them through their national office and regional departments. I hope the Government will have second thoughts on this matter and not seek to repeal the Order of 1951 without considering the implications which have been so forcibly argued by my hon. Friends.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)
I was interested in the last few words of the speech of the hon. Member for Sedge-field (Mr. Slater) when he quoted a resolution which had been passed by a branch of N.A.L.G.O. in his constituency, because I also had before me a resolution passed by a branch of N.A.L.G.O. in my constituency and it agrees completely word for word with the one that he quoted. I think we have something in common in that two branches of N.A.L.G.O., from different ends of the country, are so much in unison that their resolutions are in exactly the same words.
It is important in this debate to "keep our eye on the ball". Throughout most of his speech the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) dealt very fairly with the House in trying to show exactly what had happened from the time when Order No. 1305 was brought into being in 1940, but it is important also to realise that Order No. 1376 is not an Order designed to do a specific job. It is half of Order No. 1305—it is Order No. 1305 with the penal side struck out. If we 1196 work on that basis we know what we are talking about.
As has been pointed out, Order No. 1305 laid down, to all intents and purposes, that strikes and lock-outs were illegal unless 21 days clear notice had been given to the Minister of the day of the intention to strike or lock-out and that within that period the Minister had refused to take any action. It was natural, in those circumstances in which it was laid down by Statute that 21 days' notice had to be given before any strike or lock-out took place, that the Minister should have an organisation or body to which he could remit the dispute, that body not only having power to decide on the matter, but power also to decide that that should be an implied term of contract between the two parties in dispute.
Without that organisation for the Minister, it would have been impossible to carry out the first part of the Order. because it was only natural that the penal side of Order No. 1305 could not be maintained unless there was an arbitration tribunal which could not only bring the parties together, listen to the dispute and decide upon it but could also tell the two parties in dispute, "This is our final decision it is not a voluntary decision but will be binding on both parties, as if an agreement had been reached, and will remain an implied contract until another agreement has been reached some time in the future."
It is important to realise that the very full powers of Order No. 1305 were retained until August, 1951, when, as the right hon. Member for Blyth said, this half of Order No. 1305 was withdrawn. I think that we can all accept that the operation of the penal sanctions had reached a point at which they were proving unsuccessful in the job they were designed to do. When they were introduced in 1940 they were designed to make certain that everyone realised what was the main effort and that if there were a dispute, then rather than lose man-hours during the war there should be ways and means of dealing with the dispute while still maintaining regular work.
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
Would the hon. Member not agree that the same policy ought to apply in our fight to try to get out of the present depression?
§ Mr. Mawby
That may be so, but it was not the point of view of the right hon. Member for Blyth, when he withdrew this part of the Order in 1951. The hon. Member for Blyth when he with-making his suggestion to me. If that is his view, it should have been put seven years ago to his right hon. Friend.
It is generally accepted, and was so accepted at that time, that the penal side was not successful. It was not successful because we were trying to operate a Defence Regulation which struck against two of the basic freedoms which trade unions have always insisted that they should have. One was the right to impartial arbitration—that it should be their decision or the employers' decision that they should go to arbitration and not the decision of a Minister of Labour. The second was that they should be free to withdraw their labour if they felt that all avenues had been pursued and there was no other way of obtaining what they thought were their just rights.
In those circumstances, we saw over that period a big extension of unofficial strikes. That was the alarm bell ringing for the trade union leaders and the Government in office at the time. They realised that the penal side of Order No. 1305, far from doing good, was probably bringing about an extension of unofficial strikes, with all the dangers which they held for industry generally. That part of the Order was, therefore, withdrawn, but, in passing, it is interesting to note that it was withdrawn on almost the last effective day of the Socialist Administration. Nevertheless, it was withdrawn, and we are left with the other half, which we call Order No. 1376.
In intended to quote what the right hon. Member for Blyth said on 2nd August, 1951, but he has been good enough to read it to us. On that occasion he pointed out that this was an experiment and that we were to have the new Order without the penal side, which everyone hoped would have advantages and which would help in better industrial relations. He then pointed out that if either side wished it could have talks on the possibilities of the discontinuance of this arrangement.
As reported in col. 1627 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, he said that he hoped that arbitration would be put into voluntary machinery wherever possible. Here again, there is general agreement. 1198 I think that all hon. Members agree that wherever possible we should try to have not only voluntary bargaining, but also impartial arbitration machinery on a voluntary basis, where each side in dispute is prepared to discuss the matter and voluntarily accept the decision of a group of people.
I believe that we have a large measure of agreement between the parties in the House that our aim is to see that as much voluntary arbitration as possible is in existence. For a considerable time the Government have made it part of our policy—and we have never kept quiet on this part of our policy—that we intend to dismantle the Defence Regulations. We believe that it is long past the time when this nation should be relying upon Defence Regulations to exert powers over individuals or groups of individuals in this country, and Measures which we have passed and are passing now are in the main a way of disposing of Defence Regulations. We believe that where powers should continue to be exerted over the citizen, they should be properly enacted in legislation and should have the full approval of Parliament. It is, therefore, only natural that this Order, which depends upon a Defence Regulation, should be disposed of and that, where powers are still required, legislation should be enacted.
In answer to a question on 2nd August, 1951, the right hon. Member for Blyth said that he could see the position arising where in a few years it was possible that what powers were required would have to be written into legislation. We have a large measure of agreement, therefore. The Conciliation Act, 1896, and the Industrial Courts Act, 1919, in my opinion give ample provision for voluntary arbitration in the majority of industries in this country. We hope—and the right hon. Gentleman has said on behalf of the Opposition that this is his hope, too—that we can get this voluntary system as widespread as possible.
We then come to the point where we may have some disagreement, and that is the effect of the withdrawal of this Order upon certain bodies and industries. Let us consider the case of the National Union of Bank Employees, which for many years has been trying to obtain recognition from some of the employers. Some banks have recognised the union as a body capable of 1199 representing the employees and are prepared to negotiate with it, but others take a different point of view and feel that there are alternative negotiating bodies. Whatever the attitude may be, even if the Industrial Disputes Tribunal remains in being for ever, it will not help one iota in the efforts of the National Union of Bank Employees to obtain recognition because, as the right hon. Member for Blyth pointed out, this Order does not cover recognition; it covers wages and conditions. As for efforts to oblain recognition, I believe that whether this Order goes or remains, the position of N.U.B.E. is not altered.
Bodies such as the National Association of Local Government Officers, which represents, in addition to officers employed in the local government service, quite a number of people employed on the clerical side of the hospital service, are particularly worried about the withdrawal of this Order having the effect of reducing their power to obtain a fair deal for their members. They are interested in making certain that where a joint agreement has been reached, no authority, or groups of authorities, will contract out of their obligations and continue to pay the lower rate of wages which previously obtained.
I believe that such bodies have a good case, and that the Order has been of assistance to them. But I would remind the House that my right hon. Friend has already said that he is prepared to discuss the question of issues with such bodies, and if we are to find some way—
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
The hon. Member will remember that on Monday we discussed the abolition of another Defence Regulation during the debate on a new Bill. Then the Minister had decided what form of legislation was to take its place before he abandoned it. Why has that procedure now been reversed?
§ Mr. Mawby
So far as I remember, that Measure went wider than merely retaining powers for the Minister which he enjoyed under the Defence Regulations. I am open to correction, but I believe that only a small part of the Factories Bill allows the Minister, under certain conditions, to continue to exercise the power he had under the Defence Regulations to alter the permitted hours of work under the 1947 Act. I say, 1200 therefore, that the main part of the factory legislation is not designed to replace the statutory regulation but is incorporating many more points which we feel are essential.
To return to the question of issues, I believe that there can be agreement over this matter. As has been pointed out, N.A.L.G.O. does not believe in the use of the strike weapon. I think it possible that a form of agreement may be arrived at where the employers realise that their employees are asking only for a fair deal and not for more than they are entitled to. It is important to note that, whatever decision is reached, it would have to be enacted in new legislation and whether we retain this Order or dispense with it will make no difference.
At the risk of being ruled out of order, I wish to say something about the question of arbitration machinery in relation to public services such as the hospital service. Many of us have referred to Whitley machinery, and so on, during the debate, but the Health Service machinery is not really Whitley machinery because it is applied to an altogether different set of circumstances. But we must try to ensure that those employed in the hospital service can at least enjoy the benefits of voluntary negotiation with impartial arbitration in the same way as do their colleagues in the Civil Service.
The withdrawal of this Order, in my opinion, is part of a general policy to dispose of Defence Regulations. My right hon. Friend has agreed to discuss the question of issues with those bodies which are involved, and for those reasons I believe that the Opposition's Motion should be withdrawn.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)
I was particularly anxious to speak in this debate because of the widespread opposition to the Government's proposal which exists in Coventry, not only in the trade unions but among people whose political opinions differ from my own, and among employers as well as employees. I would say to the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) that the people with whom I have spoken are not worried so much about the fact that the Government propose to rescind this Order, but because they have not, as yet, put forward anything to take its place.
§ Miss Burton
And, as my hon. Friend says, they have not discussed it.
The Parliamentary Secretary is present, and I understand that he is to reply. He has recently paid a visit to the Midlands, although I do not think he got as far as Coventry. I do not know whether the opinions which he heard expressed in the Midlands are the same as those which have been expressed to me. But I wish to put to him a point of view which has been put to me by four different sections of the community in Coventry—although I do not imagine for a moment that their points of view are peculiar to Coventry. As they will arise several times in the debate, I shall be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary is able to comment on them.
The position of Coventry Corporation in relation to the action proposed by the Government is that both employees and employers are united against the proposal. The Parliamentary Secretary may know that the Minister of Labour and National Service has received a letter to this effect from the Town Clerk of Coventry, in which the Minister is urged to retain the provision for compulsory bargaining in the local government service. I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is able to give any indication of what reply has been or will be sent to that request.
I do not propose to read any resolution from the National Association of Local Government Officers, because I have not received one, but I have talked to various members of N.A.L.G.O. The feeling in Coventry may be different from that in Totnes; I do not know. But I have been told that in Coventry this decision of the Government is regarded as a serious blow to them, in particular because they belong to a union which has deliberately renounced strike action.
The Parliamentary Secretary may know that the Coventry branch established the principle of collective bargaining with the Coventry City Council as long ago as 1921. It welcomed arbitration machinery at national level in 1940, and states proudly that it has always accepted the decisions of the tribunals without question. I wish to stress to the Parliamentary Secretary—and I want to know 1202 what answer he proposes to give to the members of N.A.L.G.O. who have raised this matter with me—that they feel that the action proposed by the Government must gravely damage industrial relations, especially in relation to a trade union such as theirs. They want to know how they are going to be covered in negotiations or in disputes, because in the past they have always relied on the force of argument and not of strikes.
Next I want to deal with the National Union of Bank Employees. Again, I do not want to quote any resolutions, but they have asked me to press for the retention of a system of compulsory arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. In fact, when they talked to me they said—and they are the only people who have put such a point to me—that they believe that the Order which the Government propose to do away with requires amendment, but, in spite of this, they are greatly concerned at this system of compulsory arbitration being abolished.
They have asked me to say to the Minister today that they feel that in an industry like their own, where there is an absence of national negotiating machinery, employers who do evade negotiations will be freer to reject the legitimate claims by a union such as their own. As hon. Members know, this union is struggling to obtain recognition. The feeling in Coventry is that employers who refuse to recognise trade unionism are most unlikely to agree to the submission of cases to the Industrial Court. That is the feeling that I have been asked to convey to the Minister.
I come now to my last section. The district committee in Coventry of the Transport and General Workers' Union has told me about this, and I discussed it with the secretary. They feel that the Minister must surely be aware that the rescinding of this Order means that in future unions will have to rely upon strike action, instead of the rule of law, to enforce agreements. That has been put to me by the very responsible secretary in Coventry, and I hope the Minister will be able to give an answer. He has told me also that they feel that they will be at a great disadvantage especially where small non-federated employers are concerned. That, therefore, is the second detail which arises.
1203 What impresses me very much is that this proposed action by the Minister has been resented—at any rate, by the people for whom I speak, not only by the unions but by many fair-minded employers and by people of quite independent political opinions. We have in Coventry, as other cities have, a local employment committee. At its last meeting this local employment committee carried, with one dissentient vote only, a decision regretting this action of the Government. They furthermore put on record that they would ask the Minister to defer action until further consultation had taken place with the interested parties, with a view to replacing the existing Order with effective machinery. That has not come from either side of the table. It has not come from a union. It has come from a local employment committee consisting of representatives of employers, trade unions, and independent-minded people. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that this is a reasonable request.
I should like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is able to say tonight—because it is a general query—what reply the Minister proposes to give to such reasonable expressions of anxiety. I agree with the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Slater) that there is a strong feeling, certainly among the unions, that something should be placed before the country if this Order is to be swept away.
I have been brief in my remarks because I know that many other hon. Members want to speak, but I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give some answer tonight to the points which I have raised.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
The hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), if I may say so without presumption, has spoken with great brevity and clarity. But as she has addressed certain questions to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, I hope she will forgive me if I do not follow her very closely. All I should like to say to her is to make one remark about her statement that there was a feeling that, with the abolition of compulsory arbitration, there would be no alternative m many cases but to resort to strike action. I feel that were that so it would be a catastrophe which I am sure 1204 my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour would not begin to contemplate.
It always seems to me strange that at a time when industrial affairs and relations are, beyond challenge, the most important domestic problems of the day we so rarely discuss them in the House of Commons and, when we do, we approach them very nervously, sometimes with an excess of restraint and sometimes with an excess of vigour. We approach them rather from entrenched positions. I recognise that for many hon. Members who have spent their lives in the trade union movement—I say this with great respect—it is not always easy to accept what seems to them to be unthinking criticism from those who have not similarly spent their lives in that movement.
I was somewhat surprised by the speech of the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens). He put his case with the utmost moderation. He certainly kept party politics down to the minimum, but it does not seem to me to be the sort of speech which one would expect from an Opposition Front Bench heralding a major division between us upon a vital subject. I was also surprised when he said that he would not today go into the arguments for or against compulsory arbitration. They seem to me to be very germane to the decision which we have to make, and it appeared to me, at any rate, that he was conscious that there is not a great deal of steam under this demand to retain this Order in force. He appeared to me so much more uncertain of himself than in almost any other speech I have heard him make that I wondered whether he was deeply convinced about the rightness of his cause.
The right hon. Gentleman referred particularly to the impossibility, which we must all recognise, of bringing the force of law to bear upon each individual taking part in a strike. That is, of course, true. But he went on later to cast the scene as being a dispute between the big employer and the small worker. Surely, he was saying, the big employer does not wish to drop this Order simply because he is unable to take action to enforce effectively the contract of service which has been established between him and his employee.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
I think the point which my right hon. Friend was making was that the federated employers make their agreements with the trade unions in their industry and they honour the agreements that they have made, whereas those employers who are not federated and who do not observe the conditions agreed by the federated employers often take advantage to undercut the federated employers.
§ Mr. Peyton
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. What I was about to say was this. The real relationship which there is following the decision of the Industrial Court is not so much between the employer and the employee as between the employer and the union. There is really no possibility of the employer being able to force the union to perform its contract because it is in no way liable.
§ Mr. Awbery
I do not think the hon. Gentleman has understood the position quite clearly. If, for instance, N.A.L.G.O. comes to an agreement nationally and there are some local authorities in the country which refuse to put that agreement into operation, there is no redress except through a strike. Under the present arrangement, with compulsory arbitration, the association can go to arbitration. If this arrangement is to go by the board, there is no alternative to a strike.
§ Mr. Peyton
I realise that the instance which the hon. Gentleman has put does raise a great problem. Indeed, my right hon. Friend acknowledged the special position of an organisation such as N.A.L.G.O. For my part, I welcome what he said today about discussions going on, and I very much hope that he will be successful in using his good offices to bring about an arrangement satisfactory to both parties.
To return to the general issue with which I am concerned, it seems to me that the crux of the matter is that a decision of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal is enforceable only one way, in practice. That must be unsatisfactory. Compulsion, surely, is justified only if it affects all parties to the dispute or contract equally, and I do not think that that can be maintained in this instance.
I have said that we tend to approach these industrial problems sometimes with 1206 very great tenderness and sometimes with far too little restraint; we go from one extreme to the other. With great respect to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have, as I say, spent their lives in the trade union movement, I would say that they now enjoy a position of such power, and that the situation has changed so fundamentally since the start of this immense movement. The trade unions have now achieved a position of such formidable power that they should not be too quick to react to criticism which is not always directed with quite the hostility that they suppose.
We live today in an age when most institutions are under very critical review. There is still alive in this country one basic characteristic which has existed throughout our history, namely, a very strong dislike and suspicion of too much power in any one sets of hands. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite often touch upon this subject when they discuss other people's affairs. I think it can fairly be said that the trade unions today, possessing as they do a vast degree of power, attract to themselves far more than they used to do the critical attention of many people who have not taken up any particular position either in politics or industrial affairs.
I wish to conclude today with a plea that we should not be too hidebound in our approach to these problems. The problem under discussion now is one of them. To put it mildly, it would be a pity if both sides of the House were to approach the matter too much from entrenched positions. I full realise the immense weight of sentimental loyalty which exists; indeed, it would be foolish to deny it. Such things are important. Not only would it be foolish to deny their existence, but it would be folly also to decry them. Nevertheless, I feel that we in this House very often fall short of our duty in that we sometimes manage to engender an atmosphere which inhibits frank discussion of a problem which bears very closely upon the economic life and future of our country.
We must face the fact that there have been many events in recent months and years which have attracted to the trade union movement the doubt, criticism, fear and suspicion of our fellow citizens. There is a good deal of public anxiety, 1207 and that public anxiety has been particularly fanned by a wave of unofficial strikes. The public were concerned about a recent election in the E.T.U., though I do not want to go into the details of that. People do not find it easy to accept the sending of men to "Coventry" simply because they have differed from the majority, and they are concerned from time to time to find the rights of the individual trade union member not adequately safeguarded.
§ Mr. Speaker
I would direct the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that there is a Prayer against a specific Order. I have been trying to relate his interesting remarks to that Order, and I find it a rather difficult task.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for your Ruling, which I shall, of course, accept with the utmost obedience. I have no difficulty myself in seeing this particular Order as a real part of the picture which I have briefly been painting, but to which I shall not again refer.
I shall conclude by repeating to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the plea which I made. I hope that they will not be too quick to impute motives of hostility and unfriendliness to those on this side of the House who, from time to time, may criticise the trade union movement. Because words of criticism are uttered, that does not mean that the general aim of those who sit on this side is merely one of hostility, as is sometimes suggested by the party opposite.
To my mind, the particular Order which the Opposition wish to see kept in force has achieved a significance it was never intended to have. It was an emergency measure, as has been made clear by previous speakers. It was kept in force for too long after the war, and now, because the compulsion does not bear equally upon all concerned, I can see no justification at all for preserving it in formal and lasting legislation.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Captain M. Hewitson (Hull, West)
Our debate today has sounded like the opening of a wage negotiation, each side being moderate and gentlemanly with the other, until we come to the point, which has been reached in the speech just made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for 1208 Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), when a little edge is put into the application. From that stage, the parties go from edge to razor edge, finally kicking each other well and heartily before the ultimate breakdown of negotiations. I suppose that the equivalent point in our proceedings today will be the Division, with the three-line Whip on each side of the House.
We have been a little mealy-mouthed today. We have not faced the realities which will flow from the abolition of the system of arbitration. We are facing a terrific job in the trade union world today. There has been a great deal of talk about Order No. 1305. I have conducted many arbitrations under that Order. Later, there was the arbitration Order of 1951, which it is proposed now to abolish. This Order, I may say, has been the safety valve for the trade union officer handling big industry in the country.
There have been references to N.A.L.G.O., an organisation which has voluntarily given an honourable undertaking not to strike. This organisation is being denied the right of arbitration to obtain its rights if it is in dispute with a local authority. Much has been said about it, and the Minister has talked about having discussions with the organisation to find some form of machinery which would give it an outlet.
Surely, the right hon. Gentleman could have done the same thing with the trade union movement and found some means of discussion and outlet before he abolished the Order. This Order has worked for the last seven years. Does the Minister want to do away with it as one of the last dying kicks of the Conservative Government? They will not be here for very much longer. Is it one of the last dying kicks and pinpricks to try to disorganise the industrial relationship set up in the country? It looks suspiciously like it.
Let us turn to an industry which could cripple the country as a result of the abolition of this Order, the chemical industry. The heavy chemicals, plastics, fertilisers, glue, gelatine and pharmaceutical industries are all covered by joint industrial councils. In the event of disagreement on one of those councils, a form of arbitration is provided in the rules and set up of the joint industrial councils. But outside the joint industrial councils is Imperial Chemicals. On the 1209 one side, the management, and on the other, 17 unions. In the event of the negotiations breaking down, which very rarely happens, the sides go to arbitration under this Order. Now that the Order is to disappear, what will happen when there is a dispute? Only one thing can happen—strike action. There is no bridge. If a trade union leader is faced with an upheaval in wage negotiations and faced with a group of workers who are intent upon stopping the job, he can go to arbitration. That is his argument. If it is not available to him, what will he do? I suggest that he will take the line of least resistance and say to the workers, "Stop the job." That will happen all because of the stupidity—and I use that word with all its force—of the Ministry of Labour in insisting upon abolishing this form of arbitration.
We have noticed that over the last four years negotiations have become keener and keener and that there have been more refusals from employers to wage demands. They always argue, "You will price us out of the international market. We cannot afford that." Then negotiations break down and we have taken them to arbitration under this Order and we have had our awards given to us by the arbitrators. This has happened so many times and so generous have the arbitrators been that the employers have frequently complained, saying, "We do not want to do to arbitration because arbitration courts give you all that you ask for."
I think that that has been said in this House on previous occasions, too, and one suspects that the employers' organisations have brought pressure upon the Government to abolish the Order because a fight is coming along which will be mainly based upon high unemployment. When there is high unemployment, the sting is taken out of the fight at factory level and if arbitration machinery is taken away from us, as is proposed by the Minister by abolishing this Order, it means that the fight will become keener and that we shall go back to the old days and fight on workmen's stomachs rather than reason.
I have more than my suspicions on this matter. This is a deliberate action by the Government to introduce a rift 1210 into industrial negotiating machinery in the hope that we shall have a major upheaval that they can cash in on if it comes to a General Election. Probably I have a suspicious mind, but I have been fighting that for many years. I make no bones about it when I say that we should arbitrate if we can and fight if we must. That has been my outlook in all industrial negotiations.
I do not think that the Minister realises the real import of what he has done. He is carrying out the instructions of his Cabinet. That is part of the game, part of the build-up to try to seek some form of popularity in the country for the election next year, based upon some unfortunate thing that may happen when this Order is abolished. That is the reason, and, if anyone were to ask me why the Minister is abolishing this Order, I would say, "You need not be surprised, because it is just the Tories being Tories." We never expect them to be on our side of the fence. They are against us the whole time. Every action of the Minister of Labour over the last four years, one after another, has been against the set-up of industrial peace and industrial negotiation, ending with an attempt to abolish this Order.
§ Captain Hewitson
From 1940, until the present Minister, we have had a fairly decent Minister of Labour.
§ Captain Hewitson
If I may use a term which some of my Eton and Oxford friends would use, the present Minister is a "stinker".
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a Parliamentary word. I think that the hon. and gallant Member should withdraw it.
§ Captain Hewitson
If it is not a Parliamentary word, Mr. Speaker, then I immediately withdraw it. I did not mean to use a naughty word, but as I got the word from one of my Eton and Oxford friends I thought that it was sure to be all right.
§ Captain Hewitson
As a working-class advocate, Sir, I humbly withdraw the word. I now realise that my intellectual friends are not always right.
It is a dangerous procedure to take away the Order. I do not say that it has worked wholly successfully during the last seven years, but the Minister could have put something in its place before he took it away. Now, any claim which is submitted up to 10th December can be taken up to about March; it will be in the pipeline. If it is not submitted before 10th December, there is no next step, and that is the horrifying position which we are in. What happens when we reach deadlock in the boardroom? What can we do—just raise our hats, say "Thank you" and walk out? We shall have to go back to the old method of consultation in the workshops, and we know what that means: there will be a vote in favour of a stoppage of work and there will be no argument against it.
I would ask the Minister to reconsider, even at this late hour, the position and, if the Order must be annulled, at least say what will be placed in its stead. Let us forget the feeling of the House and try to think of the mind of the trade union leader who will read about this tomorrow morning, hoping that something will take the place of this Order and that something will be done. Think of the trade union leader who has to face a lot of difficulties, such as people who are trying desperately at all times to stop work on some of our key jobs. We have had a recent example at an airport. Think of the trade union leader who is honestly trying to make the machinery work and whose sheet anchor is this arbitration Order. Think twice before it is destroyed and let such people carry on with the peaceful set-up in industry that we have been enjoying at least since 1938.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
I should begin by apologising to the hon. and gallant Member for Hull, West (Captain Hewitson) that another engagement in this building prevented me from hearing the earlier part of his speech. I heard the hon. and gallant Member say, however, that he had been fighting for many years against a suspicious mind. From the remarks that we heard the hon. and gallant Member make this evening, 1212 all I can say is that he has been singularly unsuccessful.
I had hoped from the tone of the earlier speeches that it would be acknowledged on both sides that we all wish to preserve peace in industry. It is, however, evident from the accusations made by the hon. and gallant Member, particularly against my right hon. Friend the Minister, that he has no such intention on his part.
§ Sir S. Summers
I was not dealing with the hon. Member but with his hon. and gallant Friend and it is up to him to have the first right of retort if he wishes. The hon. and gallant Member deplored that nothing is to be put in place of the existing Order when it is revoked. It is to that aspect that I should like to devote the short time that I intend to detain the House.
I am dealing for the moment with the disputes side rather than with the issues side of the Order. It is clear that the use to which this form of arbitration can be put is not, in fact, used by those who have their own arbitration system built into their own joint arrangements. Therefore, when we deplore, if we do, the loss of the Order, we are considering only those industries that lack their own system for arbitration. I have little doubt that the reason why built-in arbitration within an industry has not gone further is the existence of two forms of arbitration outside: the Industrial Disputes Tribunal and the Court, to which scant reference has been made in the remarks that we have heard this afternoon.
I believe that one of the consequences of doing away with the Order will be the increase of built-in, self-made arbitration systems within industries which will be mutually agreed and called into aid as required and which will be better than the statutory device made available in the war years.
Several hon. Members have criticised my right hon. Friend the Minister for doing what, they think, is a good turn to employers at the expense of the workers.
§ Sir S. Summers
I hope I have not mis-stated the case which I have heard put from the other side. I always try to be fair in these matters.
§ Sir S. Summers
I do not question other people's motives, as the hon. and gallant Member appears to do. If other people say things, I assume that they mean them.
§ Sir S. Summers
What hon. Members opposite have completely overlooked is the very proper regard which my right hon. Friend has had for the pledges that were given in the past, pledges to the effect that when one side of the original wartime bargain—namely, no strikes and compulsory arbitration—was done away with, if either side disliked the new version of compulsory arbitration inherent in the 1951 position the Minister would abandon the system. As has been made clear by my right hon. Friend this afternoon, it is as much in fulfilment of past pledges as by individual inclination on his part that he has come to the House now to abandon the Order as we have known it.
§ Mr. Stan Awbery (Bristol, Central)
Is the hon. Member aware that since 1951 one trade union alone has submitted to the industrial disputes organisation 205 cases? Had there been no such organisation, probably there would have been strikes in a large number of these cases which went before the Tribunal. Therefore, the Order has done some pod. Now the Minister wants to destroy that organisation.
§ Sir S. Summers
The hon. Member is merely repeating what other hon. Members on his side have said. He, too, is completely ignoring that the Minister is fulfilling pledges made by Socialist Ministers of Labour to the effect that if one side in industry took exception to the working and practice of the 1951 system, it would be changed. I am merely pointing out that it is unfair to ignore the fulfilment of the pledges, as hon. Members opposite have been doing.
§ Sir S. Summers
Then, I will give way. If, however, the hon. Member does not wish to fulfil his challenge, he should not accuse me.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The basis of our suspicion is that the employers whom the Minister is answering by this repeal are the persons who subscribe to Tory Party funds.
§ Sir S. Summers
The hon. Member is doing less than justice to his own side. Ministers regard pledges given in the past as pledges which should be fulfilled. All I am pointing out is that my right hon. Friend is fulfilling pledges that were given.
One consequence of the new situation, as I have already said, is my belief that there will grow up increased opportunities for arbitration within industries whose own system will be developed to render it unnecessary to look elsewhere for the opportunity for arbitration. The issues situation seems to me to become increasingly important, as individual industries develop their collective bargaining arrangements and the arbitration that follows therefrom, because of the need to have in individual cases the right to impose upon others who are not parties to an agreement the fulfilment of the arrangements which have been made.
The point which I am trying to make is that as fresh opportunities for arbitration develop, so the aspect of issues, enforcing those agreements upon other employers, becomes increasingly important. If, therefore, as my right hon. Friend has said, he is more than willing to look at the issues situation in the absence of the Order, I suggest that it has greater relevance with the growth of built-in arbitration arrangements that emerge from the removal of this instrument of arbitration.
Great play has been made with the taking away of the existing instrument, but little attention has been paid to the alternative instrument that is available, namely, the Industrial Court. I have always thought—indeed, I said so in the debate in February—
§ Captain Hewitson
Is the hon. Member aware that to take a case to the Industrial Court there must be an agreed term of reference? It cannot be done ex parte, as can be done under the Order.
§ Sir S. Summers
In his diversion, the hon. and gallant Member strengthens my objection to the technique of the Industrial Tribunal. If he regards the continuance of that Tribunal as a good thing because it is used where there is not agreement, it seems to me that there is a fundamental disagreement about the whole business. I have never thought that compulsory arbitration is a good thing if either side is reluctant to use it. In many cases, the fact that it has been used—and we have just been reminded of about 200 cases—lends colour to the view that those who are unable to get an increase by direct negotiation regard the existence of these arbitration courts as a second opportunity to get what they cannot otherwise get and that it is not so much scope for eliminating strikes and lockouts in industry as a second string to a bow designed to get increased wages. That, at least, is the inference which it is not unreasonable to draw from the kind of experience that the hon. and gallant Member quoted.
Those who criticise the proposal of the Government should ask themselves whether, if there were no such thing as compulsory arbitration in any form, they would come to the House and advocate that it should be created. That is the implication of the remarks which we have heard from many quarters today. My experience of the workings of collective bargaining in industry is that there are many people who would be very loath to introduce compulsory arbitration on a big scale, starting afresh altogether, and the fact that we are to remove this one instrument of arbitration and leave the other one does not seem to me to be striking anything like such a big blow as is suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I shall sit down in a moment or two, so as to leave as much time as possible for others, but there are two things I wish to add. There is, I think, much force in the argument advanced by N A.L.G.O. that its position may be prejudiced in the absence of the right to strike if its members have no place to 1216 which to go to ensure that agreements made nationally are enforced throughout the country; and I think that we should all regret it if local government officers were subjected to any pressure by individual authorities for want of a system by which they could be protected against it.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), a former Attorney-General, asked today that the Minister should give rather more assurance in the debate that he will prevent that than he has yet been able to give. I must say that I read his remarks on this question of issues as going a very long way to indicate that if the two sides, worried about the prospect of the issues topic, came forward with a proposition, he would be the first to consider sympathetically underwriting it, so to speak, with Government action. In other words, the assurance for which he was asked had been, I should have thought, almost fully stated already in the original speech my right hon. Friend made from the Front Bench.
Lastly, I want to say this. If we look at the unrest in industry, whether they were official or unofficial strikes, in the last year or two, we see that demands for increased pay, whether it should or should not be given, and, if it should, by how much, covered not much more than a substantial part of the causes of friction in industry.
There have been all sorts of troubles about recognition, troubles about nonunion membership, and whether this person or that is a fit person to have working alongside one or not. There is a whole series of complicated worries on both sides which are not directly related to the amount of pay given for a job. Do not let us forget, in assessing the magnitude of this proposal today, that a very great many questions giving rise to unrest will not be affected in the slightest, because an industrial tribunal, or a court for that matter, cannot dictate about unwillingness to work alongside people whom it is thought should not be employed.
I should like to urge, in passing, that I think there is a good deal needing to be done in industrial relations on both sides to ensure discipline on the one side and to ensure that the policy of the employer concerned is understood, and to eliminate 1217 any criticism of delay in dealing with matters brought forward by the trade union side. If we could find a way to eliminate those causes of unrest the prominence given to arbitration instruments today would be given a better sense of proportion.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Pentland (Chester-le-Street)
The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) has emphasised certain criticisms which have been levelled at the trade union movement, how it must not be so touchy about this and how we have to take it on the chin. The hon. Member also referred to compulsory arbitration and how the two sides cannot seem to work together on the question of arbitration in the harmony that they should.
One of the things which mystifies me and, I feel sure, mystifies other people on this side of the House is why the Government are taking away something which is of great benefit to industrial relations and which, indeed, has brought about the highest degree of harmony and good sense in industrial relations we have ever seen in the history of the trade union movement.
I have said there is a certain amount of mystery about this. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull, West (Captain Hewitson) that there have been mealy-mouthed speeches about it up to now from the other side. What are the real reasons? For the life of me I could not find the real reason from the speech of the Minister of Labour today. What I do know is that there has been strong criticism from the employers' section about the way wages are settled through the medium of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, and there has been certain criticism in this House, too. Questions have been tabled here drawing attention to the fact that when wage awards have been made the Tribunal has awarded higher rates without any reasons given for its decisions, and that those decisions, so it has been claimed by the critics, were apparently unrelated to productivity and the cost of living and paid no proper regard to the needs of this nation. Those are criticisms which have been made in this House before now.
This may well be the reason why the Government are annulling this Order 1218 today, but I think there is another reason. I think it goes further than that, because I have a feeling, after listening to certain speeches which have been made on the other side of the House, that there is a strong conviction in the Tory Party and in the country at large that the trade union movement has too much power in securing wage increases and proper conditions for its members and that there have been too many demands by the trade union movement and that it has acted irresponsibly. That, I think, is the opinion of a strong section of the Tory Party.
§ Mr. Pentland
I believe it is true. I believe that is the reason why we are today discussing the annullment of the Order.
We have heard, inside and outside the House, a good deal of criticism of the movement, criticism of the irresponsibility of the trade union movement over the past years. Indeed, ever since I became a Member of Parliament the criticism has been that the trade union movement has pursued its own selfish interests without proper regard to the needs of the consumers. It is a lot of nonsense.
Let us face the fact, and let the Government also face the fact, that if the trade union movement had operated the principle of free enterprise, which is to get as much as one can for what one has to offer, and if it had used the giant strength it has, at this moment the situation of the country would be different altogether. However, the trade union movement faced its responsibility and exercised commendable restraint. There is abundant evidence to prove that since the end of the last war we have had a greater degree of industrial peace than almost any other industrial nation in the world.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) gave certain figures. Let me give some more figures. The average time lost from 1947 to 1956 in the United States was 10 times greater than that lost in this country; Australia and New Zealand lost six times more; Canada, Japan and Belgium five times more. As every hon. Member in this House should know, the position has not substantially changed since that time
§ Mr. Osborne
Are those figures proportionate? Surely, the hon. Member is not suggesting otherwise. Canada, for example, has a population which is one-third of the size of ours.
§ Mr. Pentland
They are, of course, proportionate figures. They relate to time lost per man in a particular industry.
There is also a good deal of evidence to prove that the criticism levelled at the trade union movement, which has been repeated here tonight, is "phoney". I would quote the Minister of Labour himself. When we were debating the economic situation on 30th October, 1957, that is, less than 13 months ago, he said:In this country we have lost our sense of perspective over strikes and we exaggerate their importance. Our record is, in fact, one of the best of all industrial countries of the world. I find these figures fascinating: last year we lost through industrial disputes no more than 50 minutes for every worker engaged in industry. We lost through industrial accidents eight hours, and through sickness 100 hours."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October. 1957; Vol. 575, c. 238.]would say that the Minister's statement on that occasion was a tribute to British industrial relations and a very good answer to the charge of trade union irresponsibility.
I should also like to draw attention to the statement made in that splendid official reference handbook Britain which is prepared by the Central Office of Information. On page 286 of the 1958 edition there is this statement:The machinery for negotiation and conciliation of disputes has reduced the need for direct industrial action, i.e. strikes and lockouts…Time lost by stoppages of work caused by industrial disputes has been substantially less in the last 20 years than formerly…The average time lost in the 24 years from 1933–1956 was 2 million man-days, or about a tenth of a day per worker per year, compared with an average of 21 million man-days in 23 years 1910 to 1932.Here is the official reference book, under the heading "State Provision for Conciliation, Arbitration and Investigation", paying a tremendous tribute to British industrial relations.
This book will be studied by our friends throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, and indeed throughout the world. They will be astonished to find that the British Government, at this stage, are weakening industrial regulations which according to the Central Office of Information have proved of immense 1220 value to the nation over the past few years. Surely, they will ask why in the world the Government should be doing this at a time when the handbook states quite clearly what a contribution the workers are making to the economy at large.
Criticism has been made more than once of the effect of wage increases upon the economy of the country. The criticism has been repeated again today. It is one of the main issues behind what is happening in the House today. I believe that again, in this context, it can be proved that the trade unions have faced their responsibilities and undertaken their obligations and have demonstrated their faith in the conciliation machinery which has been established in this country.
The trade unions are criticised for demanding wage increases for their members. I have been a Member of the House for only two years, but I can remember listening to debates in which it was obvious that the Cabinet itself could not make up its mind whether we were on the brink of economic disaster, or had never had it so good. On the one hand, the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that we were on the brink of economic disaster, and on the other hand the Prime Minister was joyfully declaring that we had never had it so good. They could not make up their minds where we were. It is obvious to me that the Cabinet and the whole Tory Party have made up their minds that trade union demands for increased wages for their membership constitute the greatest threat to Britain's future.
§ Mr. Osborne
I am sorry to interrupt again, but would the hon. Member be good enough to look up what Sir Stafford Cripps said in the House in 1947, 1948 and 1949? He was a fair-minded and good man, and he said time after time that if wages were increased irrespective of productivity prices must go up and that would endanger our stability.
§ Mr. Pentland
That holds good today. I have always appreciated the 1221 sincerity of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne), but I was speaking about the two years that I have been a Member of the House. All I am saying is that in my time, and I am 46 years of age, the Tory Party has once again reverted to the old reactionary policies of the past.
As to criticisms of increased wages, let me remind the House that when an increase has been granted to the workers Government action, almost on the heels of that increase, has practically eliminated the gain acquired by the workers—and this after months and months of patient negotiation by the trade union movement through the peaceful methods of negotiation machinery. I should like to give the House an example. In February, 1956, I was working at a pit in the Durham coalfield. I remember quite clearly that at that time the National Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers negotiated a wage increase for between 300,000 and 400,000 day workers. The increase finally agreed upon was 2s. 4d. per shift. It was recognised at that time by the Coal Board that Is. 7d. of that 2s. 4d. was necessary to restore the real value of the wage already received by the miners. Therefore, the actual increase in real wage value to the miners was 9d. per shift.
The miners accepted it, but the very next day the Government made certain profound announcements. They declared their intention of withdrawing the subsidy on milk to the extent of £38 million and the bread subsidy to the extent of £23 million, making a total of £61 million. Those actions were followed by an increase in the Bank Rate.
I claim, therefore, that on that occasion the Government by their own actions almost completely eliminated the gain which those miners then secured. Does anyone think for a moment that the miners did not understand and appreciate what effect the Government action would have on that increase? Of course they appreciated it. Did they act irresponsibly or take strike action to force the issue? They did not. They used commendable restraint, and they pursued this matter through the conciliation machinery which was established in the industry. Of course, there were millions of workers in this country who got no rise at all. They were peacefully going through their 1222 negotiations to try to catch up with the Government's action, and it took months of those negotiations before any settlement was reached by them. Therefore, there is a lot of phoney talk about the effect that wage increases to the workers of this country have had upon our economy.
I do not want anyone to tell me that wage increases out of proportion do not affect the economy; of course, they do. I am trying to impress on the House that there have been numerous times when the workers of this country, millions of them, have been running like mad to stand in the same place, so far as wage increases are concerned.
Finally, I would not for a moment pretend that our system of industrial relations is perfect; far from it. But as my hon. Friends have asked on more than one occasion since this debate started: "What are we going to put in its place?" It is as simple as that. If the right hon. Gentleman, through the Government, had been bringing something forward today which would improve and strengthen our industrial relations and regulations, then we could have whole-heartedly supported it, but, in my opinion, like that of many other of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, this will only jeopardise the present set-up that we have in this country.
Therefore, I would say to the Minister of Labour that this will inevitably lead to trouble in industry; it is bound to. Those of us who understand the psychology of the men and the whole of the set-up of the conciliatory machine realise that if this safeguard is taken away we are bound to get trouble in the very near future. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to have serious second thoughts before we divide on this issue tonight.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Body (Billericay)
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) has told us his age, and it is an age which makes him one of the babies of the Opposition. That being so, one would have hoped to have heard the language of 1958, but instead, unfortunately, we have heard repeated many of the kind of things that were said twenty years ago.
§ Mr. Body
I am not ashamed of being young. What I hope to say are words of the future rather than of the past. Listening to some hon. Gentlemen opposite, one would have thought that we on this side of the House were anxious to see strikes in public services, disharmony and, indeed, almost injustice to those who are members of N.A.L.G.O.
I should like to begin by paying tribute to N.A.L.G.O. for what it has done since 1940, because in that year, so far as negotiations between local authorities and local government officers were concerned, it did, with the aid of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, enable a standardisation of terms of employment and income throughout the country. I believe that it has done a great work. There are many members of N.A.L.G.O. who are, of course, very concerned with this latest step, which leaves a vacuum. But we have heard certain words of assurance this afternoon from my right hon. Friend that negotiations are taking place between his officers and representatives of N.A.L.G.O., and I am sure that everyone in the House would not wish those negotiations to be prejudiced by any premature statement by him or anyone else.
§ Mr. Awbery
If negotiations take place on the set-up of a new machine and there is no agreement between the employers and N.A.L.G.O., to whom are they to refer their disputes, if this goes by the board?
§ Mr. Body
There is no reason why those negotiations should fail. Let us hope that there will be in the place of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal some other machinery which will enable these matters to be put right. I would ask the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) to bear in mind that many of the evils, if one likes to call them evils, have been put right by N.A.L.G.O. already.
§ Mr. Awbery
We have been trying to point out that N.A.L.G.O. had done much good by the operation of this Order and now the Minister comes in and wants to destroy what has been done and prevent it from making progress in the future.
§ Mr. Body
The hon. Gentleman did not understand. I tried to pay a tribute to N.A.L.G.O. in saying that it had succeeded in establishing a greater standardisation in terms of employment 1224 throughout the country. The evils are past. Let us consider the future and the few further issues or disputes that need to be referred to any tribunal by N.A.L.G.O. because N.A.L.G.O. has already done a great work.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I used to knock the hon. Member about a lot at Rotherham when he was my opponent, and I do not want to do it tonight. He is telling the House that N.A.L.G.O. has served this country and its membership in a splendid way, with which we all agree, with the aid of the Order, the annulment of which he is now seeking to support. Will he tell us why?
§ Mr. Body
I will tell the House later why I think that the Industrial Disputes Tribunal should be brought to an end. In the meantime, let me reaffirm the tribute which I have tried to pay, in my own humble way, to N.A.L.G.O. for what has already been done. May I add that there is very little need for N.A.L.G.O. to go on because it has already succeeded in establishing the virtual standardisation of terms of employment. The remaining injustices which N.A.L.G.O. need refer to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, or any other tribunal, are now very few. Of the 205 disputes that have been referred by N.A.L.G.O. no fewer than 180 have been successful, and those 180 successful references have enabled that standardisation to succeed.
The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), as he used to do in 1950, is talking, as I said, the language of 1928. We have now succeeded in 1958 in obtaining a wide standardisation and the need, therefore, of reference by N.A.L.G.O. is infinitely less than in 1940, when there was a jungle in these matters. That jungle has now gone.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
What the hon. Gentleman is telling the House and the nation is specifically this: that with the aid of this Order N.A.L.G.O. has done a wonderful job for its members and for the nation. Yet he seeks to destroy the instrument about which he gives such praise. I cannot understand the logic of the argument. Why does he seek to destroy something which he is arguing has proved so successful in the interests of N.A.L.G.O. membership and the country at large?
§ Mr. Body
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to do so, I will pursue that point in a sentence or two. I understant that the Association of Municipal Corporations is anxious that there should be an arbitration body which can hear issues of this kind. It is beyond dispute that N.A.L.G.O. also wishes for some organisation, as do others, which will represent people in public employment. Again, the National Union of Public Employees is anxious to have such a tribunal. There is no reason why some such tribunal should not be established. It need not be of the same type as the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. It could perhaps widen the power of the Industrial Court. As my right hon. Friend said, in speaking earlier this afternoon, there are many ways in which the gap can be filled.
I frankly admit to some prejudice against the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. The hon. Member for Rotherham referred to 1950. He may remember that I was not a lawyer, but a trade unionist, and an active one. I used to serve on a trades council. Not that there is anything marvellous in doing this; it is simply a matter of assiduously attending branch meetings and then, sooner or later, one is elected to the council. So I know the gossip that used to be passed down to the rank and file members of the trades council about the Industrial Disputes Tribunal and how it could be exploited by those who wised to do so.
After all, the Industrial Disputes Tribunal exists, and must exist, only when there is a dispute as to whether the issue should go to arbitration or not. It is essentially an ex parte reference.
§ Mr. Body
That is the point, because those who comprise the tribunal know that in nine cases out of ten it is the trade union side which makes the reference, in a recalcitrant mood, in a state of mind which admits of no retreat from the position they have held hitherto. That is also true of the employers' side, though I hold no brief for them; indeed, 1226 my brief is for the other side. Perhaps both sides are in a recalcitrant state of mind when they arrive at the arbitration tribunal and that is often known by the tribunal. So the rumour we used to hear at trades councils was that the tribunal is almost bound to allow an increase because, unless there is such an increase, there will be the threat of a strike, and if there is an award it is sometimes an unfair one. It would, therefore, be interesting to know the number of awards that have been made enabling wage increases in proportion to the total number of references.
The real reason why I am opposed to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, and am glad to see it go, is that it means compulsory arbitration, which is a contradiction in terms. As I understand, arbitration necessitates an agreement by two sides to refer a dispute that exists between them to be settled and decided by a third party. That is the essential element in arbitration. That is what makes arbitration fair. Without that element it is, or can be, unfair. Yet that is something which, by its very nature, must be absent from any reference made to an Industrial Disputes Tribunal in the present state of affairs.
§ Mr. Awbery
But is not the hon. Gentleman destroying the impartiality of our tribunals, because what he has said will apply not only to this one but also to tribunals in other industries? We have regarded them as impartial and he is trying to tell us that their decisions are not impartial.
§ Mr. Body
That is perhaps the real reason why it is more than time for the Industrial Disputes Tribunal to go. It offends one of the cardinal and fundamental principles of arbitration. I am in favour of arbitration when it fulfils that essential element of both sides wishing to go to arbitration and have their disputes settled by a person who is independent of the dispute. In that sense arbitration obviously fulfils a useful function, but I am satisfied that, once the Industrial Disputes Tribunal is disbanded, we shall have in its place an alternative for those who in the realm of public service have need for recourse to arbitration. For that reason I am entirely satisfied with the action of my right hon. Friend and wholeheartedly support him in what he has done.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I am rather surprised tonight about the attitude of various parties on this matter. A few years back I should have been much more surprised if the trade union movement and the Labour Party had been supporting compulsory arbitration. At one time I used to think a great deal about this subject and I tried to persuade myself that compulsory arbitration was good in many cases, if not in all. At this juncture I am glad to think that I can speak with freedom and without criticism from my own side, as there is a three-line Whip and apparently the T.U.C. is supporting this principle.
We know that there is not unanimous support for compulsory arbitration in the trade union world and I ask whether it is a principle which is worthy of support? There seems to be unanimous agreement that the idea is good, but the question then arises, if it is good why should we abolish it? As I have said, ten years ago I should not have thought we could get the support of the trade union movement for compulsory arbitration but, having arrived at that point in our industrial relationships, it is more surprising than ever to me to find that the Government of the day believe that this is bad for the nation. If it is good for the big industries, most people would agree that it is good for the nation at large. We want peace internationally, and we also want peace nationally in the industrial world.
Is it wise in these circumstances for the Government to adopt their present attitude? The Minister of Labour makes a logical case, but while doing that he is leaving the nation in a serious position. Because of certain pledges given in the past he is taking away all responsibility from the Government in this matter. He makes no effort at all as a responsible Minister representing the Government to deal with the problem which remains, and that is the important issue.
The Minister is taking up an attitude which one would never expect from the Government at this time. In reality, he is encouraging the idea that liberty in this matter is useful and good for the country. In principle, liberty is good to a given extent, but in any reasonable society it is conditioned, and the same should apply here. Suppose a big trade union cannot get what it considers to be satisfaction. The Minister is, in effect, saying "Get it 1228 settled in your own way. The country's welfare and public opinion do not matter. We had a compulsory system operating for some years, but we have decided to do away with it, and you can fight the matter out as best you can."
The Government say that in the new conditions which they are imposing on the country it would be a good thing if the trade unions had arbitration clauses in their agreements. Will that provide a better system than the one which has operated in the past? The fact that we had compulsory machinery which compelled arbitration was an influence in itself, for it encouraged trade unions to have arbitration clauses in their industrial regulations. Yet we have heard it said that by doing away with the compulsory machinery we are likely to have more arbitration clauses in agreements. I do not think that is so.
By merely doing away with that machinery, the Government are adhering to a principle which I never expected a Government would attempt to uphold, and their attitude is likely to do more harm than good. I took part in the twenty-six weeks' strike of the miners, and there were times during that period when better terms were offered than the miners ultimately obtained. The difficulty about big industrial struggles is that if large bodies of men come out on strike one can never tell when they are likely to go back again. Therefore, while the Government were carrying out past pledges they ought to have emphasised that from the national point of view there was a principle to which they adhered and which they would like developed, and they ought to have called into discussion employers and workers to see whether it was possible to introduce legislation which would give the country the principle of compulsory arbitration to prevent industrial war.
I rather admired the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland). It was a very good speech. I was surprised at the criticism of it by an hon. Member opposite who did not make half as good a speech.
Has there been any evidence arising out of the operation of the existing system that the workers have been extracting an unreasonable amount from 1229 the national product? I find that in 1948 the wages' share of the national product was 40.2 per cent. and in 1957 it was 39.8, so that the share has been dropping.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir G. Touche)
I hope the hon. Member will not pursue this point too far. It is rather away from the Order.
§ Mr. McKay
I have not gone half as far as some other speakers, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, particularly the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street, who went a long way, but, when all is said and done, it is a very narrow subject.
Reference has been made to the position of the trade union leader. Anyone with any trade union experience knows that he has not got an easy pob. Those with the responsibility of leading big trade unions are usually glad to have some body which can settle disputes.
Unofficial strikes have been mentioned. The problem of unofficial strikes will not be solved by the introduction of some new scheme of compulsory arbitration. Anyone familiar with the trade union movement knows that unofficial strikes take place because of varying conditions and are bound to occur even with compulsory arbitration. However, there is no doubt that the Government are not attempting to deal with this problem.
Trade unionists generally believe that arbitrations are all right providing that the right men are hearing and deciding the issues. Workers have always had a tremendous prejudice against arbitrations, and probably always will have. The needs of the nation would be met if the workers could have confidence in the men hearing the appeals and could believe that they would analyse the pleas put forward and give a fair decision. That is an ideal for which we should strive. I hope that before the debate ends, the Government will give a pledge that this problem will be tackled and that every effort will be made to see that the workers are sure of their economic rights.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. George (Glasgow, Pollok)
When I could follow the arguments of the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay), I sympathised with him in his great dilemma. He was amazed that the 1230 trade unions should support compulsory arbitration, and he was astonished that the Minister of Labour should do away with it. All through the debate I have sensed new virtues being found for the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. I remember its inception when it had no virtues at all. Today, we have heard its importance and achievements greatly exaggerated.
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) quoted reams of figures to show how successful we had been at keeping industrial peace compared with the United States, Canada and so forth. He tried to give the impression that that was due to the operation of the I.D.T. Of course, that is not the case. It is due to the operation of our collective bargaining system operated by reasonable men making reasonable efforts to secure industrial peace.
We can be satisfied with our proud post-war record, although no one will deny that there is till great room for improvement. Nevertheless, what has been done has been mainly due to our free collective bargaining system and not, as was implied, to the operation of the I.D.T.
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street also drew attention to the statement of the Minister of Labour, that we should keep strikes in their proper perspective. The sensation of the Press, the radio and television has brought the strike day by day into our homes and has over-emphasised its effect on our economy. I do not under-estimate the effect of strikes on our economy, but it has been over emphasised.
If the country, and especially both sides of industry, tackle the broad question of loss of time arising from the underlying tensions in industry, of which strikes are only the surface evidence—just like a rash on the face arising from inner disorder—if we devote far more time to co-operation rather than conflict and to getting under the surface to see what causes loss of time, great improvement can be expected.
Let us turn aside to study labour turnover, absenteeism, slow-downs, demarcation, or even excessive sickness. Behind those are the inner tensions within industry and those inner tensons are well worthy of intensive and sincere study. In that way we will ultimately find the 1231 cure for strikes. If we decide that cooperation is better than conflict—as all sensible men would do—we are on the road to greater prosperity not only for the workers but for the entire country. That and not retention of compulsory arbitration, which is an anachronism in our free enterprise and free collective bargaining system, should be our goal. I. am completely in support of the Minister in his withdrawal of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
The hon. Member for Wallsend said that he could find no guide in the Minister's speech about what was to be done in the future. My right hon. Friend was clear, concise and cogent in telling the House that his action was in conformity with a pledge and that he had no other course. When the Instrument replacing Regulation 1305 was introduced by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), certain pledges were given. Without wearying the House with repetition of their details, those pledges are being honoured by the action now being taken.
It was agreed that if one party to the agreement wanted to withdraw, the Minister was required to withdraw the Order. That has been done. The argument has rested on what was to be put in its place. We know what is to be substituted—our own free system. I believe that the trade union movement as a whole is firm in its faith in the free collective bargaining system. It can keep us on the right road and prevent us losing a great deal of time in industrial disputes, if it is sincerely operated.
We still have the industrial courts and courts of inquiry, there are still adequate safeguards. However, the main thing is that there should be faith in collective bargaining and that it should be worked with faith and sincerity. That is the way to peace in the future. This withdrawal will not make any impact on future relations. Talk of immediate strikes and immediately increased trouble is absolute nonsense and an argument made to suit the circumstances of the day.
One aspect of the matter which has been left somewhat in the air is the effect on N.A.L.G.O. and other similar institutions which have no recourse to arbitration. I am prepared to accept my right hon. Friend's assurance that sincere efforts are being made to have something 1232 to replace I.D.T. for those cases. I wish my right hon. Friend every success, and I am confident that success will crown these efforts, because sensible people are trying to find a sensible solution.
The hon. Member for Wallsend made great play with having seen conditions in the 1926 General Strike and with having lived through it. It may seem strange coming from a Member on this side of the House, but I can tell him that I went all through the 1926 General Strike. I saw all the hardships and realised the folly and futility of strikes. That is why I made a plea at the beginning of my speech that we should look underneath the surface of the tensions. We do not want to go back to the days of 1926, and hon. Members on this side of the House are determined to prevent us from doing so. The abolition of the I.D.T. will not jeopardise our movement in that direction.
Order No. 1305 contained two provisions. One prohibited strikes and the other introduced compulsory arbitration. I can remember the workers in the mining areas boasting of their patriotic attitude towards labour disputes, and I believe that at that time the temper was good. They felt that this was a duty they could carry out. But they never did carry it out. The prohibition of strikes by law is futile, either in peace or in war. I controlled a mining area in which about 3,000 miners worked. Although strikes were prohibited by Order No. 1305, they continued to take place. I could not march 3,000 men down to the sheriff court at Ayr.
In that respect Order No. 1305 was of no use, and that part of it was done away with after the gas workers strike, with its serious implications. The I.D.T. was left, but that has now outlived its usefulness. It would be folly to deny that it served some purpose; it did so during the war and in the years immediately following, but its benefits have now gone. The arrangement is that one side can refer a dispute to the Tribunal and both sides are bound by the resulting decision. In reality, however, it has become a device for getting a little extra money for workers.
It is a quite legal device. Trade unions indulge in the proper routine of negotiation—until they have got the last concession from the employers. Then, quite 1233 rightly from their angle, they declare that an industrial dispute has arisen and they ask that it shall be settled by the Tribunal. The Tribunal has never been sure of its position of power and has always been nervous of having its decisions challenged. It could not see how it could perform its function if the trade unions refused to accept its decisions, and it always adopted the attitude that it ought to avoid strikes. In order to do that it added a little bonus to the maximum concession which the trade unions had already obtained from the employers. That process has gone on all the time, and I shall be glad to see the back of it.
It is unreal to talk of this action bringing catastrophe upon industrial relations. I support the Minister's action. I hope that he will be successful in erecting machinery to cater for those employees who are left in the air, but I do not believe that the act of abolishing the Tribunal will have any effect upon future industrial relations. All the forecasts of strikes and trouble that we have heard tonight are false, and are known to be false.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
On the last occasion when I followed the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) we were debating the question of transport. We were far more in agreement on that occasion than we are tonight. The Minister knows what is the fundamental difference between the trade union point of view and his own. He knows that we have no objections to war-time emergency Regulations being rescinded, always provided that certain matters are covered by permanent legislation. He knows quite well that the difference between the two sides of the House arises because, in withdrawing the protection of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, he is not at the same time putting forward alternative provisions for the protection of the workers.
Responsible leaders on both sides of industry will regret the action of the Government in revoking Order No. 1376. As the Minister said, the Order came into operation in August, 1951, and it is not unfair to say that the whole structure of that Order was built up from the experiences of benefits derived from wartime.legislation. The case for the 1234 retention of the provisions of the Order is made out by the fact that more than 1,150 disputes or potential strikes have been settled by the Tribunal.
The Minister has admitted that the Order was not one-sided, and that it afforded protection both to workers and good employers against bad employers. It helped to eliminate unfair competition and so protected the good employer from the bad. It preserved all the principles of industrial relations which have served the nation so well for many years.
The issue procedure is also of vital importance to employers and workers. It helps to preserve the recognised terms and conditions of employment; it provides fair play for the good employer; it makes the bad employer conform to the rules of the game, and it preserves a sense of reasonableness, which must be maintained in our industrial life. I suggest that, in view of the contribution which the Order has made to industrial peace and to the solving of problems which could not have been solved by the ordinary type of trade union negotiations, to abolish this Tribunal at a time of industrial recession is a mean and despicable action, which is unworthy of the high traditions of Parliament.
If the trade unions suspect that the Minister has an ulterior motive he cannot complain, because he has taken this action deliberately, at the behest of certain employers. He has failed to come to any satisfactory arrangement with the T.U.C., and all he had to tell the House today was that he would consider some points on the question of issues, to see how far he could help N.A.L.G.O. and similar organisations. The Minister should know that it is not merely a question of negotiating with local authorities; he must also consider members of N.A.L.G.O. who are employed by electricity boards.
I have received a letter from the Bradford branch of N.A.L.G.O. Its members include employees of the Yorkshire Electricity Board. It would appear to me, therefore, that if the Minister thinks that he can solve this problem of N.A.L.G.O. by arrangement with the local government authorities, he will find himself faced with the difficulty of negotiating with some of the nationalised industries. The rescinding of this Order 1235 would take away the only protection afforded to the little man in the trade union movement. The black-coated workers will be most affected. They are the people who need this protection and they will find themselves deprived of it. I do not think that the Minister fully appreciates the position of people like the bank employees. They have a fairly large national membership for their trade union, but there are banks which refuse to recognise the union and their employees will be in an extremely difficult position.
I received a letter from the chairman of the Bradford branch of the National Union of Bank Employees, from which I wish to quote. It says:In industries such as banking, where there is an absence of national negotiating machinery, employers who evade negotiations will be freer to reject legitimate claims by a union such as ours struggling to obtain recognition on behalf of its 50,000 members. Apart from the wider considerations in the national interest…the National Union of Bank Employees would be left without redress or means to settle claims: for employers who refuse to recognise trade unions are most unlikely to agree to the submission of cases to the industrial court.I wish to quote also from a letter addressed to me by the secretary of the Bradford branch of the National Union of Journalists.Our union has not used the Industrial Disputes Tribunal a great deal, but our view is that the lapsing of the Order will in our industry benefit only (a) employers who are outside employers' organisations and do not observe the industry's agreed wages and conditions; (b) employers like those in the periodical field who will not make national agreements; and (c) employing bodies outside the J.I.C. Such people will rarely go to arbitration voluntarily; they have to be taken to it. So the Industrial Court, where hearings are by consent of both sides, is valueless as a substitute.Here we find two trades union organisations of a professional type making serious representations about the effect upon them of the revocation of this Order. The Minister has at least some responsibility to protect these small unions against employers who refuse to negotiate when there is a deadlock over the question of wages. It would appear that the Minister is dealing unfairly with them by withdrawing the only protection which they have.
I consider that the right hon. Gentleman has been unfair to the trades union movement. His action will be resented by that movement and deplored by many 1236 employers. In my opinion it is designed to meet the present situation. I should regret it very much if workers read into his action an indication that we are approaching a period of depression, and that the Government have decided to produce the big stick. I am perfectly sure that the welfare of this country depends upon the measure of industrial peace that we can obtain; and that, in turn, depends on the attitude not only of the Government but of employers during the next few months. If advantage is taken of the withdrawal of this Order and of the state of unemployment, which is growing in all the great cities and towns, I say that we are in for a period of industrial trouble such as no one in this country would like to see.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Farey-Jones (Watford)
I do not agree with the dismal prognostications of the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy), although I appreciate his sincerity.
I do not think that the House will mind listening to a few remarks from me, because I have been on both sides of industry. I have been a factory worker and I have been a "boss". I am sure that the Opposition must understand why the Minister is abrogating this Order. One simple question must be answered. Do hon. Members opposite believe in free and collective bargaining, or do they believe in compulsion?
In my youth I saw some of the worst things that could possibly happen in industry take place in South Wales, and I realise that industry today presents a transcendant challenge to the trade union movement as a whole and to employers. As an employer and a former worker I know the meaning of that challenge.
There have been objections to this proposal from hon. Members opposite. I have not heard all of them, because the exigencies of Parliamentary service made it impossible for me to be present in the Chamber during the whole of the debate. But those which I have heard have made me feel as if I were Alice in Wonderland.
§ Mr. Farey-Jones
When I look at the hon. Member I am quite prepared to believe that I am at the Mad Hatter's tea party. There is an old saying, "You cannot drive the mill today with water which 1237 flowed down the river yesterday." It would be more fitting for hon. Members opposite who take exception to the Minister's action to examine the challenge facing the T.U.C. today.
Hon. Member after hon. Member has stated that this Order represents the one remaining safeguard for the small employer, the black-coated worker, and so on. But what is the most sweated form of labour in the country today? It is the trade union leaders who are paid pittances and not salaries for doing a grand job of work. It is high time that something was done about this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I implore Members opposite to take their medicine. If the trade union leaders' case were sent to compulsory arbitration, the T.U.C. would have to pay the rate for the job; instead of the present pittance they would be paid £6,000, £7,000 and £8,000 a year.
N.A.L.G.O. as a body has set an example which the country can follow in the next twenty years. I feel some reservation about what can be done to deal with this N.A.L.G.O. problem. In fact, it is not just a N.A.L.G.O. problem. It is a psychological problem facing industry which is the basic reason for revoking this Order. Just as it is not possible to drive a mill today with the water which went down the river yesterday, one cannot approach industrial conditions in 1958 if one's mind and heart are steeped in the bitterness of the end of the last century. Anyone interested in the well-being and future of the workers knows very well that there has been a complete revolution in industry even since the war. There is a completely new relationship between master and man. Unless we can develop that relationship and outlook, which can be accomplished by free and even involuntary bargaining, there is no hope at all of meeting the competitive state of the world which is likely to become worse in the next ten or fifteen years.
An hon. Member opposite kept referring to the subject of issues. I hope that the Minister will deal with this question of issues, because in the factory it has always been very important. This is because the average decent shop steward—and I am glad to see the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) return to the Chamber—has kept the esteem and respect of his fellow workers and has to a large extent kept Communism 1238 at bay in the factories. I want to see the trade union movement continue to prosper, but it would be dishonest if I did not say, from my knowledge of industry which is fairly considerable, that the greatest danger to trade unionism today is that insidious creeping poison of Communism in connection with the question of issues.
§ Mr. Farey-Jones
The hon. Gentleman says "Rubbish". Let me inform him that Communism caused the loss of about £5 million in stoppages this year.
§ Mr. Awbery
It might have been £50 million if it had not been for the trade union movement keeping the men in order.
§ Mr. Farey-Jones
I am prepared to give the hon. Member that point, but I warn him that this creeping poison is on the increase. The whole answer depends upon free and collective bargaining.
In a sense, whether we are the Government or the Opposition is immaterial. Every Member, on whatever side of the House he may be, wishes to preserve maximum employment. There is not a Member who would not hate the thought of growing unemployment. That will only be safeguarded if on both sides of industry there is a new confidence based not on compulsion, but on mutual good faith. That is why I support my right hon. Friend the Minister.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) made some interesting remarks. We agree that it is not possible to drive a mill today with the water which went down the stream some years ago. But what on earth is the hon. Gentleman trying to do? The water of pre-war years went down the stream a very long time ago. Not only has it gone down the stream; it has been lost, sucked up into the sky; all sorts of things have happened to it since the days to which he was referring. We have had nothing from the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends but a recommendation to go back to the kind of situation which existed before the war. That is really what they are saying.
I was amazed by the speech of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Body). 1239 He said that we must face the situation in a brave new way, with a young approach and all the rest of it, priding himself on being young. We eagerly awaited his message to the nation about a bright new policy that this vigorous new party would present through the voice of the hon. Member for Billericay. What did we get?—nothing but a recommendation that the Order should be done away with and that we should, in effect, go back to pre-war years.
If that is all that the bright young things of the Tory Party can do for us, may heaven protect us from them. It is really quite extraordinary. The hon. Member for Watford has said that he thought he was in "Alice in Wonderland". He is not in "Alice in Wonderland" but in "Alice Through the Looking Glass" when he speaks as he did about this situation.
I am disturbed because we have not had any clear statement of alternative from the Minister. We must press him about this tonight. This is why we are so dissatisfied. We have had a vague statement from him, not even that negotiations are going on, as I understand it, but merely that he is intending to open negotiations. Why did he need to destroy the Tribunal before introducing his own proposals? That is the real question, and to it we have had no adequate answer. We understand the arguments he advanced about his feeling the need to take action, but the point is, why did he need to take action before introducing new proposals?
Some hon. Members opposite have pressed him on the same matter, though doing it very cautiously and diplomatically. Even the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), a former Attorney-General, made some cautious moves in that direction. I suppose that it was all part of the vigorous, dynamic new policy of the young Conservative Party, terribly cautious lest offence might be given to the Minister in the process.
We have no reason to feel any satisfaction with what we have heard from the Minister so far. A good deal of anxiety has very rightly been expressed lest the ending of the Tribunal should result in a wave of industrial unrest and strikes. Another point which the House should consider is that, in respect of 1240 certain groups which have made the most representation to us, we may well find that their problems will increasingly have to be discussed here in this Chamber. I am not at all sure that that is a good thing. I remember very clearly the disturbance there was when the Minister of Health rejected the Whitley Council recommendation and prevented the employees in that case—many of them N.A.L.G.O. members—from using the Tribunal at all. It was only pressure from my right hon. and hon. Friends in the House which got the Government moving and made them look much more speedily than they otherwise would at the Noel Hall recommendations, introducing a proper system of grading in the whole of the Service. This was not a voluntary act on the part of the Government. It was the result of pressure from the House.
Are we really satisfied that it would be a good thing if nearly every industrial dispute had to be argued out in this Chamber? I am not. Yet I believe that that is a further danger likely to flow from the Minister's action. I do not want to do more tonight than press this point upon the Minister. It is a matter of very deep anxiety to many of us that members of organisations who have, as my hon. Friends have said, voluntarily denied themselves the use of the strike weapon, because of the jobs they undertake, will find that their only course of action upon every issue which now comes up will involve a dog-fight here in the House of Commons in order to get the Government to do anything.
I appeal to the Minister to make a very clear statement about the kind of procedure which is to take the place of the Tribunal which the Government are abolishing. Unless we have such a very clear statement, we shall be convinced that all we have heard in the way of excuse or justification is no more than a smoke-screen to conceal the real intentions of the Government in this matter.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isleworth)
I do not want to say too much on the general application of this particular Statutory Instrument in so far as the withdrawal of this Order affects industry as a whole. I hope that the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) will forgive me if I do not 1241 follow his remarks too closely. There is a great advantage if hon. Members, when they speak in this House, confine their remarks to things which they know something about rather than speaking on things that they do not know a great deal about. I confess that I do not know a great deal about the general subject of arbitration and the effect of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal in industry.
§ Mr. Harris
I have no one to support me on this side of the House in an obviously important matter.
I will, if I may, confine my remarks to the effect of the withdrawal of the Industrial Disputes Order on local government. When the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) was making his speech, I interrupted him and he was kind enough to give way. I pointed out that the police and the fire services never have been within the terms of the Industrial Disputes Order. In fact, by the last paragraphs of that Order they were specifically excluded, and I accept what the right hon. Gentleman said, namely, that the police are in a rather special position. But the fire services were not in such a special position as all that.
It is true that the fire services were set up under the Fire Services Act, and so, also, are all branches of local government governed by Local Government Acts. The only real difference between the fire services and other groups of local government employees is that the fire services had their rates of pay and hours of duty of certain grades prescribed by regulations made by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland. However, that does not really affect this issue.
It seems to me that N.A.L.G.O. is worried about two points: one, getting an agreement between the employers and the employees' side when negotiations are taking place on a national basis; two, getting a particular local authority to fall into line with all the rest if it happens to be what is generally known as a little bit bloody-minded. One gets local authorities which kick over the traces now and again and say, "Why should we apply the nationally agreed conditions?"
Those are two separate issues and I should like, first, to address my remarks 1242 to the first issue. I do not say that the fire brigades are any different from N.A.L.G.O. They both have national joint council negotiating machinery. The employers' side of both those sets of machinery are worked from the same building, 41 Belgrave Square. Exactly the same permanent staff look after them. and I have been a little bit at a loss to understand what is worrying N.A.L.G.O. I have read the letters which my constituents have written to me and which, clearly, have been drafted at N.A.L.G.O. headquarters. I have seen the word "jungle" used and I have been a little bit at a loss to understand how anybody could think that there has been or is ever likely to be a jungle in this respect.
§ Mr. Awbery
No one on this side of the House and nothing in the letters received from N.A.L.G.O. complains about the negotiations with the employers. They negotiated with the employers and came to an agreement, but, as the hon. Member says, there are recalcitrant people in other authorities who refuse to put into operation the agreement nationally come to and there is no means by which the local authorities can be pressed to agree to the national agreement except by a strike or by the procedure which we now adopt, namely, arbitration.
§ Mr. Harris
I was coming to that point. I will deal with it in a moment.
First, on the general question of getting an agreement between the employers and the employees' sides, it is surely only necessary to write into the joint council constitution the proviso that if there is a dispute it shall be referred to the Ministry of Labour which can then settle what form of arbitration shall be decided upon. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) is laughing at this.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
Of course I am. I am glad that the hon. Member has given way. The hon. Member is telling the House and the nation that if N.A.L.G.O. has a case and the negotiations break down it has to go somewhere. What he is saying is that it goes to the civil servants and they decide what will happen. But the law should decide what should happen.
§ Mr. Harris
With respect, the law does decide what is to happen. Perhaps I may read the paragraph in the constitution of 1243 the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades:If the Council fail to reach agreement upon any matter, it shall thereupon be referred, at the request of either side of the Council, to the Minister of Labour and National Service for submission to any of the forms of arbitration provided by the Industrial Courts Act, 1919, as he may decide.
§ Mr. Harris
I cannot see why there is any trouble about it. The fire services have never been within the terms of the Industrial Disputes Order and yet they have this machinery and it has worked quite satisfactorily.
There is only one danger, I would point out to my right hon. Friend the Minister, of which the employees could justifiably complain. That is that under this procedure it is sometimes difficult to bring the case before the Tribunal. The delay does not necessarily take place at the Ministry's end—in fact, the Ministry's officers are always very good in getting the case before the Tribunal. The trouble often is to get the employers' side to turn the application down. Very often, they kick it around from meeting to meeting and one cannot get them to say. "No." The result is that there is no dispute and it is impossible to get the matter before the arbitration tribunal.
Even that is not an insuperable difficulty, however, because it is only fair to say on behalf of the employers—and they are not here to speak for themselves—[Interruption.] The employers I am talking about are the local government people. I am talking of the Association of Municipal Corporations, whose representatives are nearly all Labour councillors, the County Councils' Association and the London County Council, some of whose representatives are Labour councillors. I am not thinking in terms of employers in industry generally.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
The hon. Member said that the representatives of the Association of Municipal Corporations were all Labour councillors.
§ Mr. Butler
Is the hon. Member not aware that 70 per cent. of the municipal corporations are dominated by the Conservative Party?
§ Mr. Harris
All I am saying is that the majority of the representatives of the A.M.C. are probably Labour councillors. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are not."] I have seen them and met them every so often. I am prepared to agree that the majority of the representatives of the County Councils' Association are Conservatives, but most of the representatives of the London County Council, who have their own separate representation, are inevitably Labour councillors. We are not, therefore, thinking in terms of industry generally. For the moment, I am talking solely of the N.A.L.G.O. problem.
There is no difficulty in getting one's case before an arbitration tribunal, whether the Industrial Disputes Order exists or not, with the sole proviso that there can be delays. I was about to say. on behalf of the local government employers, that if there has been delay they are usually fairly easy on the question of retrospection. Therefore, even the question of delay is not an insuperable one.
In the last few minutes available to me, I want to say a few words on the second point of how to deal with an individual local authority that will not come into line. In the fire services, we have never had the Industrial Disputes Order to fall back upon, but we have managed to get many recalcitrant local authorities to fall into line all right. We have had a bit of difficulty once or twice, but we have always managed to do it.
§ Mr. Harris
Not entirely, because some of the disputes have not concerned the Fire Brigades Union.
I will give N.A.L.G.O. a tip in case it is of use to that organisation. In the fire services, what we have on the national joint council are disputes committees; in the constitution, there is power to set up committees. Each disputes committee consists of three members of the employers' side and three members of the employees' side. It has no particular sanction. It cannot withhold a grant from the Home Office towards the fire service or anything like that. It is, 1245 nevertheless, a committee and if the employees' side feels aggrieved at the behaviour of a particular local authority, it can write to the secretary of the employers' side and say, "We regard ourselves as being in dispute with such and such a local authority. Can we please have a meeting of the disputes committee?" The employers' secretary convenes a meeting, if necessary, of the disputes committee, and it is like a little tribunal within the joint council. The employees present their case. The local authority usually sends its town clerk, or perhaps the chairman of its committee, to put its case.
During the last ten years I suppose that in about 60 cases I have had to write to the employers' side and say, "Such and such a local authority will not fall into line." One can bring before the disputes committee not only the case of a local authority refusing to implement a firm decision of the Joint Council; one can even bring before it a case in which a local authority does not exercise discretion reasonably generously in favour of the employees; that is, where there is a condition of service which is not mandatory, but where the local authority can carry out a recommendation purely as a matter of discretion. In such a case it is up to the local authority whether it implements it or not. That is usually where there is a recommendation dealing with things such as emoluments, rent allowances, etcetera. If a local authority is not reasonably generous one can haul it up before the disputes committee.
It is perfectly true that it may refuse to go. What, in fact, does happen? I have had about 60 cases, I should think, in the last ten years, but I have had only about eight before the disputes committee. What, in practice, happens is that one writes to the employers' secretary and says, "Such and such a local authority will not fall into line," and the employers' secretary says, "Leave it with me for a fortnight or so and I will have a word with the town clerk," and usually the matter is settled amicably. Sometimes the town clerk will say, "We do not think that we can pay this amount"—this allowance, or whatever it is. "We think that the fire officers are being paid enough already, and we have been quite generous enough."
1246 If there is a complete deadlock we have a meeting of the disputes committee. Sometimes the town clerk says, "I am very sorry we have had this problem so long. I have got the most fat-headed set of councillors I have ever had in my life and I cannot get them to see sense." So we have a meeting of the committee and we settle it that way.
That is what happens in practice. I suppose that I have had between eight and ten cases before the disputes committee, and I have won the lot, because I rely on the joint council recommendations. I have a cast-iron case before I start, and the local authority implements the decision of the disputes committee.
§ Mr. Harris
I cannot give way, because I must sit down in a couple of minutes, but what happens if a local authority just says it is not going to do it? I can tell the House that in the last ten years there have been two cases, I think. There was one at Blackpool affecting the National Association of Fire Officers and the Fire Brigades Union and there was great trouble in getting the local authority to implement a decision, and I think I am right in saying—I am open to correction on this—that the Fire Brigades Union had great trouble in Hastings and St. Leonard's at one time. But in both cases the local authority toed the line.
What happens in practice is that the employers' secretary says to the local authority, "Look, for goodness' sake, do not mess about any longer, because if you do you are asking for Whitehall control, and we do not want that. We want Whitehall control done away with." That is a fact, and anybody who is a member of the Association of Municipal Corporations, as I think that the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. H. Butler) is, knows that they do not want control by Whitehall.
What I have been told time and time again during the last twelve years, which is the precise period during which I have been dealing with joint councils ever since the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) set up the joint council machinery in the fire services, is that local authorities say, "We know how to be good employers. We do not want to be told by the Home Office or anybody else what 1247 we should do. We are responsible, sensible people. Leave us alone and you will see that we are generous, decent employers."
That is the situation in local government, and by and large, it has worked extremely well during the last ten years. I think A is true to say that the fire brigades, outside this machinery, have probably done better than the local government people have. Anyhow, there are no particular grumbles. I think that with a certain amount of good will and patience, though it occasionally takes months, one can always bring a local authority into line in the end. Given that patience and good will, there should he no difficulty for N.A.L.G.O. at all; and if members of N.A.L.G.O. want more advice on the subject I am very willing to give it.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Yardley)
If the solution to this problem is as easy as the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris) makes out, the Government Front Bench might have tried to explain it. Furthermore, I should have been more impressed if that point of view had been expressed by officials of N.A.L.G.O. and other associations. It seems to me that they are all practically unanimously today opposing the Government's action.
I am not an expert on this aspect of the matter, and I do not wish to address myself any more to that point, except to say that the argument for and against the Government's action is frankly marginal, and that I should have been inclined to accept the Government's action provided they had opened the debate by telling us precisely what they intend to put into operation in order to take care of the problems which the N.A.L.G.O. people have set. The Government have not done that. Had they told us what they would put in place of the Order which is revoked, I would have accepted very largely the validity of the revocation.
The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) said that he wanted the House to understand the real reason why the Minister had brought in an Order to annul the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. We have heard the suggestion made in a number of speeches that what is really at the back of this proposal is the big 1248 employers, the F.B.I. We are told that these industrial barons want the 1951 Order annulled. I have a tortuous mind and I can think of all kinds of reasons for this proposal, but I am not convinced of that reason.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
My hon. Friend needs a little experience of all this. He should try to deal with the engineering employers.
§ Mr. Usborne
I believe that the real reason for the present Order is a very simple one. This is a libation to Conservative Party tribal gods. This is the price which the party has to pay for the votes of the Tonbridge rebels. The Tory lunatic fringe appears to demand the abolition of one Government regulation—preferably one which the Socialists put on the Statute Book—every few months. I am not convinced by the argument about the F.B.I. I have watched as an employer—
§ Mr. Usborne
I have watched the reaction to the series of wage claims that have been made. I understand that very often the trade unions argue rightly that industry can afford to increase their wages because of the profits which firms have been making. But the point is, and this is what makes me doubt the pressure from the F.B.I., that while the Tribunal machinery is in operation the bigger barons in industry are pretty certain that when it cones to the final crunch and they have to give way and give the engineers an increase of 10s. for skilled men and half that amount for the unskilled—
§ Mr. Jack Jones
My hon. Friend the Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne) would also be more accurate if he himself received the increase.
§ Mr. Usborne
When a wage increase has been agreed between trade unions and the F.B.I., it is very important to the barons of industry to be quite sure that everybody else must increase wages in the same way.
§ Mr. Usborne
Because if they all do so it makes no difference to profits at all. The effect of increasing wages to the A.E.U. is virtually to increase all wages everywhere by approximately the same amount, and the end result is that the £ has been depreciated by almost the same fraction and it will not make an iota of difference to the profits of the industry. If I am not right in this, will somebody explain how it is that the repeated wage claims which have been accepted have not make any difference to profits?
I have a shrewd suspicion that the F.B.I. was a little reluctant to support the Government on this occasion. I think that it rather liked to have in the background this Industrial Disputes Tribunal, because it gave a guarantee that the result of a wage claim would have no actual effect on real money earnings, for as everyone would have to follow suit and the whole of industry throughout the country would have to bring all wages into line, the net result at the end of the day would be frustration. I have a suspicion also that this is why the T.U.C. is not wholehearted about its attitude to this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] One of my hon. Friends, whom I gather is very experienced in trade union affairs, seemed to indicate earlier this afternoon that that was by no means certain.
I conclude, as I began, by saying that I think this issue is comparatively marginal. There are pros and cons. I do not think that it is as black or as white as hon. Members have made it, but it is utterly deplorable that this Order should have been brought in in such haste and without the Government even taking the trouble to put themselves in a position to be able to explain to us in complete detail how they are to deal with the problems that are bound to be created if this piece of machinery is taken away. We are, I think, perfectly correct in moving this Prayer tonight, and I shall go confidently into the Lobby with my party.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
Despite the contribution which my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne) has just made, I must make it quite clear that we on this side of the House consider that the Government are now asking us to make a major change in our industrial arbitration arrangements. It is from the belief that this is a matter of major importance that we are praying against this Order and my hon. and right hon. Friends have advanced their arguments from that point of view.
We are not necessarily opposed to change in any of our industrial machinery, especially in times of changing methods in industrial production and organisation. We appreciate that industry is moving and that the arrangements we have to make in order to cope with these changes can never remain static. We do, however, say that when any persons, either employers or the Government, suggest the need for a basic change of this type, it is for them to show the constructive effects which will flow from the change which they are asking us to agree. That is the position upon which we rest.
I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that I have never in my fourteen years in the House of Commons heard a major change argued on such minor grounds. The fact is that only one reason has been adduced for bringing this order to the House, namely, that the majority of employers have asked for the change. That is the only reason we have heard advanced. No attempt has been made to make an appreciation of the effects upon industry and upon our industrial negotiating arrangements of the presence, first, of Order No. 1305, and then, from 1951, of the Order which the House is discussing.
I do not want to cover the ground so admirably covered by my hon. Friend in explaining the reasons for the change, but none should imagine that once we impose the type of Order which can carry compulsion with it, this can function in a vacuum. It has drastic effects upon the negotiating machinery, the use of which precedes the use of the arbitration to which we are now addressing ourselves.
Collective bargaining in Britain is a far looser arrangement than in most other countries, and although in some ways that 1251 has limitations it is the fact that it adapted itself far more readily to the emergency conditions described by my right hon. Friend than any fixed system could possibly have done. Indeed, looking back on it now, we can see that although Order 1305 and the 1951 Order were in a sense emergency measures, nevertheless the machinery of industrial negotiation in Britain has undoubtedly benefited as a result of their presence.
Since the war the trade unions, which possess great economic and industrial power, have not seen that power reflected in greater wage advances than have been obtained by weaker trade unions. At times this has caused certain apprehensions in skilled unions about questions of demarcation, questions of differential rates, and similar matters, because it has often been felt by some of our skilled people that this has had a detrimental effect upon them. It is not my purpose tonight to argue that point, but it is the fact that, because of the change to which I have made reference, there has been far less use made of sheer economic and industrial power by those unions able to yield it than at any time I can remember in my industrial experience. I believe that is partly because of the responsible way in which such unions have used their power and also partly because of the presence first of Order 1305 and then of the 1951 Order.
In consequence of this we have advanced towards a far more civilised way of dealing with our industrial affairs instead of resorting to the jungle law of the survival of the fittest. Our great fear in the abolition of this Order is that this process could now be disrupted and that, in place of justice as the basis upon which wage claims are settled, we may well see the ability to use economic and industrial power coming back into our considerations.
If I am right in this, it presupposes trouble in those industries in which the sides have power to fight, just as it presupposes the enforcement of the will of the employers in industries in which the unions possess very little economic power. I remember that in the debates on the Gracious Speech I complained of what I called the unpredictable gyrations of Toryism. I believe that in discussing their attitude towards this Order an almost complete paradox has been reached by 1252 them, for we now have those—some of them on the benches opposite, certainly some of their friends outside—who for long have been screaming about the need for legislation to stop strikes now actively conniving to abolish the only effective piece of legislation we possess. Indeed paragraph 3 of the Order gives the Minister power to refuse the use of the Tribunal if either party has resorted to force in pursuance of its claims. Apparently that is now to go.
I submit that the Order has been a positive instrument for industrial peace; so, with its abolition, let us hear no more from either the Members of the party opposite in this House or outside about the need for legislation to stop strikes. There can, therefore, be no argument about the Order having outlived its usefulness. The Minister has not argued that it has. He has not attempted to disguise that his action is based on the demand of a majority of employers. Why should we end the procedure because of a majority of employers? The House is not a rubber stamp for either trade unions or employers. As Members of the House of Commons, we have a right and duty to look at a case as it is presented. I submit that so far we have had no reason, other than the one I have expressed, for agreeing to the abolition of the Order. Is there any defect in the machinery of the Order? I do not believe there is, but if the Minister can show that there is a defect, surely it is his job to eliminate the defect and not the machine.
In support of my contention that no defect has been revealed, I would point out, as did my right hon. Friend, that 1,100 cases have been dealt with by the procedure since it came into being. Upwards of 25 per cent. of the cases have gone in favour of the employers. Fifty per cent. of the cases which have gone against the employers have been in respect of non-federated employers who do not observe the conditions agreed to by federated employers in their industries. I take it that the Minister and the federated employers are concerned that the tribunal can show that such a very large number of non-federated employers are failing to observe the conditions agreed to between federated employers and trade unions.
The Minister has treated us somewhat unfairly in this respect. We have heard about the majority of employers who want 1253 to end the Order, but when he talks about these, to whom is he referring? Who are the majority of employers who have asked for the ending of the Order? The right hon. Gentleman has not placed anything before the House to show whether he means a number of small non-federated employers. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) pointed out that employers and trade unions in her city are most incensed that the Order is now to be ended. I know many large-scale employers who are not viewing the passing of the Order with equanimity. The Parliamentary Secretary should tell us to which type of employer the Minister referred. Who are the people who want the Order ended? What type of men are they? Are they employing large numbers of men or not?
"What do we put in its place?" has been asked many times. It is fantastic to create a vacuum like this so that once one comes to the end of negotiations one has no chance to present the case to an authority with power of determination. It is irresponsible for the Minister first to get rid of the Order and afterwards look around for something to put in its place. If arbitration be the alternative to strike and lock-out, to dispense with that alternative is to invite recourse to strike and lock-out.
The Minister says that he is willing at this late stage to discuss the question of issues. Let us examine this. First of all, the Minister takes his stand on the need to honour a pledge given by right hon. Friends of mine, a pledge that if employers asked for the ending of the Order—the Order itself—once they asked for it he is in honour bound to agree to it. He then tells us that he is willing to keep that part of the Order in being despite the pledge which has been given.
How can he say, "While I am in honour bound to get rid of the Order, at the same time I am agreeable to keeping in being that part of the Order which concern issues"? Either the pledge is operative for the whole of the Order or operative for none of the Order. The fact is that many federated employers are opposed to the winding up of that part of the Order because they will then suffer from the fact that they might be undercut by those who have no intention of keeping agreements made in an industry.
1254 The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) told us that the unions were now all-powerful and had no need of this kind of protection. It is complete nonsense to argue that the scales in industry can always be balanced between the two parties. In the natural course of things, trade unions can never hope to possess power equal to that of employers in industry. Trade unions are not an alternative government to employers as we have alternatives in the House of Commons. Of their very nature, trade unions are in permanent opposition and can only submit their claims to employers, who have the power of decision, unless we have a machine with power to judge the fairness of a claim and enforce a decision, if necessary.
Again on that count, I reject the argument of any defect in the machinery, a defect which is supposed to have been discovered at a time when unemployment figures are going higher and higher. If it is not a defective machine, can it be that anything has happened since 1951 to make the Order unnecessary? When the Order came into operation, there was a general feeling—mentioned by my right hon. Friend today—that we were about to witness increasing numbers of industries following the examples of the nationalised industries and building arbitration arrangements into their negotiating machinery. I remember that feeling at the Ministry of Labour at the time and my right hon. Friend mentioned it when introducing the Order when, in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Viant), he said:I hope that, as a result of this Order, wherever there is machinery for voluntary agreements, both sides of industry will put into that machinery provision for arbitration, so that there will be no need for reference to the new Tribunal at all."——[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 2nd August, 1951; Vol. 491, c. 1627]We now know that although some industries did do that, our hopes of those days have not been fulfilled. I could give lists of great industries, such as engineering and shipbuilding, with millions of employees where that suggestion has been refused point blank, in spite of various types of pressure from the Ministry of Labour. The Tribunal is now far more important than any of us could foresee in 1951. Not only has nothing happened to render the Order unnecessary, but very 1255 much has happened to make it more necessary.
I have tried to examine the Order on three counts; first, its effect on our negotiation processes, secondly, whether experience has revealed defects in the machinery itself, and, thirdly, whether it has in any way outlived its usefulness. On all three counts it stands up thoroughly to the test which we have made. I am forced to conclude that it is not the Order but the results which flow from its use to which objection is taken, despite the fact that none of those seeking to eliminate the Order has argued that the results are in any way unfair.
The House is being asked to give to certain employers the right to say "No" to trade unions who have neither industrial strength nor history of active resistance, despite the justice of a good case. To facilitate this demand we are asked to eliminate the only court of industrial justice which has the power to reverse the determination of such employers. Under such conditions I suggest that it is blatantly and obviously against the public interest that the House should agree to such an irresponsible request.
The Minister relies upon the pledge that if either side asked for the rescinding of this machinery he would agree. I would remind him and the House that this is by no means the only occasion upon which a Minister of Labour has made such an agreement. One I have in mind is part of a pattern in which Order No. 1305 also figured. I refer to the Restoration of Pre-War Trade Practice'; Act, 1942. This is not an Order; it is a Statute, passed by the House. A few days prior to 'the commencement of the war, so concerned were some of the trade unions about the obvious lack of skilled men in the engineering industry that they agreed to relax all their customs and to bring in dilutees in order to teach them the job. They did this because of their conviction that we were about to go to war with Fascism. I would like those who talk about the irresponsibility of trade unions to remember that. From August, 1939, onwards, these unions were agreeing to relax their pre-war trade customs.
In 1942, Ernest Bevin, the then Minister of Labour, who was engaged in for- 1256 mutating that series of Acts and Orders which we know so well, gave a pledge to the trade unions that if they would go on increasing their relaxations in the way described not only would he pledge himself personally to see that they had them all back at the end of the war, but the House would pledge itself by Statute—the name of which I have given.
It was pointed out that not only was this Act of use as between trade unions and private employers, but that it enabled Government Departments to obtain relaxation agreements with trade unions. To this day the Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Supply and the War Office have those contracts running, and those agreements in being.
Section 1 of the 1942 Act said:Where during the war period (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) any trade practice obtaining immediately before that period in any undertaking has been departed from in that undertaking, the employer shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be under an obligation—
No man can possibly estimate the effect of those agreements upon our war effort and our fight for economic survival since the war. They enabled us to increase our war production as no other action could possibly have done, and, following the war, they enabled my right hon. Friends to bring a bankrupt nation back into the forefront of world productive levels, at a level higher than that which any other nation could boast in that period.
- (a) to restore or permit the restoration of the trade practice before the expiration of two months from the end of the war period; and
- (b) to maintain or permit the continuance of the trade practice for eighteen months from the date when the restoration is effected or the end of the war period, whichever is the later."
Why was this so? It was because neither at the end of the war nor to this day has a single trade union asked either the Minister or the House to honour the agreement we made with them in 1942. I therefore ask the House to judge the irresponsibility of people who, now that they see unemployment figures rising higher, think it is the time to grab their pound of flesh from millions of people who, for the last twelve or thirteen years, could not only have used the economic power which full employment brought but had an undertaking on the Statute Book saying specifically that they only 1257 had to ask in order to have back every one of the pre-war trade practices which they had surrendered in order that Britain could remain independent. I can imagine the uproar in the Press and from the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had the trade unions in those days done that which the employers are asking us to do tonight.
I am not unaware of the problems confronting the Minister of Labour and National Service. Many of them have been brought about by the action of his colleagues at the Treasury and at the Board of Trade. In addition to costing the nation thousands of millions of pounds worth of production, those actions have resulted in the Minister having to cape with serious difficulties. This could be a period in which we could witness a renewal of the great fight for survival waged by this country since the end of the war—a fight which once we thought we had won. I have right hon. and hon. Friends who have spent 40 and 50 years trying to build up a trade union movement capable not only of exercising power but of accepting the responsibility which goes with it. We are able to say—indeed, compliments have been paid to the fact—that there is no trade movement throughout the whole of the democratic world to which a nation owes so much as does this nation to our trade union movement.
Why, then, should it be that on such an occasion as this the right hon. Gentleman cannot tell the House that he has the agreement of any part of the trade union movement to do this thing? Is he saying that the movement is irresponsible because it fails to accept this proposal? He dare not say such a thing in view of what I have already said about the 1942 Act. But where does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that this kind of thing will end? I have said that I do not believe a great many of the federated employers are behind this move by the Government. I do not believe that those who have the best negotiating systems with their workers welcome it at all, and as yet we have had no figures to prove that I am wrong in that belief.
This is a time when anxiety is spreading, not only among the 550,000 people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland who are now out of work, but also 1258 among the hundreds of thousands of others who are beginning to fear that it is their turn next. And with that fear becoming greater, they will learn tomorrow that the British House of Commons has rescinded something which they feel represents an instrument of justice as distinct from power in the relationship between the trade union movement and the employers.
Because I feel that to be the issue which we are now discussing I must say to the Minister—with some affection for and knowledge of his Ministry—that it seems to me it is losing the place it has held in the respect of both sides of industry. That position was won, not by partisanship, irrespective of the party in power, but because of the knowledge possessed by both employer and employee that at "No. 8" one could get justice and a square deal.
I have complained for a long time that the Government are seeming—for courtesy's sake I put it no higher than that—to depart from their position of holders of the scales of justice and becoming the prosecutor against the trade union case. There is no future in that for either the employer or the employee. Having tried to show that he has given us no case at all to support his suggestion that this Order should be annulled, I ask the Minister to think again. Instead of going on with it, he should bring together in his N.J.I.C. the representatives of the T.U.C. and the employers who represent the main body of employment in the country, and he should put the case straight to them. I for my part have more respect for most of the employers whom I know than to believe that they would be capable of making an irresponsible request of this sort if they were aware of the results which would flow from it.
If the right hon. Gentleman insists on pressing his determination, I ask those hon. Members opposite who have been rather solicitous for the case which we have put to advise the right hon. Gentleman to think again. It may be that N.A.L.G.O. is pretty strong in their constituencies; I hate to mention materialist conceptions. But I ask them to realise that to go into the Lobby tonight against this Motion will mean that they are robbing not only N.A.L.G.O. but people employed in a vast range of 1259 industries. They will be robbed of any power to have a case decided on its fairness and to get justice. The Government are saying: If you do not possess the economic and industrial power of the great unions, it is just too bad; the days when you could get arbitration from people with power to reverse an employer's decision have gone. Every hon. Member opposite who goes into the Lobby will do so with the knowledge that that is precisely what he is voting for.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman has many problems. I am aware of problems which neither he nor I have mentioned, but which are now on the horizon. I fear that he is trying to find an answer to those problems by substituting jungle law for justice. To solve those problems in this way is a complete abdication of responsible government. For that reason I invite the House to support this Motion.
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Richard Wood)
Our debate is taking place because of the Government's decision to bring to an end this Order No. 1376 which was made in 1951. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) and I was particularly interested in the fact that he spent a considerable part of the time apparently trying to prove that because a pledge which had been made in 1942 had not been honoured, that was an argument for not honouring a pledge which was made in 1951. That is the understanding which I got from his speech.
I do not think I need go into the history of the Orders, because they were very fully covered by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), who moved the Prayer, and by my right hon. Friend. They were also examined by hon. Members on both sides of the House. However, I thought that at the beginning it might be helpful if I said something about the different senses in which the phrase "compulsory arbitration" is used. In my short experience have heard it used in different senses by different people at different times.
The first and fullest sense is the sense in which it was used under the earlier Order, No. 1305, when strikes and lockouts were virtually prohibited, so that 1260 the trade unions as well as the employers had to accept the awards made under it. Secondly, as has been pointed out several times, there is the less full sense in which compulsory arbitration can be used, namely, compulsory arbitration under the 1951 Order, which it is now proposed to revoke. Under that Order, an award can be enforced upon an employer, but there is no requirement on the work-people to work according to the terms awarded, and the trade union is perfectly free to press its claims further.
There is a third and looser sense in which the term "compulsory arbitration" is used. The term is sometimes intended to cover arrangements freely entered into by the parties providing that disputes between them shall be settled by arbitration, either by the Industrial Court or by other means. As hon. Gentlemen will know, that sense is very different from the sense in which the term is used under the Orders which I have mentioned. Perhaps I might describe it as voluntary compulsory arbitration—arbitration because both parties agree to it.
One of the main questions asked in the debate by almost every speaker from the Opposition benches has been, why is the Order to go; why have the Government reached their decision? I must begin by saying that I have heard some unworthy suggestions made this afternoon. One hon. Member, whom I shall not name suggested that the success of the Government's present policy depends upon a level of unemployment of 4 per cent. I should like to point out that consideration of the revocation of Order No. 1376 began in February, 1957, when the percentage of unemployment was 1.8. In July, 1957—I accept the fact that unemployment usually declines in the summer—the British Employers' Confederation made its proposal for the opting in arrangement—which I need not describe—at a time when unemployment was at the level of 1.1 per cent.
I have heard many very complimentary things said about my right hon. Friend in recent months and years, but I have never heard him given credit for such incredible cunning as was implied in the suggestion made this afternoon that there was some deep plot between him and the British Employers Confederation in trying to produce this situation. Indeed, the argument will not stand examination.
1261 The British Employers Confederation was making its constructive suggestions which, incidentally, did not win favour, at a time when unemployment in this country was at an incredibly low level.
If we are to be entirely fair in our consideration of this question, it is important to examine what alternative courses the Government could have adopted after the disappearance of Defence Regulation 58AA. Incidentally, I have heard a great part of the debate today, and I was interested to note that no one seems to have disagreed with the disappearance of that Defence Regulation. If, therefore, the Defence Regulation were to disappear, the Government had four courses open to them.
The first was to pass legislation embodying the Industrial Disputes Order as it stands. I am sorry to return to the question of this pledge which was given in 1951. I shall certainly not go over the whole ground and the quotations of the right hon. Member for Blyth in 1951, nor do more than remind the House of the clear understanding which was evidently accepted at the time this Order was introduced. But these understandings and pledges did exist, and, therefore, we come back to this dilemma which my right hon. Friend mentioned right at the beginning of his speech and which would frankly, face any Minister of Labour at this time, namely, whether we shall impose compulsory arbitration against the will of the employers or try to continue to act as all Ministers of Labour have acted in this matter—with the agreement of both employers and trade unions.
That is the first problem which is before us: whether we should pass legislation to embody the Industrial Disputes Order as it stands. In the light of those very clear pledges which were given, I cannot see any justification for my right hon. Friend taking that course at all.
The second course was that legislation should be passed to allow those industries that opt in to have the benefit of this procedure. This was an idea, as hon. Members know, which was put forward by the employers in July, 1957. I do not think that there is any more to be said about this course than that the Trades Union Congress was not in agreement with it. Therefore, I cannot see that this was a possibility.
1262 Thirdly, the Order could be revoked without replacement. The question of issues, which I should like to say a little about shortly, has been very much more prominent in our discussion than the question of disputes. There has been a great deal of discussion about issues and there has been agreement between my right hon. Friend and hon. Members opposite that there is a case for examination of the question of issues. Therefore, what my right hon. Friend has decided to do is to take the fourth course: to examine the question whether or not there is a case for legislation for a procedure on issues, while he has been quite definite—and I should like to repeat what he said—that compulsory arbitration for disputes must come to an end.
The position of the National and Local Government Officers' Association and of the National Union of Bank Employees has been mentioned by a number of hon. Members. The latter question, the N.U.B.E. question, was dealt with by my right hon. Friend. It is fair to say—and from the speeches that I have heard I do not think many hon. Members would disagree with me—that both these Associations are mainly interested in the issues procedure as opposed to the disputes procedure. I should like to say a ward later about the position of these Associations and others in relation to disputes after this Order has gone.
Incidentally, I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), in an interjection just now, express the view that almost the whole case that I am discussing at the moment concerned the issues procedure rather than the disputes procedure. N.A.L.G.O. has been a most important user of the I.D.T., as hon. Members know. Of the 1,146 awards in the seven years of the Tribunal's life, about 130 relate to the local government service. Therefore, my right hon. Friend had consultations with N.A.L.G.O. in April this year and there was a meeting in the Ministry of Labour last week. My right hon. Friend is keeping in touch with the Association about the possibility of developments on issues in the future. I understand at the moment that both sides of the local government service—N.A.L.G.O. and the local authorities—are considering provision for voluntary arbitration. Naturally, 1263 if these considerations begin to take concrete form, discussions will take place on the National Joint Council.
The position of both Orders—Nos. 1305 and 1376—was that their issues procedure brought uniformity of conditions for N.A.L.G.O. Whether it would be right in the future, if there is to be machinery for the settlement of issues for N.A.L.G.O., for that machinery to be within the local government service or to be part of a general issues procedure, would naturally depend on the further discussions which my right hon. Friend mentioned, and which I hope will take place with the Trades Union Congress and the British Employers' Confederation.
I should like to speak a little further about the question of issues. In the seven years of the Tribunal's life, a small proportion of the cases which have come before it have been issues cases, varying in the last four years from 16 to 22 per cent. My right hon. Friend pointed out, however, and I repeat, that he made nothing of the small proportion of cases which came before the Tribunal and related to issues, because he felt that the fact that the Tribunal existed was of immense help in many cases.
The purpose of any issues procedure is to try to ensure that agreed terms and conditions are observed by particular employers. That is common to any procedure that might exist. There are, however, different methods of achieving the purpose. My right hon. Friend in his speech mentioned the Cotton Manufacturing Industry Act, 1934, under which the Minister could make an order which gave effect to the terms of a collective agreement in an industry or in part of an industry and which required all employers concerned to conform to its conditions. Such an order under such an Act as that could be enforced by the industry concerned by reference to the civil courts.
Apart from that individual Act for an individual industry, there is an interesting difference, which I have not yet heard mentioned today, between the 1940 Order and the 1951 Order. The provisions in the 1940 Order, which was called the National Arbitration Order, relating to issues—which, to complicate the matter still further, were called questions—required all employers in an industry to observe agreed terms and conditions.
1264 That was a definite general requirement in the Order. Under the 1951 Order, which we are now considering, there is no such general requirement, but, as the House knows, there can be reference by employers or trade unions to the Tribunal of a case in which it is thought there are individual shortcomings. The point I am trying to make is that an issues procedure, if it existed, could apply either to a particular industry or generally to the whole of industry in either of the two different ways provided by the 1940 and 1951 Orders.
I want to say a little about the offer of talks which my right hon. Friend has made, but I should like at this point to say to the House how very clearly I recognise the fears of the consequences which may flow from the Government's action in revoking this Order. Having listened to the debate and to most of the views which have been expressed I find these fears of those possible consequences entirely natural. We have had compulsory arbitration and the facilities of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal for about eighteen years, and, therefore, it is hardly surprising, when it is suggested by the Government that that procedure should go, at any rate for disputes, that a number of hon. Members should ask the very pertinent question, what is to happen when we no longer have this facility?
I do not believe that anyone can say with any exactitude how much the Industrial Disputes Tribunal has managed to keep peace in industry. The contribution it has made may be large and it may be small. Some hon. Members will take one view and some will take the other. I cannot see that any of us can say with any degree of certainty. We do not know.
However, one thing which is certain, which my right hon. Friend also mentioned, is that in a great many of the major disputes which have taken place in the last seven years, and which have resulted in a considerable amount of lost time, lost production and lost wages, there has been no question at all of any reference to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. The possibility has either not occurred to the parties, or, at any rate, has not been acted upon, and the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, which a great many hon. Members have been making 1265 very strong cases for, has not been resorted to in many of the cases in which it could perhaps have been of service. As my right hon. Friend, I think, also pointed out, its existence and the existence of the Industrial Disputes Order did not stop serious strikes in 1957. Certainly, as we remember vividly, they did not stop the London bus strike this year.
My conclusion, therefore, having looked at the figures, is that the Industrial Disputes Tribunal has been used only to a small extent to settle major disputes, and the great majority of the cases which have come before it have been of relatively minor importance.
There was an argument, made I think by the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), and certainly by other hon. Members, that without the facility of compulsory arbitration strikes are going to become much more frequent and that if people have not the possibility of resorting to the Tribunal then they will resort to strikes.
Those who argue this—I do not put it any higher because, I repeat, we cannot be certain about the future; we cannot even be certain completely about the past—are not arguing from a position of great strength because, as I have pointed out, the Industrial Disputes Order of 1951 during its seven years' existence has itself failed to avert a considerable number of strikes both small and great. In particular, as we all know to our cost, and I do not suppose there will be any disagreement in the House about this, the Industrial Disputes Order has not prevented innumerable small and unofficial strikes which in recent years have plagued some industries.
§ Mr. Wood
That does not in any way detract from the case I am making that the Order has not prevented a great number of disputes. If the Industrial Disputes Tribunal has not done all that is sometimes claimed for it, I should nevertheless be the first to admit, as my right hon. Friend has already admitted, that it has certainly played a part in the settle. 1266 ment of disputes. The Opposition have expressed fears, I have no doubt entirely sincerely, of the consequences of the disappearance of the 1951 Order. Whether these fears are justified or not only time will tell. I am confident that they will not be justified.
Here we are arguing a number of great imponderables. The right hon. Member for Blyth reminded us that in 1951 he had expressed the hope that the voluntary principle would be strengthened by the Order which he then made. I think that the hon. Member for Newton, if I understood him correctly, said just now that these hopes had not been fulfilled. I say that logic is on our side and I echo the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) when I say that we are convinced that the end of compulsory arbitration will provide an opportunity and a greater stimulus for the growth of voluntary methods, which I think, we would all agree, are infinitely preferable, when we can achieve them.
I ask the House to remember the possibilities that at present exist—the various powers of my right hon. Friend, the conciliation services of the Ministry of Labour, my right hon. Friend's powers of reference to arbitration and to order a court of inquiry or a committee of investigation, and the large area of procedure which has been mentioned in a number of speeches by which industries themselves settle their own disputes.
There is another further sense, and I think perhaps a most important sense, in which the Industrial Disputes Order has been sterile. I do not think that many hon. Members would claim that it has made any contribution whatsoever towards the solution of the basic human problems in industry which cause more loss of production than strikes themselves. As I see it, if industry in Britain is to be kept up to date it is not only a matter of the latest techniques and know-how, it is not only a matter of the correct study of demand, not only a matter of the best use of potential skill. The approach by both workers and management to the problems of relations in industry must be as dynamic and as modern as their approach to all other industrial problems. I think that there is general agreement about that.
1267 My conviction is that joint consultation, collective bargaining and steps towards the most efficient use of manpower are all essentially voluntary exercises in collaboration; and these will all have their counterpart in the ultimate methods by which we settle our differences. Until we rely upon voluntary machinery in such settlements, we are unlikely to achieve the ideals, which the House has in common, of arriving at agreed methods of resolving disputes, acceptable to both employers and trade unions, with no loss of production and with a quickening rather than a diminution of respect between those who sit round the table and try to work them out.
I am sorry to hear that the Opposition have decided to divide at the end of this debate.
§ Mr. Wood
I am just about to say why. These affairs which we have been discussing——and all of us are presumably interested in the greatest measure of industrial peace and the smoothest industrial relations which we can achieve—are matters upon which divisions between us in this House of Commons matter very much, and they are matters on which our unity, if we can express it, is also very important.
§ putes Order. It is not only, as he expressed it, important to do nothing to impair the growth of voluntary machinery, but in the light of the undertakings given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth in 1951 and in the absence of agreement now, I can see no alternative whatsoever to the decision that my right hon. Friend has taken, and I see no possibility of legislating on the disputes side.
§ On issues a great deal of discussion has taken place, and my right hon. Friend has already indicated his readiness to help in any talks which will take place between the B.E.C. and the T.U.C. and, I hope, the Ministry of Labour as well. We are merely waiting for an answer to see whether these talks are acceptable. I repeat, what he said, that I hope very much that these talks will start soon and that some agreed solution will be found. Therefore, I suggest to the House that we have taken every possible step towards the replacement of the Industrial Disputes Order which any Government, bearing in mind the undertakings which have been given, could have taken.
§ I hope very much that the result of this Division, which the Opposition have decided upon, will not be too serious.
§ Question put,
§ That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Industrial Disputes (Amendment and Revocation) Order, 1958 (S.1., 1958, No. 1796), dated 30th October, 1958, a copy of which was laid before this House on 3rd November, be annulled.
§ The House divided: Ayes 246, Noes 312.1271
|Division No. 11]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Deer, G.|
|Albu, A. H.||Burke, W. A.||Delargy, H. J.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Burton, Miss F. E.||Diamond, John|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dodds, N. N.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Donnelly, D. L.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Callaghan, L. J.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)|
|Baird, J.||Carmichael, J.||Dye, S.|
|Balfour, A.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon, F. J.||Champion, A. J.||Edelman, M.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Chapman, W. D.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Benson, Sir George||Clunie, J.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Beswick, Frank||Coldrick, W.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Fernyhough, E.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Finch, H. J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Craddock, George Bradford, S.)||Fitch Alan|
|Blyton, W. R.||Cronin, J.D.||Fletcher, Erie|
|Boardman, H.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Gooch, E. G.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mahon, Simon||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Simmons, c. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Hale, Leslie||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Coine Valley)||Mason, Roy||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mayhew, C. P.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Hannan, W.||Messer, Sir F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hastings, S.||Mikardo, Ian||Snow, J. W.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mitchison, G. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Healey, Denis||Monslow, W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moody, A. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Holman, P.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)||Steele, T.|
|Holmes, Horace||Mort, D. L.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Moss, R.||Stonehouse, John|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Moyle, A.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Mulley, F. W.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Hynd, H. (Acorington)||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Swingler, S. T.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Oram, A. E.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Orbach, M.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Owen, W. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Janner, B.||Paget, R. T.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Timmons, J.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs,S.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Tomney, F.|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pargiter, G. A.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Parker, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Paton, John||Watkins, T. E.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Peart, T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Kenyon, C.||Pentland, N.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Key, At. Hon. C. W.||Prentice, R. E.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Ledger, R. J.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Probert, A. R.||Wigg, George|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwiek)||Randall, H. E.||Willey, Frederick|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Rankin, John||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Redhead, E. C.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Logan, D. G.||Reeves, J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mahon, Dr. J. Dickson||Reid, William||Williams, Richard (Openshaw)|
|McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Reynolds, G. W.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|McCann, J.||Rhodes, H.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|McGhee, H. G.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|McGovern, J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Woof, R. E.|
|McInnes, J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Ross, William||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|McLeavy, Frank||Royle, C.||Zilliacus, K.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Short, E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bevine, J. R. (Toxteth)||Campbell, Sir David|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bidgood, J. C.||Carr, Robert|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Bingham, R. M.||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bishop, F. P.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Black, C. W.||Cole, Norman|
|Ashton, H.||Body, R. F.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Bonham Carter, Mark||Cooke, Robert|
|Atkins, H. E.||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Cooper, A. E.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cooper-Key,, E.M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Bralne, B. R.||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.|
|Barber, Anthony||Bralthwaite, sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Barter, John||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Batsford, Brian||Brooman-White, R. C.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Cunningham, Knox|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Bryan, P.||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Dance, J. C. G.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Burden, F. F. A.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pott, H. P.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Ramsden, J. E.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Kaberry, D.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Duncan, Sir James||Keegan, D.||Redmayne, M.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Kimball, M.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Elliott,R.W.(Ne' castle upon Tyne,N.)||Kirk, P. M.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lagden, G. W.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lambton, Viscount||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Fell, A.||Leavey, J. A.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Finlay, Graeme.||Leburn, W. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Forrest, G.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fort, R.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Russell, R. S.|
|Foster, John||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Gammans, Lady||Llewellyn, D. T.||Shepherd, William|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G.(Sutton Coldfield)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Glover, D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Loveys, Walter H.||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Godber, J. B.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Goodhart, Philip||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Speir, R. M.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lucas, P. B. (Brantford & Chiswick)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spans, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'g'tn, S.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||McAdden, S. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Green, A.||Mackle, J. H. (Galloway)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Gurden, Harold||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Teeling, W.|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maddan, Martin||Temple, John M.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vera (Macclesf'd)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thornton.Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hay, John||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Marshall, Douglas||Tilney John (Wavertree)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mathew, R.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mawby, R. L.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Medlleott, Sir Frank||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Mrs. E. (Wythenehawe)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Hilt, John (S. Norfolk)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Wade, D. W.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nairn, D. L. S||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Neave, Airey||Wall, Patrick|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicholls, Harmar||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Holt, A. F.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Nugent, G. R. H.||Webster, David|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Osborne, C.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Page, R. G.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdate)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Partridge, E.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Hurd, A. R.||Peel, W. J.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S,)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Mr. Edward Wakefield.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitman, I. J.|