HC Deb 13 April 1960 vol 621 cc1257-9
38. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has received from the trade unions concerned asking for his help in securing recognition of the principle of collective bargaining for the staff employed in the Palace of Westminster.

Mr. Heath

I have received representations from one organisation, some of whose members are on the staff of the House, that arrangements should be made for negotiation and joint consultation. I propose to inform Mr. Speaker as Chairman of the Commissioners for regulating the offices of the House of Commons of this suggestion.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Palace of Westminster is the only Royal Palace where the full rights of trade union recognition are denied to the staff? Is he aware also that representations for the setting up of joint negotiating machinery have been made by the appropriate trade unions to the authorities of this House in the past and have been rejected? In view of this very bad example that we are setting, will the right hon. Gentleman go further and see that we have, under his leadership, the establishment of proper joint negotiating machinery?

Mr. Heath

It is not possible for me, as Minister of Labour, to introduce joint consultation machinery into any particular industrial organisation for which I have not direct responsibility. I think that the best procedure in the case of these representations is to adopt the method I mentioned in my Answer.

Mr. Prentice

When all the parties in this House believe in collective bargaining, surely it is anomalous that there is not this procedure in the Palace of Westminster? Surely there are some steps which the Minister can take to bring his influence to bear in this matter?

Mr. Heath

I am sure that the Commissioners responsible for the House will note the exchanges on this Question.

39. Mr. C. Pannell

asked the Minister of Labour what machinery exists under his Department for dealing with the representations of officers or servants of the House in the event of disputes concerning their conditions of employment.

Mr. Heath

None, Sir.

Mr. Pannell

Will the right hon. Gentleman, first, appreciate that most of the Commissioners of this House do not know they hold the job—they do not even know they exist? Will the Minister bear in mind that the statement of the Leader of the House that most members of the staff of this House are satisfied with the present set-up, is not borne out by the representations made to me since the right hon. Gentleman made that statement? Would it not be rather to the credit of the House that we should all use all the efforts we can to have the rights of collective bargaining recognised in this place as they are recognised in every other place outside the Palace of Westminster?

Mr. Heath

I think that a very important point, but whether the machinery should be under my Department or not is a different question.

Back to