HC Deb 29 June 1960 vol 625 cc1383-4
37. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Labour on what date he drew the attention of the Commissioners set up under the House of Commons (Offices) Act, 1812, to the fact that the staff of the House does not at present enjoy the rights of trade union negotiation and joint consultation; and what reply he has received.

Mr. Heath

On 14th April I informed Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Commissioners, that I had received from one organisation representations that arrangements should be made for negotiation and joint consultation. I understand that these representations, which are matters for Mr. Speaker and the Commissioners, are now being considered.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last week the Prime Minister told us that he was advised that questions of trade union representation for the staff of this House—that is to say, on pay as distinct from conditions of work—were matters for the Commissioners as a whole? Can he tell us whether the Commissioners have met to consider this matter and, if not, may I ask what on earth are they in existence for?

Mr. Heath

You, Mr. Speaker, made a statement to the House when the Prime Minister had answered a supplementary question, saying that these matters were under consideration, and at the moment I think I should leave the matter there.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot shelter behind anybody else's responsibilities. I have nothing to add to what I said on that occasion, but nothing is slumbering.

Mr. C. Pannell

In order that we may put you in the most favourable light, if I may say so with respect, Mr. Speaker, is it not a fact that you have received representations from people interested in this matter as a principle, and that, as far as I understood it, before you take any irrevocable steps—by that I mean complete refusal—if necessary you will receive representations again? In effect, it will be only at that time that the Minister of Labour might come into the matter.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman was not here when I was induced to say something last time—

Mr. Pannell

I read it.

Mr. Speaker

—but in substance he is repeating what I said.