HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1128-30
39. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has received from the Guild of Insurance Officials requesting that the Guild should be recognised by insurance employers as the employees' negotiating body; and what has been the nature of his reply.

Mr. Hare

I have received no representations from the Guild of Insurance Officials. A number of hon. Members have, however, written to me following representations made to them. I have explained in reply that the question of recognition is a matter for settlement between the Guild and the insurance employers.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the negotiating machinery in this industry is very unsatisfactory? In view of the desire there is on both sides of the House to improve such negotiating machinery wherever it may be deficient, will he not take some initiative in trying to persuade the employers to mend their ways a little?

Mr. Hare

The basic fact is that this is a matter for agreement between the two sides of industry. As regards conciliation, or any assistance that both sides of the industry want in setting up negotiating machinery, I have already said that I shall be only too willing to lend the services of my officials.

Mr. Gower

In view of the fact that one or two of the larger insurance offices do recognise the Guild, could my right hon. Friend represent to the other companies the advantages of such recognition in all cases where a substantial body of the employees of a company are members of the Guild?

Mr. Hare

I certainly take note of what my hon. Friend says, but until we can get agreement on the side of the employers there is nothing more that I can do.

Mr. Prentice

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman be rather more positive on this matter? Does he subscribe to the statements often made by his predecessors that they wanted to see voluntary bargaining extended to new fields? If so, with banks, insurance companies and others lagging behind, cannot he make a firm statement that he wants to see them meet the demands of their staffs for representation, and offer the services of his officials to iron out the details?

Mr. Hare

There is a considerable difference of opinion among the employers concerned, but I am sure that they will take note of the principle. Naturally, I am always willing to do what I can to improve relations in any way, but until we get both sides to agree to take action there is nothing I can usefully do.

Mr. G. Brown

The Minister has not answered my hon. Friend's supplementary question. As the present Minister of Labour, does he subscribe to the repeated statements of his predecessors that, as Ministers of Labour, they wanted to see voluntary negotiating machinery extended to these fields? Will he say that this is now his policy? Will he then get the employers together, and see what he can do to get them to follow out that expressed wish?

Mr. Hare

The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is my policy, and that it has been the policy of my predecessors. I think that it is the policy of hon. Members opposite, too, but he is knowledgeable in these matters and will apreciate that, until people agree, one cannot get them to do things—[Interruption.]—unless the right hon. Gentleman wishes me to use some form of compulsion, which I am sure is not in his mind.

Mr. Loughlin

Will the Minister say categorically today that it is his wish that the employers should recognise the trade unions in this sphere of industry? Will he say that he desires them to do so?

Mr. Hare

I do not think that that supplementary question is helpful. For instance, it is very difficult to say which trade union should be recognised.

Hon. Members


Mr. G. Brown

Will the Minister see the employers in this case and, even if he does not wish to say it publicly, will he assure us that he will in private—[Laughter.]—urge them to meet the Guild of Insurance Officials and enter into negotiations with them? Will he see the employers? Will he put to them what he has told us is his policy, and urge them to proceed to carry it out?

Mr. Hare

If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman put a very "Irish" question to me. I have the views of the House, and hon. Members have my own views—that I do want a satisfactory arrangement. I hope that the House will allow me to do the best that I think can be done.