HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1242-3
Q1. Mr. J. Silverman

asked the Prime Minister what communication he has recently received from the general secretary of the Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians about discrimination against members of trade unions; and what were the terms of his reply thereto.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

The general secretary of the Association wrote to me on 2nd March. He said that many firms made it a condition of promotion that employees should join the Foremen and Staff Mutual Benefit Society and that this Society had a rule preventing its members from being members of trade unions. The general secretary suggested that the matter should be dealt with by an amendment of the Fair Wages Resolution. My reply stressed the importance which the Government attach to the principle that employees should be free to join trade unions, and explained that the principle is already applied to Government contractors by the Fair Wages Resolution which also provides a procedure for dealing with any difficulty.

Mr. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this matter further? He will realise that the Fair Wages Clause and the powers of the Industrial Court as they exist now cannot deal adequately with discrimination against trade unionists as exercised by this employer-promoted association and that what is wanted is either an amendment in legislation or an amendment in the Fair Wages Clause? Will he and his colleagues, therefore, either introduce legislation themselves or give support to the legislation proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) and myself?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has raised a fairly wide question. There is an independent tribunal procedure which, I think, should be used in cases of difficulty of this kind. I should like to know a good deal more about that independent procedure and why it is not more used before I could agree to any legislation on this.

Mr. Grimond

Has the Prime Minister noticed that the real value of many salaries has declined since before the war? As junior supervisory staff are aften excluded from wage negotiations today, is it not advisable that they should play a more active part in industry and that they should be encouraged to organise to make their claims known?

The Prime Minister

That is an entirely different question. The question to which I was directing myself was whether, by certain action taken by employers, employees are prevented from joining trade unions.

Mr. Prentice

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the House yesterday unanimously gave leave to my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) to introduce a Bill relating to this point? In view of the right hon. Gentleman's replies, will the Government give facilities for the speedy passage of the Bill during this summer Session?

The Prime Minister

I should like to hear what the hon. Gentleman says on the introduction of the Bill.

Hon. Members

He said it yesterday.

The Prime Minister

I should like to read what he said on the introduction of it.