HC Deb 21 July 1965 vol 716 cc1756-74
Mr. Godber

I beg to move, Amendment No. 65, Clause 34, in page 27, line 36, to leave out Clause 34.

I want to make two or three points about this Amendment. First, I am grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for the steps that he took to enable us to discuss this. There was a technical hitch which might have prevented it being called, but, owing to the assistance which the Government gave, knowing that we felt strongly about this, we are able to discuss it.

Having said that, I want to say that it is very unfortunate that important issues such as this should have to be discussed at this late hour of the night. It is impossible at this time of the night to give adequate attention to an issue of such importance as this. I therefore want to speak briefly on this, because I think that one can make the points shortly.

We have welcomed the bulk of the Bill, and we support the bulk of it, but we think that it has been brought in the wrong order. It is a useful Measure, and we have tried to improve it in every way possible. We feel, however, that this is a thoroughly bad Clause, which should not be in the Bill.

We wish to delete it because it goes against what we have been seeking to do. It goes against what the Minister of Labour himself is seeking to do in many other aspects. In the Second Reading debate when the Minister referred to this Clause I never heard any Minister so apologetic—and it was right that he should be. I admit that this matter had to be considered in relation to the Bill, but the Minister took the wrong decision, because the Clause is an encouragement, if not an incitement, to people to break their contracts of employment. This is absolutely bad. It is the sort of thing that is causing trouble in industry today, in a whole series of cases throughout the country.

It is not in accord with what the Minister has said on many occasions. He told us that he wanted to see all these matters looked into by the Royal Commission, and that he did not want to legislate on them, yet he is choosing to do so in this Bill, and he has also made its effect retrospective, in that the Contracts of Employment Act will be affected. It has been argued that the relevant provisions of that Act have been allowed to lapse, but it is still in the hands of employers to use them.

If we are to take the line that it ought to be made easier for people to break their contracts we are not facing the issues in front us. That is the serious charge that we bring against the Government. It is one more instance of the Government's talking tough but acting weak. It can do nothing but harm. No justification has been brought forward for the Clause. During the passing of the Trade Disputes Act the Minister repeatedly said that he did not want to prejudge the issues going before the Royal Commission, but he is doing that here.

Some hon. Members opposite feel that this issue should be dealt with in this way, but the Minister has not taken that view. His view has been that these are issues about which a responsible attitude should be taken, and that they should go to the Royal Commission. If I do not speak for long it is not because I do not feel deeply about this matter. I do, as do all my hon. Friends, and we shall register our protest about it in the strongest way. The Minister and the Government are ill-advised and weak in this matter. This attitude is very harmful to industry today. We deplore the Clause, and I shall ask my hon. Friends to vote against it.

Mr. Mitchell

This Clause, which we seek to delete, interferes with the Contracts of Employment Act, 1963. It must be seen in the context of that Act, the purpose of which was to make sure that a man should know the terms and conditions of his employment, including the benefits, liabilities and duties of that employment. The effect of this Clause is to remove from that Act one of the duties which a man had. The Contracts of Employment Act of 1963 says: The continuity of an employee's period of employment is not broken … if … the employee takes part in a strike, except where the employee has, in taking part in a strike, broken his contract of employment. If the words after "except" are deleted, as is proposed in the Clause, it will mean, in effect, that continuity of employment will not be broken if a man takes part in a strike in breach of his contract. For legislation to say to a man, "You may break your contract without suffering any loss" is an outrageous principle to accept.

The Minister will probably say that this is something for the Royal Commission to consider, but he said in Standing Committee that, apart from the Trade Disputes Bill, he would … hesitate to lay before the House any proposals for fresh legislation which attempted to deal with any aspect of the problem of strikes, in advance of the Royal Commission's report."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 17th June,1965; c. 497.] Yet this is exactly and precisely what he is doing in this legislation. I suggest very strongly that this amounts to a breach of faith by the Minister, who, having said that he would not bring forward legislation of this sort, has now proceeded to do so.

It may be argued, and I have no doubt that if the Minister were here he would argue, that this is only temporary legislation while the Royal Commission sits. But the Royal Commission is sitting—with all the enthusiasm and speed for which the Labour Party is noted—for half a day a week. If that is the degree of precedence and importance attached to its work, it will be three years before we see the report, and another two years before anything is done. That means that—

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

Would the hon. Gentleman give the House the statistics about how long each week Royal Commissions used to sit when a Conservative Administration was in office?

Mr. Mitchell

When this side of the House suggested that there should be a Royal Commission, we were told by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Prime Minister that it would take minutes and waste years, and then he proceeded to set one up himself. I presume, therefore, that he intended to waste years. That is exactly what will happen.

A precedent will be established over five years that it will not be wrong for a man to go on strike in breach of his contract. That is a disastrous state of affairs to legislate for. What we are saying, in effect, is, "An Englishman's word is his bond, unless he is a trade unionist." [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] This is quite indefensible. It is an encouragement of the worst trade union practices, and something which the Minister of Labour at least ought to be doing his best to prevent.

It is an encouragement of lightning strikes, because no longer will a man be risking anything if he takes part in one. The Minister of Labour has said of these strikes that they are serious and damaging to the country's economy. He has recently denounced the great rash of unofficial strikes arising over the past few years and appealed for the honouring of the pledged word. Yet this legislation says straight away that the pledged word is not to count, and that a man will suffer nothing if he breaks his pledged word. [Interruption.]

This is indefensible legislation for the Government to bring forward, especially at a time when the country's economy is on a razor edge and lightning strikes are so severely damaging. The sanctity of a contract is the very basis of a civilised society—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)

Order. We should make much better progress if hon. Members below the gangway would refrain from so much recumbent comment.

Mr. Mitchell

I thank you for that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

The sanctity of a contract is the basis of a civilised society. I remember going to a Transport and General Workers' Union summer school and hearing one of the union's national officers laying into the men on this point. He said that if a trade unionist gave his word it should be a pledged word and able to be relied upon by all the parties concerned. Yet here we have this miserable legislation which would take away one of the few restraints on breach of contract that we have.

12.15 a.m.

The newspapers these days concentrate on whether a strike is official or unofficial. I do not believe that that is the important division. The important factor is whether the strike is in breach of contract or not. The Government are removing one of the platforms on which industrial stability can be built. It is a retrograde action.

Mr. John Page

I will speak only briefly and give a paraphrase of what the Clause really means. It means that the Government and the Labour Party take the view that contracts of employment negotiated between employers and employees can be freely broken. They give full encouragement to wildcat strikes in breach of contract. This Clause is an underhanded way of doing it. The people are fed up with being held to ransom by small groups of strikers in breach of contract.

Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Cornwall, North)

On a point of order Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Following your Ruling just now, is there any way in which you can help the House in restraining the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who are spending their time during this short debate making interventions from a sedentary position?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I have already asked hon. Gentlemen in that part of the House to restrain their comments. They will have an opportunity to speak later on if they wish.

Mr. Page

I can hardly feel grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) for interrupting me in the full flight of my peroration and I do not think that I need the protection he was seeking to offer from hon. Members opposite, who have taken so much interest and care in following this debate bit by bit.

The people of this country are fed up with being held to ransom by small groups of strikers in breach of contract and it is hon. Members opposite and the Government—who will be the Government for only a short time because of their record—who will be held responsible by the people, who will show their dislike and horror of the way in which the Government are bulldozing through this disgraceful Clause.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

Some extravagant language has been used about this Clause but in some respects the Government have brought it upon themselves. I do not regard the Clause as anything to do with the Contracts of Employment Act. It is a "dog's breakfast" of a Clause in the way it is worded.

What we are discussing is not the Contracts of Employment Act but whether, in the calculation of redundancy payments and the terms and length of service, a strike which may have taken place at any time, perhaps in the dim and distant past, should be counted and taken for the period calculated for redundancy payments.

It has always been a right in this country for a man to withdraw his labour and all this Clause says is that, so far as this Bill is concerned, we are not infringing upon that basic right. To that extent, the Amendment should be rejected.

The Solicitor-General

Of the speeches we have had from the benches opposite, curiously enough only the last was devoted in any way to the effects of the Amendment. We have had a good deal of synthetic indignation from hon. Members of the Conservative Party tonight, but not one of them has considered what the results of their Amendment would be. It is that which I invite the House to consider.

The former Government, when they introduced a penalty clause into the Contracts of Employment Act, provided that any strike in breach of contract broke the continuity of service. In other words, once there was a breach one lost the benefits which that Act was intended to confer. Those benefits were that one was entitled to a certain length of notice according to the years of service one had had.

What is being proposed in the Amendment is, in effect, that the same pattern should be followed in the case of redundancy payments; that is, where there is a break in continuity one loses or, at any rate, diminishes, the redundancy payments. I hope to be able to satisfy the House that this is a quite untenable proposition.

Reference was made by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) to wildcat strikes and, of course, there are strikes which all hon. Members, employers and leaders of the trade unions would regard as wholly irresponsible. However, there are other strikes—and in this I hope that I carry all hon. Members with me—which are fully justified. For this purpose it is impossible to distinguish between the two. The position, particularly since the judgments in Rookes v. Barnard, is that most strikes, whether they are official or unofficial, will probably be held to be in breach of contract.

Before Rookes v. Barnard the position was this. It was widely assumed—not perhaps by lawyers—by both sides of industry, employers and workers, that if the workers gave due notice before going on strike they would not be in breach of contract. That would not be a notice to terminate their contract and it was assumed generally that if they gave a number of days' notice that they were going on strike, unless their demands were met, a breach of contract would not arise.

Then we had Rookes v. Barnard. I am not concerned now with the principal issue of intimidation which was considered in that case but with what was said in the Court of Appeal by Lord Justice Donovan, as he then was, and by Lord Devlin in the House of Lords. What they had to say, in the judgment in one case and the speech in the other, cast a good deal of doubt, to say the least, on the assumption which had been so widely held. The position now is, if those observations are right, that the Contracts of Employment Act, which was passed by the previous Administration, probably goes far wider than it was ever intended to do.

When one has this position of uncertainty—when one may have strikes which all hon. Members would regard as being perfectly justified and when one may have strikes after a certain notice of intention to strike has been given but, nevertheless, the position may very well be that they are held to be in breach of contract and, therefore, continuity of service is interrupted—I must ask the House to consider what the effect would be from the point of view of this Measure.

What would happen would be something like this. A man would become redundant in 20 years from now and he might very well find that he has got no more compensation under this Measure than a man with half his service. He would ask for an explanation, and the employer would say that he had withheld payment because of a strike, say, 10 years previously. One can easily imagine the ill-feeling and misunderstanding that that would cause. There might have been a strike for a short time—a strike for a perfectly good reason—and the result if the Amendment were carried, would necessarily be to interrupt the continuity of service. That would not only create bitterness amongst the workers concerned but could cause considerable difficulty for the employer. I suppose that in those circumstances, most employers, when asked to pay compensation under this Bill would want to disregard strikes of the remote past that had long since been forgotten, and would want, if they could, to make a full redundancy payment. It would be very difficult for them to do so.

But, quite apart from employers, it would be quite impossible for the redundancy fund, and those who administer it to ignore such strikes. There would be difficulty, if it came to the fund's knowledge, as it would in many cases because the scheme would be administered by local and regional officers of the Ministry of Labour, who would know the industrial history of the concern involved. It would follow that the rebate could not be paid in respect of the period before the continuity was broken. That would mean that the employer, if he was prepared to pay the man for the whole period of his service, would have to meet out of his own pocket that part of the payment which related to the period before the breach of continuity. I submit that that is not a result that any hon. Member would wish to bring about.

I appreciate that, read with other parts of the Bill, this Clause does two things. First of all, it alters the particular provision in the Contracts of Employment Act. Secondly, it applies a measure of time that we find in the Contracts of Employment Act. There are two points here. First of all, one has to apply this principle, which is in the earlier Act, to redundancy payments. For the reasons I have tried to explain, that would produce an extraordinary anomaly in the working of the Bill.

There is the other point, and I do not wish to run away from it, that we should alter the terms of the Contracts of Employment Act itself, as is proposed in Clause 34. The position is that when this Bill becomes law the worker will have two kinds of right ensured to him. The first he will have under the Bill—the right to compensation for redundancy. Secondly, he will continue to have his rights under the Contracts of Employment Act. He will have those two rights side by side—the right to redundancy payment and the right to notice dependent on the length of his service.

It would be an extraordinary position if we tried to apply a different principle in the case of redundancy from the case of dismissal, and if we said in the one case that the fact of employment was not to be regarded as being interrupted because there has been a strike many years before, and in the second case that there had been an interruption wherever there had been a strike. Perhaps it was a perfectly justified and legitimate strike—nevertheless it is held to be in breach of contract. It seems to the Government that we must apply precisely the same principle in both cases. Therefore, if the House is with me in my argument, acceptance of the Amendment would produce almost absurdity.

We are not concerned in any way to condone breaches of contract. One hon. Member spoke of the sanctity of contract, and I entirely agree with him. Of course, if people break their contracts they must take the consequences. Those concerned may be open to an action for breach of contract—that is the penalty. But what we are concerned with here is not what should happen to those who break their contracts, or what damages they may have to pay if sued for breach of contract, but simply with the circumstances in which redundancy payments should be made. For the reasons I have endeavoured to submit, I suggest that it would make an absurdity in the working of this Measure if we were to accept the Amendment.

12.30 a.m.

Mr. Ronald Bell

The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General has at least shown that he realises that this Clause does two things—it alters the Contracts of Employment Act and alters the effect of the Redundancy Payments Bill.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) asked the House to reject the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend because, he said, this Clause had no effect on the Contracts of Employment Act. Now that he realises from the speech of the Solicitor-General that it does have an effect, I presume that we shall have his support in the Lobby. It will be rather odd if we do not, because he said that the reason why we would not have his support was that there was no effect, whereas in fact there is. Not only does the Clause repeal that bit of the First Schedule to the Act, but it repeals it retrospectively. Therefore, an employee can go on strike in breach of contract and nevertheless accumulate seniority for the purposes of the length of notice, and of course, for the purpose of redundancy payment under this Bill.

I do not want to go into all the arguments which the Solicitor-General advanced. They all hinged, quite inconsequentially, on some supposed consequences of the case of Rookes v. Barnard. I do not know whether it is the case that most strikes in this country are in breach of contract. There were suggestions to that effect by various people during proceedings on Rookes v. Barnard. That is not the point here. That is not a legal finding; that is a comment. The view we take is that it is wrong if it is the case that most strikes occur in breach of contract and that the Government ought to regard it as very wrong if strikes occur in breach of contract and not simply say that someone said during the course of the Rookes v. Barnard case that it rather looked as though most strikes occur in breach of contract and therefore we had better strike out of our law any provision which appears to penalise breach of contract. That is what Clause 34 is doing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) did not exaggerate when he used strong language about this. It is simply what the Government are doing in relation to this Bill and the Contracts of Employment Act. They are saying in Clause 34 that the fact that a strike is in breach of contract shall no longer matter. How can we have a sensible industrial relations policy if we begin by laying down as a firm principle that strikes in breach of contract and in breach of procedure are perfectly virtuous, or at least neutral things?

Surely the whole movement of our labour relations is in the very opposite direction of trying to give efficacy to longterm agreements concluded between employers and employees, trying to fix a moral and in the end some kind of legal sanction to breaches of those agreements clearly entered into between employer and employee. What the hon. and learned Gentleman has been saying was, I think, because he had to say it; he has been put in that position tonight.

The Solicitor-General has been saying that the Government are turning their backs on that concept and believe it right when a contract of employment is made for employees to be at liberty to break it without any consequences whatever. He is saying that of course if it is a breach of contract, such employees can be sued in the county court, but we all know that that is nonsense, as the National Coal Board itself found.

The real and effective sanction would have been for the law, as in the Contracts of Employment Act and as would have been the case with the Bill, to recognise the validity of these contracts. The Government are making this move as part of their long campaign to placate the unions. The Minister of Labour is not here tonight. I make no complaint about that, for I know that he is engaged elsewhere on very important work in connection with his Ministry. If he were here, I would say to him that it is all very well to make the forthright declarations which he has been making in the last few weeks about having order in labour relations, but they all sound very hollow when what the Government are doing, as distinct from saying, is to introduce Clause 34 and measures of this kind. For those reasons, I hope that my hon. and right hon. Friends will support the Amendment and seek to delete this offending Clause from the Bill.

Mr. Mendelson

I had no intention of intervening in the debate, because the Solicitor-General had put the case perfectly clearly and convincingly, but the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has made a speech which was a typical example of the persistent attempts by hon. Members opposite to bedevil industrial relations and attack the trade union movement. It would not have mattered if the hon. Member for Harrow West (Mr. John Page) had made the attempt, because, although I have a certain sympathy for the hon. Member, he does not know much about the subject. What makes the matter grave is that a former Minister of Labour should lend himself to a manoeuvre of this kind.

The overwhelming majority of employers would not wish to be saddled with a situation in which industrial relations would be embittered for many years because someone who, many years before, had engaged in perfectly legitimate and legal withdrawal of labour, officially called by the national executive of his union under the normal rules of trade union activity, felt that later on, if redundancy came to his industry—

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that when a union engages in a threat to withdraw labour it is in breach of contract? The Clause deals with strikes which are in breach of contract and not with those which are called within the contract.

Mr. Mendelson

I am coming to that. I am first establishing that the overwhelming majority of employers, as those of us who represent industrial constituencies and are in constant touch with employers know, would not want to create the kind of bitterness which would be felt by those who many years before had taken part in perfectly legal industrial disputes and who would be debarred thereby from the scheme if, for reasons due not to the employer, the employee, or the union, but because of technological developments in their industries, they were made redundant.

The House debated this matter in great detail on Second Reading and in Committee. The position arises because of the great uncertainty created by the recent legal decision. There has been ample evidence that all the most responsible trade union leaders and officers in congress assembled and the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress in long negotiations with the right hon. Gentleman the former Minister of Labour, all those knowing most about industrial relations, believed that there was serious danger after that judgment that normal trade union activities could be held to be in breach of contract. That was the view taken by the Trades Union Congress. It was the view taken by the General Secretary of the T.U.C. in his negotiations with the former Minister of Labour when he was in office.

In these circumstances, the position must be made quite clear. As long as this case has not been invalidated or overruled, it must be laid down that it cannot have long-term penalising consequences upon trade unionists and workers in industry who have engaged in perfectly legitimate industrial activities.

Mr. Godber

Although the hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress and trade union leaders generally took that view, I must make clear that I never accepted it as right, any more than I accepted tonight the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was highly selective in the legal authorities which he quoted. Other legal authorities take an entirely different view. I commend the view of Lord Radcliffe to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Mendelson

I have never charged the right hon. Gentleman with accepting the view put to him by the General Secretary of the T.U.C. or by other responsible trade union leaders. I have always deployed that they were unable to persuade him. That was the trouble. That was why no agreement was ever reached between the trade union leaders and the right hon. Gentleman. That was why the General Secretary of the T.U.C. had to make his speech to the Congress, which I quoted in the Second Reading debate on another Bill, in which he gave the answer to what the right hon. Gentleman has said tonight, as he knows.

Because the right hon. Gentleman in a Conservative Administration was not prepared to accept what was regarded as a very sensible interpretation of the present position, as far as the law stands, that is no reason for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General to accept the view put by the former Minister of Labour and deny their own interpretation of what the law is. I am very glad to find that my right hon. Friend agrees in his interpretation with respectable legal opinion and with the expressed considered view of the leaders of the trade union movement.

We have just heard a lot of speeches from the opposite benches full of exaggerated and synthetic indignation, speeches from people who do not represent many trade unionists in this country, as they will admit, and who get on their high horses and take part in the ill-informed propaganda campaign against that trade union movement which they are trying to work up. We have had

some typical examples of that tonight. I hope, therefore, that, if this matter is pressed to a Division, we shall show them that they represent just a minority view. The former Minister of Labour, of course, who is a little bit more intelligent in these matters than some of his back benchers, may regret the Division and its outcome. He usually wants to appear unwilling to strike against the trade union movement. He usually takes great care not to be caught in the act, but tonight he will be caught in the act, and it will be well to have it on the record.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) would have made exactly the same speech in support of King John 750 years ago, before Magna Carta. All he is doing is supporting a vested interest. The hon. Gentleman is a lawyer, and he knows that, if a contract means anything at all, it creates obligations on both sides. All we are saying is that, if trade unionists, as individuals or collectively, enter into an agreement, that agreement should not be broken without disadvantages. If a contract of service is broken, the person who breaks it should accept the disadvantages which go with the breaking of it.

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that his speech was no more than a Devil's advocate's speech on behalf of the vested interests of the trade union movement in this country. I do not blame him for doing it, but he was not speaking as a lawyer, because everyone accepts that, in law, if a person accepts an agreement with conditions and he breaks that agreement, he must accept the disadvantages that go with the breaking of it.

That is all that we are asking from this side. In our present society, I am quite certain that it would bring a far greater sense of responsibility into our affairs if the view of this side was accepted by Parliament.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out to "in" in line 40, stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes, 140, Noes 103.

Division No. 260.] AYES [12.46 a.m.
Abse, Leo Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Beaney, Alan
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Alldritt, Walter Barnett, Joel Bessell, Peter
Binns, John Hannan, William Pentland, Norman
Blackburn, F. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Probert, Arthur
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hart, Mrs. Judith Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Boardman, H. Heffer, Eric S. Reynolds, G. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rhodes, Geoffrey
Boyden, James Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) Rose, Paul B.
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Jackson, Colin Sheldon, Robert
Carmichael, Neil Jeger, George (Goole) Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Coleman, Donald Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Silkin, John (Deptford)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Crawshaw, Richard Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lawson, George Small, William
Dalyell, Tam Leadbitter, Ted Snow, Julian
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Loughlin, Charles Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Dempsey, James McBride, Neil Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Doig, Peter McCann, J. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Duffy, Dr. A. E. P. McGuire, Michael Thornton, Ernest
Dunn, James A. Mclnnes, James Thorpe, Jeremy
Dunnett, Jack Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Tinn, James
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Tuck, Raphael
Ensor, David Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Urwin, T. W.
Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Varley, Eric G.
Fernyhough, E. Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Wainwright, Edwin
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) Manuel, Archie Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mapp, Charles Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mendelson, J. J. Wallace, George
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Millan, Bruce Whitlock, William
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Ford, Ben Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Galpern, Sir Myer Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Garrett, W. E. Oakes, Gordon Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Garrow, A. Ogden, Eric Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd O'Malley, Brian Woof, Robert
Ginsburg, David Orme, Stanley Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Gregory, Arnold Oswald, Thomas
Hale, Leslie Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Mr. Charles Grey.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gower, Raymond Peel, John
Astor, John Grieve, Percy Percival, Ian
Baker, W. H. K. Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth
Bell, Ronald Gurden, Harold Pitt, Dame Edith
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Pounder, Rafton
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Harris, Reader (Heston) Pym, Francis
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hawkins, Paul Quennell, Miss J. M.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Hay, John Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Box, Donald Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Royle, Anthony
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hendry, Forbes Scott-Hopkins, James
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Higgins, Terence L. Sinclair, Sir George
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P. Stainton, Keith
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington) Studholme, Sir Henry
Buck, Antony Hunt, John (Bromley) Talbot, John E.
Cole, Norman Iremonger, T. L. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Cooke, Robert Jopling, Michael Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Teeling, Sir William
Crawley, Aidan Kirk, Peter Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Crowder, F. P. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Wall, Patrick
Curran, Charles Litchfield, Capt. John Webster, David
Dalkeith, Earl of Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) Marten, Neil Whitelaw, William
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Maude, Angus Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Mawby, Ray Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Eyre, Reginald Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wise, A. R.
Gammans, Lady More, Jasper Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gibson-Watt, David Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Murton, Oscar Wylie, N. R.
Glover, Sir Douglas Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Glyn, Sir Richard Osborn, John (Hallam) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Page, John (Harrow, W.) Mr. Ian MacArthur and
Goodhart, Philip Page, R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith.
Goodhew, Victor Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The next Amendment is No. 111, and I understand that it would be convenient to discuss with it the immediately following Amendment, which is No. 69, and Amendment No. 85, in Clause 52, page 40, line 31, leave out from "shall" to "and" in line 32 and insert: have effect subject to subsection (3) of section 34 of this Act as if the repeal were contained in that section".

The Solicitor-General

I beg to move Amendment No. 111, Clause 34, in page 27, line 40, to leave out from "effect" to the end of line 42 and to insert: subject to the following provisions of this section, with the omission of the words from 'except' to the end of the sub-paragraph". I can commend the Amendments to the House in a very few words. The purpose is to remedy an omission in the provisions relating to the effect of strikes on continuity of employment. Clause 34 as it stands provides that strikes after the appointed day—of course, this Bill comes into operation on an appointed day—will not interrupt continuity of employment. By paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the Contracts of Employment Act the same effect is achieved for strikes which took place before the appointed day for that Act. So there are two appointed days, the appointed day under the Contracts of Employment Act and the appointed day yet to be fixed under this Bill. We have similar provisions, in regard to the effect of strikes, for the pre-appointed day strikes under the Contracts of Employment Act and the post-appointed day strikes under Clause 34 of this Bill.

But there is a gap between the two appointed days, and as the Bill now stands neither of these provisions covers that intervening period. The new subsection (2)—in Amendment No. 69—puts that right by providing that where a worker has given notice on or after the appointed day on which this Measure comes into force any strike in which he took part during the period between the two appointed days is to be treated like any other strike is treated under this Bill; that is to say, it will not break his continuity of service. These Amendments do not affect the position where notice is given before the Bill comes into force. In such a case the existing provisions of the Contracts of Employment Act will still apply.

I appreciate that when we are dealing with Clause 34 there is really a fundamental difference between the views of the two sides of the House. Hon. Members, entirely within their rights, have attacked Clause 34, both at this stage and at earlier stages of the Bill, but assuming, as the House has decided, that Clause 34 is to remain, then I suggest that these Amendments are really essential. Without them we should have an absurd position when no strike which was held to be in breach of a contract could break continuity for the purposes of computing rights to redundancy pay unless it happened to take place between 5th July, 1964, which was the appointed day under the earlier Measure, and some time towards the end of this year, when we have the appointed day under this Bill.

That is a state of affairs which, I imagine, no one would wish to bring about. So I would, therefore, invite acceptance by the House of these Amendments.

Mr. Godber

The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot expect us to say anything very kind about Clause 34. We have expressed our views on it. We accept, though, that as the House, in its wisdom or lack of wisdom, has chosen to retain Clause 34, it is logical to have Amendments which bring it into line in this way, and so we shall not resist this Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Clause 34, page 27, line 42, at end insert: (2) For the purpose of computing a period of continuous employment in accordance with Schedule 1 to this Act, the amendment made by the preceding subsection shall have effect in relation to any week beginning after the commencement of the Contracts of Employment Act 1963, whether before or after the passing of this Act. (3) Nothing in this section shall affect the operation of Section 1 or Section 2 of the Contracts of Employment Act 1963 in relation to any notice given before the passing of this Act, or given after the passing of this Act before the appointed day.—[The Solicitor-General.]