§ No such act as is referred to in section 1(1) of this Act shall, for the purposes of this Act, be treated as done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute if done for the purpose of compelling another person to join, or remain a member of, a trade union or an employers' association.—[Mr. Mitchell.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that it would be for the convenience of the House if with the new Clause we discussed Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 5, at beginning insert:Subject to the provisions of this section".
Amendment No. 4, in page 1, line 14, at end insert:
Provided that no act done as aforesaid shall, for the purposes of this Act, be treated as done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute if done for the purpose of compelling another person to join, or remain a member of, a trade union or an employers' association.
Amendment No. 6, in page 1, line 14, at end insert:
Provided that an act as aforesaid is not done with the sole intention of forcing another person to become, to remain or to cease to he a member of a trade union.
and Amendment No. 10, in page 1, line 20, at end insert:
(3) An act done as aforesaid by a person shall not for the purposes of this Act be treated as an act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute if it is done with the intention of inflicting injury on another because that other will not join or remain as a member of a trade union.
§ If that proposition were accepted as convenient, I would call for a separate Division Amendment No. 6 if so desired.
§ Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
I move the new Clause with some indignation because of the way in which the Minister consistently refused throughout the Committee stage to accept any Amendment or new Clause. I ask the House to note the effect of the Bill if 1213 the Clause is not accepted. In other words, we have before us a Bill which is rather negative in character, but if we turn it to the positive, we can see what it allows to happen if the new Clause is not accepted. At the same time, I should like to consider what the short, sharp words at the bottom of the trade union circular would say of the effect of the Bill on trade union practices, quite apart from the law.
If we turn it into the positive, the Bill says that an act done after the passing of the Bill shall be legal if it consists of a trade union official threatening that a contract of employment will be broken, or threatening that he will induce someone else to break his contract, in order to compel someone to join or remain a member of a trade union against his will; in brief, a licence to coercion, or a licence to intimidation.
The short words which will, presumably, appear on the bottom of trade union circulars will be, "You may now use methods of coercion and intimidation to enforce a closed shop". This is the principle with which we are dealing. My hon. Friends and I are seeking to rectify this situation.
The Bill is, first, an attack on the rights, freedom and liberty of the citizen. Secondly, it is an encouragement to the worst trade union practices which I should have thought the Minister would regard it as his duty to try to discourage. The right hon. Gentleman has excused the Bill by saying that it is only a temporary Measure while he awaits the findings of the Royal Commission.
I want to know how temporary, because it appears that the Royal Commission is doing its work with all the dynamic speed and enthusiasm for change exhibited by the trade union movement and hon. Members opposite. If I am correctly informed, it is sitting on half a day a week. At this rate, it will take three years to complete its work. I see the Minister nodding. I am glad to have his confirmation.
After that, presumably, we will have the Minister's gestation period while he sits on the Bill and then a further period before legislation is introduced. It will, therefore, be at least five or six years before the temporary nature of the Bill is brought to an end. I therefore ask 1214 the Minister to discontinue making misleading suggestions that the Bill is only temporary.
I am a comparatively new Member of the House, but I understood before I came here and since that it was one of the duties of Members to act as trustees and custodians of the liberty of the subjects, rights which we have inherited from past generations. We have inherited this duty over generations. In a nation with no written constitution, we are the only people who can do this. Therefore, the onus is on us to look most carefully at any legislation which may impinge on these liberties. If the Bill is passed in its present form we shall make it legal to compel someone to join an association of which he disapproves. This is not only bad trade unionism; it is also an offence against the highest international standards as laid down by the United Nations.
In the Declaration of Human Rights which was proclaimed by the United Nations Assembly in Paris on 10th December, 1945, Article 20, which was signed by the British Government, and a Labour Government at that, specified quite clearly:Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.The Bill would allow somebody to be compelled to join an association.
It is one thing to ignore such international standards and declarations. It is a totally different thing to legislate against them and in complete defiance and contradiction of them. No doubt the Government have taken guidance on this matter. In Committee, we pressed the Solicitor-General to guide us, but we were not successful. I assume that the Government must think that it is legal to act againstinternational declarations and regulations. Nevertheless, it is totally morally wrong to act against the signature of the British Government.
This Mother of Parliament is regarded by younger nations in many parts of the world as an example. If we pass legislation in defiance of the United Nations Declarations, and if we legalise coercion to join an association, whether a trade union or not, which might be regarded in other parts of the world 1215 as a political association, we shall set a dangerous example, and we should not be surprised if others seek to follow it, with all the ensuing troubles. If the new Clause were not accepted, the Bill would encourage the worst trade union practices.
The Minister has said that he wants to put the law back as he thought it was, but, with all due deference to him, he can never put trade union practice back as it was. Because of the Rookes v. Barnard case, and because of the immense publicity which it has received, every trade unionist will know that there is this method of using coercion and intimidation, whereas before many of them did not know that it existed. We are, therefore, faced with a new situation in which it is not possible for the Minister to put the law and the practice back in the position that it was. I should have thought that the Minister, being responsible for industrial relations, would seek to frame the law as it ought to be and not as he thought it was.
We expect a Minister of Labour in this Government to lean towards the trade unions. We can even understand him doing a deal with the trade unions, as he appears to have done on this occasion, although it seems rather foolish to cast away the trump card at the time that the Royal Commission was beginning its inquiries. When the right hon. Gentleman has something which the trade unions wanted and which he could have used as a bargaining counter, he throws it clean out of the pack. I have a horrible suspicion that this legislation will be, not temporary, but so permanent that the trade unions will never give it up.
However, what we do not expect the Minister to do is to encourage trade union practices which he knows are thoroughly bad and which many of his excellent colleagues in the trade union movement have condemned. May I give one example? Sir Lincoln Evans, who was General Secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, said:…such is the logic of the closed shop that a man expelled from his union—which in itself may be quite justified—can then be prevented from following his trade because he has no union card, a piece of injustice 1216 that no trade union principle can justify or any trade union need condone "—or, I would add, any Minister of the Crown. The Minister is nodding. I am glad to see that he agrees with Sir Lincoln Evans, and with me, also.
The central reason for the Bill is the Rookes v. Barnard case. It is worth briefly rehearsing the facts of that case. Here was a man, Rookes, who had been a member of his trade union, had fallen out with it and was told by Barnard that the others would go on strike if he did not rejoin the union. Rookes refused. Barnard went to the employer and said, "Either you sack this man or we shall come out on strike"; and, to the employer's shame, he sacked him. As I see it, in elementary justice, that man was rightly able to secure damages.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. R. J. Gunter)
To get the record straight, it should be appreciated that Mr. Rookes was a firm believer in the closed shop until he had a row with his union.
§ Mr. Mitchell
What Mr. Rookes believed or did not believe has nothing to do with the point of the Clause. Mr. Barnard was the man who went to the employer and said, "Sack this man, or else…" What will be done if this legislation is passed is to legalise other Barnards throughout the country to do the same thing.
§ Mr. Gunter indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I am glad to see the Minister shaking his head. I hope that when he winds up this debate he will explain why what I have said is incorrect.
As far as I can see, the whole purpose of this legislation is to make it possible and legal for Barnards to go up and down the country doing just that. Because of the publicity which has been given, that is exactly what will happen. This legislation is a licence to Barnards or other trade union shop stewards to go out and misuse their power in an endeavour to force the closed shop.
I should not like it to be thought that what happened in the highly publicised Rookes v. Barnard case is the sole example, because this sort of thing happens in every hon. Member's constituency from time to time. In my constituency there is an example of which, 1217 I feel, the House should know, because this is exactly the sort of situation which will be recreated many times if the new Clause is, not accepted.
As in the case of Rookes, the man in question was a trade unionist. He had 22 years' continuous membership of his union. He then refused to go out on an unofficial strike. As a result, the local branch of his union fined him £5. He was so furious that he resigned from union membership. The shop steward went to the employer of my constituent and said. "If you do not take this man out of this department, or sack him, we shall not continue to work and a strike will be on your hands". The employer took the man out and put him into other work, where he was not able to use the professional qualifications and the high degree of skill which he had acquired by long training in his previous duties.
We have, therefore, a situation in which a man is earning less than he otherwise could and he is unable to follow his highly skilled profession because of the action of, in effect, another Barnard going to an employer and threatening him. This is precisely what will happen repeatedly throughout the country if the Minister does not accept the new Clause.
We live in an age when tolerance is one of the things most needed in industrial relations. There are eight million trade unionists in this country. Does the Minister really suggest that the foundation of the great trade union movement will be rocked to the core if its members are not entitled to intimidate, chase and badger into their ranks a few unfortunates who do not wish to be trade unionists? Can he not show a little tolerance towards these people? Cannot they attract their membership by their ability, by the things they do and by attracting rather than driving and compelling? Is not this the way in which the trade union movement, which throughout its history has fought for the weak against the strong, should be viewing this problem?
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)
I have difficulty in following the hon. Member's logic about coercion. Would he compel trade unionists to work with non-trade unionists?
§ Mr. Mitchell
The remark which I was making is particularly apt to the question. The need for tolerance is more than 1218 plain from the remark which the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) has just made.
If I may offer the Minister as my ally in this matter by recalling what he himself wrote in the Sunday Times of 7th March, the right hon. Gentleman said:.…above all, we have proved in our history that we can embrace changes—political, economic and technological—without jeopardising the foundations of a free society. This is because we have shown a greater sense of tolerance"—I repeat "tolerance"—towards one another, in terms of class, religion and politics, than possibly any other country in the world. If as a nation we can come to terms with the changes sweeping around us and maintain this foundation of tolerance, then I think we shall have proved once again our claim to leadership in the world.I concur very much with what the Minister then said. I hope that this afternoon he will show a little of that tolerance of which he spoke by accepting the Clause.
I know that the Minister will wind up in that jovial and reassuring manner of his, that attractive Welsh lilt which so mesmerises the Left wing in politics, but in this matter we are bound to judge him, not by his manner or his words, but by his action. If he rejects the Clause, he will have shown his contempt for freedom of the individual and for the best trade union practices. It is with those thoughts in mind that I put forward the new Clause.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I support the new Clause. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) quoted from a foreword to a small book which I have read the words of Sir Lincoln Evans on the closed shop. I can do better than that by quoting the words of the Minister on Second Reading, when he said:It is true, and I say it openly, and I have said it in public before, that the closed shop has sometimes been used to cause unnecessary hardship to individuals. There are cases where a man has been driven out of his job because he has quarrelled with his local union branch. There are cases where a man has suffered because he has genuine conscientious objections to joining a union. I condemn it. The trade union movement has a great and inspiring history, and a vital contribution to make to our modern society, and it ought to be above victimisation of this kind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1965; Vol. 706, c. 1019.]They were bold words, with which I entirely agreed, as I said at the time and I still do, in an extremely enlightened 1219 speech from a Minister of the Crown. Nevertheless, we must see whether the Minister's words are matched by his actions.
I fully appreciate the reasons advanced by the Minister on Second Reading for the presentation of the Bill at this stage. The implication was that he needed to enlist the full co-operation of the trade union movement in the inquiry which was to be conducted by the Royal Commission. As I said on Second Reading, I consider it to be of vital importance to the country that a thorough investigation of all trade union practices should be conducted by a detached Royal Commission representative of all sides.
Furthermore, I accept that in a small Bill of this nature it is impossible to deal with all the anomalies that arise in the trade union movement and that they cannot be dealt with piecemeal. Nevertheless, as I said on Second Reading, although we accept that principle, we need to be reassured that the Bill or what it contains not only will not be used, but cannot be used, as an instrument to prevent people from having legitimate recourse to the courts for relief when they are either forced to join a union, forced to remain a member of a union, or—and I accept what the Minister suggested in a private letter to me, as there was obviously an omission in my proposed Amendment—forced unreasonably to leave a union.
Judging by what the Minister said during the Second Reading debate, I think that he accepts all these things.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that members of the legal profession should be allowed to leave the legal organisations and carry on their jobs without any hindrance?
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Hooson
The trouble with some hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they call for an answer, and then do not sit in silence to wait for it. As the right hon. and learned Attorney-General will be able to confirm, a member of the Bar is allowed to practise even though he is not a member of the Bar Association as such, or a member of a circuit. He is 1220 allowed to practise in our courts. All that is required is that he must have the professional qualifications necessary to practise, which is a different consideration.
As I was saying before I was interrupted, I cannot understand why the Minister is unable to accept Amendment No. 6. I can understand that the trade union official needs to be reassured. I accept that in the legitimate pursuit of his work, when he is negotiating with an employer, he needs to be reassured that he will not be involved in damages later because of something that he said, particularly if it is a matter of distinguishing between a threat to strike and a strike itself.
I do not see why the Minister cannot accept the new Clause or Amendment No. 6, which, I think he agrees, is much narrower than Amendments Nos. 1 and 10. Amendment No. 6 says:Provided that an act as aforesaid is not done with the sole intention of forcing another person to become, to remain or to cease to be a member of a trade union.As I said, the Minister, in some very helpful correspondence in connection with Amendment No. 10, pointed out that my suggested Amendment did not deal with a man who might be forced to cease to be a member of a trade union. Amendment No. 6 deals with that point, and I have limited it by including the phrase,…the sole intention of forcing another person to become, to remain or to cease to be a member of a trade union.The least token which the Minister can give of his sincerity is to accept that Amendment, which is the narrowest possible one. He can go very much further, by accepting the new Clause, but I have drafted Amendment No. 6 in this way so that he can accept it. If he does, it will be interpreted widely on both sides of the House as a real gesture of the sincerity of the Minister and of the Government.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
The crux of the matter is what the hon. and learned Gentleman would do if members of an industry refused to work with someone. Would he compel unionists to work with a non-unionist? I have some experience of this. If 50 people in a department refused to work with one man, on the ground that that man 1221 was not carrying out his rightful duties, he was not a member of the organisation which had fought and worked for him, would the hon. and learned Gentleman compel those 50 people to work?
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Gentleman is putting forward the classic argument in favour of the closed shop. He has talked about the "rightful duty" of a man. He regards it as the duty of a man to be a member of a trade union. I do not accept that it is the duty of any man to be a member of a trade union. He can please himself whether he is or not.
What I am suggesting is that because of the Minister's condemnation of the closed shop during the Second Reading debate, which was a stronger and more forceful quotation than any other that we have heard or read about during the course of the Committee stage of the Bill, he should accept Amendment No. 6 at least. This is the narrowest possible Amendment, and if it were accepted both sides of the House would be reassured of the Government's sincerity. It will be a long time before trade union legislation results from the inquiry to be conducted by the Royal Commission. Much as I sympathise with the Minister, I must tell him that if he refuses to accept Amendment No. 6 my hon. Friends and I intend to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I beg to move, Amendment No. 6.
§ Mr. Speaker
The suggestion was that this Amendment should be discussed with the new Clause, and, of course, if required I shall call the hon. and learned Member to move it in due course.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)
During the Second Reading debate the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made his position quite clear with regard to the Bill, and I am glad that he has maintained it today. We must make certain that the words which we have suggested in the new Clause are inserted in the Bill.
It has been said—and this is the main excuse for it—that the Bill takes us back to what the law was from 1906 onwards. I do not believe that that is true, because when the original Act was passed the Lord Chancellor of the day expressed it as his opinion that the Act, 1222 when in operation, would not cover a case such as Rookes v. Barnard, and Lord Citrine, in what is now regarded as a standard work, expressed the same opinion. It is erroneous to suggest that all that the Bill does is to take us back to 1906.
If that is what the Bill seeks to do, is it right that we should go back 49 years? Is this another sign of the dynamic, forward-looking views held by the Government? Surely we must not look back 49 years? Surely we must consider present conditions?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Interrupting from a seated posture is disorderly. At that moment five hon. Members were perpetrating the crime. We must do better than that. If hon. Members cannot contain themselves, they will have to go away.
§ Mr. Mawby
I was saying that the correction made by the hon. Gentleman shows that some of us find it difficult to do mental arithmetic while on our feet. Whether it is 49 years, or 59 years, surely we ought to be looking at the problem as it exists now, rather than as it did in 1906.
When one looks back, one can perhaps see some justification for giving this right of exemption from the law as it applied to an ordinary citizen. This is what the Bill seeks to do. It seeks to extend the exemptions from the normal application of the law. If a person does something which is likely to damage another citizen, that person has the right to a civil remedy in the courts. The Bill seeks to widen the exemptions enjoyed by certain people so that they can, with impunity, commit acts which, if they committed them as individuals, would make them liable to actions in the civil courts by the person damaged. This is all that we are dealing with in the Bill.
It is, therefore, surely right that we should ask ourselves whether it is just that a person—and the Bill does not define a person as a trade union official 1223 or officer—can issue a threat to an employer, saying, "If you do not sack this man all the members of my union will immediately withdraw their labour"? This is obviously a great threat to the employer. He then has to consider whether he should face the prospect of a strike or sack the offending person.
Up to this point nothing has happened that is really wrong. A group of;men have decided that they do not like the colour of a person's eyes, or have said, "He has not joined our association" —in other words, "We do not consider that he is fulfilling his obligations as we think he should, and we refuse to work with him." There is nothing to prevent any group of persons from taking that line. But if one of their number then goes to the employer and says, "We refuse to work with this man. You must give him a job where he works on his own," or, "Unless you sack this man we shall not only refuse to work with him, but we shall withdraw our labour," the Bill, if passed without any of these Amendments, will put the man who is sacked as a result of that threat in the position of having lost his job and being without any civil remedy—with no way of placing the matter before an independent tribunal of some sort where he can claim those unalienable rights which every British citizen should have.
It is completely wrong and against all ideas of natural justice that a man's livelihood should be taken away for the rest of his life by a group of people threatening that unless his employer sacks him they will go on strike.
§ Mr. Orme
I thank the hon. Member for giving way again. He is still not facing the issue. He is saying that one man can be a law unto himself in an establishment. He can work for wages which are below the negotiated rates and he can stay in a job when an official dispute has caused a strike. But the 99 per cent. of the workers who say that under the circumstances they will not work with that person and reserve the right to withdraw their labour are wrong, according to the hon. Member's argument. He must face this issue.
The differentiation between the closed shop and 100 per cent. trade unionism has still not been understood by hon.
1224 Members opposite. If, in a factory, 100 per cent. trade unionism has been obtained by some organisation, and one rotten apple tries to destroy it, what will the hon. member do?
§ Mr. Mawby
The hon. Member says that we have not begun to understand the problem. I must repeat—although it is becoming tedious—that I know something about the trade union movement and have held various offices in trade unions. I am not completely ignorant of the circumstances that exist in the normal workshop. I am not a lawyer, but as I understand it the circumstances that he puts forward would escape under the present law. The Rookes v. Barnard case was a different one from that which the hon. Member has just cited. The other important point is that the people have to strike in breach of contract.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) must know that in the Rookes v. Barnard case it was the union which was trying to act constitutionally and Rookes who was trying not to.
§ Mr. Mawby
I am not giving any support to Rookes as a person. I am trying to make certain that the Bill does not give carte blanche to organisations or individuals. Even a group of unofficial strikers can have the same immunity as Members of Parliament, and can enjoy the same immunity from any civil action which a damaged person may bring.
The House should be reminded that, as a nation, we have set our hand to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is something that we did not do lightly, and something that we should not seek lightly to evade. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which we have set our hand it is made clear in Article 20(2) thatNo one may be compelled to belong to an association.If those words mean anything they mean that no one should be compelled to belong to any association. The Government and the Minister may be prepared to say, "The Government are not forcing anybody to join an organisation," but they cannot escape from the fact that by passing the Bill without amendment we are giving the right to thousands of people to force other people to join an association.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Mawby
That may be all right. Some of us who follow a trade or profession, or live in certain parts of the country, know that we are free and that if we do not want to belong to an association we can go somewhere else and follow our craft without any difficulty. But some people who follow certain crafts, or live in certain parts of the country, find that the only way in which they can obtain alternative employment is by pulling up stakes, buying a house in another part of the country and moving their families. That is what we are talking about.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
I understand that the hon. Member is connected with the Conservative trade union centre, and is quite familiar with the history of the trade union movement. He has generated a lot of righteous indignation, which seems largely synthetic to some who know the facts a little better than he does. Will he address his mind to the situation in which, under the present system, a collective boycott is imposed upon a man who has his name put on to a black list because of some annoyance he has caused his employer in the past? That is not provided for in the Bill, but that man may suffer very greatly.
§ Mr. Speaker
Combining all the Amendments and the new Clause together I cannot get the hon. Member's observation in on any point.
§ Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)
On a point of order. I am somewhat puzzled by the debate and I should be grateful for your guidance, Mr. Speaker. The two of my hon. Friends who have spoken, together with the speaker on behalf of the Liberal Party, have been subjected to constant interventions. No one objects to interventions, but we have the extraordinary situation in which hon. Members opposite seem passionately anxious to speak when hon. Members on this side of the House are speaking but have made no attempt to catch your eye in order to speak themselves. Would it not make 1226 for a better debate if we had proper speeches from hon. Members opposite?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right of intervention is sometimes abused. It is difficult to know at what point the intervention becomes abuse without distorting what the House would wish to tolerate. I know hon. Members will remember that we are not in Committee now. A multiplicity of interventions tends to prolong the discussion.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
Further to that point, Mr. Speaker, if it was a point of order. I merely wish to say with great respect to the Chair that I rose because of the implied rebuke that some of us received from the Chair because we ventured to make a light-hearted intervention sitting down. That, of course, is bad practice in the House. The only reason I stood up was in deference to the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is characteristically courteous of the hon. Gentleman that his courtesy took him outside the rules of relevance.
§ Mr. Mawby
I have no intention or trespassing on your generosity, Mr. Speaker, but I would point the hon. Gentleman's attention to Amendment No. 4 to which my name is attached, and to another Amendment. It is true not only of trade unions, but also of an employers' association. As has been pointed out on a number of occasions the term "trade union" and the benefits enjoyed are not reserved to trade unions of employees. This term covers many employers' associations as well. I have no time whatsoever for any employers association which takes that sort of action against its members or refuses to recognise a trade union when it obviously has a large membership.
The important thing is that we are dealing with the rather narrow point and I thought that I had at least established that hon. Gentlemen and myself had certain things in common. We accept certain things which are part of human nature, that there are groups of people who take a certain view and say, "We do not agree to such an extent that we refuse to work with this person." They have a perfect right to say, "We will not work with this 1227 person", just as that person has in maintaining his civil rights.
The next point deals with circumstances in which a union official can approach an employer and threaten that employer that his members will strike, even in breach of contracts and without giving due notice, if this person is not sacked. Unless the Bill is amended it will allow them to do this with impunity and the person concerned will not have a leg to stand on in any civil court in this land in obtaining his civil remedy.
§ Mr. R. E. Winterbottom (Sheffield, Brightside)
Does the hon. Member feel that the body of people exercising its freedom not to work with an individual who will not join the trade union would be so disrespectful as to strike without informing the employer why it is in dispute? Surely, as a matter of courtesy, it would go to its employer and say that because of a circumstance it was not working with a particular man. That is the situation as I see it from the point of freedom of the individual and freedom of the mass.
§ Mr. Mawby
I think that the hon. Gentleman has not grasped the point. If they went to the employer and said, "We are giving you notice that we are not prepared to work with this person", it cannot be construed that they are threatening to take industrial action in breach of contract. This is the point. The issue of threats in breach of contract is to go to the employer and say, "If you do not sack this man we shall strike, even without giving you the necessary period of notice before we strike as required by our contract of service". This is where the thing will bite, surely. It is entirely different for an elected officer to go to the employer and say, "All my colleagues are no longer going to work with this particular person", and they give due notice to the employer. If the employer does not take the requisite action, that is, move the man to a job where he works on his own, or sack him, then they would give due notice as required and take strike action. In those circumstances, the Bill is not needed because those people are acting in a proper fashion and no court of law would interfere. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. 1228 Raphael Tuck) appears to have a head ache. [Interruption.] I am putting forward a point of view which, I hope, if it is wrong, will be corrected by an hon. Gentleman who knows more about the law.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for letting me intervene. Is what he is saying this, that if a body of employees goes to the employer and says, "Your continuing to employ this man will force us out," that is wrong: but if it says, "We are leaving because you are continuing to employ this man", that is perfectly all right?
§ Mr. Mawby
No, I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. I probably did not put the point clearly enough. If a group of people gives notice to the employer that it is not prepared to work with a certain person the employer has to take certain steps. He does not have to, but he would normally do so. He would either give the man a job where he could work on his own, or else he would cease that person's employment. In those circumstances, obviously the person who has received the sack would have a civil remedy against his employer because his employer has sacked him, in the view of that particular person, without proper cause. But if a group of people sent its representative along and issued a threat, saying, "Unless you do certain things we will withdraw our labour", this is a different matter altogether.
If a person suspects that someone has committed a crime and he goes to the police and informs them of his suspicions, he is taking the normal course of action of a citizen and it is expected of him. But if he goes to that person and says, "Unless you do certain things I will report this to the police" then he is guilty of blackmail; and this is the basic difference between the cases I am citing. Men who do not want to work with someone else can take action and be free of any actions against them for fraud. If they go along and issue threats to the employer, putting him in the position where he then has two choices, either to fight a strike, even against the contract of employment, or sack the person, then, normally, the employer would take the line of least resistance and sack the employee.
1229 The important point is that if the Bill is passed without amendment a person, whatever his circumstances and however far he may have to travel to get a new job, has no recourse to any civil remedy for the damage that may be caused to him.
I am not suggesting that there will be hundreds of people affected—of course there will not—but we know that there are peculiar cases. Certain people have religious views with which others may disagree. I disagree with such views. I believe that no religion should insist that a person should not join an organisation which would look after his interests in industry. But there are people who do hold such views sincerely and if they are thrown out of employment they should have the same sort of civil remedy as other people.
Obviously, in the end the courts will decide. The important thing is that once we have got rid of all the difficulties which may arise because of human nature, and so on, we have still the great dilemma that we must try to keep a proper balance. The ordinary citizen should retain his common law rights whether or not he joins an association if he happens to be employed where there is normally 100 per cent. trade union membership.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made the point cogently that a trade union official should not need to have a solicitor at his elbow all the time to tell him that if he acts in one way he will be right, but if he acts in another he will be wrong. A trade union official ought to be able to carry on his normal duties without that happening. On the other hand, if we can say that a trade dispute does not include this narrow point, there is nothing to prevent any trade union official notifying an employer that employees refuse to work with a fellow employee. Every person, whether he belongs to a trade union or not, will feel more satisfied that whatever happens and if he suffers damage at least there will be some way for him to obtain a civil remedy in the courts.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I did not want to intervene while the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) was 1230 speaking, but it seemed to me that he was attempting to split hairs. He referred to a body of men, or presumably one man, going to an employer and saying, "You have entered into a contract with us, or our union, to have a closed shop "—or 100 per cent. trade unionism as the hon. Member called it—"but we have not got it here." What is wrong with men informing an employer that if he does not keep to his bond they will not keep to their bond? This all arises out of a certain decision. I cannot see how we can argue, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) argued, that it was against the freedom of the individual. That is not the case.
The hon. Member for Totnes tried to reduce it to the question of someone threatening an employer. The highest court in the land came to a decision and we should not criticise the decisions of the courts. I think, however, that the decision was wrong and certain judges in the lower court took that point of view. I cannot see that much damage will be done if we accept the Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend. It will preserve the rights of trade unionists who enter into a contract with their employers. If the employer did not observe his bond, he would be in breach of law so why should not he be told so?
§ Sir Edward Brown (Bath)
I am happy to support the Amendment. I have had a lifetime's experience not only of subscribing to a union, but of working very hard for it and I claim to have some internal knowledge of the subject we are discussing. I do not wish to dwell on the academic arguments. I say that this Clause makes respectable a Bill which, at the moment, is not respectable. All through our Committee stage discussions I found that there was resistance to this. If the Minister accepts the new Clause it will reaffirm our belief in democracy and the freedom which we shall lose if the Bill is not amended.
The Clause makes certain that 9 million workers in the T.U.C., through their unions, do not become a majority to oppress other workers. I made the same point in Committee. The Minister is upholding a Bill in order to qualify a deal which was done with the Trades Union Congress. Whatever may be the 1231 result of a Royal Commission which is to inquire into trading activities hon. Members opposite as well as hon. Members on these benches, and the trade unions, know that what is provided in the Bill, if it is unamended, will never be given up. To me, that seems the reason why pressure is on to get the Bill through its various stages.
As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby), the Bill violates the Charter of Human Rights. There are already signs that pressure is on. In support of my argument I wish to quote from a leaflet issued by the National Union of Railwaymen, in which there is a reference to a 2s. "package deal". At the bottom of the pamphlet there is a reference to the political levy as part of this 2s. "package deal." This is to be deducted by the employers by arrangement with the unions. Already, there are men who are saying—
§ Mr. J. T. Price
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. What has the matter now being raised by the hon. Member to do with the Amendment under discussion?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
I was waiting for the hon. Gentleman to come to the new Clause. He may be arguing towards it.
§ Sir E. Brown
Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. My argument in support of the Clause is that already intimidation is taking place against union members.
§ Sir E. Brown
Intimidation is taking place against members of unions, because they are refusing to pay the 2s. through the employer. They want to pay it through their branch treasurer. I have evidence in support of my argument that this is already happening—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The question of the payment of a political levy does not come within the Motion.
§ Sir E. Brown
I am not referring only to the political levy, but to the whole contribution to the union. A member of a trade union, under his own rules, 1232 has the right to pay his levy to his branch treasurer. Branch treasurers are refusing to accept subscriptions and a man who gets into arrears could be expelled from the union for non-payment. This man is offering to pay, yet he will not allow the employer to deduct it from his wage packet, which is his right under our laws.
We believe that the Bill is intended to enforce a closed shop throughout industry. We believe that the Government are using Rookes v. Barnard as an excuse to give this to the T.U.C. This is a free country and a man should not be denied his right to earn his living. This is what the Amendment will prevent if the Government will accept it. We ask the Government to accept the Clause in a spirit of co-operation. The dilemma will not be resolved by the Government in a Bill of this nature unless we amend it. Surely the right thing for the unions to do is to accept responsibility for their own actions and not to shield themselves behind the Government.
I think that it is high time, in a modern society, that the unions were brought under the common law, so that individuals had the right of freedom of association and remedies in the civil courts under the sanction of our Queen. I am very happy to support the Motion.
Mr. John Homer (Oldbury and Halesowen)
At the risk of prolonging the discussion, I feel obliged to intervene in the debate. I feel constrained to pass one or two observations on what I consider to be the grossest caricature of the functions and working of the trade union movement which I have heard for many a long year.
When I hear hon. Gentlemen opposite tearing passions to tatters, invoking the United Nations in defence of the freedom of the individual, I ask myself, what it is all about? I will tell the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) what it is all about. In describing this very modest, simple little Bill, the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) said that its purpose is to make more Barnards possible, to give licence to shop stewards up and down the land to misuse their power.
If this were the position, then this was the position before Rookes v. Barnard came to the courts. Before Rookes v. Barnard shop stewards must have felt that 1233 they had this power. Everybody else felt that they had the power. It is the intention of the Bill to restore the trade unions to the position which most people understood existed before Rookes v. Barnard. But did we see this gross abuse of power spreading throughout the length and breadth of the land? Did we see 9 million organised trade unionists sheltering behind the law as it was then understood, and seeking to bring in the other millions of unorganised people?
§ Mr. Mitchell
The hon. Member must surely have heard the comment which I made on this point. One may put the law back to what an obscure part of it was thought to be before, but one can never put trade union practice back. This has been highlighted by the Rookes v. Barnard case in the law courts, the discussions in the House and by this new legislation to make legal what I see as a weakness in the old law. One cannot put that advertisement away. One cannot tell the trade unionists to forget it; they know it and they know that they can do this if they so wish. This would make it possible for future Barnards to do the same thing again. I hope that the hon. Member is not suggesting that Mr. Barnard's activities are those with which he would agree, or which he would approve of or encourage.
It is most unwise to prophesy anywhere and especially so in this place, but I make a prophecy. I say that when the Bill has passed through its concluding stages, the practice of the trade unions will be the same as before. The practice of the trade unions is to establish solid, well-founded organisation in every workplace. This was the practice of the trade union whose activity has given rise to so much discussion in this place and elsewhere. Indeed, the practice of the Draughtsmen's and Allied Technicians' Association was so highly successful that in this particular place of employment there was a contract between the employer and the draughtsmen, that the place should be regarded as one in which the employer employed only members of the association.
It took the association many years to reach a position in which, by agreement between the union and the employer, this should be written into the conditions of employment at the place of work. There 1234 was no hasty, irresponsible, tearing-up of trade union agreements, invoking strikes or forcing the reluctant employer to agree to a particular provision. It was part of the negotiations undertaken over a long time and one which many trade unions, in their own diverse ways, seek to achieve in their respective places of employment.
We have heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have trade union experience. Like many other hon. Members on this side of the House, I have had a lifetime's experience of the trade unions. In my union, we never went for the closed shop; we went for 100 per cent. trade union membership. When hon. Gentlemen opposite produce these gross distortions of the facts as they are today, we must recognise that nearly a third of the organised workpeople of this country are employed by employers who have undertaken to honour 100 per cent. membership. No one has said, in the House of Commons or elsewhere, that when large and important industrial organisations come to agreements with trade unions that only members of unions shall be employed, this is a complete negation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. I have never heard that before.
When I hear the hon. Member for Basingstoke say that if this Mother of Parliaments agrees to the Bill all sorts of dire consequences may follow throughout the world in other Parliaments which look to our example, I would remind him that even in the Commonwealth—in New Zealand—membership of trade unions is obligatory under the law. No one suggests that in New Zealand the right of the individual is somehow destroyed or that this is tyranny.
When we first considered the facts of Rookes v. Barnard in the House, we had a very complicated and involved debate. As a new Member at that time, I found it difficult to follow. Some of the contributions from the other side this afternoon have made the confusion even worse confounded.
The Bill is overdue. Those of us who read reports of proceedings in the courts yesterday will be very concerned at the position of some shop stewards who have been caught up—even while the Bill is still going through the House—in the 1235 wide ramifications of the outcome of Rookes v. Barnard. This small Bill, which is overdue, is intended to restore to the trade unions dispensations—they were not privileges or rights—which the law, as it was understood, allowed trade unions and trade unionists to enjoy under certain conditions. It restores those conditions. It does nothing more.
When the hon. Member for Totnes advises us that one can withdraw labour, but must not go on strike or that one can go to the employer and say that one will pack up work, but that one must not threaten him—and it was suggested at one stage that one should pop into the employer's office and leave a postcard but not have any discussion on the issue because discussion might be dangerous—one is creating a ridiculous situation. Trade unionists were placed in such a situation following the Rookes v. Barnard case. The Bill tries to put the matter right.
Into our discussion have come some considerations, to which we have been obliged to listen, from hon. Gentlemen opposite suggesting that there are some sinister motives behind the Bill. One hon. Gentleman opposite went so far as to suggest that there had been a sort of bargain done with the trade unions. To introduce such a monstrous caricature of the trade union movement does nothing but a disservice to our discussion and I refute such statements.
Rookes v. Barnard was not a dispute about the closed shop, but a case which arose following the action of a trade union which thought at the time that it was acting legally as a trade union in enforcing the adherence of a contract with its employer. It is because there were certain deficiencies in the law as then interpreted that the Bill is being introduced. I hope that the House will not agree to a new Clause which seeks to introduce matters which are entirely foreign to the main purpose of the Bill and which, as presented and supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite, maligns the trade union movement.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Homer) said on a number of occasions that this is a small Bill. It may be small in size, but I can equally well respond by saying that this is a 1236 small new Clause. However, neither the size of the Bill nor the Clause make either unimportant.
The gulf between the two sides may not be as wide as some hon. Gentlemen opposite imagine, or as some of my hon. Friends have implied. But I submit to all hon. Members that there is a narrow margin in which there is a possibility of a serious injustice, even if it is only to a very few people. I was not at all surprised to hear the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) support this view on behalf of his party, because, using the word "liberal" with a small "1", I should have thought that the Clause was full of the best of that liberalism to which both of the major parties have in the past owed a great deal and from which both sides of the House have derived a considerable amount.
My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) explained the purposes of the Clause with commendable clarity and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery explained the object of the Amendment standing in his name with similar clarity. If the Minister has doubts about accepting my hon. Friend's Amendment, he should find it very easy to accept the one in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, limited, as it is, to…an act…not done with the sole intention of forcing another person to become, to remain, or to cease to be a member of a trade union.I imagine that the hon. and learned Member would not insist on that wording and would be prepared to include a trade association. The principle is stated in very simple terms.
I frankly admit to the hon. Gentleman opposite that a difficult situation might arise for a large number of employees—members of a trade union—if they had in their works or shop one person who refused to undertake the ordinary duties of membership of a trade union. My hon. Friends and I acknowledge that the situation could on many occasions be difficult in the extreme, requiring very careful negotiation. But can it be said that the inconvenience which can be experienced by the majority can be compared with the terrible results which may befall the 1237 poor individual if he is not only drummed out of his place of employment but if, as in a minority of cases, he is deprived of the opportunity of working in his own trade?
I do not believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite have really considered the possibility of a new kind of tyranny. Many people are willing to acknowledge that in the past the tyranny was in the opposite direction. Far too often there has been a minority of unworthy employers who have had a bad record in relation to the recognition of the proper functions of trade unionists. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon Gentlemen opposite need not make the case for me. There has been evidence, however, to show that the great rights which have been rightly won by the trade unions in the last century and in the early part of this are now, in the minority of cases, being perverted to the savage detriment of a minority of people.
My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes mentioned certain groups of religious bodies—and hon. Gentlemen opposite must be familiar with them—which, for reasons of their own peculiar faiths, feel that they cannot undertake the duties which we regard as quite normal. Is it right or proper in a free democracy that there should be any sanction at all in any law which would permit those men being drummed out of an industry solely because the other trade unionists can tell the employer, "We will not work because there are one or two people here who will not undertake the duties of trade unionship because their religious faith does not permit them to do so"?
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
Would the hon. Gentleman care to say which religious bodies forbid their members to become trade unionists?
§ Mr. Gower
There are one or two. There is, for example, a body which is known popularly as the Plymouth Brethren, and which has a large membership in most industrial cities. I am no advocate for those particular groups, but I am sure that the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones), who comes from Wales, which has often been the ground where we have had to fight for minorities, as well as the Minister and the Attorney-General, who also come from the same country, will be some of 1238 the first to fight passionately for the rights of minorities of this kind and to ensure that, by a modest adjustment of this important Bill, we can somehow, not necessarily in the terms of the Amendment, provide some protection for persons of that kind and others who, for some reason, have fallen out with the majority of their fellow workers.
I am just as much in favour of 100 per cent. trade union membership in any industry as the hon. Member opposite, but I believe that 100 per cent. membership should be attained by the efficacy of that trade union in fighting for the causes of its members. Once that figure has been attained, I do not think that a union should say, "Having got this figure, we shall now retain it by compulsion." Rather should it say, "We will retain 100 per cent. membership by the efficacy of our organisation and the functions we perform for our members."
§ Mr. Palmer
I take what the hon. Member says on that aspect. It is far better that trade unions should try to bring people in by their propaganda and their good work—one volunteer is worth 10 pressed men—but, believing in a free society as I do, would the hon. Gentleman compel trade unionists to work with non-trade unionists?
§ Mr. Wilkins
According to the hon. Gentleman's argument, the individual concerned in this case was a paragon of virtue and all his colleagues were the wicked uncles, but that is not so. I should like to read a statement on how this arose. Referring to members of D.A.T.A., it says:Our members were transferred from a number of out-buildings to accommodation "—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in order—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member who is addressing me on a point of order will not be so discourteous to himself as to interrupt his own point of order. On the point of order addressed to me by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I would say that the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) is intervening by courtesy of the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), and when he is out of order I will tell him so.
§ Mr. Wilkins
And I am obliged to the hon. Member for his courtesy in giving way. There are many cases, and this is one, in which the individual is obviously in the wrong, and the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) and his hon. Friends are trying to defend a position which is indefensible.
§ Mr. Gower
The hon. Member misunderstands me completely. I am not now discussing any particular case. That does not arise in what I say. I am discussing the Bill and this new Clause, and the possibilities that arise if this proposal is left out or is included. If the Clause is included, the worst that can happen is that, in a very small minority of cases, a body of men will feel in a particular job that they cannot endure the behaviour of an individual and will say to the employer, "We resent this." They will then be entitled to do as they will, but the only thing they should not be entitled to do is to say to the employer, "Unless you drum this one man out, we will withhold all our labour."
§ Mr. Gower
This would not be an intolerable position for these men. We are only talking of a small number of individuals—sometimes misguided individuals; perhaps only a few individuals in the country, and I believe that the House should legislate as much for a small number of individuals of that kind as for one of the vast and powerful majorities. If this is not provided for in the Bill there could be this marginal hardship.
1240 The hon. Member for Oldsbury and Halesowen (Mr. Homer), who has had a long and distinguished career in the trade union movement, asked, "Has this happened?" The answer is, "Yes, it has happened." It has happened in an appalling way in a few cases. It has happened in a terrible way, which has made me, and I am sure, the hon. Member ashamed. Individuals who have done nothing frightfully wrong have been drummed out not only from their individual workshops, but out of a whole skilled industry. If these cases are so few, is that any reason for our not contemplating giving those individuals some protection? Is the very fact that these cases are rare any reason for our omitting them from our legislation?
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General have knowledge not only of the trade union movement, but of these minority cases which they have met in the Principality, and at which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) hinted but did not describe in detail. For those reasons, I hope that they will consider our proposals with great sympathy, and try to include, if not the exact wording of the Clause as set out on the Notice Paper, something that will give the protection which we desire.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
I have heard of synthetic indignation but I have never until today heard it carried to such extremes, and I should now like to call attention to the realities of the new Clause and all its implications. I have been a full-time trade union officer for many years and I know that one of the greatest problems in organising trade unionists has always been that of 100 per cent. trade union membership. When faced with the problem of the one black sheep in the fold, I have had to advance the argument to an employer that if such a person has the right to refuse to join a trade union the rest of the men who are trade unionists have an equal freedom to refuse to work with him.
There is always this difficulty about where freedom starts and finishes, and where one draws the line of demarcation. I know that freedom is not licence to do exactly as we wish, and I know that liberty is not liberty that is unrestrained.
1241 I know, too, that the freedom of the majority is something that is seemingly sometimes forgotten by the minority for whom the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) so eloquently pleads.
An hon. Gentleman opposite accepted the right of men to withdraw their labour, and not to work with a non-unionist. Then the hon. Member said, "But, you know, there comes a point where, in effect, there is a threat made to the employer." This new Clause goes beyond anything in the nature of a threat to an employer. It is challenging the right even to withdraw labour. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] Of course it is; read it again. The Clause says:No such act…shall, for the purposes of this Act, be treated as done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute if done for the purpose of compelling another person to join,It is usual, before this issue comes to the withdrawing of labour, to have approached that person previously and to have used all the persuasive powers of a trade union official or branch secretary to persuade him to see the error of his ways and to accept collective responsibility for the trade union agreement upon which his wages are formulated.
This new Clause, interpreted in the way I have suggested, would prevent any withdrawal of labour in terms of freedom of a body of men because one in the firm at which they work refused to join the trade union. We have had specious arguments from hon. Members opposite. They have been cloaked in suggestions that this is only a minor Clause and something which protects a small minority. What about those who have a religious conscience in this matter? When it is asked, who are these people, the only organisation we hear about is the Plymouth Brethren.
Those who talk about the Plymouth Brethren will not allow them to enter the solemn archives of the Civil Service, where some documents are concerned, because of those men's religious beliefs. Before approving of a new Clause such as this, we have to face the fact that an employer has given the right to work to a person who is not prepared to accept all the obligations which those who work there do accept.
§ Mr. Horner
Would not my hon. Friend not agree that in the trade union movement branches have come up against the difficulty of a Plymouth Brother and have got over the difficulty through a mutual agreement that the Plymouth Brother should make a contribution each week to an agreed charity, a contribution equal to that of the trade union fee?
§ Mr. Winterbottom
I was not dealing with the position of Plymouth Brethren in a trade union, but vis-à-vis hon. Members opposite. It is true that in almost every trade union in the country, when faced with this rather difficult position about the conscience of a person who belongs to a religious sect such as the Plymouth Brethren—there are one or two other rather peculiarly-named sects—an arrangement is made whereby the person concerned makes a donation in terms of compensation and that meets the situation. The Government should resist the new Clause.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Is the hon. Member seriously telling the House that the consciences of the vast majority of men working in a factory are salved by one man making a contribution to a charitable institution equal to the union subscription?
§ Mr. Winterbottom
Not at all. It is done by an agreement and is quite a common thing in the movement. It fulfils the need and meets the special circumstances of religious conscience in such a way as to warrant the trade union saying that it has 100 per cent. membership.
One of the main issues that the country has to face in coming months and years is the need for co-operation by employers and trade unions for the productive capacity of the country in order to solve its economic problems. Those problems will not be solved unless on trade union issues such as this there is the utmost consultation and the utmost understanding between those who represent employers and those who represent employees. It is not a question of using threats. In my experience of the trade union movement, sometimes arguing when one black sheep would not come into the fold, I have not found it necessary to threaten an employer. I have never known an 1243 occasion when threats have been used to an employer. Usually, it has been a case of trying to find how to persuade the man to come within the framework of the trade union movement.
If, included in the Bill, this new Clause would give liberty, oh, yes, but licence as well. It would give licence to many people who, perhaps, do not think that a trade union organiser has done all that is necessary in terms of satisfaction, sometimes not realising all the difficulties of negotiation through which the trade union organiser has had to go. They may then feel that they could withdraw from the trade union because they have not had satisfaction. The new Clause is a wrecking Clause. It was designed in the Central Office of the Conservative Party.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
Oh, yes, and it was designed specifically, and slowly but surely, to undermine the real understanding which is rapidly growing between employers and employees in trade union organisations on industrial production, which is essential to the wellbeing of the country.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
The hon. Gentleman should have been a fisherman. The red herrings that he can draw across the trail are remarkable. I am not talking about anything to which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) has put his name. I am talking about the new Clause. This is what I condemn. I want the House to recognise all the dangers which would be involved in accepting it.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I want, first, to comfort the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Winterbottom). I assure him that the new Clause was not prepared at the Conservative Central Office. It was thought up over four cups of black coffee only 100 yards from this spot. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman on that point. I disagree with the more fundamental 1244 points he made. The argument we heard time and again in Standing Committee was that for the trade unions to be free in the work they are doing they must be entirely above or outwith the law, and that the law must not in any way protect individuals against the activities of trade unions. It must be appreciated that the new Clause is designed not to take away the powers of trade unions in any way, but to try to hold on to a few of the powers of individuals which remain. The Bill deprives individuals of certain rights. By the new Clause we seek to limit the amount which is taken away.
The proceedings in Standing Committee were notable for the fact that few hon. Members on the Government side participated. The same tendency was noted earlier today. It was only when my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) intervened on this subject that hon. Members opposite chose to speak. This only confirms what I have believed from the start, namely, that hon. Members opposite are ashamed of the Bill because they know it to be wrong. I cannot understand why they are not prepared to accept reasonable Amendments.
The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner) made three points on the arguments advanced by my hon. Friends. I shall deal with them in some detail. The hon. Gentleman said that there was no question of this matter arising in his union because it operated 100 per cent. trade union membership and not the closed shop. The hon. Gentleman accused us of confusion, but it was difficult for us to appreciate the full significance of this point since the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) had, prior to that, said that in his opinion there was no difference at all between 100 per cent. union membership and the closed shop. More significantly, the hon. Gentleman said that all that the Bill was doing, which was what the Amendment was trying to prevent, was restoring the law to the position in which it was before Rookes v. Barnard.
A study of the OFFICIAL REPORT of our proceedings in Standing Committee shows that there was no question of this being simply a restoration of the legal position to what it was before Rookes v. Barnard. A new immunity has been created for people engaged in trade 1245 unions; not just for unions, but for groups within unions. I do not ask the hon. Gentleman to accept my word for this. I ask him to read Lord Reid's speech on the matter, in which it was made quite clear that this was a new case arising in new circumstances, and to read the book by Lord Citrine. Both sources make it quite clear that this is a new immunity.
The hon. Gentleman's third point was that this was simply restoring the privileges of trade unions. Let us be clear what the Bill deals with and what the new Clause is concerned about. It is not concerned with the rights of trade unions. It is concerned with the rights of groups of people. It is concerned with the one question of intimidation. Is it right, or is it wrong, that intimidation should be used for certain purposes? The new Clause is designed to prevent intimidation being used to impose the policy of the closed shop.
§ Mr. Horner
I am sure that I should be prevented by the Chair from going over the full argument on these three points, but the hon. Gentleman must appreciate that those of us on this side with experience in the trade union movement understand the substantial distinction between operating a closed shop and the achievement of 100 per cent. trade union membership. The closed shop means that a person cannot enter into a trade or profession unless he is in a union. One hundred per cent. union membership is a contract of agreement between employer and trade union that in a particular factory, on the basis of established organisation, membership of a trade union is a condition of employment. Three points arose. On the other two points—
§ Mr. Taylor
I am sorry if I allowed the hon. Gentleman to believe that I was not aware of the full difference between 100 per cent, trade union membership and the closed shop. I tried to give the impression that I was aware of it. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has long experience of dealing with trade unions. I spent five years in the Clyde shipyards before I came to the House, so I am not entirely unaware of the point 1246 he was making. I was pointing out that, whereas the hon. Gentleman said that we were creating confusion, I was a little confused by the point he had made in contradiction of his right hon. Friend.
The new Clause is concerned with the use of intimidation to impose the closed shop. I am justified in saying that hon. Members opposite were ashamed of it and do not like the Bill, in view of the words of the Minister who presented the Bill to Standing Committee. The Minister said this on this very Amendment:My conscience is very clear. I am against the closed shop."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A; 30th March, 1965, c. 185.]What could be clearer than that? Despite that, the Bill will make it legal for unions or groups of people within unions, or even groups of people without unions engaged in an industrial dispute, to use intimidation to try to influence someone to join a trade union. The question of an individual being hurt must not be overlooked. It is unbelievable that a Minister can, on the one hand, be opposed to the closed shop and yet, on the other hand, introduce a Bill making it legal for people to use intimidation for that very purpose.
§ Mr. Taylor
I was simply suggesting, as I think that the Minister will accept, that the Bill makes it legal for individuals, for groups, or for a union to use intimidation to force others to join a trade union. That is clear. This is the argument which was adduced in Committee. The Bill makes it legal for people to do that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It does it by removing the rights of the people so affected to sue for damages or to sue for some restoration of their own rights.
§ Mr. Gunter
There is a general impression that the Bill legalises the closed shop. It does nothing of the sort. It does not attempt it. That will be the burden of my answer later.
§ Mr. Taylor
I never used those words, because it is legal to have it at the present time. What I said was that the Bill legalises the use of intimidation to secure that end. There have been closed shops for many years. There will be closed shops for many years to come.
1247 What the Bill now does is to make it legal to use intimidation for that very purpose.
We should consider a question which has not been considered at length so far. Why do people not wish to join a trade union? Why is it necessary to use intimidation? From my own experience, there tend to be five groups of people. There are, first, those with deep-rooted, conscientious or religious objections to joining a trade union. Do we think it is right to allow a union or groups of people the power to use intimidation to force people to join a union against their deep-rooted, conscientious or religious objections? I do not think anyone could seriously accept that, but that is what will be permitted if the Bill is not amended.
The second group, and this is becoming more and more worrying, consists of the increasingly frequent cases of individuals who disagree with their unions. They are expelled and find that their group within the shop goes on strike to force a man out of the union and then says to the employer, "This man is no longer a union member and must be sacked." They refuse him the right to rejoin after he has been expelled. This is not a hypothetical case. Such cases are often mentioned. I have one in my constituency to which I referred in detail in Committee, as hon. Members will see if they are interested. There are more and more cases of people being deprived of the right to work because of the use of intimidation of this sort.
The right to work is something which the Labour Party has talked about a great deal in the past. It was regarded as a sacred right, but if on the one hand we insist on a closed shop and on the other hand we deprive an individual of the right to join a union, how can we talk about the right to work? There are those who disagree with their unions and leave. Here a little persuasion, understanding and tolerance could deal with the situation without using intimidation. There are also the lazy people and those who are not prepared to accept their responsibilities, but let us remember that there are those as well who have a deep-rooted objection to joining a union. Let us preserve some protection in the law for them.
1248 Hon. Members opposite have constantly spoken in praise of the United Nations and have accused us of not carrying out some of that organisation's resolutions, but here they are supporting a Bill which is contrary to the Declaration of Human Rights. It is strange that individuals who have spoken a great deal against any kind of racial intolerance should speak of a situation where 50 men find it repugnant to work with a man who is not a member of a trade union. This seems to me objectionable and unreasonable.
Here is a Bill which is not put forward with enthusiasm by the Government. It is being put forward as an entirely objectionable and evil package-deal in which the giving is all on one side and we have no guarantee that there will be any giving on the other. It might be supported as a good bargain in that we are to have a Royal Commission and we must have something out of it, but how can we believe that the Government will have the enthusiasm and courage to implement any recommendation by the Royal Commission when they have not the courage to resist pressure to bring in a Bill of this nature which does nothing else but legalise intimidation?
The Bill provides a new immunity when that is not called for. There has been a change of balance in industry and those in industry who need special protection and who are afforded little if any are those individuals who disagree with the majority, in some cases for good reasons. The Bill unamended will make it legal for groups, perhaps irresponsibly led, to break contracts and to pursue a vendetta against individuals and impose discipline to a degree which is repugnant in a modern democratic society. This will be done under the guise that the Bill is designed to protect individuals, and this will be entirely wrong.
Two general arguments were put forward in Committee against amendment of the Bill. The first was that it was all very well to put forward a proposal such as that embodied in this new Clause, but what about cases of individuals who are prevented from joining a union because the employers will not accept union members? It should be the basic right of every individual to join a union if he so desires, but this applies not only to employers who do not accept union members but also to irresponsible unions 1249 which expel people for reasons which are not justified. If we are to make it legal to have a closed shop imposed in this way by intimidation, we must give every person a right to be a member of a union.
The second argument put forward was that it was essential to have this Bill to remove the confusion in the law. It was suggested that we should be simply restoring the law to what it was before the Rookes v. Barnard case, but this is not so. I have explained how I thought that the law was quite clear before that, but even if we accept that we should try to change the law to cover the situation of the Rookes v. Barnard case, it should be clear beyond a shadow of doubt that the Bill goes further than Rookes v. Barnard and covers much wider activities than those referred to in that case.
I conclude with what I regard as a good quotation. It reads:The age of automation could be an age when the individual is trampled on and power is dangerously concentrated. Change must be humanised to protect the weak.This is what we are asking for now. This good and significant quotation for today comes from the 1964 Liberal Party manifesto. It is good that we should have a Popular Front on this occasion. Let us hope that on that basis we can persuade the Government to accept the new Clause.
§ Mr. E. S. Bishop (Newark)
As many of my hon. Friends have said this afternoon, one would think that there was something sinister in the Bill, whereas it only sets out to restore the position to what we thought it was before the Rookes v. Barnard case. Contrary to the allegation made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), there is nothing here which would give greater privileges to the trade union movement. We only hope to restore to it the rights which it thought it had prior to that case. One would think from the speeches of hon. Members opposite that the Bill said specifically that all workers had to belong to trade unions and thereby perpetuate a closed shop. In fact the Bill says nothing of the sort, and it is quite consistent with the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, which was also non-specific on that point.
The situation in the Rookes v. Barnard case was not one where the closed shop was the basic principle. That case dealt with the right to strike and that is the 1250 basic principle with which we are concerned in the Bill. In the situation with which we are concerned here the position affecting my own trade union, the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association, which was concerned in the Rookes v. Barnard case and the three men, Rookes, Barnard and Fistal, there has been an agreement for over 16 years between B.O.A.C. and the union that they would arrange their industrial relationships through the national joint negotiating machinery.
The union had a very good record of service and gradually through the efforts of members, including Mr. Rookes, a 100 per cent. membership was achieved. In that situation the people concerned went to the management and their 100 per cent. membership was agreed. The general secretary, Mr. George Doughty, said that when 100 per cent. membership was secured by individual voluntary action this was notified to B.O.A.C. through the established procedure and the Corporation agreed that it would take no action which would prejudice that position. If Mr. Rookes had remained inside the office, the agreement between the membership, who included Mr. Rookes himself at one time, and the company would have been invalidated. Hon. Members opposite are, therefore, suggesting that the agreement between the union and the firm should have been broken by Mr. Rookes being allowed to stay.
Of course, if Rookes had been a man with conscientious religious objections to trade unions, if he would never touch them with a barge pole and objected to having to join a union, one might have been more sympathetic to him and the cause which hon. Members opposite are promoting. But, in fact, Rookes was one of the most enthusiastic union members. As new people came into the office on joining the firm, he made it clear that all the people there were members of the trade union, that they were quite satisfied with the union's way of representing their interests, and that they expected newcomers to join.
This continued until a situation developed in which Mr. Rookes fell out with his colleagues. He wanted to take unconstitutional action, unlike his colleagues who wanted to keep to the established procedure, and he fell foul of his 1251 friends. The difficulties developed until he decided to resign membership towards the end of 1955.
The position has been made clear on several occasions. If one wants to have an impartial comment on the situation, one need only turn to what Sir Miles Thomas, the then chairman of B.O.A.C. had to say about it. He said thatRookes was in good standing as a member of the appropriate trade union concerned with the British Overseas Airways Corporation drawing office in which he worked. That office was 100 per cent. union organised. Mr. Rookes then protested over some union matter.Sir Miles Thomas, who has not got a Labour Party membership card, went on to say:He failed to get the union to dance to his tune and then took the initiative by resigning his membership. This caused tensions and he was formally suspended on 13th January, 1956, to enable talks between B.O.A.C. management and the union to take place in a calm atmosphere. He stayed adamant in his attitude, and was subsequently dismissed.Then Sir Miles says:If Mr. Rookes thinks that in a democratic industrial system a whole organisation serving the public can be brought to its knees at the initiative of one dissatisfied lone wolf, he is entitled to his opinion, but must accept any consequences.That seems to me to cast a rather different light on the situation, coming from Sir Miles Thomas who in this case is rather more of an impartial observer. He has made the position clear.
As I have said, the issue in the Rookes v. Barnard case was not the principle of the closed shop. The principle involved was the right to strike. Nowadays, more and more employers, in agreement with trade unions, are accepting a closed shop. The closed shop today affects about 3¾ million workpeople. One in six of our working force, or two in five of all trade union members, are employed in firms where there is an agreed closed shop.
If one wishes to look to the alternative opportunities available to those who do not want to join trade unions, one has only to realise that 26 per cent. of the labour force in manufacturing industries are in closed shops, so there are roughly 74 per cent. of places available to those who have objections. In transport, 22 per cent. work in closed shops, so there is 1252 quite a large amount of freedom for those who want to go elsewhere. In the distributive trades 90 per cent. of workers are not in closed shops, so that people have the right to go elsewhere if they object to trade union membership.
When hon. Members opposite talk about the right and freedom of individuals to go to any firm they wish, they should understand that there are other factors which stop people going to certain firms and industries. For instance, many people do not go into certain firms to work not because of closed shops, but because of poor working conditions. Hon. Members opposite have not tabled Amendments demanding that all employers shall have good working conditions and pay adequate wages in order to attract people to go to work for them. If they did, we should understand that they were tabled with greater sincerity than some of the Amendments which have been put before us.
Hon. Members opposite should understand that those who belong to trade unions and who believe that people should be organised in our industrial society have the right to expect that, if they pay their levies and if they take a democratic part in running their union, in association with their employers, acceptance of rights also entails responsibilities. It must be realised that the machine of society ticks over far more efficiently and with greater harmony if employers have an understanding with trade unions and each knows where the other stands.
On the other hand, if people do not join trade unions—they have the right to refuse if they wish—they are not organised and they are not represented. One can expect hon. Members opposite, in such a situation, to say that they do not mind people not being represented because, as we all know who have experience in the trade union movement and in industry, agreements are made between employers and trade unions and those who are not members of trade unions are not represented in any way whatever.
This question goes beyond the trade unions and industry. As my hon. Friends have pointed out, there are closed shops in other callings, in the legal profession, for instance.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Was the hon. Gentleman referring only to wage negotiations when he said that the individual was not represented if he was not a member of a union? Surely, he can represent himself?
§ Mr. Bishop
One can only reply to that intervention that those who are not organised are not really represented. It is nonsense to suggest that a company employing thousands of work people can have its manager sitting down all day seeing individuals who come into his office to press for better conditions, to make representations about better wages, and so on. The firm is bound to negotiate with and recognise the larger trade unions.
When I say "bound", I realise that there are many firms which have primitive ideas about industrial relations, which do not even recognise trade unions. It is possible for individuals to be members of trade unions, having freedom to do so, and yet to find that their employers do not recognise the unions in any way. There is no objection to this from the benches opposite, of course, because their membership without recognition makes no impact or demand on the employer.
I was making the point that there are other callings in which people have to join a body in order to engage in a trade or profession. The legal profession is a closed shop. In 1957, Mr. Justice Harman, as he then was, said:It is not for English lawyers to dislike or distrust the principle of the closed shop for they are all members of a society which itself lives and thrives on this principle.Similar allegations can be applied to the pharmaceutical industry and to the medical profession. A man cannot practise as a jockey unless he is approved by the stewards of the Jockey Club.I understand that the three stewards or the Jockey Club would prevent any hon. Member opposite from practising as a jockey even if he wished to do so.
There may be other grounds for stopping someone from being a jockey; no doubt, one's size and weight are relevant factors. But I can well imagine hon. Members opposite getting rather hot under the collar and saying that there should not be any limitations at all and, if a mart wants to be a jockey, he should 1254 have the right to be one under the Charter of the United Nations.
§ Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)
Will the hon. Gentleman distinguish between professional qualifications required before one is allowed to practise certain employments and professions and the question of belonging or not belonging to a professional association? Provided that a doctor has the necessary professional qualifications, without which he is not allowed by law to practise, he is not bound to join the British Medical Association or even—I think it is called —the Socialist Medical Association.
§ Mr. Bishop
I appreciate that it is most desirable that people should have professional qualifications and maintain standards in practice. I suppose that there is no reason why, if one has the requisite professional experience and qualifications, one should not start other bodies to represent one in the same way. But, of course, this is outlawed because the law lays down quite clearly in many ways what bodies shall be representative of people practising in a profession and to what bodies one should belong if one wishes to practise.
I am one, like many of my colleagues, who would not say that the closed shop should be a dogmatic principle in all circumstances. I would certainly make allowance for those who have a sincere religious objection. Indeed, we have provided for circumstances whereby those who object sincerely are able to remain in a firm outside a union by making a certain contribution.
But many of us who have served in industry know all too well that many of those who do not join a union have no sincere objections except that they do not want to fork out the contributions. They are, in fact, riding on the hacks of their colleagues. Yet some of the keenest trade unionists are, in effect, the non-union members because in wage negotiations they are the first to go to the shop steward and ask what progress is being made. However, when they get outside they deplore the way in which union demands are so excessive as to put up the cost of living. In the same way, they approach union officials to see what they are doing about getting better conditions and so keep them on their toes. 1255 The fact remains that if people expect certain rights in our industrial society they should be prepared to face the responsibility involved. I believe that the Clause is unnecessary. The Bill gives all the freedom desirable. It seeks, in effect, no greater rights or freedoms or privileges than those thought to be in the 1906 Act. That is the position we want to restore.
We should resist the Amendment in order to allow the Bill to proceed as it is until the Royal Commission is able, later, to look at the whole position again and bring forward the fruits of a comprehensive review. The Amendment is intended to restrict the unions to the position which existed before the 1906 Act. It would put the clock back industrially over 60 years.
§ Mr. Godber
If the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) will forgive me, I will not follow him in what appear to be some criticisms of certain professions —the legal profession in particular—and of jockeys and the rest. I know that the Minister will wish to spring to the defence of the legal profession when he replies. In doing so, he will be fortified by the Attorney-General. We have had a fairly full discussion on this important series of Amendments dealing with matters which were first raised on Second Reading and subsequently discussed at some length upstairs. It is a matter on which there are fairly strong feelings on both sides of the House.
Today we have heard my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) and others putting additional points about the freedom of the individual, about which we on this side feel deeply. We have heard equally sincere comments from hon. Members opposite who feel that there are such strong arguments for a 100 per cent. closed shop. I understand the arguments but do not accept them and I gather from the Minister, from what he has said previously, that he does not go along with some of the comments either. But this takes us rather wide of the Bill. I want to return to the reasons for it and what it seems to do.
We must not read too much into the Bill. As I see it, it is very limited. It deals solely with the tort of intimidation and 1256 is also limited to matters arising from breach of contract. It is well to remember the limitation. Having said that, I would add that the significance of the Amendments is not only in what they would do, although that would be valuable and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will still accept at least one. The major significance would come from the indication to the Royal Commission of the feelings of this House.
This is why I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has made a grave mistake, although I repeat my hope that in his wisdom, he will accept at least one Amendment. Whatever position the House takes up in this case, it will be giving an indication to the Royal Commission of the way in which the majority of the House feels that things should be done. On Second Reading, the Minister made a point that he repeated many times upstairs—that he was merely seeking to put back the law to what it was thought that the 1906 Act really meant. My hon. and learned Friends, who have far greater experience of the law than I, have pointed out that they do not think that this was the effect of Section 3 of the 1906 Act.
Perhaps I may recall the origins of the Bill. The desire to have this Measure originated before the last election in a genuine fear, which I have always thought mistaken, on the part of a number of union leaders that, whatever the issues of the Rookes v. Barnard case and whatever its individual application to the union officials or others concerned, the implications of the judgment were such that union officials carrying out normal day-to-day work might be put in danger as a result of the judgment. That was the gravaman of the charge. I never felt able to accept that the situation was as serious as suggested. I always indicated that I felt there was a degree of confusion, however. I never put it higher than that.
In seeking to amend the law, if one accepts the arguments of those union leaders, surely all one needs to do is to amend it in such a way as to cover the position of those officials seeking to carry out day-to-day functions, such as wage negotiations. Had the Government done that, they would have fully given the assistance sought by the unions and which would have enabled the Royal Commission to proceed with its duties in 1257 what the right hon. Gentleman described as an amicable atmosphere, one of co-operation.
If he had followed this course, the right hon. Gentleman would fully have discharged his duty and his need. But, of course, as we pointed out upstairs, the Bill goes substantially further. However, the right hon. Gentleman decided not to go as far as the T.U.C. wanted. Its original proposal was substantially more sweeping than the Bill. It would have given wider immunity than is now proposed. Thus, the Minister himself has reached the judgment that it is not necessary to go as far as the T.U.C. asked. The argument upstairs was that if he acknowledges that it is unnecessary to make a sweeping change, surely there is no particular justice or value in stopping at the point at which he is stopping when it is shown to him that the Bill could harm individuals.
One can exaggerate the Bill's effect. I have indicated that it has a limited application to intimidation and breach of contract, so that even if it reached the Statute Book amended as we wish, it could not be pretended that the Bill would get rid of the danger of intimidation, because if that were to occur after termination of the contract in the normal way, the Bill would not operate.
What I am asking is why, if the Minister has decided to reduce the degree of immunity, he should not go further and cover this issue on which there have been strong feelings on this side of the House, reinforced again today by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) on behalf of the Liberal Party, who made a strong plea on Second Reading on this very matter and who, I understand, has said that his party will vote against the Bill on Third Reading if these Amendments are not passed. I am glad to hear that, because the main opposition party all along has felt that this was a serious weakness in the Bill. We have urged these considerations throughout and I am glad to have the support of the Liberal Party on this issue.
There are different ways in which these Amendments seek to make the alteration which we would like to see. Personally, I prefer that suggested in the new Clause.
1258 The Liberal Party in Amendment No. 1 and Amendment No. 10 has put forward a fairly wide Amendment and a rather narrower Amendment, No. 6, to deal with the situation. If the Minister were able to accept even the narrower Amendment, that would do something to show that he appreciates the feelings on this matter and that he does not want it to be seen that he is not concerned about the risk of intimidation taking place in these circumstances.
I do not want to enter the great debate about the 100 per cent. union shop, the closed shop, as many people call it. I note the distinction which is drawn between the two, but people generally talk about the closed shop because it is an easier phrase to use. We are grateful to the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner) for the clear distinction which he drew between the two.
I do not propose to go into the matter in detail, because I agree with the Minister that it is an issue which the Royal Commission will want fully to consider. I am saying that it would be much wiser for the House to accept one of the Amendments and so to let the Royal Commission see that all the Minister is doing in this legislation is providing what he deems to be the necessary safeguard and security for the trade union official in the ordinary carrying out of his duties against any risk arising from the Rookes v. Barnard judgment, and that in his present wording he is not, as it now seems, leaning over backwards to assist those who show a degree of intolerance in these matters, a degree of intolerance which he does not want any more than I do.
Hon. Members grow to learn a degree of tolerance for one another. We may not agree with one another very much, but we have to live with one another and I do not think that hon. Members opposite have ever threatened to withdraw their labour from the House because they did not like hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench, for instance. I am not referring to any of the present occupants, of course, but we have none of us ever gone to those lengths. Nor have Her Majesty's present Ministers ever suggested that they should go on strike because they did not like myself or any of my hon. Friends. We have learnt 1259 tolerance for each other. But many of the arguments on these issues have arisen from a basic intolerance which, while I can understand it and one knows that it is generated when many men work together, is something which we have to try to dispel. When I am told that 50 or 250 men cannot work in the same shop as one other man because they disagree with him, I regard that as a degree of intolerance which at the least is extremely unfortunate and at worst can be shameful for most of us in this country.
For those reasons, we attach a great deal of importance to the Amendments. If the right hon. Gentleman could accept one, that would be a clear indication of his belief in tolerance and his belief that people should not be subjected in this unfair way to this kind of treatment. I still do not understand why, having moved as he has, he is unable to go further and to accept an Amendment of the sort suggested. He has not convinced me by any of the arguments which he used in Committee. I invite him now to respond to the debate and to show that he himself has not only a degree of tolerance, but a willingness to meet the House and to assist by improving the Bill in the way we suggest.
§ Mr. Gunter
I have noted this afternoon that my past words have been frequently quoted. I want to say immediately that I withdraw nothing. I stand where I have always stood, but I must say to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) that I do not agree with him that it is a test of my sincerity that I must automatically follow the path which he believes to be the solution. I believe that the solution to these problems is to be found in another and wiser direction.
The right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) has spoken about tolerance. Before I come to the main burden of my argument, I will say only, as I have said before, that there is no difference between us in our desire for tolerance. It is a virtue in greatest need and in shortest supply not only at home, but abroad, and in trying to find the answer to these major problems of industry I immediately concur with the right hon. Gentleman that tolerance is a prerequisite of any final solution of these problems.
1260 I wish that I were as certain about these matters as some hon. Members opposite are. I wish that I could be as dogmatic as they are about the nature of these problems. I was chided by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) in that as a child of Welsh nonconformity I should be more than mindful of minorities. It is true that we disestablished the Church in Wales on that basis, entirely in the pursuit of the rights of minorities. I hope that all of us on both sides of the House will appreciate that when we come to problems of this kind, the rights of minorities must be a first consideration.
But what matters is the way we seek to do that. I am bound in all kindliness to say to hon. Members opposite, especially to the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell), that they reveal a frightening ignorance of the tensions and stresses which occur in industry. In Committee, the hon. Member for Basingstoke invoked Magna Carta. I remind him that the working class was not consulted when Magna Carta was drawn up. That was a special effort between the king and his barons. Times move and the proletariat has grown up. We have to try to come to terms with these modern conditions.
What we have been arguing about this afternoon is not whether there should be protection for acts intended to compel a person to join or remain in a trade union or employers' association. The whole argument has been about that thing on which we are all a bit confused and which is called the closed shop. I have made my position about the closed shop perfectly clear. In the House, in Committee upstairs and outside, I have always taken the view that trade unions are voluntary bodies and that it is far better for them to build up their membership by voluntary means. I am, therefore, by no means sure at this stage whether the closed shop is a good thing, or, indeed, whether it is a good thing even for the trade union movement.
However, this is not as simple a matter as hon. Members opposite have suggested. They claim to be concerned about the rights of individuals—I was moved to tears by the hon. Member for Barry in his description of the rights of individuals being bashed about by brutal trade unions. There have been 1261 exceptional cases, but it is to the credit of the British trade union movement that they have been rare enough to be of news value. However, I would certainly not condone those cases.
But union members have their rights as well. They are individuals, and they are the majorities. Trade union members certainly have their rights. If we are to argue in this way, have they not the right to say with whom they are prepared to work? Surely it is only human nature for trade unionists to resent sharing the benefits of trade union membership with those who refuse to join the trade union. There are the rights of employers, too. It is well known that closed shop agreements are entered into by employers because they believe that it is to their advantage for all employees to be trade union members.
I ask the right hon. Member for Grantham to remember something which I said on Second Reading. I am concerned about the present position, but I am far more concerned about the future. The area of collusion between very big industrialists and very big trade unions which will come into being in the creation of trade unions will be a real problem in considering where power lies in this country. We must, therefore, direct our attention to seeking to find a solution to this problem not only for the present, but for the future. I point this out to show how difficult and complex a problem this is.
During our discussions in Committee I had frequently to criticise hon. Members opposite for over-simplifying the issue. I must emphasise this point again. Hon. Members opposite talk about the closed shop as if it were simply a matter of trade union membership. It is nothing of the kind. It goes to the root of the problem of the position of the individual in the highly complex industrial society in which we live. The question of the closed shop is bound up with the way in which the trade unions are run. It is bound up with the way in which they draw up their rules and the way in which they enforce their decisions. Hon. Members opposite are concerned about the man who, because he does not like the way in which a union is run, refuses to join it or decides to leave it. Many of us would have a lot more sympathy with that man when he disagreed with a union's policy or administration if he accepted his respon- 1262 sibility as a member and tried to put things right according to his lights.
For all these reasons, I am convinced that the closed shop, with all the complications which surround it, is precisely the sort of problem which needs to be studied by the Royal Commission. To try to legislate about it without the benefit of such a study is, in my view, like trying to read without learning the alphabet.
On two occasions the right hon. Member for Grantham has suggested to me that we are, in a sense, indicating our bias to the Royal Commission. I do not accept that view. I am sure that the Royal Commission understands that all that we have tried to do is to bring some measure of order out of the confusion created by the House of Lords decision in Rookes v. Barnard until we could have guide lines laid down for us by a body of men not subject to political passions or trade union pressures, which could tell us not only what the closed shop issue represented in present circumstances, but how it would develop in future if we had a far wider degree of co-operation between employers and trade unions in the creation of the closed shop.
But even if there were a case for legislation on the closed shop, I must reiterate, as I did time and again in Committee, that this is not the place to do it. To listen to hon. Members talk, one would think that this was a Bill to legalise the closed shop. It is nothing of the kind. Like the whole of trade union law before it, it extends to all types of trade disputes. It is purely and simply a measure to clarify the law so that trade unionists, both rank and file members and officials, can go about their ordinary lawful trade union activities without fear of exposing themselves to an action for damages. Trade union activities are concerned with negotiating terms and conditions of employment—that is, with furthering the interests of their members, not with persecuting individuals.
It is true—I have said this before—. that there are difficult individual cases which arise from the enforcement of the closed shop. Hon. Members opposite have quoted some such instances. I am as much concerned about this as anyone else, and I am very anxious for the Royal Commission to examine the whole situation and all the ramifications which flow from modern industrial negotiations. But 1263 I beg the House to remember that these disgraceful cases are, as it is admitted, very rare exceptions in the history of British trade unionism.
I ask the House to reject the new Clause and the Amendments. We shall have to look at the problem of the closed shop when we have the benefit of the Royal Commission's report. I am sometimes disturbed when I hear hon. Members ask whether anything will be done after the Royal Commission has reported. It is suggested that once the Bill is on the Statute Book the trade unions will make sure that it is never taken away. If, having had for the first time for 60 years a report on the matters which so concern us in the modern industrial society, the Government of the day do not
§ take the necessary action, and if they do not have the courage to take that action, they will have missed an opportunity which may not be repeated for a long time. Therefore, we can only hope that any Government, having been acquainted with all the facts and complexities of an emerging modern society, will take the necessary action.
§ The best way to deal with this problem is to wait until we have the Royal Commission's report and then to take action. I invite the House to reject the Clause and the Amendments.
§ Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 181, Noes 198.1265
|Division No. 111.]||AYES||[6.19 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Foster, Sir John||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Gammans, Lady||McLaren, Martin|
|Astor, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Awdry, Daniel||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||McMaster, Stanley|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Barlow, Sir John||Glover, Sir Douglas||Maginnls, John E.|
|Batsford, Brian||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Mathew, Robert|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Goodhart, Philip||Maude, Angus|
|Bell, Ronald||Goodhew, Victor||Mawby, Ray|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gower, Raymond||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grant-Ferris, R.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Grieve, Percy||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Blaker, Peter||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mitchell, David|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Gurden, Harold||Monro, Hector|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Box, Donald||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Braine, Bernard||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Murton, Oscar|
|Brinton, Sir Tafton||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Neave, Airey|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hastings, Stephen||Onslow, Cranley|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hawkins, Paul||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hiley, Joseph||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Buxton, Ronald||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hooson, H. E.||Peel, John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hopkins, Alan||Peyton, John|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pym, Francis|
|Cordle, John||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Corfield, F. V.||Jennings, J. C.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Costafn, A. P.||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Jopling, Michael||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Curran, Charles||Kaberry, Sir Donald||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Sharples, Richard|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kimball, Marcus||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Doughty, Charles||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kirk, Peter||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Lambton, Viscount||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Eyre, Richard||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Talbot, John E.|
|Farr, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Fell, Anthony||Loveys, Walter H.||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)||Wilton, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Temple, John M.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Wise, A. R.|
|Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Ward, Dame Irene||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Weatherill, Bernard||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Webster, David||Wylie, N. R.|
|Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Whitelaw, William|
|Walder, David (High Peak)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. More and Mr. Ian Fraser.|
|Abse, Leo||Gregory, Arnold||O'Malley, Brian|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Grey, Charles||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Orme, Stanley|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Oswald, Thomas|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Padley, Walter|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hannan, William||Palmer, Arthur|
|Barnett, Joel||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Baxter, William||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Hattersley, Roy||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bence, Cyril||Heffer, Eric S.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Blackburn, F.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Prentice, R. E.|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Boardman, H.||Holman, Percy||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Boston, T. G.||Horner, John||Redhead, Edward|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Richard, Ivor|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Howle, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hoy, James||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Chapman, Donald||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Coleman, Donald||Jeger, George (Goole)||Short, Rt. Hn. E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull,W.)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Jones, Rt. Hn. SirElwyn (w.Ham,S.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, T. W. (Merionsth)||Small, William|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, Clifford||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lawson, George||Snow, Julian|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Ledger, Ron||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Stones, William|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Dell, Edmund||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Dempsey, James||Lomas, Kenneth||Taverne, Dick|
|Dodds, Norman||Loughlin, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Doig, Peter||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Thornton, Ernest|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McBride, Neil||Tinn, James|
|Driberg, Tom||McCann, J.||Tomney, Frank|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||MacColl, James||Tuck, Raphael|
|Dunnett, Jack||McGuire, Michael||Varley, Eric G.|
|Edalman, Maurice||Mclnnes, James||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Wallace, George|
|English, Michael||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Ennals, David||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Ensor, David||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Whitlock, William|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Evans, loan (Birmingham, Vardley)||Mapp, Charles||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Maxwell, Robert||Williams, Albert (Abertlilery)|
|Floud, Bernard||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hltchin)|
|Foley, Maurice||Millan, Bruce||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Ford, Ben||Molloy, William||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Fraser,Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Monslow, Walter||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick(SheffieldPk)||Woof, Robert|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Murray, Albert||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Neal, Harold||Zilliacus, K.|
|Garrow, A.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Ginsburg, David||Norwood, Christopher||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Qourlay, Harry||Oakes, Gordon||Mr. George Rogers and|
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Sir T. Brinton
I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 14, at the end to insert:Provided that no act done as aforesaid by a person shall for the purposes of this Act be treated as done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute if done before the agreed procedure in the company or industry for resolving disputes has been exhausted.The Amendment is similar to one that was moved in Committee and which was criticised, quite rightly, by various hon. and right hon. Members, including the Minister, as being somewhat vague and misleading. It has, therefore, been slightly reworded. Its object is to encourage adherence to agreed procedures in industry, thereby discouraging rash and, even more, unofficial action.
We moved a number of Amendments in Committee, some of which have been followed up today, but although you have decided not to call two of them, Mr. Speaker, if this Amendment is accepted it will go some way towards covering certain aspects of the others, in particular, that relating to the protection and encouragement of the authority of official trade unions. That authority is very much bound up with adherence to the proper courses of procedure which the Amendment seeks to establish and encourage.
In Committee, we had a considerable debate on the Amendment similar to this, and various reasons were advanced why it should not be accepted—although I detected a good deal of sympathy for its object. The Minister made a number of points. I am not trying to quote him verbatim, but I would like to summarise his main objections, some of which were quite sound. He said, for instance, that this is a highly complicated question for which to legislate; that we cannot put into black and white compartments two sorts of strike or failure to observe agreements, namely, the kind where there is definitely a breach of procedure and the kind where no breach takes place but a strike ensues. He said that we cannot distinguish clearly enough between the two to be able to legislate for them.
The right hon. Gentleman said that it would be very difficult to distinguish whether the correct procedure as laid down within a company or industry had 1268 or had not been operated, and pointed out that this was often a bone of contention in industry. I agree. What I do not accept, and what my hon. Friends do not accept, is that because it is very difficult to legislate for something in which one believes one should burk the issue and say that nothing can be done. My hon. Friends and I do not support that point of view at all.
It was also urged that even if legislation were passed the Bill would not be the best instrument by which to introduce it. This tends to throw us back to the arguments which we have already had this afternoon, as to whether the Bill should in any case be the vehicle for any kind of legislation which would tend to restrain certain aspects of trade union activity to which many people object. We must face the fact that the Royal Commission has not yet even started its work on any continuous scale; I understand that there are a number of half-day meetings per week—
§ Mr. Gunter indicated dissent.
§ Sir T. Brinton
It will probably take three years at least to produce any answer. Do I hear any other bid? That is a longish time. Even if we are lucky enough to get a complete survey of all the intricacies of industrial awards within industry we still have to wait those three years, during which time we should do everything we can to encourage the following of laid-down procedures.
The Minister also made the point that if we succeed in forcing or pushing people into using the procedural agreements which are laid down, none the less it might lead to great dispute afterwards. People who have laid themselves open to action in the civil courts through failing to observe the correct procedure will feel resentful, and this might, in turn, lead to unions abrogating procedural agreements altogether, on the ground that they might be tripped up by them.
I do not subscribe to this view. At present, there is far too much of a tendency for trade unions—often with the support of employers—to say "Leave it all to us. We will sort it out within industry." It is a very attractive proposition for trade unions, and even for some employers, to say, "For goodness' sake do not stick the legislative finger into our pie. We are perfectly happy as we are."
1269 As I have said before, we ought not to forget that this is not a simple two-way matter. We are talking not only of the interests of employers and trade unionists; the whole existence of industry is based on the benefit of the public at large, and the public is much larger and much more important than employers or trade unionists.
One of the dangers that I foresee, looking into the future—and this was implicit in what the right hon. Gentleman has just said—is that in cases where employers and trade unionists are very much on the same side of the fence the public will perhaps be paying the piper, but not calling the tune. The reason for keeping to procedures is to create a climate of opinion in which it will be regarded as not legitimate to go outside them, and this was illustrated very well by many of the things which cropped up in Committee. For instance, we had a considerable discussion about the possibility of deciding who was or was not a trade union official. This occupied us for a long time.
Later, we had to ask the right hon. and learned Attorney-General to tell us what a trade union was. If he will forgive me, I must point out that the right hon. and learned Gentleman ended his clarification by saying that he trusted that it cast some light upon the darkness, or words to that effect. He was supported in what he said by my right hon. and learned Friend the former Attorney-General, who agreed that almost any two or three people gathered together, provided that they observed some simple formalities, could call themselves a trade union.
What sort of a mess is the whole situation in already? How much more is it bedevilled by a remark made in the Committee by an hon. Gentleman on the other side—I will not identify him, because although I tried to contact him to warn him I was going to quote from what he said I have discovered that he is not in the House. He intervened in another hon. Member's speech to say:Would the hon. Member not agree that in many cases an unofficial strike is a recognised method of negotiation and that secondly also in many cases, although the officials may say publicly that they do not agree with the unofficial action privately and in reality they approve of it heartily?"—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 1270 25th March, 1965, Standing Committee A: c. 135.]Where do we get to on this? We are in a morass. Anything that we can do at this time we should surely do. There is no reason for including it in the context of this Bill.
§ Mr. Gunter
The hon. Member has spoken about a morass, but his Amendment is really increasing the morass, because most of the disputes that arise, the rows that break out, are really about whether procedure has been exhausted or not. Nobody seems to know. This is the morass that we are in.
§ Sir T. Brinton
This is the point which the Minister made during the Committee stage. I am aware that is what happens, but is it beyond the wit of our courts to decide whether procedure has or has not been followed and is it beyond the wit of our trade unions and employers to lay down procedures which are clear and definite so that there shall not be this question as to whether they have not been followed? Is the alternative to say that when procedures are clearly and definitely breached the House tacitly agrees that this is all right, because, if so, it seems to be a most extraordinary attitude? I deduced that there were many hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, and, I hope, on this side, who were not too happy about this position.
Are we to say all this is so complicated that we shall not admit the Amendment to the Bill? Are we to say that it is altogether too difficult let us not try to deal with it? Are we to quote the psalmist who said:Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it"?I feel quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise where that comes from, although I cannot quote him chapter and verse.
What we seek to do within the framework of the Bill is to create some form of opinion which will express our disapproval of the breaches of agreements and of procedure laid down by agreements. We want to discourage rash and rapid action. We consider that this is one way in which this could be done. We want to encourage something which is laid down by legislation in some other 1271 countries, and that is the "cooling off period". What use are those procedural agreements if they are not only followed by the people concerned, but supported and seen to be supported by us here in this House? Are we to say, by implication, by throwing out this Amendment, that we do not really think that they matter very much, because that, I maintain, is what we are, by implication, saying.
It has already been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) that the Bill is of special importance. The eyes of the country are very much on it. If it is given as a licence to disregard agreements and to do various things on which comments have already been made this afternoon, then I think that we shall have done a disservice to the country as a whole. I am still hoping that the Minister may be open, if not to accepting this Amendment, to attempting in the context of the Bill to do something to encourage the following or procedural agreements. Some sympathy was shown for this point of view by the Committee. The Minister himself said in his speech that it was his belief that agreed procedure should be adhered to. Why not try and translate it into action instead of merely thinking it and paying lip-service to it? The hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. W. A. Wilkins) himself said at the end of his speech:I think that I have said enough to indicate to the hon. Member for Kidderminster that with the basis of his argument and what he has in mind, some of us have considerable sympathy. I am only suggesting that this is the wrong way to do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st April, 1965, Standing Committee A; c. 225.]This is what the Minister also said. In other words, everybody says that this is a very good idea, but everybody says that we shall not do anything about it yet.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
The Minister has interjected and pointed out one of the difficulties of the wording in this Clause. Most of the difficulties in negotiations arise from the fact that both sides say that proceedings have been exhausted. I want to take up an idea that the hon. Member advanced about dealing with this. He suggested that lawyers could find a way out of it. I will only say this, that in my experience of the trade union movement I have always said, "God 1272 save me from the lawyers". The difficulty of the lawyer in trade union negotiations has been his rigidity. In most cases, especially in cases dealing with what this Bill deals with, a great amount of flexibility and understanding is called for rather than the rigid mind of the lawyer.
There are industries in this country where there is nothing written down in terms of procedure for dealing with disputes. Only in very isolated cases in respect of individual firms within that industry has there been any trades union agreement for dealing with difficulties between large individual firms and the trades unions. What would be done if this were drafted in terms of the Bill for those industries where there is no procedural provision for dealing with disputes at all?
There is also the difficulty of the agreed procedure in a company. What is meant exactly by that? Is it meant that the company is, in effect, the employer? In many cases the procedure that the company says should apply does not apply to the trades union, or does not apply in the case where there is no trade union effective, but where the whole of the employees are of one mind in terms of negotiating with a particular employer. I think that the wording of this particular Amendment is far from the realities of the situation.
There is one thing, too, that has been completely omitted. I do not want to say anything to detract from the need to develop negotiations and procedure for negotiations throughout the country, nor to say anything whereby those procedures shall prevent disputes arising. In the case of this Amendment, I think that the hon. Member will have to face the fact that it is one-sided.
Take, for instance, the case of a man who deliberately employs a man to whom he says, "In this factory there is 100 per cent. trade union organisation and you will be expected to join the trade union of those who work inside the factory." On that understanding, a man accepts employment and the employer gives him the employment. Then he refuses to join the union. I could quote instances where this has happened. In those circumstances, would the employer also accept the procedural obligation to withdraw that man 1273 from labour until the dispute had been settled, or the procedures exhausted or until maybe there had been time for people to cool off?
This errs by trying to create a situation beneficial to one side and dangerous for the other. I agree to a certain extent with many of the sentiments expressed, but I feel that this is the wrong way to do it; that the words are wrong; that it would be bad law and confusing to those who would have to apply it.
§ Sir T. Brinton
The hon. Member has put definite questions to me. If there is no procedural agreement there could be no question of a breach of it. I agree with the hon. Member that we want procedural agreements. His second point—I have forgotten what his second point was.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
Let us face the fact that in this country there are about 90 wages councils catering for people who are employed in what, when trade boards were originally introduced into this country by law in 1918, were described as "sweated industries". In many such industries today, where the workers are low-paid, there is a small degree of trade union organisation. In many there is no organisation at all and no procedure for the settlement of disputes. Taking the narrowest view of what I have said, it remains true that a great number of people in employment would not be covered at all, and if that is the case, we are legislating only for part of those in industry.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
I wish to support the Amendment for reasons which I shall indicate quite briefly. As has been pointed out, this Amendment to some extent deals with the question of unofficial strikes. We discussed that subject during the Committee stage and I think everyone will agree that we had an interesting and full discussion. This was one of the methods suggested for dealing with it and I hope therefore that I shall not be out of order if I deal shortly with the subject. I think it was fully arid frankly recognised by the Minister that this matter of unofficial strikes is a very serious one.
I have always been a firm supporter of the trade union movement. I wish to see it functioning efficiently and to 1274 give it all the support I can. The view which I have always expressed with regard to the Bill is that it would be the greatest pity if, in a laudable desire to set at rest anxieties which undoubtedly exist among many trade unionists about the possible effects of Rookes v. Barnard, we put on the Statute Book words which indicated that it is the view of Parliament at this date in 1965 that certain things, certain practices, are unobjectionable.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman says that it will not make any difference and that the Royal Commission will not be affected. He has repeated—I am sure we were all glad and not in the least surprised to hear it—that he personally, when the time comes, if the Royal Commission made recommendations which would be difficult and perhaps unpopular, would support them, if he believed them to be right. That is in keeping with what we should expect of the right hon. Gentleman. I feel, however persuasive and authoritative he is, that it is one thing for him to be anxious and ready to do that, and another thing for him to secure compliance with his suggestion from people who feel very strongly about these matters, and who would be in the position, if the Bill is unamended, to say, "This is a recent view of Parliament and it ought not to be altered."
If we make any provision at ail to except unofficial action in any form, this is only one form and one can put the general argument on one case by way of general example. It could still be said, and I believe it would be said when the time came, "Parliament had discussions about this matter; Amendments were not accepted, they were rejected by the House, and the view has been expressed that this protection should exist, not only in the case of official but of unofficial action." That is the reason why we pressed very strongly, and I did so particularly, that it should be made clear that Parliament was not expressing an opinion at the present time that the law should be laid down in a form which would give countenance to unofficial action.
I fully appreciate that there would be difficulties in applying the principle which is enshrined in the Amendment. I am 1275 not concerned with that. Today we are concerned to see whether we cannot, even at this late hour, prevail on the right hon. Gentleman to take some action by way of amending the Bill, either here or in another place, to prevent it from being read in the sense which I have indicated, and thereby avoid what I consider to be a very real danger.
There are a number of ways in which it could be done. I feel that the limitation to a properly authorised official would be a practical way to do it. No doubt there are other methods which might occur to one, once we have got over the initial point which is, are we to allow this Bill to become an Act of Parliament at the very time when the Royal Commission is sitting? I have always taken the view that it would be a great pity to have a Bill at all at the time when the Royal Commission was about to sit. It is a very unusual and remarkable thing to do, if one is having a Royal Commission which, as the right hon. Gentleman has emphasised time after time, is to have a completely free hand.
We all want it to have no holds barred at all. It is to go into the whole sphere of trade unionism and make recommendations. Surely it is a great pity to have had an Act of Parliament passed very recently if one is sitting on a Commission.
If, as seems fairly clear, we cannot prevail upon the right hon. Gentleman to abandon his Bill altogether, surely the next best thing is that the Bill should be so framed as to make quite clear that what is intended is to protect trade unions when they are acting in the proper manner, in accordance with their traditional functions, the necessary and proper functions which any trade union can carry out. I believe that it is and has been accepted on many occasions by the Minister that the unofficial strike is a real factor to be taken into account. It came even more strongly perhaps in his observations a few moments ago, that in future it will be even more important to try to avoid that kind of disruptive influence. Once this is accepted, surely that is all the more reason that we should make sure that, if the Bill must become an Act, it should not go any further than is absolutely necessary.
1276 When we were discussing the matter in Standing Committee, the right hon. Gentleman did not agree with the point of view which we put before him, but at any rate he accepted that there might be something in it, that it was unfortunate that the Bill should have the effect of legalising the actions of those who were either not properly authorised officials or who had not gone through the authorised procedure. He seemed to imply that, as it was a difficult matter, it would not be of much consequence, because this was only a temporary Measure. This is what he called a holding action. That may be true, but we are having a serious and I believe, valuable discussion, at the end of which the House of Commons will express its view. As we have done already on one Amendment, we will vote on another and eventually on Third Reading. It is, in my submission, a very serious thing that one should pass into law words which will have an effect which we agree we should not lightly endorse.
This is a very serious consideration. I hope that it may still be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he will consider this. If he cannot do it here, he may be able, somewhere else, to deal in some way with unofficial strike action, in such a way that it cannot afterwards be said that Parliament has approved that immunity should be given in these cases. We cannot expect him to give us anything today, first because of the words, and second because, though we appreciate that he is very receptive over these matters, he might find himself restrained by his master's voice from taking any immediate action.[Interruption.] I was thinking of another master. At any rate, he will listen this afternoon and we hope that he will do something about it.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I agreed with the opening sentence of the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) just as I found myself able to agree with the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) during the Committee stage of the Bill. For the first time this afternoon the right hon. and learned Member has put his finger on the pulse of the Bill. This Amendment is obviously designed to relate to the control—if possible, which I do not think it is—of unofficial strikes. I made a note on my Order Paper early in the afternoon, using the exact words 1277 which the right hon. and learned Gentleman used. The hon. Member for Kidderminster quoted my speech. I wish that he had quoted all the speech which I made in Standing Committee. You do not know how fortunate you are, Mr. Speaker, not to have presided over the meetings in Standing Committee, because you would today be ruling many of us out of order for tedious repetition if you had heard the speeches which we made on that occasion.
It is true that I expressed some sympathy with what the hon. Member for Kidderminster said about this. I am certain that if my hon. Friends on this side of the House had been privileged to hear the very fine speech which I made, they would agree also, because those of my colleagues who have had long and close connections with the trade union movement do not agree with unofficial strikes. We try our utmost to dissuade members of the trade union movement from calling unofficial strikes. It is extremely ironic that we are discussing an Amendment to the Bill very largely because the Bill was necessitated through the action of a man who was trying to persuade his colleagues —according to the leaflet which I have in my hand—to take unofficial action.
I think that we had better put this on the record, so that it shall not be in any dispute. This is a document which I passed to the late Attorney-General and which I expect he has read——
§ Mr. Wilkins
I am sorry. I always try to avoid the word "late" and to use "former".
I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has looked at this leaflet put out by the Draughtsmen's and Allied Technicians' Association. The leaflet says that a meeting of members was called. The episode began with an objection by the staff of B.O.A.C. to the place to which they were being transferred for the purposes of their employment. They were being moved from a number of out-buildings into some other staff accommodation and they were objecting to this. The conditions in this building, it says,… were unsatisfactory and there were many complaints. In consequence, the matter was raised by the union through the machinery of the National Joint Council.1278 This is, of course, precisely what the hon. Member for Kidderminster is asking us to do. This is what we believe members of trade unions ought to do—exhaust the machinery which their union rules provide for with the employers' associations, before any other form of action is taken.
The leaflet goes on:The matter was dealt with but progress was slow and, not without justification, members expressed concern about the reluctance of the Corporation to satisfy their complaints.A meeting of members was called in that Autumn of 1955 to consider a report on negotiations. At this meeting a small group of members, amongst whom Rookes was very vocal, tried to get the other members to press the union to take 'more direct action.' Since the Union was then taking the only constitutional step possible, itwas—difficult to imagine what other steps could be taken other than …unconstitutional action. All the argument and argie-bargie which we have had over the Bill in Committee and today stem from this original situation.
To hear hon. Members opposite talking, anyone would think that this chap was a paragon of virtue and that all the other fellows with whom he worked, the other 99 per cent., were wrong. This cannot——
§ Sir T. Brinton
It has not been the point of any of our speeches, either on the previous Amendment or on this, that the Rookes v. Barnard case was the essential point. It was merely the match which has lighted the fire. We are dealing now with the total matter of principle as it affects everybody. The hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) seems to imagine that I am worried about Mr. Rookes. I am not worried about Mr. Rookes but about the consequences of the legislation inspired by that case. The case itself has nothing to do with it.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I was trying to make the same inference; that all this has arisen because of a case which was started as a result of someone kicking over the traces. At the beginning and end of my remarks in Committee I pointed out that my hon. Friends and I were as anxious as anyone else to see that all the constitutional procedures should be followed in the settling of disputes.
By trying to introduce various alterations, by means of Amendments and new 1279 Clauses—one of which we have just defeated—hon. Gentlemen opposite allege that they wish to protect the rights of minorities. The trouble is that they would, at the same time—perhaps unintentionally—do a tremendous amount of damage to trade unionists and particularly to trade union officials who try to conduct the business of their unions on proper constitutional lines.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "No", but I said that they may be doing this unintentionally. I do not suggest that they would do this intentionally; merely that their proposals might have this precise result.
§ Mr. Hooson
While I have some sympathy with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton), I cannot support the Amendment because while the objects he has in mind are desirable, and would probably receive the support of the majority of hon. Members, I feel that if he thought that there were any chance of his Amendment being accepted he would not have proposed it in the first place.
§ Sir T. Brinton
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman please confine himself to his own opinions and not speculate about mine?
§ Mr. Winterbottom
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman also confine his remarks to the mess in which we should find ourselves if the Amendment were carried?
§ Mr. Hooson
In the present state of industry in Britain—when we do not have agreed procedures in all companies and industries, when no one can decide when agreed principles have been exhausted, when one can envisage endless arguments as to whether or not there are agreed procedures and whether such procedures as exist have been exhausted —acceptance of an Amendment of this sort would be putting the cart before the horse.
The Minister has a good case for saying that this matter should be left to the Royal Commission, certainly until we have not only agreed but defined procedures; and it is important to have the procedures defined to ensure that we know when they have been exhausted. While the Amendment may have laud- 1280 able objects, I fear that they would be incapable of realisation if the Amendment were accepted.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
The Amendment seeks to withdraw the protection of the Bill from threats to strike in breach of procedure, to use a convenient phrase, whether those threatened strikes are official or unofficial.
The Minister has not yet said that this is not the Bill in which to carry out this reform, but I expect that he will because he said it when we discussed similar proposals in Committee upstairs. I think that I interpret him correctly when I say that on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman agreed that strikes in breach of agreed procedures were bad. He was against them. He is against sin and other things. I see that the Minister is trying to indicate something to me. Suffice to say that I hope that he is not against virtue. He said that he was not opposed in principle to legislation to deal with acknowledged evil, but that this was not the Bill in which to carry out the sort of reform proposed.
I trust that he will be consistent. He justified those remarks in Committee by saying that he thought that legislation of this kind should be very carefully considered and maturely thought out. I agree, but the difficulty is that the right hon. Gentleman has brought the Bill forward, that it is intervening in precisely this branch of the law and that mature consideration cannot be given to it.
The Minister is, in effect—if he adopts that argument today—saying that it is all right for him to introduce a Bill reversing the position and that it is all right for him to do it at once and without consideration but that it is wrong for us to propose that the scope of the Bill should be more limited than it is in its un-amended form because, as he would say, our Amendments raise matters which are appropriate for consideration by the Royal Commission. I do not think that I have misrepresented the right hon. Gentleman.
We recognise that the operation of the law is only one factor entering into industrial relations. That was cogently pointed out in the document which was circulated by the T.U.C. after the Rookes 1281 v. Barnard decision. That is so, but if one takes the step of introducing a Bill into Parliament to alter in a material respect the legal relations between employers, employees and private individuals who may be affected by the operation of these procedures, then one must face up to the current implications and try, in a practical way, to solve the problems raised by the Bill.
In Committee the Minister did not object to a similar proposal put forward on the ground that there would be some difficulty in deciding whether the agreed procedures had been exhausted. He did not lay stress on this matter upstairs, which is something the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) should bear in mind. I am not saying that there was not a passing reference, although I have not so far found one, but just that the Minister did not lay stress on the matter. After all, he could not really do so because the Bill is designed to reverse a decision of the House of Lords in the Rookes v. Barnard case. That is precisely what it is about. The Minister said so in the most explicit terms, both on Second Reading and in Committee. He has resisted every Amendment because, he said, this is a simple one Clause Bill to reverse the decision in the Rookes v. Barnard case.
There were two reasons for the decision in the Rookes v. Barnard case. The effect of the decision was that a threat to strike in breach of contract was an unlawful threat, and the particular threat in Rookes v. Barnard was unlawful in two respects. One was because the men concerned—Barnard and the other codefendants—gave notice to the employers of intention to terminate their work, which was not in accordance with the notice that would be required to terminate their contract of employment. The other reason was that in their contract of employment there was an express term negotiated between the union and the British Overseas Airways Corporation, and conceded for the purposes of that litigation as a term of employment for each individual. There was an express term limiting action until certain procedures had been gone through.
In this case the procedure had not been gone through—that, I believe, of recourse to the national joint negotiating machinery. This matter therefore arose 1282 not merely in a clear form, but in a form that required a pronouncement of the courts. So it is not realistic to say that this Amendment is unworkable, because all my hon. Friend proposes is that one of the rationes in Rookes v. Barnard should not be the subject matter of this Bill and that the other should stand; that is to say, that in relation to a threat to strike without giving proper notice of termination of contract the Bill, if passed, would protect against civil actions but if, in addition—or if in any case—there were a threat by someone to strike in breach of an express term in his contract limiting the recourse to strikes, the protection of the Bill would not apply.
In all such matters we cannot find definitions that are, in the abstract, absolutely infallible. We have to find definitions which the courts can apply to the particular facts brought before them, as they had to apply them in the case of Rookes v. Barnard. As I say, it may well be for that excellent reason the Minister did not in Committee rely upon difficulties of interpretation, because all that this Amendment would do would be to limit the scope of the Bill and to leave the law in this respect as it is.
The effect of the Amendment in practice would be to promote notice, order and delay in the conduct of disputes between employer and employees. It would give time for second thoughts to modify first thoughts. I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman is against that. It would allow that cooling-oft period to which my hon. Friend referred and which is a feature of labour relations legislation in the United States of America and in other countries. What could be more important than that people should not rush precipitately into strike action, but should have some procedure, preferably agreed, but, in any case, an agreed procedure which imposes some delay during which they can have second thoughts, can cool off, and can begin to see things in perspective?
I am sure that the Minister is in favour of all those things yet, in effect, he says—I say that he will say, but I speak in anticipation again, because I have a shrewd suspicion that that is what he will say. I can see it in his face. He will say that he will not accept 1283 the Amendment, and he will say so, not because he does not think this is a good thing to do, but because he thinks that it should be left to the Royal Commission. That is what it comes to, is it not?
§ Mr. Bell
The right hon. Gentleman says that I may be surprised and that, of course, would be very agreeable.
The trouble is that the Royal Commission will brood over these matters for a couple of years—we do not know exactly how long it will take, and we do not know exactly what it will say in the end—but does the right hon. Gentleman need to wait two years to have the Royal Commission tell him that what he already agrees to be wrong is wrong? That is what he is asking for. He knows that strikes in breach of procedure are not merely bad for industrial relations but run completely against the present current of the development in industrial relations.
The Minister and some of his hon. Friends suggested in Committee another argument against legislation on this matter. I speak of "legislation," although the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the effect of the Amendment is to cancel this proposed legislation and leave us where we are. The argument advanced in Committee was that if the law remains as it is after Rookes v. Barnard, it will constitute some kind of discouragement to these agreements; that unions will be chary of entering into these agreements— usually long-term agreements—with these arbitral procedures in them, these limitations on recourse to strike.
To argue that is to say that agreements will be entered into by trade unions only if they are without legal effect, and I find it difficult to believe that to be so. There are very strong reasons compelling trade unions and employers to enter into this kind of arrangement, and those reasons will operate in the future as they have done in the past. After all, the employers and the trade unions have common interests in the prosperity of the industry in which they work. The employer does not want strikes—they disrupt his production and 1284 lose him markets. The unions do not want strikes either, if only because strikes mean strike pay, and that means a very heavy burden on their funds. There will, therefore, continue to be the very strongest reasons for them to enter into these arrangements.
Is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that it is essential that we should, by this Bill, reverse the present state of the law and give public and statutory notice that when people enter into these arrangements in the most formal manner and intending to be bound by them in good faith, Parliament regards it as important, as urgent—so that it must be rushed through in advance of the Royal Commission Report—that they should be able to break those agreements, to ignore them, to set them aside with complete immunity, and that anybody who, like Rookes as it happens, suffers considerable material damage as a result of a flagrant breach like that, should be without any civil remedy for the loss he has suffered?
That is what the Minister asks the House to do. It is that position that he asks us to ossify for at least two years, but probably three, in the interests of I know not what. I can but hope that tonight he will give us some more convincing and potent reasons than those which he very graciously and courteously, as always, gave us in the Standing Committee.
§ Mr. Gunter
As the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has indicated, the intention of this Amendment is to attack strikes in breach of procedure. I had a lot of sympathy with the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) when he intervened to say that whatever one might think about the legal provisions, the confusion that exists in the matter of procedure—the thousands and thousands of different forms of procedure throughout industry, and the absence of formal procedure in some areas of industry—is something that should be reflected upon.
I sometimes think that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South, believes that all procedural agreements are major ones; that they are entered into by big unions and big firms. The truth is that there are thousands of different forms of procedure scattered throughout the whole 1285 of British industry. Some of them are extremely confused and, as I have said before, and as the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) knows, most of the rows are not over whether there is a breach but over whether or not the procedure has been exhausted. That in the sort of confusion that arises.
We are certainly not arguing here about the merits or demerits of unconstitutional strikes. I am prepared to go all the way with anyone in attacking unofficial or unconstitutional strikes. I deplore all strikes which are in breach of procedure or are unofficial in any way.
It would be a great deal nearer the truth to say that this Amendment, or the issue raised by this Amendment, is whether it would be useful to legislate in such a way as to distinguish between strikes in breach of procedure and the rest of strikes. That is the nub of this Amendment. I might even go further and say that this is not the real issue on this Amendment, but that the issue, granted that legislation might be useful, is whether this Bill is the appropriate vehicle for it. I do not propose to pursue that argument. I shall content myself with observations on the usefulness of legislation of any kind in this connection. We have to remember that the Bill, like the Rookes v. Barnard decision itself, affects virtually all strikes. The Amendment proposes to divide strikes into two classes—those in breach of procedure and the rest of strikes. The protection of the law would be withdrawn from persons participating in the first, those in breach of procedure.
Suppose the Bill reached the Statute Book amended on the lines suggested this afternoon. When there were strikes in breach of procedure strikers or representative persons among them could be sued and perhaps made to pay heavy damages. What would happen then? There would certainly be very strong pressure indeed on the union concerned either to withdraw from the procedure agreement or to renegotiate it in such a way that it constituted no danger to the threat of a strike. If that happened it would not have the benefit of encouraging observance of agreements; it would rather have the effect of breaking them. This is not shooting a line. Anyone who knows industry knows that in certain 1286 cases this would be the pressure brought to bear on officials of trade unions.
There is another important point which I have made before and which I repeat. There is a tendency among hon. Members opposite to see everything as black or white. In the present Amendment they clearly have in mind when they talk about a strike in breach of procedure a strike which takes place clearly and obviously—and without anyone disputing the fact—before the procedure has been exhausted. As I have said—and I invite any representative of industry on the benches opposite to dispute what I say—it is much more common in industry for there to be a different opinion on whether the procedure has been exhausted or not.
This is the confusion that, maybe, trade union practices and industrial customs have led us into. This is the kind of case, if the Amendment were accepted, which would be brought into the courts. We manage very well in this country negotiating our disputes procedure on a voluntary basis and interpreting them in a commonsense fashion. This, I believe, is something which is desired both by employers and trade unionists. I took the point made by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) when he said that both sides of industry could be left to themselves in a nice little vacuum to sort things out, but there is a very wide field of ordinary negotiation which inevitably must be left to industry itself.
The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South spoke of a cooling-off period and referred to America. I have often thought that a cooling-off period, not necessarily on the pattern employed in America, could be thought out properly and introduced, but I remind the hon. Member that the strike record in America, with the cooling-off period, is much worse than we have in this country. Therefore, we have to be careful before we enter into that. The Amendment would bring the law in to settle the question of what is in breach of procedure and what is not. I wonder whether the sponsors of this Amendment have fully considered the full implications of bringing the law in to decide what is in breach of procedure and what is not.
1287 Of course, unconstitutional strikes are a very real problem. Of course, it would be a great advantage if we could abolish them. If I thought for a moment that this Amendment would have that effect, or would even merely reduce their numbers, I should be all for it, but I am convinced that it would not do so. Here I bring in the precious words, the Royal Commission, as I promised I would. The Royal Commission should have a thorough look at the confusion which exists and the thousands of methods of procedure and see what is the best way of dealing with them. But for goodness sake let us not try to use a simple Measure such as this for a purpose for which it is quite unsuitable. Let us at all costs avoid embarking on a course without knowing where we are going or realising what we are up to in this Amendment. I ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ on this procedure? I go back to what I reiterated throughout the Committee, not only on the Amendment similar to this one but on others, about the Contracts of Employment Act. In that there is a cooling-off period, a seven-day period. What confusion will arise when this Bill goes on to the Statute Book without such a consideration? These two matters are linked somewhere for there is written into the 1963 Act a cooling-off period.
§ Mr. Gunter
I am sure this has a connection somewhere and the passion and obsession of the hon. Member to relate the two is quite understandable. I can only say that he should reflect on the effect which the Contracts of Employment Act has had on unofficial stoppages.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 158, Noes 185.1289
|Division No. 112.]||AYES||[7.36 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||McLaren, Martin|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Eyre, Reginald||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Farr, John||McMaster, Stanley|
|Astor, John||Fisher, Nigel||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Foster, Sir John||Mathew, Robert|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maude, Angus|
|Batsford, Brian||Gammans, Lady||Mawby, Ray|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gardner, Edward||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Bell, Ronald||Gibson-Watt, David||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Glover, Sir Douglas||Mitchell, David|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Monro, Hector|
|Blaker, Peter||Goodhart, Philip||More, Jasper|
|Box, Donald||Cower, Raymond||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. sir Edward||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Braine, Bernard||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Murton, Oscar|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Gurden, Harold||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Buxton, Ronald||Hastings, Stephen||Peel, John|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hawkins, Paul||Peyton, John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hiley, Joseph||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Cooke, Robert||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Cordle, John||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Pym, Francis|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Costain, A. P.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jennings, J. C.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jopling, Michael||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Curran, Charles||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kirk, Peter||Sharples, Richard|
|Doughty, Charles||Lambton, Viscount||Shepherd, William|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Eden, Sir John||Loveys, Walter H.||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wise, A. R.|
|Talbot, John E.||Walder, David (High Peak)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Walters, Dennis||Wylie, N. R.|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Temple, John M.||Weatherill, Bernard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Webster, David||Mr. Dudley Smith and|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter||Whitelaw, William||Mr. Johnson Smith.|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Abse, Leo||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||O'Malley, Brian|
|Alldritt, Walter||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Orme, Stanley|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hannan, William||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Barnett, Joel||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)|
|Baxter, William||Heffer, Eric S.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Bence, Cyril||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Bishop, E. S.||Holman, Percy||Prentice, R. E.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hooson, H. E.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Horner, John||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Boardman, H.||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Redhead, Edward|
|Boston, T G.||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.]||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Howie, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hoy, James||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jeger, George (Goole)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Chapman, Donald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Coleman, Donald||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Crawshaw Richard||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Small, William|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Kelley, Richard||Snow, Julian|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kenyon, Clifford||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lawson, George||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Ledger, Ron||Stones, William|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Dell, Edmund||Lomas, Kenneth||Taverne, Dick|
|Dempsey, James||Loughlin, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Dodds, Norman||Lubbock, Eric||Thornton, Ernest|
|Doig, Peter||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Tomney, Frank|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McBride, Neil||Tuck, Raphael|
|Duffy, Dr A. E. P.||McCann, J.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Dunnett, Jack||MacColl, James||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Edelman, Maurice||McGuire, Michael||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mcinnes, James||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Wallace, George|
|Ensor, David||Mackle, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Floud, Bernard||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Whitlock, William|
|Foley, Maurice||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Williams, Albert (Abertillery)|
|Ford, Ben||Mapp, Charles||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Millan, Bruce||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Garrow, A.||Monslow, Walter||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Ginsburg, David||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Murray, Albert|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Neal, Harold||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gregory, Arnold||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Mr. Fitch and Mr. Harper.|
Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 14, at end insert:
Provided that an act as aforesaid is not done with the sole intention of forcing another person to become, to remain or to cease to be a member of a trade union.—[Mr. Hooson.]
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—
§ The House division; Ayes 163, Noes 177.1293
|Division No. 113.]||AYES||[7.47 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Murton, Oscar|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Astor, John||Goodhart, Philip||Onslow, Cranley|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Gower, Raymond||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Grant-Ferris, R.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Peel, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Peyton, John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gurden, Harold||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Blaker, Peter||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pym, Francis|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Box, Donald||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hastings, Stephen||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Braine, Bernard||Hawkins, Paul||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Hiley, Joseph||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Sharpies, Richard|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Shepherd, William|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd, & Chiswick)|
|Buxton, Ronald||Jennings, J. C.||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Carlisle, Mark||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Jopling, Michael||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Cooke, Robert||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Talbot, John E.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Cordle, John||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Kirk, Peter||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Costain, A. P.||Lambton, viscount||Temple, John M.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Loveys, Walter H.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||MacArthur Ian||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Curran, Charles||Mackie, Georga Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||McLaren, Martin||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Doughty, Charles||McMaster, Stanley||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Walters, Dennis|
|Eden, Sir John||Maginnis, John E.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Mathew, Robert||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maude, Angus||Webster, David|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mawby, Ray||Whitelaw, William|
|Farr, John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Wise, A. R.|
|Foster, Sir John||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mitchell, David||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Gammans, Lady||Monro, Hector||Wylie, N. R.|
|Gardner, Edward||More, Jasper|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Lubbock and Mr. Hooson.|
|Abse, Leo||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Boardman, H.||Crosland, Anthony|
|Aldritt, Walter||Boston, T. G.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Buchanan, Richard||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Barnett, Joel||Carmichael, Neil||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey|
|Baxter, William||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Delargy, Hugh|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Dell, Edmund|
|Bence, Cyril||Chapman, Donald||Dempsey, James|
|Bishop, E. S.||Coleman, Donald||Dodds, Norman|
|Blackburn, F.||Conlan, Bernard||Doig, Peter|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Redhead, Edward|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Edelman, Maurice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Kenyon, Clifford||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|English, Michael||Lawson, George||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Ensor, David||Ledger, Ron||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Floud, Bernard||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Foley, Maurice||Lomas, Kenneth||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Loughlin, Charles||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Ford, Ben||McBride, Neil||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Fraser, Rt, Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||McCann, J.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Freeson, Reginald||MacColl, James||Small, William|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||McGuire, Michael||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mclnnes, James||Snow, Julian|
|Garrow, A.||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Stones, William|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taverne, Dick|
|Grey, Charles||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfied, E.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mapp, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mendelson, J. J.||Tomney, Frank|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Millan, Bruce||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hannan, William||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||WainWright, Edwin|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Monslow, Walter||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Wallace, George|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Murray, Albert||Watkins, Tudor|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Neal, Harold||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Whitlock, William|
|Holman, Percy||Oakes, Gordon||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Horner, John||O'Malley, Brian||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)||Williams, Albert (Abertillery)|
|Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Orme, Stanley||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Howie, W.||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hoy, James||Palmer, Arthur||Wilson, William (Coventry, S)|
|Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Pavitt, Laurence||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Jeger, Ceorge (Goole)||Prentice, R. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Mr. Fitch and Mr. Harper.|
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)
I beg to move Amendment No. 8, in page 1, line 18, to leave out "before" and to insert:either before or within the period of six months beginning with the date of".
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
I understand that it will be for the convenience of the House also to discuss Amendment No. 9, in line 18, leave out from "instituted" to "or" and insert:within three years of the cause of action arising".
§ The Attorney-General
The purpose of the Amendment is to allow proceedings in respect of causes of action which arise before Royal Assent to the Bill to be decided under the law as it now stands provided that they are brought within six months of Royal Assent. The Bill as it stands would apply to all proceedings which were commenced after the Royal Assent even if the cause of action 1294 had already arisen. This could mean that a potential plaintiff who had a right of action before the Bill became law would lose that right. If the Amendment is adopted he will have six months' grace in which to bring an action under the present law.
I emphasise that this period of grace will apply only to proceedings in respect of acts done before the Royal Assent. The Bill will apply to proceedings in respect of acts done after the Royal Assent whether proceedings are instituted within the six months or not. The Government originally took the view that the application of the provisions of subsection (1) to all proceedings which were commenced after the date of Royal Assent, whether the act of which the plantiff first complained occurred before or after that date, would give rise to no practical difficulty, and it was desirable to achieve at the earliest possible moment certainty about the legal position of all 1295 who were concerned and thereby remove as soon as possible all doubts and difficulties arising from the decision in the case of Rookes v. Barnard.
But we are most anxious, on the Government side, to be fair to all concerned, to potential plaintiffs as well as potential defendants. Therefore, we have looked at this question in the light of our discussions in Standing Committee. It seems improbable that more than one or two potential plaintiffs, if, indeed, any at all, would be frustrated by the provisions of subsection (2) as it stands, but there is, at any rate in theory, a possibility that a person in whom a right of action accrued shortly before the Royal Assent might lose that right because there was insufficient time for him to take legal advice and issue his writ before the Royal Assent was given. We propose, therefore, that to eliminate this possibility the putative plaintiff should be allowed six months in which to institute proceedings by the issue of a writ.
The courts have expressed at least three different reasons for supporting the existence of statutes of limitation or time-limiting provisions. First, it is said that long-dormant claims have more of cruelty than justice in them, and that the limitation Acts are acts of peace. This ought to be a principle particularly pertinent, I suggest, to disputes in industrial relations. Second, the view has been taken by the courts that a defendant might have lost the evidence to disprove a stale claim. Third, the principle that the law applies is that persons with good causes of action should pursue them with reasonable diligence. We have, therefore, a whole series of limitation provisions in our law.
I have most carefully considered whether six months will be enough. I am satisfied that it would be. Even if it be necessary for the potential plaintiff to apply for and to obtain a legal aid certificate before he is in a position to institute proceedings, six months is, I am assured by the legal aid authorities, more than ample for this purpose. I understand that, provided that the proposed plaintiff answers letters and keeps appointments with the legal aid committee, six weeks is invariably sufficient.
1296 I am satisfied that the successful applicant for legal aid will, within a few weeks, be granted the necessary certificate for the launching of his proceedings.
I ought to add that, if there is any question of time running out, a certificate can be issued under the legal aid machinery limited to obtaining counsels opinion, and, if that is favourable, taking the initial steps in the action by the issue of the writ to keep the right of action alive. As has been said more than once in our debates, the eyes of the country are very much on the Bill. There is an awareness of the right of action, and there will be an awareness of the limitation of time imposed by its terms.
There are precedents for what is proposed in the Amendment. There is the precedent for a limitation period of six months in the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, which provides that proceedings in tort against the estate of a deceased person must be instituted not later than six months after a personal representative takes out representation. That was the period recommended by the Law Revision Committee, and it was accepted without question by the House as achieving the right balance between the interests of the potential plaintiff who wishes to proceed against the estate of a deceased, and of the personal representatives whose duty it is to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries with the minimum of delay.
In the same way, in my submission, the period of six months now proposed in the Bill achieves the right balance between the interests of the potential plaintiff and the potential defendant. It will suffice to enable all potential plaintiffs whose cause of action accrues before Royal Assent to start their proceedings and, at the same time, it will within a reasonable period put an end to the uncertainties arising from the decision in the case of Rookes v. Barnard. I should say that there is a further and, perhaps, more immediately comparable precedent for a limitation period of six months to be found in the Truck Acts. Proceedings by a workman for the recovery of improper deductions from his wages made by an employer must be commenced within six months of the date of the deduction.
1297 Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have put down Amendment No. 9 to extend the period to three years. I am satisfied that that would in the circumstances be too long and that it is not necessary for the adequate protection of the possible plaintiff. It would expose trade unionists to an excessive spell of uncertainty as to whether they were at risk in regard to actions possibly being brought against them for acts long since passed, and this fear and uncertainty could well have an unsettling effect on industrial relations. It might also involve the courts themselves in considerable difficulties in interpreting the law as it now stands long after the Bill has come into effect and that law has been amended and, perhaps after a new volume of case law—I hope that it does not come to pass but it might—has arisen on the provisions of this Bill, and perhaps, even after the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Association has reported.
In other words, it would seriously detract from the objects of the Bill, which are to remove the anxieties and uncertainties created by the decision in Rookes v. Barnard, allowing the Royal Commission to approach its task unimpeded by doubts among trade unionists about their legal position. As I have said, the Government are anxious to be fair to all those concerned, and I believe that that result will be best achieved by the Amendment.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
Naturally, we are grateful that at least one concession has been made by the Government during the whole of our proceedings on the Bill, and we are glad that the Attorney-General, who must have borne some of the responsibility for this Amendment, has been able to move it and put it before the House in such agreeable terms.
We are glad that the original provisions have been seen to be wholly wrong. It was proposed that, to some extent, there should be retrospective legislation by the removal of vested rights in individuals which would cease to remain vested in them as soon as the Bill began to operate. If a citizen, a week before the Royal Assent, tad acquired vested rights, they would, within that week, have been removed.
This would have had nothing to do with a period of limitation; it would 1298 have been straight retrospective legislation not only to make future actions impossible in certain circumstances, but to remove the accumulated and vested rights of citizens who had suffered damage as a result of actions which were unlawful before the Bill was passed, but upon which they could not rely or found proceedings after it became law.
In Committee, it was the Solicitor-General who endeavoured to justify the provisions of the Bill upon the basis of retrospective legislation being justifiable in appropriate circumstances, this being one such circumstance. We are grateful that better counsel has prevailed and that there is to be at least some opportunity for people whose rights have arisen before the Bill becomes law to enforce them within a reasonable period if they desire to do so. But we are discussing at the same time our Amendment No. 9, to substitute the period of three years from the time when the cause of action arose instead of a mere six months.
While we are grateful for a crumb, it is a wholly inadequate and somewhat mean crumb. There is no reason why trade unionists as defendants should not be subject to the ordinary period that the vast majority of our citizens are subject to, either a period of six years—the ordinary period of limitation—or the period of three years, which we propose. This period is that within which every citizen is liable to be sued in respect of action for personal injuries. It is the period in which he is certain that the matter is set at risk.
The only dispute between us and the Government is on the length of the period. I entirely concede that the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave most excellent reasons as to why one should have a time limit of some sort but that does not justify and argue so exiguous a time limit as six months. We must remember that between 1893 and 1938 public authorities had the benefit of a six months' limitation. Anyone who wished to sue a public authority had to bring his action within six months. In 1938, however, Parliament thought that this was far too high a privilege even for public authorities and certainly in the courts, and the Scottish courts in particular, it was frequently pointed out what injustices were created by so short a period of limitation.
1299 Now, Parliament having removed so short a period that was to the benefit of public authorities, it is proposed to put trade unions in the position which public authorities enjoyed at one time by granting them a period of six months. This, therefore, puts the trade unions in a more advantageous position than that of the Crown or public authorities which are liable to be sued in respect of their actions.
The Attorney-General referred to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, and pointed out that a period of six months existed in respect of the estate of a deceased person. But he is surely not suggesting that trade unions are dead above or below the neck. They are a continuing body. They are not winding up their affairs and endeavouring, as an executor does, to distribute an estate to those entitled to it. The Truck Acts are ancient legislation of the nineteenth century and in any case deal with small sums of money and are nothing like actions of the sort or importance dealt with by the Bill.
We propose, therefore, that three years is the proper period to fix. Actions for personal injuries can be straightforward and ordinary. The citizen is given a period not only of three years, however, but a period which can include additional time if, first, he is under a disability for any reason and cannot sue, secondly, if the cause of the action has been concealed from him, and, thirdly, if he has an illness which does not reveal itself to him at an early stage. He can also show that material facts were outside his knowledge.
The period we propose in this case would be incapable of extension for any such reason, even though the cause of action was actively concealed from him by those who would be the prospective defendants. Even if he was under a disability and could not be sued, and even though the material facts could not be discovered by which he could take advice as to whether or not he could sue, once the time had gone he could not sue.
We say that a period of three years is usual and proper. As the Attorney-General says, there is a substantial amount to do before one even issues a writ. One 1300 must be aware of the facts and in many instances not all the facts will be available from the start. One then has to get legal aid, which takes time. One must then find a solicitor and he will want to know additional facts. One then has to take better advice and while collecting that advice and more material time is running against one.
We all know that litigation should be pursued actively but there is a disadvantage in forcing people to issue writs before they are really ready and to reserve their position by issuing writs when it may be wholly unnecessary to do so and when, if they had more time to consider the matter, they would decide not to seek any legal remedy.
Actions arising from the tort of intimidation are complicated and difficult. They involve very difficult questions of both fact and law. They are infinitely more complicated and difficult than any personal action and on top of that the damages and injuries that can be suffered by the plaintiff in many instances can be far more serious than the damages or injuries done during a cause of action for personal injuries.
Probably there are not very many of these actions, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, but I do not think that the principle alters one way or the other, whether there are many such actions or few. When imposing a period of limitation one must endeavour to hold the balance of justice, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, between the interests of the people who may have rights accruing to them and which they may wish to pursue, and the interests of prospective defendants who should not be kept in a state of suspense for too long without knowing whether or not they are to be sued.
I do not accept that there are not necessarily many of these actions. One example was quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), in Committee, and another was mentioned earlier today. We already know of two cases, therefore, which may come to litigation and there may be a great many others. But whether there are many or whether there are few, the interests of the party who wishes to sue and of those likely to be the defendants must be held in balance and I submit that our Amendment proposing a three year 1301 period without any possibility of extension for any reason is infinitely fairer and better than the six months the Government have just managed to edge their way towards.
We hope that, now they are through the door, they will see that there is no substantial difference of principle between six months and three years and that it would be infinitely fairer to all concerned if they were to be even more gracious and accept our Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Mawby
Although this is a very short Bill—on one side of a sheet of paper—we have spent many hours discussing it and we have reached Third Reading with the Bill very little changed. At this hour I do not desire to go over our long discussions, but we should not allow the Bill to pass its Third Reading without one or two comments.
Only a few moments ago, the Attorney-General said that the Bill sought to remove anxieties and confusions, and it is obvious from the decision in Rookes v. Barnard that there have been anxieties and confusions. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour obviously has it in mind to sweeten the atmosphere as much as possible to enable the Royal Commission to have an ideal atmosphere in which to take as much evidence as possible. One can, therefore, understand his desire to bring in a Bill to remove the anxieties and confusions which arose after the Rookes v. Barnard decision.
However, because the Bill has not been amended, it could still be used—and I believe that in certain circumstances it will be used—to legalise intimidation. I have every respect for the right hon. Gentleman's desire that the normal trade union official should be able to go about his duties without fear of being sued for any action he takes, but as it stands the Bill legalises intimidation and because its dangers are so great, on balance—and we should always consider balance—it would have been better if we had held up the Bill until the Royal Commission had reported.
Throughout these proceedings the Minister has been his usual courteous 1302 and friendly self and has always been apparently prepared to meet our arguments. Unfortunately, he has not gone that little further to satisfy us and our fears remain. On Report, hon. Members opposite pooh-poohed any idea that there would be widespread intimidation as a result of the Bill becoming law. They said, as most of us agree, that in their normal day-to-day activities the last intention of trade union officials is to intimidate anybody and that all they want to do is to get on with their normal business of negotiating with employers on behalf of their members.
If this is so, there is little point in having the Bill, because if trade union officials are not interested in intimidating people, but in getting on with their everyday job, there is no point in passing a Bill which will not give them any more power than they now need. There were special circumstances in the Rookes v. Barnard case, one of which was that officials had to threaten action which was contrary to a contract of service before the law could bite.
Time after time it has been said that the Bill merely restores the law to what everyone had thought it to be since the passing of the 1906 Act. I shall not rehearse the arguments again, but I believe this to be an erroneous impression. Conditions in 1965 are entirely different from those in 1906, when there was obviously a desperate need for the sort of legislation then introduced. Industrial conditions were entirely different and the 1906 Act at least made certain that those who were fighting, in many cases for their very existence, at least had protection and immunity, so that if they did jobs as trade union officials, the small funds of their unions would not be at officials took. In those days many employers made it a condition of employment——
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
The 1906 Act was introduced in the face of bitter Conservative opposition. Whenever progress has been made, it has always been made in the face of Tory opposition, and the hon. Member should remember that.
§ Mr. Mawby
It has a great deal to do with it. If we base our consideration of the future of this country on impressions of what happened years before we were born, we will not get very far. We must accept conditions as they are at the moment and use and rely on the results of many battles fought in the past by our fathers and forefathers. It is no good harking back to situations which obtained when neither the hon. Gentleman nor I had been born and in respect of which we can only refer to the evidence which we read in books
§ Mr. Heffer
For the hon. Gentleman's information, may I say that I have been a leading shop steward on many big building jobs. My experience in modern days has been that the Conservative Party and the employers have never welcomed us trade unionists with open arms. We have always had to fight for everything that we got.
§ Mr. Mawby
Probably the hon. Gentleman has had some unfortunate experiences. I have not had such experiences in the various offices which I have held in my union.
In 1906, there was a need for men to combine together and to make sure that they got proper recognition and could negotiate for proper wages and conditions. Many employers made it a condition that they would not employ anybody if he belonged to a union. We have now turned full circle. Those who were fighting to get rid of a tyranny—and it was a tyranny; any employer who takes that attitude is a tyrant——
§ Mr. Mawby
I wish the hon. Gentleman luck. I do not know the particular case to which he refers. Such instances are in the minority in industry in this country.
The tyranny which we were set up to fight has come full circle. Before, 1304 the employer said, "You cannot work for me if you are a member of a trade union". Now the employer has to say, "You cannot work for me if you are not a member of a trade union. One tyranny can be as tyrannical as another. We should think very carefully before passing a Bill which legalises intimidation. I hope that if the Bill is passed it will not be used for this purpose. But if it is used in only a very small number of cases that will be enough. The rights of the individual should be maintained by Members of this House. As Members of Parliament, we have a much wider duty than any of the interests which we may have outside. We must ensure that whenever a minority is affected it is given reasonable protection.
§ Sir E. Brown
Would not my hon. Friend agree that the death of one trade unionist as a result of intimidation by his fellow workers is enough to make sure that the Bill is amended?
§ Mr. Mawby
That is an important point. It needs only one case to arise for all of use to have a bad conscience. I believe that we ought to think very seriously indeed before we give this right to anyone.
For those reasons, I believe that we ought to oppose the Third Reading of the Bill, but I know that if the Bill is passed the right hon. Gentleman will do everything possible to impress on all those who are in charge of trade unions—and not only those who are in charge, but other persons, as well as small groups of unofficial leaders—that this right which he is giving them must in no circumstances be used by anyone as a licence.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hooson
Listening to the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby), I was reassured to hear that the Conservative Party had concern for minorities. It has not always shown this concern in all spheres, and I would be a little more reassured if it had shown greater concern in spheres of activity other than trade unions.
However, be that as it may, it is a legitimate criticism of the Minister that he has proved so intractable on this Bill. I made the position of the Liberal 1305 Party clear during the Second Reading debate. I understand the Minister's need to reassure trade union officials and shop stewards who are legitimately conducting union business that they will not expose themselves to tortious action by something that they might say, or some formula which they may not follow, during the conduct of negotiations.
I think that those fears were exaggerated, just as the fears from this side about the effects of the Bill have been greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, casting aside the exaggerations, I think that it was a legitimate exercise for the Government to enlist the full co-operation of the trade union movement in the Royal Commission's investigation by allaying the fears that arose, not, I think, from the judgment itself, but from the possible implications of some of the speeches in the other place. It was not the judgment itself that caused the difficulty, but the possible interpretation of what was said by some of the learned Lords.
There was, as I said on Second Reading, great divergence of opinion among lawyers as to what the diktat might mean. I always thought that there was great exaggeration of the fear that this could lead to the victimisation of trade union officials and shop stewards.
As I said to the right hon. Gentleman, I approved of both the tone and content of his Second Reading speech. I thought that it was a most enlightened speech, and during our consideration of the Bill I have found myself in the position that whereas I was certain that it was my duty to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill—and during the Second Reading debate I said that I would—I was in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman's view on many of the matters which he dealt with both today and during the Second Reading debate.
Whereas it was right to allay the legitimate fears of trade union officials and shop stewards, and it was right not to try to amend trade union law in all its detail in a short Bill like this, it was equally right to allay the legitimate fears of those who were worried that the powers contained in the Bill might be used as an instrument for victimisation. Under the Bill as it stands, somebody could resort to intimidation and inflict injury for the sole purpose of enforcing a man to remain a member of a union, to be a mem- 1306 ber of a union, or indeed to cease to be a member of a union. If that was the sole purpose of the action, the intimidation would nevertheless be legal under the Bill as it stands.
I fully appreciate the view of the Minister that we cannot begin to embark piecemeal on the reform of trade union law. It is now very complicated. The industrial development of this country has taken place in such a way that the whole of trade union law needs review. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that that is so, and that it would be a long job, which should be undertaken by a body such as a Royal Commission, with the full co-operation of the trade unions concerned. Nevertheless, the Minister is wrong in suggesting that we necessarily have to freeze all political judgment until a report is produced. He could have come a little way towards meeting the general fears that have been expressed about the Bill.
§ Mr. Orme
What worries me is the hon. and learned Member's attempt to expand the field of trade union law. Trade unions in this country do not want to see the arrival here of the sort of situation that exists in the United States, where trade union law covers all spheres of activity, and where resort is had to the courts continuously. I thought that our method of collective bargaining and the position of our trade unions were such that there was no need to resort to the law. I am surprised that the hon. and learned Member should suggest that we should expand the law—unless it is because he is a lawyer.
§ Mr. Hooson
I am sorry that the hon. Member should suggest that I have a vested interest in preserving the rights of lawyers in this respect. I have not. There is a great deal to be said for our method of collective bargaining. I was putting forward a general view of how a Royal Commission should approach this very complicated problem.
The Minister said that he was dealing with a narrow point. That is true. In that case, however, I do not see why he should not have accepted the Amendment No. 6. I will willingly give way to any hon. Member opposite who can tell me that a shop steward or trade 1307 union official would be inhibited in performing his ordinary legitimate duties if he were not protected from a tortious action if he intimidated, or threatened intimidation, with the sole intention of forcing a person to become a member of a trade union, or remain a member of a trade union, or leave a trade union.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I shall tell the hon. and learned Member about this if I succeed in catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
§ Mr. Hooson
I have discussed with many people the question whether this would inhibit a trade union official or shop steward in the normal and legitimate pursuit of his activities, and I have been assured that it would not.
§ Mr. Godber indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Orme
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. It is true. There have been instances in my union of its restrictive effect. We have had letters from the executive council to my district committee, pointing out that we must be careful how we proceed because of the Rookes v. Barnard decision.
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Member misses my point. He is dealing with an entirely different point. I accept that fears exist about the decision itself. What I am saying is that if the narrow Liberal Amendment No. 6 had been accepted it would in no way have inhibited a trade union official or shop steward from continuing his legitimate work. If it had been accepted by the Minister it would have allayed a good many of the exaggerated fears which have been raised about the Bill.
Therefore, as I said in the Second Reading debate, although we are in general sympathy with the objectives of the Bill we will not support it unless we are reassured on this point. The Minister has come no way towards reassuring us. He has given us honeyed words, but his actions have not matched his words.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
The question is: what is the legitimate work of a trade union official? I think that it is here that we have the nub of the matter. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), from the Liberal benches, is doing what the Liberal Party nearly always does. He is demonstrating that its members are anarchist in political theory, but Whigs in political practice. It is legitimate for a trade union to seek to become 100 per cent. This is a part of the function of a trade union, to seek to establish itself and to build a complete organisation. Members opposite might travel with me a little further and agree that there are certain occupations in which 100 per cent. membership is essential; for example, doctors, and possibly even lawyers. I would not wish to go that far myself but the hon. Gentleman might perhaps. There are other spheres of occupation in which 100 per cent. organisation is necessary for other reasons.
To give an example. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown), talked about death. We had an example of death occurring among trade unionists yesterday. These are the sort of deaths with which we are concerned. There are many jobs which are carried out by many ordinary people which are extremely dangerous and these men have the tradition of 100 per cent. trade unionism which they are entitled to enforce and demand. Mineworkers have always said that they will not work alongside non-members of their trade union, and I would say that they have an absolute right to say this.
§ Mr. Hooson
I am most grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. The example of doctors and lawyers is a mistake. There is a difference between professional qualifications. The doctor qualifies as a doctor and becomes a member of the British Medical Association, but the doctor does not have to become a member before he can practise, and a barrister does not have to be a member of a circuit to practise.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I will take up what the hon. Gentleman says. It is a question of qualification. The qualification of the miner is that he belongs to the trade union. On the Second Reading of the 1309 Bill I gave another example in which I asserted that it was absolutely essential and right for 100 per cent. trade unionism to be exacted. The example is that of the stunt film artist. Here is very dangerous work and membership of the trade union gives a guarantee to that artist. He is right to ensure that whoever comes into the trade union will have the degree of skill to ensure that his own life is not endangered.
Hon. Members are saying that the Bill is not necessary, provided the trade unionist does his job in a legitimate way. The question is: what is the legitimate way? Words like "threats", "persuasion," and so forth, are used. At what point does persuasion become intimidation? These are the narrow arguments we would have to go on having throughout the trade union movement if we did not have this Bill. This is the sort of situation which hon. Members opposite would put this country into. I say that if the Bill were not to be carried there would be a vast increase in the number of disputes occurring because of arguments around and about this sort of problem.
Let me give one further illustration. Between the wars there was a threat of a strike in the entertainment business. As a result of that threat it was decided to establish machinery under which there would be registration of all concerned in the business. The registration procedure was established and employers and performers had to be registered under the London Theatre Council.
The registration of the performers is effected by means of trade union membership. Everybody who appears on the stage in London has to be a member of the trade union organisation. Without this protection the enforcement of that regulation emanating from the Ministry of Labour, universally enforced and as a result of which there has been peaceful organisation in the theatre over the last 25 years, would be quite impossible.
If the trade union official comes across a non-member he says, "The regulations are that you must join." The hon. Member wishes to make it impossible for the official to say that. He wishes to end compulsion. I say that there are circumstances—I have illustrated one or two—in which it is essential, for the presser- 1310 vation of industrial peace, for trade union membership to be obligatory. These are the facts of life, and if hon. Members opposite do not like it they must lump it.
§ Sir E. Brown
It is on this pertinent point that there is so much interest with regard to 100 per cent. trade union membership. I believe in 100 per cent. trade union membership and would recruit for it. But what happens if an individual falls foul of his union when there is 100 per cent. trade union membership? How do we protect him? The hon. Member referred to film artists. We in the House have a responsibility, in the name of freedom and democracy, to make certain that such a person can get another job.
§ Mr. Jenkins
There are circumstances in which it becomes necessary in some occupations for an individual to lose the right to earn his living. It could be a lawyer losing his practice, or it might become impossible for a doctor to practise, or for a trade unionist to follow a certain occupation, in the event of his refusing the necessary degree of co-operation with the rest of the people concerned. This business of taking a single case as the proposition on which to change the whole of trade union law is absolutely ludicrous. Hon. Members opposite are pleading not for freedom, but for licence, and that would undermine our trade union structure.
I welcome the Bill. The opposition to it has not been well founded. I believe that the passing of the Bill is essential so that the normal practices and traditions of the trade union movement may be carried on.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor
I wish to join my hon. Friends in opposing the Third Reading of this Bill. I feel that the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) has completely misunderstood the purpose of the Bill and of our proposed Amendments to it. In fact, the Bill, unamended, is not concerned with the rights of unions in any way. It is concerned with the rights of individuals. The Bill, as such, in no way restricts, nor would our Amendments have restricted, the powers of trade unions as such. All that has happened is that a new immunity is to be given to trade unions.
1311 The Bill in no way restricts the right to strike or affects the question of the closed shop. It is concerned that we give a new immunity to trade union leaders, unions, or groups within unions, to use some kind of intimidation to force a third party to do certain things.
It would make it possible for intimidation to be used to bring about a closed shop despite the fact that the Minister of Labour and some hon. Members on the Government side have opposed that in principle. It would make it possible for intimidation to be used to carry out or to continue restrictive practices, despite the fact that in the declaration of intention, signed by prominent people in the Government and the trade union movement, it is stated that the Government wish to get rid of restrictive practices. It would make it possible for intimidation to be used to enforce unofficial strikes and to insist that people should participate in them. Yet unofficial strikes have been forcibly condemned by hon. Members on both sides of the House. What the Bill does is make it possible for intimidation to be used to enforce certain things which both Government and Opposition have condemned time and time again.
The one argument which has been put forward regularly in support of the Bill is that it will create the right conditions in which the Royal Commission can work. We might have been prepared to accept this if there had been in the Bill some kind of time limit. We appreciate that on Third Reading we are concerned only with what is in the Bill, and I see no mention in the Bill of a time limit, so that we have no guarantee that the Royal Commission will complete its deliberations by any time. We should have been more influenced to accept these sort of arguments if there had been some time limit. There is none.
It has been suggested in support of the Bill as it now is that it deals only with a minor legal point arising out of the application of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906. Certainly, at first sight, it appears that the Bill will have a very limited effect on a few cases which arise in special circumstances. When we consider the peculiar case from which the Bill stemmed, and when we consider how 1312 seldom these identical circumstances could arise, it is clear that the Bill covers only a few cases in special circumstances.
On the other hand, I am certainly of the opinion that much greater issues of principle are involved in the Bill, short though it is and limited though its application may be. The consequences of passing the Bill are far more dangerous and far more significant than are immediately obvious. It is certainly not the basis of my case nor of that of my hon. Friends that trade union reform is not necessary or desirable. Anyone who has been involved in industrial negotiations or industrial life today appreciates that there must be a real change in trade union law.
It might be argued that the Bill is a means of getting trade union reform, a means of having a Royal Commission through which we can get these changes, but we find it very difficult to accept that this is a possibility, when all the concessions have been made on one side. We are very scared that the Government will not be in a position to bring forward the kind of changes which the Royal Commission might suggest. We appreciate that changes are required. Those who drafted and brought forward the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 cannot possibly have envisaged the complex problems of modern industry and the changing attitudes to human relations in our commercial and industrial life.
There has been one significant change. In 1906, when the Bill was brought in, I think that it was appreciated that there was a need to protect people in industry, a need to protect human beings. This gives a further measure of protection, but it gives more powers to people involved in industry on the labour side. If there has been a change in the situation, it has been a change in the protection which a person now has. The Bill will remove one bit of protection which a person formerly had.
A man might not want to participate in a restrictive practice but his mates might go out on strike to insist that he should. He could be thrown out in consequence and lose his job—not just for a few weeks but for all time—because his membership was withdrawn. We are now making sure that he has no protection whatever. The Bill removes any 1313 protection which he had. If someone has a conscientious objection to joining a union and is thrown out of his work in consequence, we are now removing any right which he has to take action against those who brought this upon him. I hope that the hon. Member for Putney will think about these things and appreciate that the Bill removes the rights of individuals and does not in any way consolidate the powers of the trade unions.
As the Bill is completely unamended, apart from one minor point of proceedings which are in the pipeline, I think that we are faced with the central argument which has been put forward time and time again, that, having appointed the Royal Commission, it is a very dangerous thing to take a decision in this way on the central theme of the relationship under law between all people in industry. This is a real danger and we also have the difficulty that there is the possibility that the passing of this Measure will remove any prospect of having a useful outcome from the Royal Commission's deliberations.
If the Government cannot resist the pressures to pass the Bill—to remove all the alleged anomalies arising from the Rookes v. Barnard case—how can we believe that they would have the courage to remove such protection as the Bill now affords? We have accused the Government of this from time to time and one thing that has confirmed this belief is that the Government have not been willing seriously to consider amending the Bill. Had they been prepared to make some changes in the Bill we might have been convinced that they had room for manœuvre. Our feeling now is that they are restricted by the terms of a squalid package deal which gives no room for manœuvre.
It is clear that the circumstances dealt with by the Bill will arise on only a few occasions. I mentioned earlier in the day that this was made clear by Lord Reid's judgment in the case. Since making those remarks I have had a chance to look the matter up, particularly the passage in which Lord Reid said:I have not set out any of the passages cited in argument because the precise point which we have to decide did not arise in any of the cases in which they occur …".1314 In other words, Lord Reid considered that the point in the Rookes v. Barnard case had not arisen before. It was a simple point in principle, but a complicated one at law. The point at law contained in the Bill, and dealt with by it, is whether it is legal for a trade union to do something which an individual is not in a position to do. The original Trade Disputes Act gave immunity from an action for conspiracy in respect of acts done in concert which would have been lawful if done by an individual, but was not intended to give protection to the use of unlawful means such as the tort of intimidation.
The question then arose that, while it was clear that the threat of violence constituted intimidation, did the threat of a body of men to break their contracts of employment constitute such intimidation? I do not think that anyone would question, in the case of Rookes v. Barnard, the fact that there was intimidation—of a great aircraft corporation being threatened with a sudden strike. However, the question was this. Was intimidation in law. After consideration it was decided in the House of Lords that intimidation had existed in that case. I feel that the basic principle was whether men in an industry had the right to threaten to do what legally they had no right to threaten to do. The Bill will have the effect of deciding that they did.
I said that the Measure gives a new immunity. Before we pass the Third Reading we must seriously consider how this new immunity might be used. We must think carefully about the questions affecting the closed shop, about restrictive practices and about the wide sphere of activities in which this new immunity could be given. I feel that it is an extremely dangerous new immunity and that if the Bill were not passed we should be in no way detracting from the powers of the trade unions and the rights of individual trade union members. We would, however, be preventing—I think rightly—the removal of the one safeguard which individuals within trade unions now have.
This brings me to the question of individuals within trade unions. There has been a good deal of talk about the rights of individuals to join unions. It has been suggested that certain firms 1315 deny individuals the right to participate fully in trade union activities, and we know that this is the case. Many of my hon. Friends would condemn it as much as hon. Members opposite. Let us also remember the growing problem in industry and the many individual cases —I agree that they are only individual cases, but a growing number of them—concerning individuals who are willing to participate fully in a trade union but who are expelled and not given the right to rejoin.
In this way we immediately deprive people of their livelihood, and may deprive them for all time from engaging in their normal occupation and using skills that may have taken many years to acquire. If the law is to be changed so as to give a change in emphasis, let that emphasis be on the rights of the individual, and on giving a little more protection to the individual from the dangers that can arise in a society in which the trade unions appear to be getting a little too much power.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Bishop
When he introduced the Bill, the Minister claimed that the object was to restore the law to the position as it was thought to be before the Rookes v. Barnard case; that, by it, the Government were fulfilling a pre-election promise to deal with the situation flowing from that case in 1956, and that we were not conferring on the trade union movement—as some hon. Members opposite have alleged—any special privileges, but were seeking merely to restore the position to the status quo of 1906.
The Bill has had from the Conservative Party the determined opposition one might expect. Hon. Members opposite, under the guise of fighting for the rights of minorities, have sought to restrict the rights of majorities. It is fair to say that in opposing the Bill and its purpose they show that they are not in favour of the privileges and rights given to the trade union movement in 1906, but are aiming to put the clock back 60 years. It is quite clear that the Opposition are anxious that the Bill should not proceed, and believe that we should await the report of the Royal Commission, whenever that may come.
1316 The Government, on the other hand, quite rightly say that since the Rookes v. Barnard case the position is so doubtful that the trade union movement is justified in seeking a measure of clarification until the Royal Commission reports and its recommendations can be acted upon. At the same time, many of us think that workers in the mines and the farms, in engineering, in factories and offices have a right to know where they stand. Solicitors are not always handy in all these places to advise workers who may be upset by the frustrations—and the dangers —of the conditions in which they work.
I tabled various Amendments in the Committee, but did not press them. I wanted to air certain matters, but I was also prepared to accept the Minister's assurance that they could be looked at in the light of the Royal Commission report. I think that I speak on behalf of the trade union movement generally when I say that although we appreciate the Government's bringing forward the Bill —and it would not have been produced had the Conservatives gained power in October—we are also well aware of its limitations, and hope that the various matters on which we have aired our views will be put right when the Royal Commission reports.
The Bill seeks to protect the new form of intimidation relating to threats to break a contract of employment. It may cover union officials against that liability, but whether it protects some of the individuals, such as Barnard and Fistal, is doubtful. Rookes v. Barnard breach of contract was declared wholly unlawful, like violence, and it appears that despite the Bill the courts could regard a breach as unlawfully involving other torts, such as conspiracy.
In Committee, we spent seven sittings discussing Amendments moved by hon. Members opposite and various questions remain to be answered. One may ask what is a trade dispute? Does it include a recognition dispute as in the case of Stratford v. Lindley? It would appear to be illegal with all the side effects of the Rookes v. Barnard case. One may ask whether a strike is a conspiracy to use illegal means and whether a warning is a threat because the legal possibilities make it rather severe on those concerned. Since the Rookes v. Barnard case there have been other matters which the Minister 1317 claims should be dealt with at a later date. The Stratford v. Lindley case is a case in point.
While we are doing what we promised to do, to give limited protection to trade unions which may be affected by the Rookes v. Barnard decision, legislation on the Stratford v. Lindley and the Bowles v. Lindley cases raise new points. In the Stratford v. Lindley case a question was raised in which it was held that there was no trade dispute, but an inter-union dispute. In fact it was a dispute between a union and an employer. I should like this Bill if possible to have included recognition disputes as being trade disputes and to give protection in that way.
A further doubt arises since the Rookes v. Barnard decision in the case of Stratford v. Lindley where the defendants were held liable because they urged members to break their contracts of employment and deprived barge-hirer customers of their contracts. The Bill deals with contracts of employment, but it may be that we should have included commercial contracts as well. The Bill provides that an act shall be actionable on the ground only that it consists of threatening. The act done by Barnard and Fistal was not only a threat to the B.O.A.C., but was held to be damaging to Rookes, who was also concerned. The defendants were held not to be protected by Section 3 of the Trade Disputes Act. So the protection we all thought was in the 1906 Act did not exist. One may ask whether the present Bill provides protection in that respect.
It is not easy to tell what the effects of a breach of contract may be. Commercial contracts may be affected and people can be made subject to the very severe penalties for invoking breach of commercial contracts. The House of Lords decision in Rookes v. Barnard was that a breach of contract is an unlawful act for the purpose of the tort of intimidation. The Bill deals with intimidation, but not conspiracy, yet we know that every strike involves conspiracy in breach of contract and that such a conspiracy may be held to be unlawful.
The House has accepted an Amendment which gives defendants a right to bring action within six months of the Act being passed. One may say that for some time those engaged in industry have been subjected to certain legal dan- 1318 gers. Barnard and Fistal, in the Rookes v. Barnard case, were penalised for doing something in 1956 which the House of Lords, in 1964, said was illegal, and these trade unionists were held to be in order by the Court of Appeal while the House of Lords' decision was to the contrary. Therefore, there has been retrospective action here. It is possible for people who rightly believe they are within the law of the trade union movement and who act accordingly to be subject to heavy penalties at a later date. These people are an important cornerstone of our industrial society.
I welcome the Bill. I am sure that the trade union movement welcomes it. The Bill is really the soup before the main meal which will be provided by the Royal Commission. I have merely pointed out some of the misgivings which some of us have so that they may be dealt with by the Royal Commission. My colleagues and I believe that the matter is very urgent. Many doubts remain to be resolved. Many questions have yet to be answered. The sooner the Royal Commission reports, the better it will be for everyone concerned.
I end by quoting from the excellent book, "The Worker and the Law", by Professor K. W. Wedderburn, Professor of Commercial Law at the University of London:The Bill, if enacted in this form, would have substantial limitations and would not reproduce the law as it was thought to be before 1964 in every respect.I have mentioned tonight some of the reasons the professor gives in support of that claim.
We are pleased that the Bill is to become law. It gives somewhat limited protection in respect of the doubts which have risen since Rookes v. Barnard. We still have to await the wider findings of the Royal Commission. We sincerely hope that they will come as soon as possible so that doubts can be resolved and those who work in industry will have the protection which is their due.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Godber
We come almost to the end of our discussion on the Bill. I have been in the House for some years. It is a long time since I can recall, if indeed I can recall, an occasion on which a 1319 Minister was so unenthusiastic about his Bill that he failed to make one single articulate sound in commending it to the House on Third Reading.
§ Mr. Gunter
It was the deception of the right hon. Gentleman that brought about that state of affairs. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was calling a Division. I went out in obedience. For some reason, the right hon. Gentleman did not call a Division.
§ Mr. Godber
I am sure that the Minister has all sorts of reasons about which he will tell the House later. We were waiting eagerly for his speech on Third Reading. It did not emerge. Before we conclude, I trust that he will give us the benefit of his views.
§ Mr. Godber
That depends on how long I take. I do not intend to delay the House for long, although I feel strongly about the Bill. We have already discussed it in considerable detail. It appears clear that the Minister is not in the mood to assist the House. We have every right to feel a sense of grievance because he has not taken more account of the Amendments we have moved during the Bill's passage. We must acknowledge, with a very limited degree of gratitude, the fact that at the very last moment not the Minister but his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General was persuaded on the merits of the case about retrospection to give us one crumb of comfort. That is all we have had during the passage of the Bill. So the Bill goes forward almost in the form in which it emerged, a form which in our view has very serious defects.
It would seem from some of the speeches made by hon. Members opposite today that hon. Members opposite have no idea of what the Bill intends to do. They have tried to expand the issues raised by the Bill far beyond its confines, certainly far beyond the confines set out by the Minister himself on Second Reading. The Minister said this when moving the Second Reading:I should like to take this early opportunity of emphasising that this legislation is not intended to make any new departure in the law governing trade union activities. We are not legalising the closed shop, nor are we outlawing it. We are not opening the door to 1320 strikes in breach of contract, nor are we legislating against them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1965; Vol. 706, c. 1017.]From listening to some of the Minister's hon. Friends today one would have thought that very sweeping things were being done by the Bill.
As I pointed out on an Amendment during the Report stage, the effect of the Bill is very limited, as the Minister himself then said. It sought primarily to clear up an area of doubt which existed in the minds of many trade union leaders subsequent to the Rookes v. Barnard judgment. We have debated with the Government the issues and the main criticisms which we have of the Bill. In Committee I summarised three main points. I said then, on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill":I find three main criticisms of the Clause: one is about the position of the individual; one is about the position of the unofficial strike leader; and one is about retrospection."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 6th April, 1965, c. 273.]On the point of retrospection we have had one crumb of comfort.
We were not able to debate the position of the unofficial strike leader on Report stage. We had an Amendment but it was not selected. I believe that the Minister was wrong in not doing something which could have helped him in his official position as Minister of Labour by restricting any benefit which the Bill would give to those in an official position in a trade union. I believe that there would have been real benefit in producing something of that sort and in restricting the advantages to those who speak in an official capacity. The Minister knows as well as anyone in the House the difficulties and the dangers which arise in industrial relations when official leaders are ignored. I believe that he wants to strengthen the hands of official leaders as much as I do and that he was wrong not to accede to our request there.
What the Minister was most wrong about, however, was the matter on which we have spent most of our time, and that is the question of the individual. The right hon. Gentleman has not seen fit to move one iota to meet us on a genuine case put forward with great cogency by my hon. Friends. Yet we have had no safeguards at all. The Bill still contains words which mean that not only is the 1321 trade union leader in his normal activities of wage negotiation safeguarded but also that he is safeguarded with regard to any intimidation in individual cases.
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) earlier took up this point when he spoke about what he said was a quite proper part of a trade union official's duty. I have noted his view on that but the whole basis of the Bill was one of urgency. We were told that it was urgent to provide some protection pending the Royal Commission's Report, but I do not accept that there was as much urgency about this as about other functions which trade union officials have to carry out.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
I should like to correct the right hon. Gentleman. This is purely a matter of opinion and it is the opinion of people who do the jobs of trade union officials that the matter was urgent and that the lack of a Bill was impeding them in their day's work.
§ Mr. Godber
This is a matter of opinion and I am giving him mine just as the hon. Member gave me his, but surely in trade union matters this could not he of the same degree of urgency as things which are involved in wage negotiations that must go on whatever else happens. However desirable a 100 per cent. shop may be in the view of hon. Members, I find it difficult to believe that in general there is the same degree of urgency about it. But still, I am sure that this is an issue on which the Minister is doing harm. It is quite clear that, in opinion outside, there is an issue of importance here. The Minister was not very happy when I said earlier today that I felt that an indication of the opinion of the House as a whole could be of assistance to the Royal Commission. The right hon. Gentleman refuted that. I can only say that, in my view, the collective decision of the House is an important element in relation to public opinion, and he should not underestimate that effect in this connection.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's main failure on the Bill lies here. He has not been able to agree to any Amendment which would still have given him the main thing he wanted and yet would have provided a great deal of satisfaction to very many people who feel deeply on this issue. He may say that we 1322 have exaggerated. Nevertheless, I assure him that these opinions are deeply held and deserve to be treated with respect, and he could have taken action without militating against what he wanted to achieve. It is a serious failure on the right hon. Gentleman's part that he has not accepted what we pressed upon him. The Bill will leave the House in almost the same form as when it came here. It will leave without the advantage which it could have had of a much more favourable attitude from the House as a whole. This is a great pity.
The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) tried to make far too strong a point in saying that, if we were against the Bill, we were even against the provisions of the 1906 Act. He must know that there was no justification for saying that. When I was Minister and had to deal with this particular issue, I said to trade union leaders then that, if they would bring to me evidence showing that they were being inhibited in their work because of any deviation regarding the interpretation of the 1906 Act, I should consider it sympathetically. I never had such cases brought to me. The issue here is very much narrower, as the hon. Gentleman must realise and as the Minister knows very well.
The Bill is leaving the House in a form which is much less satisfactory than would have been possible had the Minister been willing to show just a small degree of accommodation. We are entitled to voice our deep dissatisfaction because we asked him in various ways and different form of words to assist us on it, but he did not do so. He has done harm to what could have been a more or less ready approach together to solve the problem on a basis in which we could have had something much nearer agreement, though I am not saying that we could have had complete agreement. Now, if the Bill proceeds in this way, we shall, presumably, have to await the report of the Royal Commission before we have any further consideration of these matters.
Naturally, we hope that we shall be receiving the advice of the Royal Commission before very long. I remind the Minister that the Trades Union Congress asked for this only as temporary legislation pending the report of the Royal 1323 Commission. We shall want to look at all these matters again, as the Minister himself said on Second Reading. We all want to reconsider them, and I hope that it will not be long before we can look at the far wider issues involved. I am sure that the whole country will welcome that further examination. Of course, by the time the Royal Commission has reported, we shall be on the other side of the House.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Gunter
When the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) talks about major issues here, the closed shop and restrictive practices, I am bound to ask him, why on earth did not he do something about them? We have been here for only six months. His party was in power for a long time. The closed shop was an issue long before Rookes v. Barnard. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted me to—I am sure that he would not—I could go over speeches of mine on the closed shop during the past 10 years drawing the attention of Ministers of Labour and the Tory Party, in my own kindly way, to the difficulties which were arising. Yet nothing at all was done. But we take office and the sacred cause of liberty is raised.
I want to say to the Liberal Party that I respect its radical tradition but that when a Tory starts talking to me about the defence of individual liberty then it is time for all decent men to reach for their guns. There has been much play on individual liberty. I do not know what the Welsh miners of my father's generation would have thought if they had heard some of the speeches today in defence of individual liberty.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grantham expressed deep disappointment that I have not moved in the way he wanted. It was to me a narrow issue and yet a fundamental one that we should by some means or other seek to restore the law as we thought it would have been for 60 years, with all that history had proved were its weaknesses, all the facets which 60 years of developing society had revealed had gone wrong with the 1906 Act.
One hon. Member opposite discovered, almost as though it had come from 1324 Mount Sinai, that times had changed. Of course they have. The background today is entirely different from the background of the 1906 Act. I want to relieve myself from these suggestions of Machiavellianism. All I wanted to do in my own daft and simple way was to clear the ground and go back to where we were, for a short period until an objective body could have a look at all the related problems—not at just one problem, not just at restrictive practices or the closed shop or union rule books but at all the problems, bringing them together and thus giving, as did a similar body at the beginning of the century, a guiding light to the Government. I am bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, that whilst he might be very disappointed and consider me to be to blame for not taking the course the Opposition wished me to take, my simple aim was to restore the position until the Royal Commission could look at the whole situation.
This is not a particularly dramatic or far-reaching Measure. Its scope is limited to removing a particular problem which has arisen in the law affecting trade unions. It is not an unimportant Bill but it is only a Bill which seeks to bridge a gulf until we get the Royal Commission's report. We have heard before all the arguments that have been adduced on Third Reading. Perhaps I am conceited enough to believe that I could recite some of the speeches which have been made on both sides. I am sure that I could recite the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), although I could abbreviate it.
We have heard all the arguments and therefore I shall try to be commendably brief and say that we do not need to be disappointed. But I would add that we on this side of the House are as near to the cause of individual liberty and the necessity for the abolition of restrictive practices as anyone. At least part of this whole operation is to see whether we can get some guiding light as to how to get the trade union structure into order.
All these problems are related and one cannot winkle one off and deal with it in isolation. They all must be dealt with together. I commend the Bill to the House for Third Reading. I believe the course I have adopted is right. It is not an outrage against individual liberty and 1325 it does not condone restrictive practices or the closed shop. All I ask is that a Royal Commission shall view all these problems together and relate them so that we can see properly what is required in a modern industrial society.
I have felt for the right hon. Member for Grantham during the course of the Committee stage because my speeches have been so repetitive and have always ended with a reference to the Royal
|Division No. 114.]||AYES||[9.35 p.m.|
|Ahse, Leo||Garrow, A.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Ginsburg, David||Oakes, Gordon|
|Alldritt, Walter||Gourlay, Harry||O'Malley, Brian|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Gregory, Arnold||Orbach, Maurice|
|Atkinson, Norman||Grey, Charles||Orme, Stanley|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Barnett, Joel||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Owen, Will|
|Baxter, William||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Bence, Cyril||Hannan, William||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Harper, Joseph||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Blackburn, F.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Prentice, R. E.|
|Boston, T. G.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Holman, Percy||Redhead, Edward|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Horner, John||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Brown, R.W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Robertson, John (Paistey)|
|Carmichael Neil||Howie, W.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hoy, James||Rose, Paul B.|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Chapman, Donald||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Coleman, Donald||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jeger, George (Goole)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Small, William|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Snow, Julian|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kenyon, Clifford||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Ledger, Ron||Stonehouse, John|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stones, William|
|Dell, Edmund||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Dodds, Norman||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Doig, Peter||Lomas, Kenneth||Taverne, Dick|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Loughlin, Charles||Thornton, Ernest|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Tomney, Frank|
|Dunn, James A.||McBride, Neil||Tuck, Raphael|
|Dunnett, Jack||MacColl, James||Varley, Eric G.|
|Edelman, Maurice||McGuire, Michael||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mclnnes, James||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|English, Michael||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Wallace, George|
|Ensor, David||MacMillan, Malcolm||Watkins, Tudor|
|Evans, loan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Whitlock, William|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Williams, Albert (Abertillery)|
|Floud, Bernard||Mapp, Charles||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Foley, Maurice||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mikardo, Ian||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Millan, Bruce||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Ford, Ben||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Woodbum, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Murray, Albert|
|Garrett, W. E.||Neal, Harold||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Lawson and Mr. McCaan.|
§ Commission. I think that on balance I am right in my approach. I do not want to end on an acid note, but I would only say that if he had seized the opportunity before the General Election, perhaps this dilemma would not have arisen.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—1327
|Alson, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Mutton, Oscar,|
|Anstruther-Gray, Bt. Hn. Sir W.||Gower, Raymond||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Astor, John||Grant-Ferris, R.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Barlow, Sir John||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Bataford, Brian||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Onslow, Cranley|
|Bell, Ronald||Gurden, Harold||Oshorne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Hall-Davies, A. G. F.||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Peel, John|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Peyton, John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Blaker, Peter||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Box, Donald||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hawkins, Paul||Pym, Francis|
|Braine, Bernard||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Redmayne, Ht. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hiley, Joseph||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hooson, H. E.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hopkins, Alan||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Scott Hopkins, James|
|Buxton, Ronald||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Sharples, Richard|
|Carlisle, Mark||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Shepherd, William|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Cooke, Robert||Jopling, Michael||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Cordle, John||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Corfield, F. V.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Talbot, John E.|
|Costain, A. P.||Kirk, Peter||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lagden, Godfrey||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Lambton, Viscount||Temple, John M.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Curran, Charles||Loveys, Walter H.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lubbock, Eric||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Dance, James||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||MacArthur, Ian||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Doughty, Charles||McLaren, Martin||Walters, Dennis|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Ward, Dame Irene|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||McMaster, Stanley||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Eden, Sir John||McNalr-Wilson, Patrick||Whitelaw, William|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Maginnis, John E.||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Mathew, Robert||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Maude, Angus||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mawby, Ray||Wise, A. R.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Foster, Sir John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Gammans, Lady||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Gardner, Edward||Mitchell, David|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Monro, Hector||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||More, Jasper||Mr. Dudley Smith and|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Mr. G. Johnson Smith.|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.