HC Deb 09 August 1966 vol 733 cc1452-4

Nothing in this Act shall prejudice the operation of any scheme which has been created for the employees in any particular industry, company or firm, for the payment to the said employees of bonuses (additional to earnings) based on improvements or increases in productivity or production: Provided that such a scheme shall have been in operation at least six months before the passing of this Act; and all provisions in this Act relating to terms and conditions of employment, incomes and earnings, shall be deemed to disregard payments to be made to employees in accordance with the terms of such schemes for bonus payments as aforesaid.—[Mr. Gower.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Gower

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think that it would be convenient to the House to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 38, in Clause 28, page 25, line 37, at end insert: a wage increase reflecting an actual increase in output achieved under a productivity agreement shall not be subject to such an order".

Mr. Gower

In some ways the new Clause is analogous to the last new Clause, which we can hardly be said to have debated but which we considered prior to the last Division. It appears that there is less comprehensive information available about schemes and arrangements of this kind because whereas, as I indicated, certain statistical evidence is published intermittently in the Ministry of Labour Gazette which gives details of profit-sharing and co-partnership schemes, I do not think that any similar statistical information is published about schemes and arrangements comparable with those described in the new Clause. As we all know, however, they exist in a variety of forms and in many industries all over the United Kingdom.

I expect that hon. Members, in every part of the House, can easily think of examples of schemes and arrangements which have been instituted increasingly each year since the war. I am well acquainted with several in and around my constituency. There is a scheme of this kind in many parts of the cement industry whereby, at the end of an accounting period, the employees receive a bonus based upon the production result of the undertaking for the year.

As I indicated in connection with the earlier Clause, we here have an opportunity of inserting something creative and, perhaps, dynamic into a Bill which is based almost entirely on restriction. As with the previous Clause, I do not pretend to offer the House any economic panacea, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) said when the problem was briefly considered in Committee, any productivity arrangement has a useful part to play in improving the earnings of the investors, the managers and the works and in reducing the cost of the product or the service. I think those words are worthy of repetition now.

Surely the Government, in seeking to obtain a degree of stability in prices and earnings, do not wish to remove from our industry everything which is dynamic, everything which promotes effort, and everything which leads to greater production and productivity? The Government need productivity, they need improvement of efficient production, as much as they need stability of prices and earnings. If the Bill is not amended by the insertion of a Clause of this kind, the Bill, I feel, rather than aiding the Government's professed objects, can act only as a very serious disincentive to some of those progressive qualities which the country sadly needs. I submit that, in principle, this Clause offers the Government a late opportunity of supplying the real need in their present economic policy——

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