HC Deb 21 February 1966 vol 725 cc20-1
38. Mr. Fisher

asked the Minister of Labour when he intends to introduce legislation to implement the recommendations of the Devlin Committee on the Docks.

Mr. Gunter

Legislation to provide for a system of licensing port employers and for welfare amenities for dock workers will be introduced as soon as possible The National Modernisation Committee has reached agreement in principle on a revision of the Dock Labour Scheme and I hope to publish the draft of a new Scheme shortly. The revised Scheme will establish a fully decasualised system of employment, as recommended by the Devlin Report. The Modernisation Committee is also engaged in discussions on pension schemes, sick pay, future wage structure and employment practices in the industry.

Mr. Fisher

All that sounds very hopeful, but as the Devlin Committee reported as long ago as last August, may I ask why there has been this very long delay since then? Can the right hon. Gentleman be a little more specific about when he proposes to introduce the legislation which he has promised?

Mr. Gunter

I am very surprised at the hon. Member talking like that when we are doing our best to clear up the chaos of almost a hundred years. There are relevant parts of the wage structure in the docks which go back half a century. We are trying to clear up the mess, and that inevitably takes time. I could not go any further about legislation beyond saying that I hope that it will be very shortly.

Sir K. Joseph

While my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) is naturally disappointed, perhaps because of the excessive hopes entertained when the Devlin Report was first published, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman recognises that we on this side of the House wish him the very best of luck in his work with the ports and that we shall do all we can when the time comes to get sensible legislation through.