HC Deb 21 February 1966 vol 725 cc21-3
39. Mr. Mawby

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he proposes to take to ensure that, where a substantial proportion of workers in the same grade employed at one establishment wish to be represented by a particular union in negotiations with their employers, they should have the right to such representation.

43 and 44. Mr. Hunt

asked the Minister of Labour (1) if he will introduce legislation to protect workers who, although willing to belong to a trade union, are refused admission to it or are expelled from it unnecessarily;

(2) if he will introduce legislation to reduce unofficial strikes by subjecting the trade union concerned to defined penalties unless it can show to an independent tribunal that it had taken all steps practicable to prevent or terminate a particular strike.

Mr. Gunter

With permission, I will answer Questions Nos. 39, 43 and 44 together.

Action by the Government on these matters would not be appropriate in advance of the Report of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations.

Mr. Mawby

Surely the right hon. Gentleman agrees that matters such as this need dealing with now rather than awaiting the report of the Royal Commission. Surely we cannot put every problem on the shelf until the Royal Commission reports. Would he not look seriously at this problem, which has existed for so many years and caused so much difficulty?

Mr. Gunter

Of course it has. It has been under consideration for many years both at the T.U.C. and at the British Employers' Federation, but I can only say, and I hope the House will forgive me for boring them, that this is one part of the whole picture of industrial relations, and I am desperately anxious to see it as a whole and then to come to complete conclusions about that whole and not about bits of it.

Mr. Hunt

Is the Minister aware that I regard my two Questions as entirely separate and that I can see no case at all for their being taken together in this way? One the specific point of banning or expulsion from trade unions, would not the Minister agree that many unions exercise an entirely arbitrary and autocratic power in these matters and is it not elementary justice that those who feel themselves victimised should have some right of appeal to an impartial body?

Mr. Gunter

I agree with the hon. Member. I could not deny the validity of what he said because I have said it on the Floor of the House. I do not know what the Royal Commission will recommend, but if in the end we have proper labour courts, given statutory powers, then I imagine that within their terms it would be possible for an individual trade unionist to take his protest against his own union to that court. But I do not think that we can do this in isolation.


Mr. Hunt

On a point of order. Questions Nos. 43 and 44 are entirely diffferent. Does a back-bench Member have any redress against a Minister's decision to take Questions together?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order for me.

Sir K. Joseph

What is the protection for a back-bench Member in these circumstances? The Minister used the formula "with permission". He said that he would answer the Questions together "with permission". Does that in fact mean "with permission"?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is not a matter for the Chair at all. We must proceed.