§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Frederick Lee)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Prices and Incomes Act 1966 (Commencement of Part II) Order 1967 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 20th June.The draft of an Order in Council, the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966 (Commencement of Part II) Order 1967, was laid before both Houses on 20th June, 1967. It provides for Part II of the 1966 Act to come into force for a period of 12 months from 12th August, 1967. Under the provisions of Section 6 of the 1966 Act the Order requires the approval of both Houses of Parliament. I understand that the other place approved it the other day, and I now move that this House approves the Order.
The Order is complementary to the new Act, and our discussions of that Act involved us to a considerable degree in reference to Part 11 of the 1966 Act. 1606 Those discussions, which were somewhat protracted, took place as recently as last week. Therefore, many of the provisions of Part II will be fresh in the minds of hon. Members, but perhaps I could mention one or two of the chief ones.
Part II deals with notifications and standstills. Sections 7 and 14 make it possible for the Government, by Order, to require notification of proposed increases in prices of goods or, indeed, charges for services and of awards or settlements. The Government are then allowed 30 days after notification of such a proposed increase to consider it in the light of the criteria for changes in prices and incomes. If within that period it is decided to refer the matter to the National Board for Prices and Incomes the proposed increase must not be implemented until either the Board has reported or until three months have elapsed from the date of the reference, whichever is the earlier.
Sections 8 and 15 make it possible to impose standstills in cases involving a proposed price or pay increase which is referred to the Board but where prior notification has not been required under Sections 7 or 14.
Under Section 16 it is an offence for an employer to implement an award or settlement during a standstill period. It is also an offence to take industrial action with a view to compelling an employer to act in breach of the standstill.
It is important to note that the activation of Part II does not establish a system of compulsory notification. It provides the power for this to be done, but, before notification becomes compulsory in any section of industry, an Order must be made under Sections 7, 12, 13 or 14, as the case may be.
The Government have made it abundantly clear on a great many occasions that their intention is to continue to rely to the fullest extent possible on the existing voluntary notification arrangements, but once Part II is in force it will be possible for the Government to impose standstills by direction under Sections 8 and 15 in cases referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes, whether or not there has been prior notification. However, it is our 1607 sincere hope that in practice the parties concerned with particular price increases, awards or settlements referred to the Board will be prepared to defer their implementation on a voluntary basis and so make the use of these powers and the complementary powers of the 1967 Act unnecessary. In view of the wide acceptance of the voluntary nature of this undertaking we are entitled to believe that we have a great deal of support from both sides of industry and that it is not a wild hope that there will still be a continuation of the voluntary arrangements which we have seen up to now.
Section 6 of the 1966 Act requires that before a draft Order in Council to activate Part II is laid before Parliament,… the Secretary of State … shall first consult with such organisations or bodies … which appear to him to represent to any substantial extent the interests of those particularly concerned with the Order.The Government have, accordingly consulted with the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. I confess that in neither case did we achieve full agreement, though to interpret this in any way as meaning any breakdown in joint co-operation in the running of the prices and incomes policy would be very wide of the mark. I take this opportunity to pay my very sincere tribute—and, I am sure, that of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary—to both organisations for the excellent co-operation that we have received from them.
The reason why we decided to go ahead with the 1967 Act and, indeed, with the activation of Part II of the 1966 Act was because, in our view, to move directly from the period of standstill and severe restraint, backed by the pretty wide powers of Part IV, to complete reliance on a voluntary system would, perhaps, place too sudden and maybe an unjustifiable strain on the voluntary arrangements and might well prejudice their ultimate success. We believe that these very limited statutory powers will be an encouragement to the vast majority who accept the need for voluntary restraint because they mean that others will not be able to take advantage of their acceptance.
The Government attach the greatest possible importance to the T.U.C's plans 1608 for the vetting of wage claims, and we hope to continue to work in very close consultation and co-operation with both the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. in the development of an effective policy on a voluntary basis. Our experience has shown that the objectives of both bodies and the Government in this matter are absolutely identical. The objectives are that the policy should be directed in the best interests of the community as a whole. While there may be differences of emphasis in relation to the means of achieving these objectives, there is certainly no difference as to what the objectives are.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
Does my right hon. Friend mean by cooperation with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. that, as under Part IV, before the Government take any action under any of these Sections between 7 and 22 they will get the agreement of either of these bodies if they are so affected?
§ Mr. Lee
I am not saying that we will always obtain their agreement; but we will consult with both parties, as we have all the way through. It is not necessary to get agreement, but I give the undertaking that we will consult with them, as we have in the past. I invite my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) to remember that there has been no opposition from either the T.U.C. or the C.B.I. to any of the Orders which have been made.
Perhaps one can best answer the arguments about the alleged differences which are supposed to exist between the Government approach and that of the T.U.C. by quoting from the speech of Mr. George Woodcock at the Conference of the Executive Committees of Affiliated Organisations on 2nd March, this year. After pointing to the demands made on Governments for safety measures and for health and education and so on in industry, Mr. Woodcock said:It is not therefore surprising in my view that with all these responsibilities the Government also want to have an interest in wages. I do not consider this to be wrong on the part of the Government or vicious at all. I think it is natural, necessary and inevitable that they should want to be in on this question of wages. I believe they must be in on this question of wages. We are not trying to keep them out altogether. We must cooperate with Governments these days.1609 In the light of that, it is obvious that there has been a gross exaggeration of the differences between the two bodies. As I have said, the objectives are identical and it is on that basis that we have this wholehearted co-operation from the T.U.C. in the evolution of the policy.
It is not very difficult to understand why responsible people such as Mr. Woodcock take that view. Considering the chaos which now obtains in collective bargaining in industry, it is no wonder that he himself said in the course of that speech that it was an unregulated jungle of wage negotiations, and he was absolutely right. The alternative to tack-1ing this problem by the activation of Part II is to leave free collective bargaining in the chaotic condition described. The question is, therefore, how do we tackle the problem. I have tried to show that there is no difference about what we want to achieve and that it is how we achieve it with which the House is now concerned.
Over the months we have developed our ideas and we have placed them before the House. The Official Opposition has consistently opposed and voted against them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear that murmur of approval.
§ Mr. Lee
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong about that; they have not voted against them.
It is the duty of those who consider themselves to be the alternative Government to place before the country their alternatives to what they are opposing. So far, the Tories have sat astride a fence so broad that some will probably be bow legged for the rest of this Parliament. They can hardly argue that their views are known, because the only ideas which they have ever annunciated have turned out to be dismal failures when they have attempted to put them into operation.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition recently made a major economic policy speech, but made no attempt to answer this cardinal question. I should therefore like to ask whether the Opposition accept the concept outlined in his article in The Times by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) on 15th June.
§ Mr. Speaker
I hesitate to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he is widening the debate considerably. We are debating whether Part II shall be activated.
§ Mr. Lee
I take the point, Mr. Speaker. I am striving to show that although the Government's policies have been opposed by the Official Opposition, we are still trying to discover what they would substitute for them in the unfortunate event of their being able to defeat this Motion. I am trying to find whether on those very few occasions when their spokesmen have said anything on the subject those statements have constituted the policies which they would pursue as an alternative to that which the Government are pursuing. However, I will not continue with that. They may have thrown the right hon. Member for Barnet overboard and be in favour of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr.Powell), who thinks that it is poison to have this kind of policy. In order to arrive at the conclusion and in the new Tory democracy, perhaps it would be a good thing if they allowed one right hon. Gentleman to open for their side and another to wind up so that the Tories could decide between them.
In the course of our discussions, there was criticism of the retrospective effect which this legislation undoubtedly has. None of us likes retrospective legislation on principle, but what might be called the purity of that argument emerged a little stained when in the early hours of 11th July my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General pointed out that the Wireless Telegraphy (Validation of Charges) Act, 1954, not only had retrospective effect of the type contained in this Bill—
§ Mr. Speaker
We are getting very wide of the Bill. We are discussing whether to put Part II into operation.
§ Mr. Lee
I was trying to discuss what is contained in Part II of the 1966 Act, Mr. Speaker, but if that is widening the debate, I shall not continue. The provisions of Sections 1, 2 and 3 and the Schedule of the Act are designed temporarily to supplement the provisions of Part II of the 1966 Act.
After wide differences, the House reached conclusions which placed the 1611 1967 Act on the Statute Book. It is now necessary during this period when the Government are tapering off the legislative powers which they have possessed that we should retain these minor powers of delay for a further period. In this, we have the support of the vast majority of thinking people among trade unions, employers and the public in general. If it were believed that at this stage we could risk going from a period of standstill and severe restraint without having this kind of power, neither my right hon. Friend nor I would ask the House to give us such power.
When one looks back on the uncertainties and the understandable fears of some hon. Members when Part IV was activated and the fact that none of the dire predictions then made has come about, surely it is not asking too much for the House to give us now the powers which I have described and which are minor in comparison with Part IV, because this is the period in which there is the tapering-off process from the more severe legislative power which we then possessed. In these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that it was right and proper to ask the House to agree to the activation of Part II of the 1966 Act.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)
It is becoming a rather dreary business hearing Ministers trying to explain the purposes and practices of their prices and incomes policy. We have heard it over and over again, and frankly it becomes less convincing every time we hear it. I also find it a rather sad affair to hear it explained by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. After his long career in the trade union movement, and the part that he has played as a Member of this House in the trade union group of the Labour Party, to have to hear him explaining the development of a policy which is not only anathema to the trade union movement, but which is in the long run incompatible with it, is a very sad affair.
We oppose this Order, just as we opposed the 1966 Prices and Incomes Act, just as we opposed the 1967 Act, with which we have just dealt, and just as we shall oppose the 1968 Bill which this Government will inevitably introduce, 1612 and as we shall also oppose the inevitable repetition of this Order in a year's time to extend Part II for a further 12 months. No one can doubt the inevitability at least of another debate of this kind in twelve months' time. The Government made that absolutely clear in the debate on Clause 6 in the 1967 Bill in Committee a week or two ago.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues on the Front Bench keep talking about things like tapering off, about this being one stage in a move to a fully voluntary, or sometimes just a voluntary system. Frankly we do not believe it, nor do many people on either side of industry.
We are sure that the truth really came out in the speech made a little while ago by the Leader of the House in Shropshire. We are in no doubt that the Chancellor of the Duchy knows this too. Indeed he gave the whole game away when winding up the debate on the Second Reading of the 1967 Bill.
Unless there is legislation"—and this Order is part and parcel of this legislation—of the type we are indicating here"—said the right hon. Gentlemanthose who are not affiliated to the T.U.C. will have an enormous advantage in that they would not be subjected to that vetting procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th July 1967; Vol 727, c. 433.]I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman and asked what would happen in a year's time, and whether that protection would not still be needed. I asked what about all the unions not affiliated to the T.U.C. which would not therefore be subject to the vetting procedure. How would they be taken care of in a year's time?
By his utter failure to answer that question, quite apart from any other aspect of the Government's policy, it is quite clear that next year we shall be concerned with more compulsion. Perhaps it will be of a different kind, a bit more compulsion in one respect, a bit less in another—but in a year's time there will be more compulsion. This voluntary system, to which the Government claim to be moving, is just not viable for reasons which I shall mention.
When the right hon. Gentleman talks so enthusiastically, as he did just now, 1613 about the wholehearted co-operation of T.U.C., about the reliance on the T.U.C. vetting procedure, I think that either he is misleading the House—and I do not really believe that he means to do that—or he has now been so long in Government Ministries in Whitehall that he no longer knows what is happen-in industry.
If one is in industry one knows that, tar from an increasing acceptance of this policy, there are growing doubts about its efficacy, on both sides of industry. There are certainly growing doubts among employers who went a long way with the Government in their policies a year or so ago, and there is certainly growing hostility among trade unions. Of that there is no doubt.
This hostility, although it is now expressed in its very natural human terms of a strong dislike of forgoing, in the short run, wage increases which the unions' bargaining power might otherwise achieve, is in my experience beginning to go much deeper, because more and more trade unionists at every level are at last beginning to wake up to the fact that the sort of policy on which the Government are embarked is in the long run incompatible with free trade unionism as we have known it. Leading members of the Government, notably the Leader of the House and the right hon. Lady the Minister of Transport, have made clear in public speeches within the last year that Socialist planning must include planning of incomes. I believe that that is the truth. But the planning of incomes by the centre—
§ Mr. Carr
This Order is about the central planning of incomes and one of the reasons why we resist it is our belief that the central planning of incomes is incompatible with a free society and with free trade unions. We oppose this Order on general grounds of principle such as those I have been mentioning, and on more particular grounds.
First, we object to it because the incidence of this policy has now been shown to be both capricious and unfair. The Government's arguments keep calling in aid the principles of fairness and universality. In practice neither of those 1614 principles is honoured. Tens of thousands of decisions have to be taken every year about prices and incomes, and no adequate surveillance is possible or attempted by the Government under the policy that they are adopting, or is envisaged in this Order. No confidence has been given to this House, or to industry, that the Government are competent or able to spot strategic cases for reference to the Board.
What is it they are after? My hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) has asked this on many occasions. Is it the strong whom the Government are seeking to attack or the weak? In recent months it seems to be more and more the case of the little group of relatively weak people who are singled out for knocking on the head—a few dozen here, a few hundred there.
The Board, which is an essential part of the instrument envisaged in this Order, can only deal with 20 or 30 references a year, out of the hundreds of thousands of prices and incomes decisions. If we put too much pressure on the Board to accept more references than it can properly do, we shall get more and more shallow reports, and, quite apart from any objections one may have in principle, there is this added objection in practice.
We feel that the prices side of the policy in particular is a sham. Many hon. Members opposite feel the same. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) has said, the Government are "conning" their supporters on this subject. This policy cannot be an effective control over prices. We do not believe that the Government genuinely intend it to be. They have brought it in simply to "con" certain gullible people, but that gullibility is rapidly coming to an end.
We oppose this Order on one other particular ground. I could mention many others but I will content myself with this one further example. It is that Part II of the 1966 Act, which this Order brings into operation, contains that notorious Section 16(4) which we debated in the early hours of the morning last week. This is the Section imposing penal sanctions on trade unions for doing what is only the normal business and the proper duty of trade unions. As we said on that occasion, we on this side of the House 1615 will never vote for an Act or Order which involves the bringing into force of penal sanctions of that kind. Entirely different considerations apply when one comes to placing civil liabilities on people. But not penal sanctions. For that reason, if for no other, we should vote against the Order.
May I refer to some of the more general grounds on which we oppose the Order? Part II of the Act of last year cannot be looked at on its own, for it is part and parcel of the whole of the Government's ill-chosen and ineffective attempts to promote statutory control of incomes and, as such, we reject it on principle absolutely. It will not work and it is not fair. One of the tragedies of the position in which the Government have placed us is that if only we could start with a clean sheet, there are many people both inside and outside the House who believe that there is a role in which some agency could inquire and report in a way which might influence these affairs and lead to a more orderly and more effective system of free collective bargaining than has existed in the past. But the possible benefits of this system have been destroyed by the Government plunging into this folly and launching an attempt at detailed statutory control which is not fair, which will not work and which is extremely capricious in so far as it does work.
The right hon. Gentleman asked us what we should put in place of this Order if we opposed it. I made it clear on the Second Reading of the recent Prices and Incomes Bill that we thought that a five-pronged economic and industrial policy should be implemented instead of the Order, one of the parts of which was a fundamental reform of the whole legal framework of industrial relations. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition recently referred to that theme in a very powerful way. I made it clear in that context, which would get the economic tide running in the right direction instead of in the wrong direction, that there was a marginal but nonetheless constructive role for some agency to inquire and to report and also a marginal but nevertheless a constructive and useful role for both the C.B.I. and the T.U.C.
1616 A Government must have an incomes and a prices policy, but if we are to have freedom rather than a policy involving more and more detailed central control, then the Government's policy for prices and incomes must be one operating on the general level of prices and incomes and not an attempt to rub out every little measle spot which appears on the surface of the economy, because there will always be too many measle spots to rub out even if it were a desirable process in itself. The essential of such an alternative policy, which would be much better than the Order, is an economy driven by the twin forces of incentive and competition and working within a proper legal framework for industrial relations.
Provided that those are right, then we need to have agencies only to deal with the exception rather than the rule. On the prices side, where competition fails because of too much dominance of the market, we have the Monopolies Commission and the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, and these must always be kept up-to-date and used vigorously, perhaps more vigorously than in the past. On the incomes side, one sees the need for an agency perhaps to inquire into cases in which there appears to be undue market dominance on the part of those with the power to negotiate and to some extent to fix incomes. If one begins to look at an inquiry agency as a parallel to the Monopolies Commission, one begins to go to the root of the matter in a free economy. But this is a policy entirely different from that of half-baked detailed statutory controls on which the Government are embarked.
We are satisfied that the Government's present incomes policy will not work. We are convinced, moreover, that it has taken on an unstable equilibrium which involves either too much compulsion or not enough. It will have to lead either to more statutory controls, which we believe is the inevitable direction in which the Government are moving, whatever they may wish, or back to a dependence on free collective bargaining. We in the Conservative Opposition uncompromisingly stand for the latter choice, in spite of the difficulties and of the admitted past failures.
I shall no doubt be told that this is a return to free-for-all, that phrase which 1617 has been made one of the dirty phrases of modern jargon. But surely freedom for all is what Britain's history has all been about. Freedom within the law is at the heart of the British tradition. If we have been wrong in this respect, it has not been through freedom, I suggest, but perhaps because the framework of law within which this freedom has been exercised has not been as perfect as it should have been and has been in urgent need of modernisation. That is why, among other policies, we are talking about the reform of the legal framework of industrial relations.
In our view, therefore, we must not go forward in this country on the road of a statutory incomes and prices policy. In the end it will not lead to the economic results desired. And much more, we believe, than economic efficiency is at stake, because the centralised planning of incomes is incompatible with the continuation of free trade unions and collective bargaining. In our belief trade unions and employers' organisations, independent of the State, are still the hallmark of freedom in an industrial country. Conversely, trade unions and employers' organisations which become agents of the State and instruments of State-organised central planning of wages, lead, however unintended the result may be, to an authoritarian society.
Equally, we agree that we cannot go back to exactly what we had before. The only alternative which we see—and we believe that it can be an effective alternative—is to apply vigorously the five-point package policy which I described on Second Reading of the recent Prices and Incomes Bill and which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has been propounding in public—a five-prong policy in which one vital element must be wholesale reform of industrial relations law.
In asking the House to oppose the Order, I make a special appeal to hon. Members opposite who are life-long trade unionists to think very carefully about this alternative, because the proposals which we put forward in place of this Order are in no way anti-trade union in intent or in effect. Whatever may be the intent of the Government's policies, they are inevitably anti-trade union in efect and will be seen more and more to be anti-trade union as they develop. Our 1618 policy would propose new obligations and responsibilities for employers—
§ Mr. Carr
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker.
Let me say, in conclusion, that our policy of a new framework of law within which the freedom of trade unions can be operated is the only viable alternative to this Order. It is the policy for which we stand, because in conjunction with the other main policies I have referred to, it would make possible the continuation of free collective bargaining —and free collective bargaining is the essential function on which free trade unionism in the West has been based, All the powers and almost all the other functions of the trade unions stem from that. The policy on which the Government have embarked will destroy this freedom if it is allowed to go on. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said as long ago as 15th January last year,This is a downward road ending in severe restrictions of individual freedom and of the proper role of the trade unions.As The Times said in a leading article on 5th July last year:In the long run these [inflationary] forces can be controlled by the statutory control of incomes or regulations in other fields only at the cost of putting the economy in a straitjacket which itself is the greatest deterrent to a fast and stable rate of growth.Unless we can get something like a fast and stable rate of growth and have freedom, we shall not prosper economically and our free society will not Survive. That is why we oppose this Order and everything else to do with this Government's prices and incomes policy.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I do not intend to follow the central theme on which the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) finished, first because that would be out of order, and secondly because I could not disagree with him more.
Implementation of this Order is the end of a long journey for a great number of hon. Members. Many of my hon. Friends and I have been unwilling passengers on this journey. We set off in 1619 the euphoria of the prices, incomes and productivity statement a long time ago. We seem to be finishing, at least this stage of the prices and incomes debate which will bring implementation of this Order, with much less enthusiasm for the Government's policy. The attendance in the House tonight seems to bear that out. I have a great deal of personal affection for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. We have disagreed and will appear to continue to disagree on the Government's policy, but I think he recognises that there is genuine sincerity on our side and we have never doubted that there is on the Government side.
I do not want to say very much, because we have said it not once but possibly three times in the many debates on prices and incomes policy. What I am concerned about is what the Government hope to achieve through implementation of this Order. My right hon. Friend referred to the T.U.C. and its 22nd March conference. He quoted what George Woodcock said about collective bargaining and about the Government having to have a policy in relation to wages. At that conference, at the same time that the executive endorsed the policy, George Woodcock opposed the legislation and the implementation of Part II. We should remember that.
Those of us on this side of the House who are concerned about the legislation find Section 16 in Part II particularly repulsive for trade unions and trade unionism. We find it so because in our mixed economy the Government will not get the co-operation of those who provide the means of production and wealth by coercion, but only by persuasion and by proving that what they are doing is in the interests not only of themselves but of the country as a whole.
Our criticism is that the Government have made this the central theme of their economic policy, but prices and incomes policy as it stands is not a central economic theme. I am not in a position to expound the alternatives this evening. My hon. Friends and I will be saying something later in the week about what we think a Socialist alternative economic policy should be. This Order and its provisions are only playing with the situation. There are many thousands of 1620 claims made yearly, factory by factory, from the workshop floor. As my right hon. Friend knows, because of his experience in the A.E.U. at Metropolitan Vickers, Trafford Park, where he was a distinguished works convenor and took part daily in works negotiations, this cannot be dealt with by legislation. It is physically impossible.
We have to allow the trade unions to carry out their rightful duty to maintain, or try to maintain, the level of their members' incomes. Many of us believe that it is not a question of what is needed is a wage freeze and retarding wages; in many sections low wages are bedevilling production and productivity. I see that my right hon. Friend agrees. Unfortunately this policy has become synonymous with a wage freeze under Part IV. My right hon. Friend is trying to shake free from that, but unfortunately that is the position. If we remain in a situation in which legislation such as this is maintained and take a sledge hammer to crack a nut, we shall not achieve what we are setting out to do.
Strengthening of Part II, which is to be done by the new Order, involves, as my right hon. Friend said, provisions which are not small provisions. We have lengthened the provisions in Part II of the Act which we passed last July. The delaying powers are now up to seven months. They can be taxed by penal legislation. My hon. Friends and I feel unable to support this Order. The whole emphasis of this policy and its philosophy are opposed to what we stand for. While we respect those who have introduced it believing that it is correct, we believe that it is not correct.
It does not have the permissive support of the trade union movement. Union after union is going on record as opposed to the implementation of Part II and any extension of the legislation. This, I believe, will be confirmed at the T.U.C. and the Labour Party conferences later this year. Although it is not possible on this occasion to discuss alternatives—the two Front Bench spokesmen had difficulty expounding their views because of this—it seems that we are looking at this matter negatively if we do not put forward alternative views. It has not got to be the central theme of our economy today.
1621 Many of my hon. Friends have been concerned about two specific issues. One is prices and the other is the position of lower-paid workers. We have a fiasco on prices. There was one Order under the last Part II on prices and 13 Orders on wages. I do not think that there is anything here to suggest that we are restricting price increases. The C.B.I. gave a very dusty answer to the proposal for co-operation. On the question of lower-paid workers the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) quoted figures from the engineering industry. He showed how the ditlerential has widened between labourers and skilled workers in engineering. This has taken place during the period of freeze, yet it was said that this policy would narrow that gap and assist de lower-paid workers. That is not so and we could give many instances in which the policy has lamentably failed.
My right hon. Friend the First Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy say that this is to support the voluntary system, that they do not want compulsion—and that we have got a voluntary system but it is not yet completely voluntary because it would not be possible to work a voluntary system without some encasement of legislative power. This, to me, is just double-Dutch. One cannot have the English language distorted more. It is either voluntary or it is not. Of course, we are moving into a phase where the T.U.C. is going to operate its own system. But the Government will be backed with powers which they can implement if they so desire.
Among my hon. Friends there are differences of opinion, because a prices and incomes policy is not an easy thing to work out, and how one operates a voluntary system is open to judgment—whether, for instance, it is possible to have other measures for the redistribution of income and so on. However, I think it would be far simpler if the Government were to move directly into the voluntary period and allow the T.U.C. to work along the lines which it suggested. Much of the system will have to be amended; much fresh thinking will have to go into this. That does not mean that the Government will have stepped out of the wages sphere; it does not mean that the Government are moving away from it—because, as I 1622 said, there are many ways of getting a policy for incomes and profits and prices; and the Government have legislative powers in many spheres and not just this one of Part II.
I feel that this proposal will not assist making the new policy which the Government desire to see. I think that the Act is a bad one. I thought so from the beginning and I think so now that we have seen it on the Statute Book. For the reasons I have explained already, I feel unable to support this proposal when it is put to the vote tonight.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwin)
I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) that it was pretty cool of the Chancellor of the Duchy to invoke Mr. George Woodcock's support for this Order which he is bringing forward tonight. The legislation activated by this Order was described by Mr. George Woodcock as a bauble or plaything. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that is the best commendation he can get for this he has a very bad case. "Bauble or plaything" is a derogatory term, not one of praise. If this is the best he can find, all I can say is he is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford, West, from the depths of his knowledge, said there was mounting hostility to the Act and to the policy in the trade union movement. Of course, every time the Chancellor of the Duchy talks about it it is not surprising that the hostility mounts. What did he say today? He referred to the system of wage negotiations which has been built up in this country, and which is sometimes regarded with pride all over the world, as a chaotic condition of collective bar-gaining—
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
A jungle. Whatever it may be it is something which the Government say they are going to revive in 12 months' time.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Well, if the Chancellor thinks that this bauble or plaything will have such a deep educative 1623 effect that the whole system of collective bargaining in 12 months' time is removed out of the chaos which has existed before and that a very perfect machine will emerge, all I can tell him is that he is just living in a dream world.
If this Act does ever expire and none other replaces it, of course things will go back very much to where they were a year ago, to the system of collective bargaining which he described as a jungle or chaos, and if collective bargaining is a jungle or chaos, how does he describe individual bargaining, which accounts for a very large percentage of the wage claims all over the country? As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) said, once the Act is removed, once there is no longer any legal control that the Government say there will not be—or they assume there will not be—in 12 months' time, then if there is a voluntary system and restraint worked by the T.U.C., those who are not under the control of the T.U.C.—and they Are a very large number of people—will have an enormous preference. Then they will not have to go through any system of vetting, either voluntary or partly voluntary. They will go through no such net at all once the Act is removed. Therefore, as I say, every time the Chancellor of the Duchy speaks he must arouse great suspicions, I should have thought, mongst individual trade unions and in the T.U.C., every time he denigrates the system of collective bargaining which he and his colleagues found when they came in to Government.
I have only three questions I should like to ask the First Secretary tonight, and the first is this. Will he do what the Chancellor of the Duchy, despite the many requests to him, has always failed to do, and that is, tell us a little more about the vetting system—if it is already working, and how it is to work with the T.U.C.? Is it the intention of the Government to use legislative sanctions and powers only for those people, who having been to the T.U.C. and been rejected, nevertheless threaten to go, or in fact go ahead? Is that the way he thinks it is going to work? Or does he intend to use the long-stop for the purposes only of those people who do not go through the T.U.C. at all, either because they are not members or because they 1624 do not choose to operate the vetting system?
What does he see as the relationship in practice between the voluntary system and the powers he is taking tonight? Is it merely to deal with the rogue elephants of the T.U.C.—those who having been through the system find their membership perhaps rejecting the advice of the T.U.C. which has been handed back to them by their own leaders? Or is it really parallel instead of additional to the T.U.C.that is to say, to deal with those people who are not susceptible to the vetting system at all? That is my first question.
My second question is this. There have appeared reports in the Press in the last 48 hours that the Secretary of State or the other appropriate Ministers propose under the relevant Section of Part II of the 1966 Act as amended, to make orders in the near future. Does he intend to rely mainly on such orders, or does he intend to rely on what I was bold enough to describe as the "pounce-back"? That is to say, does he propose to operate without orders under Section 2 of the amending legislation of 1967? He must have in his mind some policy about which of those two streams of powers he proposes to rely on. He told me late one night that the C.B.I., and, I think, the T.U.C., were not in favour of firing off orders in all directions, and that is why he included Section 2 of the 1967 Act, but Press reports in the last 48 hours or so indicate the contrary, and I think we ought to know how he proposes to operate this, in view of the contradiction I have mentioned.
My third question is to ask the First Secretary what obligations he puts upon arbitrators other than Mr. Aubrey Jones who are conducting arbitrations such as that being held by Sir George Honeyman and his two colleagues at the moment with the National Union of Teachers? When we were in power, we produced a White Paper in which we said that independent arbitrators should take into account not only the relative strengths of the parties before them but the national interest as well, for that we were bitterly attacked by the party opposite. That seems to be a very small egg to have laid, when the Government today are doing far more; yet we hear much less about gross interference with the system 1625 of arbitration, with its independence and with the feeling that it can be relied upon, which were the complaints hurled at us when we, published our White Paper.
Is that still the case? Are the arbitrators scattered up and down our industrial and professional life, other than the National Board for Prices and Incomes, to take into account the criteria now enshrined in the 1966 Act, which have been changed more than once and may be Changed again? Are these arbitrators to take them into account and, indeed, are they to be guided by them exclusively?
The situation will become worse if Mr. Aubrey Jones and his Board are to be guided exclusively by these criteria whereas the statutory, semi-statutory and sometime unofficial arbitrations which are a feature of our labour relations are entitled to stray outside them. What is the relationship between the two systems? I hope that the Secretary of State will say a word about it.
Finally, I know that it is difficult to say in advance, but I think that we are entitled to know a little more about his method of selecting cases, whether they be of prices or awards. There is a phrase about economic significance, which means nothing. There is the suggestion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham made in his powerful speech when he said that the selection system seemed to be pouncing upon the weak rather than the strong in recent months. We should like to know a little more, although I appreciate that it is difficult to prophesy.
In similar circumstances when the then Attorney-General for the United States, Mr. Robert Jackson, was asked how he selected cases to be judged by the courts under the Sherman and Clayton Acts, he said that he chose them for "political reasons" and asked "What other reasons do you suggest?"
If one analyses that, there is quite a strong argument for saying that, ultimately, in the fullest sense of the word "political" there can be no other system of choice for people who have this great power of selection as the First Secretary has in this case. On what sort of principles does he intend to select cases? Is it those who really have a significance in the economic life of our country or is it those who may be quite small and relatively unimportant but who have 1626 made a great show of being contumacious in opposing the Government and who have perhaps paraded their opposition, which they are entitled to do, but who are now being selected by the Government to show who is master?
Since we are activating this part of the Act and since we have discussed almost ad nauseam the principles under the Act it would be interesting to hear the First Secretary's replies to my questions and refreshing to have some new thought and new information brought to bear upon the problems of its administration.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
Having listened to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster opening the debate, I feel particularly concerned about the application of this Order. He spent much of his time in charging this party with inconsistency, and he asked us what we should do in the future. Surely there is a contradiction here. As I understand it, the whole case of the Government is that this is a running-down Order and that, once it comes to an end, the Government will have no more hand in prices and incomes control. How, then, can he ask us what we should do and what is our plan?
He must mean what is our plan when we take over government in 1969 or 1970. He must imply that in 1969 or 1970 the state of the country will be such that we shall need some prices and incomes policy and that if the Labour Party wins the next election it will continue a prices and incomes policy of its own, presumably based on the 1966 Act and a series of Orders similar to that which we are considering tonight,
What is it to be? Do right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite really mean that this Order brings the Act to an end and that once the powers run out in 12 months' time there will be no more such Orders? If that is the case, why ask us what is our alternative? It has no meaning. I suggest seriously that the Government are not being fair or honest with this House or with the country. If their argument has any meaning at all, they must intend to continue a prices and incomes policy.
The First Secretary will remember that I took part in earlier debates on the 1627 subject, and I asked him clearly what was to be the norm next year when the Government's present policy comes to an end. I asked him, too, who was to decide the norm. The Minister did not reply. In the quieter atmosphere of tonight's debate when he has plenty of opportunity to answer, I repeat my questions. If he fails to reply, I can only assume that he intends, but is afraid to say so, to continue to interfere with prices and incomes policy when this Act runs out and that the Government shall fix the norm in future.
What does this mean? The Chancellor of the Duchy told us tonight that, once this Order runs out, the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. will be left to work out their incomes policy amicably together. What happens if the Government disagrees with a figure fixed by the C.B.I. and the T.U.C.? Will they have to revert to the figure fixed by the Government? Is that what the Government want us to believe, or will the Government continue to run the country and decide what increase in prices and incomes are to be allowed in future?
If that is so, I suggest that they say so straight away and tell us how, in cases such as the one which I have cited where there is disagreement between the T.U.C. the C.B.I. and the Government, the Government are to have their way and what their sanctions will be? What powers will they have to enforce any ideas that they may have as to the correct increase in wages and prices which should be allowed in any succeeding period?
I believe that these are vital questions. I want to restrict my contribution to these points to make sure that I have replies to them, because what the country wants to know is the policy for the future. A great deal of play has been made in the debate so far on the effect of this Statutory Instrument in bringing the scope of the Government's interference with prices and incomes to an end. I should like some clear answers from the First Secretary when he comes to reply to the debate. Does he intend, and does his Department intend, after 1968 still to have a hand in the fixing and regulating of prices and incomes?
There is one small technical point which I would like to raise in relation to the application of the Act and this 1628 Order to Northern Ireland. Section 36 extended the Act to Northern Ireland with the proviso thatthe Parliament of Northern Ireland shall have the same power to pass Acts with respect to any matter as they would have had if this Act had not been passed and, in the event of any inconsistency between any Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland duly passed after the passing of this Act and any provision of this Act, the Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall, in Northern Ireland, prevail.That provision has caused some anxiety in my constituency. The Minister will remember a recent Order in respect of certain members of A.S.S.E.T. who were employed by Messrs. Harland and Woolf, and that following the Court of Appeal decision in the Thorn Electrical Industries case the Order was annulled. There was some doubt about whether the Order had ever been correctly made, and whether the former provisions properly applied to Northern Ireland. I would like the Minister to deal with this, and to assure us that the Order now before the House does not suffer from the defect from which the former Order suffered, or was suspected to suffer. We never found out just what was the case, because the Order was annulled and no clear reason was ever given for its annulment. Was the reason for its annulment the decision in the Thorn Electrical Industries case? If not, is the Secretary of State sure that there will not be the same weaknesses in this Order, and in Part II of the Act which it invokes, as there were in the Orders which have applied during the last year?
With regard to the two Court of Appeal decisions, are the Government sure that there are no loopholes in Part II of the Act? Have they considered this carefully? They assured the House a year ago that the provisions of the Act would apply, and would be certain, and yet we have seen from the decisions in the Court of Appeal that there was a series of loopholes in the provisions. What action have the Government taken both on this point and on the point which I have raised about Northern Ireland?
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I do not want to detain the House for long. I want to make one 1629 or two observations about the Order. I think that what I have to say is important, particularly as the Trades Union Congress, at the Conference of Executives which was held earlier this year, made it clear that it saw no reason either for Part IV of the Act to continue, or for Part II to be activated. I assume that the T.U.C. is a body of which we should take note, but it seems to me that the Government have chosen deliberately to ignore the opinions of the executive committees which met under the leadership of the General Council of the T.U.C. It is regrettable that the Government decided that it was essential to bring in the Act, and particularly that Part II is being activated.
We are told that it is essential to have these compulsory powers because, arising out of them, we shall ultimately get a voluntary system. I would like the House to reflect on that view for a few moments. The Government's view is that we need compulsion to get a voluntary agreement. This is a remarkable philosophy. I have always thought that to get a voluntary agreement two sides voluntarily enter into an agreement together, that they decide on each side to give up part of their sovereignty, as it were, and make a voluntary agreement which is acceptable to them both. But here we have this strange philosophy, which is to replace the previous idea, that one gets a voluntary agreement by saying there must first be compulsion on the part of one side.
That philosophy is remarkable, particularly as the T.U.C. made it clear through the meeting of the joint executives that it would from then onwards introduce a voluntary system for wage retraint. If I remember rightly, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to the decision of the joint executives as an historic occasion, yet, despite that assurance, the Government have found it necessary to introduce these compulsory powers and to have what is known as a long-stop.
That, too, is rather strange language to use in relation to the trade union movement. I thought that the problem here was to try to put our economy right, but in any case some long stops are not worth a light. They miss every ball that comes their way. I wonder whether this will happen with this long stop. If the 1630 people concerned are not members of a trade union and there is a bit of fast bowling, what will happen to the ball? I do not think that this is the kind of language which should be used.
We have heard talk about concerning ourselves with the rogue elephants in the trade union movement. I always thought that a rogue elephant union would be a monstrous one, rather like the elephant itself, which trampled everything before it. Who are the rogue elephants about which we have been talking? They are the white collar workers, the members of smaller trade unions, such as A.S.S.E.T. These are the people who have been turned into rogue elephants, not the Transport and General Workers' Union, not the Municipal and General Workers, not the A.E.U., or even my union. It is A.S.S.E.T. and the smaller white collar unions who have become the rogue elephants of the trade union movement.
This is very strange terminology to use, because once the T.U.C. decided that it was going to introduce a voluntary system, its moral authority would be sufficient to keep any trade union in line. Which trade union would want to go out into the wilderness if it had once been an essential part of the machinery of the T.U.C.? I cannot see any trade union, A.S.S.E.T. or any other, walking out of the T.U.C. once the moral authority of the T.U.C. had been asserted. We are not giving the T.U.C. a chance. What the Government are really saying is, "We believe that you are right. We know that you believe that you will introduce a voluntary system, but we will bring in troops at the rear to make sure".
It reminds me of a very interesting situation that I read about many years ago. In 1794 in the City of Liverpool occurred one of the earliest recorded strikes in the trade union movement. The joiners decided to go on strike. I believe they were asking for ½d. a day, or some ridiculously small sum. The mayor called them in and said, "Can I have your assurance that you will not create any disturbance?" and this fine upstanding body of carpenters and joiners of Liverpool said, "Certainly we will give you that assurance. No trouble at all." The mayor then wrote to the Home Secretary telling him that he had got this assurance from the joiners of Liverpool 1631 but that, nevertheless, he would be very grateful if the Home Secretary would order a troop of Scots Greys into Warrington just to make certain.
I have a feeling that that is what the Government are doing here. The Trades Union Congress has said, "We are prepared to operate a voluntary system. There will be no trouble. We will deal with the problems within our own ranks." The Government have said, "Fine. Nevertheless, we will introduce a new Prices and Incomes Measure and activate Part II to make certain that you carry out your words." This does not lead the average trade unionist to have any great trust in the word of the Government. The whole thing is absolutely irrelevant in this situation.
I have been told, "I do not know why you lads are putting up a fight. You have won. The Bill does not mean anything." If the Bill does not mean anything, do not introduce it. Why waste the time of the House? Why have lengthy discussions, going on through two nights, if the Bill does not mean anything? We shall have to see whether it means anything when it becomes operative.
My fundamental objection is much more important. I have always believed that the trade union movement must remain free to organise collective bargaining at all times, irrespective of the Government or the character of the State. I have always been very critical of the so-called rôle of the trade unions in the Communist countries. They have ended up not with the job of negotiating wages and conditions but as productivity agents and welfare agents. They do not have the functions of trade unions in this or any other democratic country.
To me this is the fundamental objection to the activation of Part II. Clause 16 contains the penal provisions which will operate against honest-to-God trade unions. I object to this activation, because in my opinion it is a fundamental attack on the character and position of our free trade union movement. I do not object to a wages and prices policy, but I believe in a voluntary system and I always have done. I no more believe in the jungle of the so-called free collective bargaining of the kind mentioned by my right hon. Friend than he does.
1632 How can a busman increase his productivity? Does he speed up his bus so that it goes at over 30 miles an hour? Does he cut down the time at bus stops so that the poor old lady who puts her hand up falls flat on her face because the bus moves off too quickly? It is not possible to measure the productivity of the busmen. Can we measure the productivity of the nurse in the hospital? Are we to judge it by the number of corpses she has to deal with each day? What about the firemen, who never go on strike? They have a social conscience, and are therefore at the bottom of the scale. They do not use their power to improve their wages and conditions.
There are sections in the trade union and working class movements which have been left at the bottom of the scale, quite wrongly, and it is the responsibility of every trade unionist to help them up the ladder. It may mean that some of the higher paid workers, at a certain time, will have to hold back, in order that the others may be helped. That is quite reasonable and logical.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin (Wanstead and Woodford)
Does the hon. Member draw any conclusion from the fact that every group of workers that he has mentioned is in the public sector and is employed by various public authorities?
§ Mr. Heffer
I have always regretted the fact that it is much more difficult to negotiate with a public authority than with a private employer. In the case of the public authority it is not always easy to find the boss to negotiate with. I can give plenty of examples. When I was a federation shop steward at Bromborough power station I could see any private employer, but if I wanted to see the electricity authority man I had to fill in three forms and wait a fortnight. I have never suggested that everything is right with the public sector, but that is not to say that I should not like to see it extended. I want it to be improved.
The voluntary system is the right one. We must accept that a wages policy is correct, but I object to those Clauses in the Bill which will be activated by this Order. This is a very serious Measure. We are told that it is an advance on what we had before. Basically it is not a wage freeze any more, but the punitive provisions remain. That is my objection 1633 I have objected to them all the way through, and I am sure that my right hon. Friends will not expect me to support them in the Lobby tonight.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)
I have a great deal of sympathy with many of the points made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). One very important point that he made concerned the complete practical unreality of this sort of legislation. It will not work out in the way in which right hon. Gentlemen opposite think it will. It is important that we should ask, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) asked, whether it is the Government's view that there is chaos in collective bargaining. If they believe that there is chaos now, what are they doing to make certain that there is none in future? Up to now, the policy has led to greater chaos. We would agree that it is better to settle industrial disputes by sensible discussion with arbitrators who will listen to both sides and make a decision which both sides will accept, but the operation of the policy has militated against arbitration.
I have asked a number of simple questions of the Minister of Labour since the policy began—for instance, whether an arbitration court's decision under the Industrial Courts Act which was contrary to the decision of the Board would be allowed. I have never had an answer to this question and can only assume that, if the Board disagreed with the award of an arbitration court, that decision would be set aside. If so, industrial relations are becoming more chaotic, because those in dispute see that there is no hope in arbitration because a decision could be set aside if the Board disagreed, and realise that they must show their muscles more than they have been doing.
The hon. Gentleman asked how there can be more voluntary agreements when compulsion is operating. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government support T.U.C. vetting, as I think we all would, but if they then act like a sergeant-major, calling for three volunteers with the words, "You, you and you", they cannot expect the T.U.C. to be wholehearted in its attitude towards vetting or any of its members to take notice of the system. The right hon. Gentleman 1634 said that they will consult the T.U.C. and the C.B.I., but that the Government's view must prevail in the event of disagreement, so it is no good twisting the English language by talking about support for voluntary negotiation when things like the Order remain.
The wrong approach is being taken. The right hon. Gentleman cannot escape from this by asking for our alternative. It has been pointed out that we have alternatives, but, even with the 1966 Act and its form amended by the 1967 Act, the basic structure of negotiations has not changed. In other words, it is hoped that when this system tapers off the chaos will magically disappear and everyone in industry will be a good boy and talk amiably and that no one will press his claim too hard. This is a pipe dream. Either the Government are a crowd of nitwits hoping to put off the evil day when they find that the world has changed, or they are applying Socialism, which means that no group should decide on its remuneration in its own way by voluntary agreement with employers, and that, under Socialism, a central Board should decide the rate according to each person's or each group's service to the community. Instead of being a Front Bench of nitwits, I believe that they are laying the foundation stones for a national wage-fixing organisation.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that the Order is the tapering off of legislative powers, but it brings into operation Part II of the Act, which was a Bill in existence at the last General Election. Therefore, it has been in existence for a long time. It was only because of the statement of 20th July that Part IV was added to the Bill and was used for the first period of 12 months. Only because Part IV was introduced was Part II left on one side until now. Therefore, it stretches our credibility too far to believe that tonight the Government are asking for minor powers in comparison with Part IV. The Government created a monster last July. They now say that they have slain that monster and are replacing it with a much smaller one. They say that we should not complain too much because they have killed the larger monster. This is rather like putting up Aunt Sallies merely to knock them down again.
1635 On practicability, I give only as an example the type of people who will not be caught by Part II. To talk of rogue elephants and of catching all those who will not carry out the terms of voluntary agreements is to ignore a section of the employed population who will not be caught by Part II. Four million employees operate under payment by result. The White Paper clearly shows them to be outside the ambit of the ratio-decidendi, because a group of men who increase their earnings by increasing their effort under payment by result cannot be caught by Part II and thus would never be taken before the Board.
In the average engineering establishment there are groups of people who are on payment by result and whose machines are serviced by skilled tool-fitters, electricians, and so on, who could come under Part II so that any increase in their income would have to be referred to the Board. The fact that one group of people—that is, payment by result workers—will still be able to go on increasing their earnings will, with the passage of time, create greater discrepancies, particularly between the higher-paid worker and the lower-paid worker. The Order does not tackle that problem, nor the problem which exists in many industries which are short of skilled men. There will be greater disincentives to young men to enter trades as toolfitters, electricians and so on when they see that the gap between the worker on payment by results and the skilled person is widening still further. What sort of Order can we expect in July, 1968? From what I have said it is obvious that a miracle is unlikely. We cannot expect that suddenly everyone will change his attitude to enable the Government to take different action.
Section 16(4) of the Act is the heart of the matter—the basic principle about whether one agrees with the right of a person or group of persons to withdraw their labour if they are in dispute with their employer and feel that there is no other way of solving it. We in this country have always accepted that an individual has the right, subject to any contractual obligations he may have entered into, to leave his employer and go to a new one. Yet if this Order is passed we will be saying that while a 1636 worker in certain circumstances has the right to leave his employer's service, should he do so in conjunction with one or more other employees he will be in breach of the law and can be fined up to £100.
It has been said, "We need not worry too much about this because even if trade unionists were taken to court and fined £100 they would refuse to pay and everyone would soon forget all about it". If that is so, why does Section 45 of the Criminal Justice Act provide ways and means to ensure that if they are fined £100 and refuse to pay, magistrates can impose attachment of wages orders whereby that money can be deducted from their wages week by week according to their circumstances and means? There is something sinister in this part of the Measure, for it ensures that if the Government operate under Part II, there will be ways and means of ensuring that any employee who refuses to pay his fine may have an attachment order imposed on him.
It is not just a question of saying that this operation will not work, that the Government are merely flexing their muscles and do not intend to take action if people step out of line. There may be many cases of people stepping out of line, or of it being thought that they have stepped out of line, when all that they are really doing is attempting to keep themselves level with other groups of workers who are not caught in the net of Part II. If this legislation were to affect every employee in Britain, perhaps it would not be so bad—although it would still be breaching certain fundamental principles which are cherished —but to apply Part II to only certain sections of the community is bound to lead to greater disparity.
One also has to question the ability of the Prices and Incomes Board to give a genuine and proper decision on any applications. My hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry in the past has pointed out, and it has generally been agreed, that the Board cannot carry out all investigations by itself but has to farm out a number to consultants and various other bodies. If that is so, he should have been told at some time or other who the consultants were. So far, we have not been told. It 1637 is, therefore, still questionable whether the ability of the Board is such that employees will be able to rely completely on its judgment on a wage claim as being infallible.
The Order has hung about for 18 months, since when we have had Part IV of the Act in operation, and I believe that it would be much better if it were taken away again. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that there is chaos in collective bargaining, he should put a wet towel round his head and get down to finding an answer. The Order will not do anything to help the chaos he says there is in collective bargaining. All it can do is make the position worse. I ask him to take the Order away, and think the whole thing over again. If he is not prepared to do that, I will certainly vote against it.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)
I believe the Order to be necessary, and I am not dissuaded from that view by the speeches, reasonable though they were, of some of my hon. Friends, nor by those from the other side of the Chamber. I believe that some of my hon. Friends' remarks added strength to the view that the Order is necessary. For example, a good deal of reference has perfectly rightly been made to the new "vetting" procedure that the T.U.C. has adopted. I am not convinced that that is an argument against the Order. I wonder whether this important change in the attitude of the T.U.C. would have come about but for the Government's earlier action, and some of the powers the Government have acquired in the past.
It is certainly very much to be welcomed that the T.U.C. should have gathered together this extra authority, and I am sure that many of my hon. Friends, whatever may be their view of the Order, will hope with me that that authority would be further increased. I am by no means convinced that the moderate powers that the Government seek to retain under the Act and by this Order will in any way weaken the T.U.C. movement to greater authority. Indeed, I hope that it will be possible for its authority to be strengthened in some of the discussions that will inevitably take place over the succeeding period of twelve months.
1638 One of my hon. Friends made some fun, quite legitimately, of the phrase, which is perhaps not very apt, of "rogue elephant" in connection with some groups that may get out of line, as it were, in trade union negotiations. But he will know as well as anyone that the new powers within both the trade union movement and the professional world tend to arise very often in quite small groups.
It is not the case today that power necessarily lies with the greatest numbers. I accept the criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) that the phrase is not particularly apt, because surely we know that in the period we are passing through the greatest difficulties are likely to arise in the relationship between the community and sometimes very small groups holding particular skills which are important and give them power as compared with very much larger groups of the relatively unskilled. This is something to which we must pay a great deal of regard. The problem is bound to increase in the period ahead. There is a good deal of evidence of that. Again, I believe that this is an argument for the need to examine claims very carefully as to their social validity and their effect upon other groups of workers.
Surely this is bound to be true of prices as well. I well understand my hon. Friend's feelings—indeed, I share them—about the inability of Governments not only in this country but in almost every country to establish effective control over price movements. But I do not want to throw away the possibility, however modest, of some control of price movements in this country that seems to me to be offered by the Order and the processes under Part II of the Act. I believe that it is not the question of the number of Orders which may come before the House that we need to consider but to what extent there has been value in prior notification of price increases and what action has been taken about them by the Government Departments concerned.
Though we may be quite dissatisfied and feel that not enough has been done—and I share the feeling strongly—I do not want to throw away the modest 1639 powers that are there. Unless I am convinced that there are more effective powers—and no one has suggested that there are—that can be put in their place and which would work more effectively, I must say that I want to see these powers retained.
§ Mr. R. Carr
Would the hon. Gentleman want these powers to be thrown away in a year's time, which is what the Government are claiming?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
No. I think that the Government are possibly hoping to continue the discussions held over the last 12 months. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but they made such a mess of the whole thing that they are the last people entitled to make any comment about the situation. We have had from them precious little indication of alternatives. I do not blame them for not putting any tonight, because this is not the right occasion, but neither have they made any adequate offer of views on more relevant occasions when those views would have been extremely valuable. One must judge by practice, and their practice was not one to give us any encouragement.
However weak we may think these powers to be, I believe them to be valuable and that it is of vital importance that the Government should continue the discussions to elaborate, if possible, more effective measures in future, certainly based, if that is possible, upon the voluntary systems which seem to be beginning to develop and which were not in evidence 12 months ago.
A year ago, who could have suggested that it was likely that the T.U.C. would be able to introduce the valuable measure that it has? I look forward to further developments along those lines, increasing the authority of the T.U.C. and enabling it to tackle the subject on a wider basis than the very narrow one that it has up to now been able to accept.
Sir Edward Brown (Bath): The hon. Gentleman has spoken three times about the increased authority of the T.U.C. Will he come to the point in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 16(4) of the 1966 Act, which I should think will be very distressing to the T.U.C. with their increased authority? They talk about penal sanc- 1640 tions. I trust the hon. Gentleman knows what the sanctions are. Does he think that this will increase the T.U.C.'s prestige?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I do not know that it does, but I do not regard it as an unusual provision to find in Acts. I can understand my hon. Friends making such play, but I am surprised at hon. Members opposite making such play with a provision that is commonly found in legislation.
While I am not suggesting that I welcome the penal provisions, I regard the general provisions of this Order as sufficiently important to regard it as right that we should go ahead with it. There is no evidence up to now that the Measures taken by Her Majesty's Government have impeded the discussions that the trade union movement has welcomed and wants to see—rather the reverse. Therefore, I am hopeful that in the next twelve months we shall see the trade union movement playing a wider and more authoritative part than the narrow one in which it has been engaged up to now. I hope it will see in this its great future and opportunity.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), in his interesting speech, suggested that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was perhaps speaking double Dutch. I think that if we could ever accuse the Chancellor of the Duchy of speaking double-Dutch, having heard the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) we must call it treble-Turkish or something of that order. I was amazed and staggered to hear a Member of this House, particularly from the benches opposite, talking about this Order introducing moderate powers which were not unusual. If he would care to look at Section 16(4) of the Act he will see that it says, that if any trade union or other person threatens or even talks to another person about the possibility of holding a strike or some form of industrial action, he will be fined £100, and presumably, if the fine is not paid, sent to gaol.
He said that these powers were included in other Acts. I should like to know where else in the legislation of the United Kingdom we have a threat to 1641 send someone to prison for talking about increased wages with another person. This is what the powers in the Act which we are activating by this Order provide. I am amazed to find any Member of a democratic House of Commons saying that these are moderate powers when someone can be sent to prison for talking about a wage increase. The hon. Gentleman may rightly say that the Government have no intention of activating these powers, that they will not do so because is will not come to that, but this is Part II which we are activating and they are powers which the Government can use if they wish.
When we were first considering standstill the one question constantly asked from this side of the House was the question put by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer): "What do we do at the end of the standstill?". Several of my hon. Friends put forward the answer, which has proved to be correct, "We are to have more standstills."
The tragedy of this Order is that it has confirmed the position which we suggested would be the case a year ago: that the moment one starts on this slippery slope towards compulsion and Government control of wages, there is no way back unless we are to have some form of explosion. Certainly there is no way back for the Government when we have a stagnant economy, a national cake which is not growing. The tragedy of tonight is that we are carrying on this nonsense for another period of time and it is obvious that we will have to go forward again after this period is over.
What is more worrying is that the longer we have these powers of compulsion and the longer we have standstill, the more certain we are to continue on the path so clearly spelled out by the hon. Member for Walton, which is to move into a situation in which increasingly the Government will control wages in the economy, while the trade unions, those great democratic institutions, will simply have the job of serving on productivity and planning committees.
That process has already begun. More and more the time of trade union officials is taken by serving on committees, on consultative councils, on planning authorities and productivity committees, all 1642 the jobs which have no executive authority. If this process carries on for many more years, we shall completely leave the system in which trade unions were democratic voluntary organisations looking after the conditions of their members.
In putting forward this legislation, and even in proposing this Order, the Government claim to have support of the majority of people in this country, of the majority of those who think in terms of wage negotiations, voluntary restraint and so on. Where is the Government's support tonight? The Government have managed to find one back-bencher out of more than 300, the hon. Member for South Shields to support the Order. Tonight two of their own back-benchers have bitterly opposed them, and there have been many more in the course of previous debates on this subject. Not one hon. Member from this side of the House has supported them and not even one Liberal.
So we have the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster putting forward a policy completely rejected by most hon. Members on either side of the House and for which there has been no enthusiasm whatever. I appeal to the Government to take back the Order, because the longer we have Orders like this coming before us, the more difficult it will be for the Government to get off the slippery slope which leads to more compulsion and Government determination of wages.
What are the basic objections to the Order? First, not only will it destroy the T.U.C.'s voluntary effort to restrain wages but it might lead to trade unions becoming simply a meaningless shambles because they do not have a job to do. That is what the Government's policy is leading us to. We object to it because it undermines the trade union movement and the T.U.C.'s voluntary effort to bring about a voluntary system of wage control.
Secondly, at a time when it is more and more important that we should look for ways to improve labour relations, the Order will, if anything, lead to their deterioration. There are many things which need to be done. Having been involved in labour relations in shipyards on the Clyde for a number of years, I know that the main trouble in wage negotiations is simply that of delay. There 1643 are often delays in dealing with justifiable claims and that can cause a great deal of trouble. There was also the basic trouble that those able to shout loudest or to make the maximum trouble at the most difficult period were apparently those to get the largest increases in wages. There are legislative steps which could be taken to improve their situation, but this Order and the Act from which it stems will not help in that direction.
Thirdly, we know that the roots of the prices and incomes policy is productivity, and there is nothing in the Order to help to improve productivity, to make the national cake any larger. Most of all, the tragedy of the Government's economic policy is that it has stopped growth. It has interfered with the natural free movements of the economy which lead to the successful utilisation of labour. A prices and incomes freeze can lead only to the hoarding of labour in industries which do not require and cannot use it immediately, while starving newer and growing industries of the labour which they can afford, industries which can make a generous contribution to the national effort.
In these circumstances, the Order will certainly not improve productivity. If anything, it will mean one more bit of stagnation, the stagnation to which we have become accustomed under the present Government, and that stagnation is relevant to our consideration of the Order, because if the national cake does not grow, there is less to share. The plain fact is that one will not get harmony in labour relations, or satisfaction in any way, unless there are wage increases to go round. If the national cake does not grow these will not be there.
The fourth reason why we object to the Order, and a very vital one, is that raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown), in his splendid interjection which largely demolished the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields. This was to do with the question of the compulsory powers. Believing in democracy, we cannot, under any circumstances, agree to the kind of powers contained in Section 16(4) of the 1966 Act.
They are intolerable powers, and it is no defence for the Government to say that 1644 they probably will not be used. If the Government are insisting on going ahead with this Order they should at least take some legislative means of removing these penal sanctions from the Bill. They are something that we and most people in the trade union movement would not accept under any circumstances.
If the Government insist on going ahead with this Order and carrying forward the standstill powers, can they give us an assurance that some of the lessons which they should have learned over the previous 12 months have been learned? First of all there is this matter, which affects my own constituency and Scotland as a whole, of the "game reserve" to which the hon. Member for Walton referred. He talked of the "rogue elephants" who come forward from time to time to upset the Government's policies.
We have a substantial game reserve in Scotland and we have quite a few rogue elephants. They have not been the strong, large unions, but very small bands of responsible people. First of all we had the local government officers in Scotland, and then we had the electricians. This sane, sensible policy, as the Government claimed, when implemented, had the result, on some building sites, that electricians employed by Scottish employers were paid 1s. an hour less than electricians theoretically employed by English employers—an utter nonsense if ever there was one. It is quite clear that under this Order the same problem would arise.
Have the Government taken any steps to remove these blatant injustices which came about under the previous Order? It is obvious that something should be done, and I can assure the Government that if under this Order we have repeated, under any circumstances, the blatant injustices of the N.A.L.G.O. and the electricians' pay award in Scotland, then there will be very real trouble from this side, as well as from the other side of the House.
Secondly, will the Government ensure in the prices side of this standstill, that more effective means will be used to restraint inflation in the public sector? It has been quite alarming that many price increases which have largely undermined the Government's policy have been in the public sector. There have been 1645 substantial price rises in electricity, coal, gas and in other areas. The Government may claim, as the Secretary of State for Scotland has actually claimed, believe it or not, that the Government's powers held up increases. All that happened was that by postponing the increases for a limited period of time the rate of deficit of the nationalised industries was increased, and here was a greater increase in the price of the commodity when that was possible.
The result has been, certainly in Scotland and I imagine that my English colleagues will have had the same experience, that in the public sector there have been very substantial increases. I hope that the Government will take steps to make sure that this power is spread equally, and applied fairly through all sectors of the economy, and if prices are held up for some period, then the same financial discipline will apply in the public sector as in the private sector.
Basically, unless we get growth in our economy, unless the national cake grows, unless the Government will create the circumstances in which the people can solve the economic problems of the nation by their own efforts, through incentive and encouragement, we will carry on with this rather dull facade of Orders and further restrictions, and more and more we will head towards a chaotic situation, back to the jungle to which reference has already been made.
I suggest that those who challenge us to state an alternative should look at the powers in Clause 16(4) and should bear in mind that for 13 years, when the Conservative Party were in power, they increased the standard of living of the average person more than in the previous half century and achieved all this great growth and great economic Leap forward without using any of the compulsory powers which will be introduced by the Order. That is a record of success which brought prosperity to all the people of the country—even those in the country areas. It was achieved without compulsion. I suggest that the Government should turn their minds away from compulsion and back to the policies which brought growth and prosperity to our nation in the past.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Sidney Bidwell (Southall)
We ought not to let some of the concluding 1646 remarks of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) go unanswered from this side of the House, even though we are critics of the Government's prices and incomes policy—although not critics of attempts to move towards a prices and incomes policy. When we are asked to believe in the great prosperity brought to the working people by the Conservative Party when they were in power, it is pertinent to point to the enormous balance-of-payments deficit with which the present Government have had to grapple since they have been in power. That is why a prices and incomes policy—without necessarily committing ourselves to this Measure and this Order—is so necessary.
The working people, including the trade union movement and all those unions affiliated to the T.U.C., well understand that they do not want illusory wage increases which are swallowed up by the rising cost of living. By and large the trade union movement has accepted the necessity of a prices and incomes policy. But what the movement is so sceptical about—as it has said through the T.U.C.—is that when the Government in the present difficult economic circumstances are trying to exercise this control, it will react against the interests of those who work by hand and by brain and react in the interests of those who manipulate prices and those who live on distributed profits. That is what the argument is all about.
The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) pointed out that in the kind of economy which we have at present there must be a free association of workers, on the one hand, and of employers, on the other, and that any interference in that process in any fundamental way must gum up the wheels of production. That is what the T.U.C. and Mr. George Woodcock, in particular, have been pointing out. It is no consolation for many of us on this side of the House, having observed the 13 years of wasted Tory rule, to say that we are now reaching a period of 15 years of wasted rule. We want to advance from the present position.
It has been said that the debate this evening is somewhat lopsided because nearly all speakers have been critical of 1647 the Government's policy, but hon. Members opposite have also accepted that the traffic in the debate has been three-way and that there are fundamental differences between hon. Members on this side of the House and hon. Members opposite. I did not intend originally to take part in the debate—although I have spoken previously on wages Orders which have come before the House—until my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop)—who is not here at the moment—made his contribution. He made a plea in support of the Government but he had to acknowledge that the trade union movement is absolutely opposed to the present sort of compulsory reserve powers the Government are taking to themselves by this Order.
These points have been made adequately by previous participants in the debate from this side of the House. They are critical of the Government in demonstrating the illogicality of this kind of voluntary-compulsory system which exists under the Act and in the Order now going through the House. In the final analysis the operation of compulsory policies means either fines on trade unionists and others who contravene the Act or imprisonment. No one on the Government Front Bench has yet spelled out the circumstances under which those fines or that imprisonment are likely to be applied.
We know of the whole nature of our movement that if there is injustice associated with wage claims which get workers so steamed up that they feel that they must fight in the event of a worker or a shop steward being imprisoned this is not the end of the struggle. We cannot imprison thousands of workers should the circumstances arise. It therefore follows that if a proportion is put up in which it is said that the Government are not likely to use these powers they become laughable and should not be on the Statute Book.
I return to the theme of the acceptance by the working people of the country represented by the trade union movement and mainly by hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House of genuine ideas for a positive incomes policy. The proof of the pudding is in 1648 the eating. This Act and the Order that we are discussing have to be set against our experience of the past year or so. I remember arguing on behalf of S.O.G.A.T., the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, when it was demonstrated that because of a freeze as distinct from the provisions of the new Act, this was the greatest injustice against trade unionists and collective bargaining.
No doubt it will be pointed out in reply by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs that there have to be provisions made against "rogue elephants", and that the T.U.C. does not account for the whole working force. Less than half the workers are enrolled in trade unions affiliated to the Trade Unions Congress. A large number of unions are outside affiliated membership. I say very seriously to my right hon. Friend that on the minds of people considering this matter inside and outside this House there is the consideration of what has gone before. There has been no real approval of individual bargaining. In cases where the skilled worker or technician is in great demand by an employer it sometimes has been possible to move from one floor to another in order to achieve a wage increase.
There have been thousands of cases of price movements for commodities and of individuals trying to get what they can from employers. Can we blame them? This exercise is psychological. I ask the Government to let it enter their minds more freely that what they have been doing to the trade union movement should cause them to learn lessons accordingly. Why should not a highly-skilled technical worker go to an employer and get what he can provided it does not lead to inflation or increased commodity prices? The steam with which this kind of thing goes forward in industry is the motive force for higher productivity.
The whole question of stifling trade unionists in this way cannot be divorced from the standstill by the lack of growth in the economy, because it is psychological. Hon. and right hon. Members do not have to take my word for it. They have only to look at the recent local election results and by-election results, which are a clear writing on the wall. It seems to me that in this policy 1649 everyone loves the Government except the voters. I hope the Government have taken due note, and have taken due warning from this.
Think what it means to a worker in the future, if, as a result of going through the tortuous process of long-winded negotiations, a wage award is made, and he then finds that it is stood still by the Government. As I said in the debate the other night—in the early hours of the morning—when seeking to support a Clause concerning pensions, trying to see that the standstill in wages—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We cannot have the Committee stage again. The hon. Member must come to the Order.
§ Mr. Bidwell
What I am trying hard to do along, with apologies, is to show the psychological effect of this. I think the point will have been taken by the Government. I wanted to relate to this what has gone before, but I accept what you say, Mr. Speaker, that I cannot do this in an exhaustive kind of way by referring to all the Amendments which we sought to put forward to the Bill. I sought to explain that this is the thinking of the average worker in the trade union at present, and what it will be in the future when we activate Part II. I ask my right hon. Friends to consider very seriously the words I am using, because many hon. Members, at any rate on this side of the House, know that I have had very long experience of the British trade union movement as a whole, not only one part of it. Those people are our kind of people, and so it is necessary to step very gingerly in the future in the operation of Part II. I believe that the Government will step gingerly. In fact, I think they will step so gingerly they will not operate it at all. It is because I think it unnecessary in the present setting that I shall not support it in the Lobby tonight.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin (Wanstead and Woodford)
I am sure that the whole House has listened with pleasure to the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) preaching his archetypal Socialism. Indeed, if I may say so without offence to him, I would regard him as a sort of Neanderthal Socialist, whose ideas have little relevance to the issues which face us. But I am bound to say that with 1650 a great deal of what he had to say on this particular issue of the compulsory powers which the Government are taking against trade unions we on this side of the House agree.
I must express astonishment at hearing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster congratulating himself and the whole Government for bringing forward this Order, not on the ground that the powers which it contains are necessary, though he did say that, but on the ground principally that it represents a retreat from the position which the Government found themselves forced to take up almost exactly a year ago when they instituted Part IV of the 1966 Act. At that time, the House will remember, the Prime Minister went to America and, talking in New York, announced that the Government were taking powers which no other peace-time Government had ever taken in history. That is the position from which the Government are now retreating, and it really is a bit naïve that they should congratulate themselves in the House tonight that they are no longer adhering to those dictatorial powers of unprecedented severity which they thought it right to take a year ago.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that he thought that the powers over prices and incomes would be tapered off, and he congratulated himself that this was part of the process. However, nothing that I have heard from either side of the House—and we await with interest to hear what the First Secretary has to say—has convinced me that the tapering off will not be a lengthy period. I regard it as highly probable that we shall be facing comparable legislation this time next year.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Government to find people prepared to expound the case for this legislation. We have heard only one back-bench speaker from the other side of the House in favour of it. However, listening to the case being expounded, I am impressed more and more by the credibility gap. The Government and their spokesmen who attempt to propound the case for the Act and for the Order which we are discussing seem to carry less and less credibility as they go.
From time to time, a Government will find themselves implementing a policy 1651 which they have difficulty in persuading their followers and the country at large to accept. Such cases fall into two distinct categories. There are those policies which a Government adopt and which, by sheer force of argument and logic over the weeks and months in which the legislation is before the House and in which speeches are made in the country, people gradually come to see the point of and come to accept and understand. An example not so far removed from the subject which we are discussing was the legislation introduced by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he was President of the Board of Trade dealing with resale price maintenance. It was highly unpopular, not least among members of his own party. Over the weeks and months in which the case was argued, most people came to see in the end that he was talking sense and that it was in the interests of the country. Indeed, most of the price reductions over the last two or three years owe far more to that piece of legislation than to any Measure introduced by the present Government.
That is one sort. The other sort, to which the right hon. Gentleman's arguments tonight were addressed, is where, as the weeks, months and, in this case, the years proceed, credibility diminishes and the arguments appear more hollow and unreal.
The Prime Minister has been described as leading a Walter Mitty existence, where his actions are governed increasingly by the figments of his own imagination rather than by any reality that he sees about him. As we discuss the prices and incomes legislation and the many Orders which have been introduced under it, it becomes apparent that the Prime Minister is served by a large number of mini-Mittys sitting on the Treasury Bench who are wallowing increasingly in self-delusion about what they hope to achieve. Very often, I feel that the arguments would be put just as affectively if, instead of these Mittys, we had the machine standing at the Dispatch Box going "Topoketa, topoketa"—
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
I apologise, Mr. Speaker, but the arguments which we 1652 have heard in support of the legislation are so thin and unconvincing that one is driven to protest.
Most of the discussion this evening has been about the impact of Part II of the 1966 Act, which the Order activates, on wages and trade union negotiations. I do not want to add anything to them except to enforce wholeheartedly what my hon. Friends have said about the over-weaning nature of the powers which the Government are taking and to repeat that they are acting in the wrong direction. They are intended to take action which will result in trades unions carrying out the activities which it is their primary function to perform. Instead, if it is felt that these institutions are tending to act against the national interest, they will deal with the whole legal structure and framework within which they operate.
I want, now, to say a few words about the impact of the Order and of Part II of the Act on prices, because I am extremely unclear about how the Government intend to operate this part of the Act in relation to prices. In the White Paper of last February we were told what the policy was to be when the period of severe restraint ended. In paragraph 8 of Command 3235 we were told that the original voluntary early warning system was to end on 30th June, on the date when the period of severe restraint ended, and yet it seems clear—I do not begin to profess to be as assiduous a student of this legislation as many of my hon. Friends who have sat through many nights of debate can claim to be—that Section 7 of the 1966 Act is apt, when activated as it will be by this Order, to implement the statutory early warning system.
The question which the Government must answer, and to which there has been virtually no reference during the debate, is: What are the products, what is the range of goods and services, in respect of which this statutory early warning system is to operate? We are told that for the moment these are still under consideration between the Government and trade associations, but this is not good enough for the House. Under this Order the Government are taking power to implement a Section of an Act which is intended to operate in respect of economically significant products, yet this 1653 House has not been given a single indication of the products, the goods, and services in respect of which these powers are to be used.
In the original early warning White Paper, Cmnd. 2808, we had substantial lists of products which were to be subject to the early warning system. There were long lists of food products, industrial equipment, consumer durables, shoes, clothes, industrial materials, and all sort of things, for which notification of price increases was intended to be made. Some of these were extremely vague and perhaps I might speak about two materials in the list of which I have some personal knowledge. Here I must declare an interest, because I am a director of a plastics company. Two of the materials mentioned were PVC and polyethylene. These come in a variety of forms.
Under the voluntary system—and this is really the point that I wish to make—though it was in many ways unsatisfactory, in the last resort it did not really matter if the description of goods in respect of which early warning was hoped for by the Government was not entirely specific, because manufacturers could, if they wished, either make up their minds themselves about whether they considered their case ought to go for early warning, or they could consult a Government Department to get that Department's interpretation of what the White Paper was supposed to mean.
That sort of thing is acceptable, though only just so, in a voluntary early warning system. When we come to a statutory early warning system, when, we come to the provisions of an Act which are backed legal sanctions, by penalties, by fines, we, have to be very much more specific, and it is in the effort to be specific about prices and incomes legislation, that the Government have all along run on to their most dangerous rocks and have found that the policy has scarcely managed to stay afloat. There is an infinite variety of prices, and there should, therefore, be infinite flexibility.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has said that the market system is the most sensitive, most perfect computer, of them all, and in many respects he is 1654 right. If the Government are seeking to interfere with the market system as it applies to prices not only are they likely to do grave damage to the system as a whole; they will find it extremely difficult to operate at all effectively within the law.
If we take away from an industrialist his right to determine his own prices in the light of market conditions we take away from him one of the cardinal features of running any business. The House is entitled to have from the First Secretary an explanation—which we have not had from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—how Part II, as activated by the Order, will operate in respect to prices. Many industrialists outside the House will study his answer with acute interest.
In his Budget statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he had no wish to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It must be remembered that the vast majority of enterprises to which this legislation and its control over prices will apply will be those geese whom the Chancellor hopes to continue to lay, for him—I believe that he was talking merely of taxation and revenue—golden eggs. If these geese are to continue to operate in the national interest, whether laying golden eggs for the Chancellor or anything else, they must be free to operate in the market and in conditions that allow them to manage their businesses with the maximum flexibility.
This includes flexibility in pricing. If the Government are now to take statutory powers to interfere with the price mechanism whereby businesses determine the prices of their goods and services they will be continuing down this very slippery slope. The First Secretary and his colleague the Chancellor will find that so far from laying golden eggs these geese will increasingly lay china eggs, and right hon. Gentlemen will find that they will not be able to sell their china eggs anywhere else in the world.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)
I want to begin with an apology to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) for the fact that I was unable to hear their opening speeches because of a prior commitment 1655 which I was obliged to fulfil. The whole timing of prices and incomes legislation has to some extent become a matter of speculation and personal inconvenience. I make this point because it is one of the courtesies of the House—which I try to observe as much as possible—to hear the opening speeches in a debate of as much significance as this.
I hope that I shall not be regarded as presumptuous when I say that I have lived with debates on prices and incomes legislation for so long that I have a fairly good working knowledge of what will have been said by both Front Bench speakers.
I shall confine my remarks to three aspects of the Order. The first relates to the way in which the National Board for Prices and Incomes shall be used—which, in substance, arises from Section 8 of the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966, which will be activated by the Order. My subsequent remarks will concern the relations between the Board and the Government, and to some extent these turn on Sections 8 and 9. Thirdly, I want to consider the whole concept of Part II as providing a kind of long-stop for the arrangements which are currently being conducted by the T.U.C. concerning wage vetting. These apply to the whole of Part II of the Prices and Incomes Act 1966.
The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) spoke sturdily in the Government's defence in what was a memorable contribution, not least because he was the only supporter of the Government on their own benches who has spoken. He said that this legislation was not extraordinary and that we were making a meal of it. In Committee, when we debated what is now Section 6 of the 1966 Act, under which the Order is activated, this is what Mr. Frank Cousins thought of these powers:This proposal, however, is more rigid than anything there is anywhere else in the world outside the totalitarian societies. I do not easily reconcile the idea that we have probably the most advanced trade union movement in the world and yet the most restrictive Governmental edict as to what it can or cannot do."—OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 2nd August, 1966; c. 268.]That is not my answer to the hon. Member but that of the Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, 1656 under the most ideal circumstances—when we were debating the very powers which we are now invoking. I will not tempt the House to think that commentary he would make on the speech by the Leader of the House in Shrewsbury last week.
How will the Prices and Incomes Board proceed? Because the Government have used it as their sole regulatory device, there is bound to be a fascinating degree of political sensitivity in what is chosen for it. This is important because, as Part II clearly defines, only the Government may refer any items to the Board. One case which demonstrates the Board's totally unreal and intolerable task is shown in a Written Answer which I received on 20th June to a Question asking the Minister of Health for his plans to refer to the Board the salaries of nurses and midwives. It said:It is proposed to refer the pay of Nurses and Midwives to the National Board for Prices and Incomes in accordance with the recommendation of the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council as soon as possible."—cannot do."—OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing c. 253.]Since that date, a reference has been made.
This is a matter of great political sensitivity, touching on one of the most complex aspects of the determination of incomes, namely, the element of vocation. I should be out of order in debating this subject, but I want only to argue that for Mr. Aubrey Jones to conduct this survey will require time, skill and resources on a considerable scale. Do we think that the Board, the sole regulatory power that the Government have for their policy under Part II, is capable of producing the kind of decisions which will be widely accepted as fair and reasonable and which will command respect, respect not only within the law which is being invoked this evening, but respect of such moral significance that it will be widely observed by practically everyone so that there is no need to have universal, legal intervention?
The powers sought under Part II and the constant references made in Part II to the rôle that the Board shall play must remind us that the Board is limited in the number of its members and is having to sub-contract its jobs to firms of consultants. A little further information has come to light to reveal the sham and inadequacy of Part II. We do not know, 1657 because it is the Government's policy not to reveal it, who are the consultants employed by the Board for its surveys or what fees are paid.
In one sense it is more important to know the size of the fees paid than the names of the consultants, because the size of fee would at least afford some measure of the amount of work which has gone into determining the information and filling in the background to enable the Board to adjudicate on the virtue or otherwise of a certain income or a certain price. We know from an Answer to myself concerning the reference on bank charges that that inquiry was conducted by Booz, Allen. We know from the text of the report on newsprint that that survey was conducted by an American firm. At least two of the reports have been done by overseas consultants.
When I asked the First Secretary what hadbeen the expenditure of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on management consultants and outside accountants in the preparation of reports; and how much of this had been paid to British"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1967; Vol. 749, c. 276.]and how much to foreign companies, the answer was—I give it to the nearest £1,000—£154,000 and £6,000 respectively. There are about 30 references in which the surveys might conceivably have been done by British firms of consultants, but I leave that on one side. Six thousand pounds was paid to consultants to assist Mr. Aubrey Jones in the preparation of reports on newsprint and on bank charges. We know the sheer staggering monumental width of judgment that Mr. Aubrey Jones felt empowered to make on bank charges. It is nice to know that all that was bought for less than £6,000, because out of the £6,000 had to come the cost of that study and perhaps others.
These points have real significance, especially for hon. Members opposite, because if, as a result of Part II, legislation is to be passed concerning the determination of incomes, every hon. Member opposite will want to believe that the subject has been thoroughly and comprehensively studied and will not be just a politically convenient, patched up job. That assurance can be provided, at least in part, only if we have some assurance as to how much has been spent on preparing the statistical and other informa- 1658 tion which is relevant to the production of a report. Yet this basic information has always been denied to the House.
In considering the relationship between the Government and the Board, an extraordinary thing happened a few days ago on which the House should reflect. On 24th May I received a Press Notice from the Department of Economic Affairs headed:Reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes of the Prices of Fletton and Non-fletton Bricks".It stated:A general increase in brick prices could have a significant effect on costs, especially of the building trade. The First Secretary and the Minister of Public Building and Works therefore consider it desirable that the proposed increases of the prices of fletton and non-fletton producers should be subject to independent investigation by the National Board for Prices and Incomes. Accordingly, in pursuance of their powers …I thought—and I imagine most hon. Members thought—that that meant that the prices of bricks would be held under the standstill arrangements. Imagine my surprise—I put my emotion at no higher a pitch—when I read in The Times Business Supplement at the end of last week:Brick rise a life-saver".The article stated:The National Coal Board is to raise the price of their bricks by 3 per cent. This follows the concession announced by the Ministry of Public Building and Works yesterday, that brick manufacturers may put their prices up by 3 per cent. provided they are able to justify the increase. The N.C.B. is the country's biggest producer of non-fletton bricks, over 600 m. a year. The Ministry's concession represents a personal triumph for Kenneth Timperley, director of Clay Industries, who described the interim increase as 'a lifesaver'.What has happened to the Board and the reference made on 24th May? I intend to see that Mr. Clive Jenkins and Mr. Frank Cousins hear about this, because the fact that a reference may be made to the Board and that before the Board has reported the Government may say, "You can put up your prices", is, I suspect, very big news indeed.
I may have got all this completely wrong. I would be the first to concede that everything may be altered as a result of our passing this Order and that the reference of brick prices was entirely 1659 politically motivated—that the Government knew that a black market was developing in brick prices and conceded the realism of the situation by allowing a price increase.
As a result of activating Section 6 of the Act, could a situation arise in which the Government, having referred a price or income to the Board, could then say, in advance of that reference being adjudicated and published by the Board, "We will permit an increase"? This is what the House and people like Mr. Clive Jenkins want to know.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept 100 per cent. the policy of Frank Cousins and Clive Jenkins?
§ Mr. Biffen
I can answer that with brevity and clarity: "No"—and if I were to explain the reasons to the hon. Gentleman I would soon be called to order. However, there will be many occasions when we can debate this issue at length.
The development of the long-stop theory is a fascinating matter indeed. I recall many occasions when "Mr. Extras" has been the top scorer. It is no great sign of sophistication to be talking in the language of long-stops. Indeed, if the Government were more subtle they would be talking of deep third man. Be that as it may, at least it is not a miliary metaphor or the physician's metaphor. None the less, it is not a very helpful metaphor, because the idea is that this legislation provides a long-stop—some good soul who is prepared to pick up the ball before it goes over the boundary and scores four runs. The idea is that as the T.U.C. cannot quite do it this year we must have this provision, but we had the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) devastatingly destroy the whole basis of the argument.
In charity, I put a few questions to find out how the long-stop principle would be put into operation. This also was a Question for the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Labour, without whom no prices and incomes debate would be complete as he has struggled manfully time and again over the Part IV Orders. I ask him if he… will state how many wage claims, the number of workers involved and the average 1660 percentage claimed increase in income is covered by applications that have been notified to him as having passed the Trades Union Congress vetting committee; and what is the corresponding information on salary claims.The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour replied:My information about the work of the vetting committee of the T.U.C. does not provide a basis for the statistical comparisons for which the hon. Member asks."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1967; Vol. 749, c. 269.]It does not provide a statistical basis.
May be it was a complicated and long question but it was a vital question, because it is the question around which the whole debate revolves. If it cannot be answered, it is not a policy of long stop at all but of the Government trying to pretend to know about things of which they have no knowledge and that they can do things about which they are totally ineffectual.
I end, pretty well as I began, with another quotation from Mr. Frank Cousins. I know that it will please hon. Members opposite below the Gangway. It was in the same debate but none the less it was a very pertinent and shrewd comment—
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
I intervene only to say that if the hon. Member goes on like this he will qualify as a fully sponsored member of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
§ Mr. Biffen
Mr. Speaker has rightly reminded us that privilege is a serious thing and I could not again follow that intervention.
Mr. Cousins said:I have said that we must have a method of ensuring there is a growth of the economy and an improvement in the standard of living. The place to get this is not in Parliament. One cannot do this in Parliament. The complex problems of industrial relations and understanding between the two sides of industry cannot be solved unless one is working in industry."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 2nd August, 1966; c. 267.]That is a message that I believe is of special significance to the intellectuals who now occupy the Treasury Bench because, in invoking this Order, they are making immense strides of intervention into the industrial and commercial practice of the country. Indeed their cheer leader has now arrived, if only to endorse my comments.
1661 Therefore, although the Government will win the vote this evening—they will win by a modest majority, but they will win—it will be no ordinary vote. It will be a high symbolic occasion, an occasion when the planners have triumphed over the unions, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the planners, because I do not believe, however ambitious and however arrogant may be the intellectual view of politics, that it contains the essential ingredient of common sense or, indeed, of efficiency. Therefore, we will depend on the saving grace of inefficiency to rescue us from the Government's ambitions in their prices and incomes policy.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)
I am glad that the First Secretary of State is to make a brief reply to this debate on a Motion for an affirmative Order which will activate Part II of the Prices and Incomes Act. We now have things the right way round. We have passed the Act and it and the 1966 Act will be read together as the Prices and Incomes Act, 1966–67. Now we are taking the Order. The Leader of the House, now known as the "Medicine Man" of the Labour Party, set out to enschool us in a slightly different procedure, but following the precedent of Part IV, it is much better that we should have had a special debate after the Act itself is on the Statute Book.
The House will remember that Part IV was apostrophised by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) as the only Act he can remember recommended to the House on the ground that it was not going to be used. But exactly the same thing can be said about Part II. We were told a year ago that it was a precautionary measure. We thought we knew better and, indeed, tonight proved that we did. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster today talked again in terms of the long stop, which has been demolished effectively by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen).
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told us that the Government have had consultations—as they were bound to do by the Act—with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. before the Order was made. That is certainly accurate, but the First Secretary of State will also agree that both the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. did not 1662 want this Order any more than they wanted Part IV, and this activation of Part II has very few friends.
I was surprised by one point, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will take it up. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told us that neither the C.B.I. nor the T.U.C. had objected to any of the Orders made. My impression certainly was that the C.B.I. fiercely objected to the Order about laundry prices, and I recall the Director-General of the C.B.I. saying that it felt absolutely betrayed by what had been done. Perhaps he was using that phrase in the narrower sense in relation to wages.
Our attitude to Part II is straightforward. We were against the original Part II and á fortiori are against the strengthened Part II whose implementation concerns us tonight. This is a policy for prices and incomes. During the passage of the Act, there was an attempt to insert words about productivity. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) has said, there is nothing in it which trenches upon productivity at all.
I have heard the view expressed that the part of the Act dealing with prices is a bluff. One hon. Member opposite, during the passage of the Act, said that at one and the same time the provisions in relation to prices in Part II could not be both bluff and dangerous nonsense. I disagree. They are as they stand bluff, because as has been made clear from the solitary Order on laundries, the Government do not really intend to use these provisions; but they would be dangerous nonsense if the Government thought that they could use them and by doing so have the slightest influence upon individual prices. We are asked, then, for the powers under Part II to control wages, and that is really the heart of the matter.
It has been established in long debates that the Bill, although it does not seek to be, is in effect, anti-trade union. It has been accepted that many incomes are left untouched by the Bill. It has been proven now that, far from bringing any benefit to the lower-paid workers, if anything, it operates against their interests. I hope very much that the First Secretary will take up the points made in an excellent speech by my hon. and learned 1663 Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) in relation to arbitration. Lastly, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) made absolutely clear—and this, after all, is legislation in relation to control of wages, which no Government have contemplated before—the T.U.C. was against it.
There is another provision in Part II which I have not heard commented on tonight, Clause 12, which relates to dividends. This is somewhat strange as dividends are somewhat emotive as a subject for debate in this House. According to Clause 12, the intention to increase dividends must be notified within seven days of the directors' decision and the increase is to be measured by reference to an earlier year which will be prescribed by the Secretary of State. The curious point about Clause 12, as I read it—perhaps the First Secretary can confirm this—is that there is no power to prevent or to delay dividend increases even in cases which have been referred, under Part I, to the Prices and Incomes Board.
If we look at the possible form of reference, which would come under Clause 2 of the Act, it is astonishingly wide. Leaving out unimportant subsection (1) words:The Secretary of State … may refer to the Board any question relating to wages, salaries or other forms of incomes, or to prices, charges or other sums payable under transactions of any description relating to any form of property or rights or to services of any description or to returns on capital invested in any form of property, including company dividends …".Then it goes on to the magnificent coda of subsection (2), which starts off:A question referred to the Board under subsection (1) above may be framed in any way whatsoever…".That, no doubt, is sweet music to hon. Members opposite, but they are appalling words to find in a Statute passed by the House of Commons and which we are now asked to activate.
If I am right about dividends, and I think I am, there is no power to do anything about them. So what is the point of the Clause? There is no need for the Clause because, as anybody who has had anything to do with a company knows, an alteration in the dividend, or even the same dividend, for that matter, 1664 is notified not within seven days but within hours. All this information, for any company of any importance, is known literally at once. If the First Secretary of State is chasing tiny little companies, then Clause 12 is even less important than one thinks.
There is nothing about productivity in Part II, or in the rest of the Act. What there is about prices is meaningless, as was shown in the saga about brick prices given by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry. What there is about dividends is meaningless and unnecessary. All this flummery is in order that the Secretary of State may have power to control wages. The rest is window dressing, and we all know it. What there is about dividends is window dressing; what there is about prices is window dressing; productivity is not mentioned; it is the power to control wages that interests the Secretary of State, and that is what we shall be deciding tonight.
But I hope that when, as no doubt, his docile majority gives him this power tonight, the Secretary of State will be careful in its use. I hope that he will remember Part IV and what happened in the Thorn and other cases with the definition of Section 29. He will remember—he acknowledged it the other day—that I brought these cases forward in October and he claimed, or complained, that I had not made a similar point when the Bill was going through in July. Of course, in July I did not know to what use Part IV was to be put. We were virtually assured that it would not be used at all, and until the Thorn case arose we did not know exactly what sort of interpretation was to be put on the words which the House of Commons had passed.
The reality of the matter is that the legal advice of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson), the former Attorney-General, was right and the legal advice of the present Attorney-General was wrong. That will surprise nobody. It was also a fact, however unlikely the alliance, that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) and I were right and the First Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary, who is the First Secretary's leg man—and a jolly good one he is, too—were wrong.
If we give this authority to the First Secretary, I hope that when we have 1665 these debates it will just occur to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour that this time he might be wrong. I should like the thought just to flash across his mind for a moment, because we debated in all these Orders for night after night and four out of nine had to be annulled. I am not myself lacking in confidence—I rather like it as an attribute—but I must say that the Parliamentary Secretary sometimes leaves me breathless. He will remember that Lord Melbourne said:I wish that I was as cocksure of anything as Tom Macaulay is of everything.When the time comes to debate all these Motions under Part II, I hope that there is just the possibility of a glimmer of a thought that the interpretations given to us from the Treasury Bench might conceivably be wrong.
What use are the Government to make of this power when they have won it tonight? If they are to try and make it effective, which I believe to be an impossible task, they will have to put Orders before the House by the thousand. We know that they cannot do that, if only because of the intake which can be absorbed by the Prices and Incomes Board. But I tell the First Secretary something else: we will put down a Prayer against every Order which the right hon. Gentleman introduces. That will limit his folly as happened with the Orders under Part IV. If he goes on and tries to make the hundreds or thousands of Orders which will be necessary, no other business will be transacted in the House of Commons next Session and we will have a remarkably short Gracious Speech which will say that no legislation is contemplated because all the time will be taken up by praying to annul prices and incomes Orders. That is a fair and, the First Secretary will agree, amiable warning.
We do not like this, and we will take Parliamentary opportunities to oppose it wherever we can. If, and I think that this is the much more likely course of the two, if this legislation is to be ineffective, then it is just one more bluff, and it will remain in terrorem for people, as an indication of the Government's wishes. We have seen this happen in each of the last three years. We have seen it in the prices and incomes measure 1666 which came forward this year, last year and the year before. We have seen Cabinet Ministers training their batteries on each other rather than on us, and we see their faithful supporters behind them, if they have any, with their staffs in their hands and their loins girt, ready to make one more feast of their own words as soon as the First Secretary comes to the Box to order them to do so.
This Bill has very little support indeed. There has been only one speech, from the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) supporting it, and he was probably corralled by the Whips into speaking in this debate.
§ Mr. Macleod
Anyway, the only voice raised from the other side in support of this Bill was the hon. Member. The position is simply that we know that the T.U.C. and C.B.I. are against it. The Chancellor of the Duchy, as was pointed out by his hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), was somewhat selective in his quotations from Mr. George Woodcock.
As I understand it, Mr. Woodcock's attitude towards this Bill is one of contempt. He calls it a bauble, and no conceivable support can be looked for in that quarter. As we saw, the majority shrank from the nominal 100 or so down to 20. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy asked, if we were to vote against this, as we shall, what we would put in its place. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) answered this without getting out of order, or without getting much out of order, and I endorse what he says.
The immediate point before us is that we are concerned not with a voluntary policy, which I have said many times can play a part but which should not play a primary part in our economic management, but with whether to give authority to the Government to activate a strengthened Part II. As far as I can tell, every single one of my hon. and right hon. Friends is against that particular proposition.
When I say that we on this side of the House are against the statutory incomes policy, unlike the Prime Minister, we 1667 mean it. The right hon. Gentleman said at the time of the election that we would be on a slippery slope—we all know the quotation so well—that the Government were not thinking of it. This is the end of the road, and the majority of the Government's supporters will go into the Lobby in a comparatively short time now to support something which was quite rightly condemned by the Prime Minister at election time about a year ago.
The question before the House is: Do we have a statutory form of incomes policy, do we activate Part II? We for our part will have none of it. We have opposed it at every stage, we will oppose it tonight, and we will oppose in due course each and probably all of the Orders made under it.
§ Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)
Before my right hon. Friend sits down, could he answer one question? He has mentioned that 1668 there was a lack of support for this legislation on the benches opposite. Has he noticed that there are twice as many Tories on our side as there are Socialists opposite? Is that because they are so thick-skulled that they do not understand what we are talking about?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Interventions ought always to be worth while, especially after a right hon. Member has sat down.
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman can intervene again when Mr. Speaker has sat down.
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
If I may continue my intervention, leaving out the fact that the Opposition are thick-skulled, is it a fact that the Opposition are so lukewarm about this legislation that they cannot bother to attend the debate?
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)
I hope that I may begin by reminding the House of the speech of the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in opening the debate. It is the more important to do so since so few of his hon. Friends had the advantage of hearing it—not even the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport).
It was an important speech, because he laid down in it the proposition that it would be desirable to have what he called a more orderly system of collective bargaining than we have at present. He meant, I take it, that the system of collective bargaining as it now works is not perfect and that it should have more order and reason in it. So far we are agreed. He said, further, that for this purpose there ought to be an agency. I suppose that he would have used the word "board" but for his deference to his hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen). This agency would inquire into prices and incomes so that the more orderly collective bargaining could proceed with knowledge. He further said that in this more orderly process both the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. have a part to play.
Are we to understand that during the whole process, with the agency, the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. expressing their views, the Government are to remain silent, not expressing an opinion at all throughout the proceedings? Was that the right hon. Gentleman's view?
§ Mr. R. Carr
I do not think that I should be in order to repeat it, but if the right hon. Gentleman read the speech which I made on Second Reading of the Bill he would find that question precisely answered.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman will not remind me what his answer was.
Let us suppose that the right hon. Gentleman does not think that the Government should remain silent throughout the whole of these proceedings. I think that that is his view—that the Government also would have some responsi- 1670 bilities and duties in this matter. If I am wrong, I hope that he will correct me.
It is established that the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that there ought to be a more orderly process of collective bargaining, with an agency presumably comparable with the National Board for Prices and Incomes, and the T.U.C., the C.B.I. and the Government interested in the process, and that this would lead to an improvement in the methods of collective bargaining. He also takes the view that that should operate entirely without statutory powers. This would presumably be a more orderly system of collective bargaining, but nonetheless voluntary, although at the same time useful. With all this—since this is the view of the right hon. Gentleman and the Conservative Party—I agree. In that case why did he express in his speech today the view that a voluntary prices and incomes policy was not viable? This cleavage of opinion has appeared throughout the speeches of the Conservative Party.
§ Mr. R. Carr
I said that the Government idea of a voluntary policy was not viable. I said that if we take the five-pronged measure which I recommended to the House on behalf or the Opposition, which included a wholesale review of the law relating to industrial relations, in the context of that five-pronged policy a voluntary system was viable.
§ Mr. Stewart
That was not quite the argument the right hon. Genleman was putting forward. He was arguing—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Noise does not help at any time. It help even less from those who have not heard the debate.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman's argument was that the Government would be driven back to compulsion because the voluntary policy was not viable. That was inconsistent with what he had argued in the rest of his speech. Similarly, the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) argued that at the end of the year when all compulsory powers have gone we shall go back to what we had two years ago, but 1671 that surely means that he takes the view that all the effort now being made by the T.U.C. to provide us with what his right hon. Friend told us was more orderly collective bargaining will have had no effect during that period.
I do not know how many hon. Members opposite share that view, that what the T.U.C. is doing is useless. The Government do not take that view. I believe that in the last 12 months and in the 12 months to come, the work being done by the T.U.C. to build up a vetting system will be of great value in providing us with what the right hon. Gentleman called a more orderly system of collective bargaining. That is why I expressed both the hope and belief that at the end of this 12 months the last remnant of statutory power can disappear and we should be able to work then a fully voluntary policy. The argument that that cannot be done is based on the assumption, which the hon. and learned Member for Darwen makes, that the work now being done by the T.U.C. is useless. That again is not in line with the views expressed by his right hon. Friend and certainly not in line with the, at times, almost fulsome if not perhaps altogether sincere praise of the trade union movement which we had from the benches opposite during this debate.
The right hon. Member for Mitcham has just said that all would be well if we introduced the Tory five-pronged policy. A number of references were made to this. Since they got past the Chair, I think I might be able to spend just a few minutes commenting on these Tory alternatives. What they are saying to us is, "Don't have your statutory powers." Some of them go further. The hon. Member for Oswestry says, "Don't have your Prices and Incomes Board." The hon. and learned Member for Darwen says, "The T.U.C. vetting machinery is no good. What we want"—this oft-repeated, vague phrase—"is to bring the trade union movement within the legal framework." No one defined it more precisely than that. I will tell the House what it means. It means reversing the important principle enshrined in the 1906 Trade Disputes Act and returning trade unions to the system before the Taff Vale judgment making a trade union liable in law to damages for torts in breach of 1672 contract committed by any of its members.
If hon. and right hon. Members opposite say that is not what that vague phrase means, they have had nearly four hours during the debate to make themselves a little clearer. I trust that if there are any of my hon. Friends—I should not think it very likely—who have been at all impressed by the pro-trade union attitude adopted by the party opposite tonight they will take notice of what is actually proposed. I notice with interest that no hon. or right hon. Member opposite disputes that this is what in fact this vague phrase means.
§ Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)
Without disputing this for a moment, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can mention one other modern industrial country whose trade union structure is on the same basis as ours? We are the odd country out.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am glad to have that confirmation from the hon. Gentleman opposite that this is in fact what they are proposing. I draw this to the attention of my hon. Friends. If they do not think, some of them, that the action we are taking at the present time is wise, I think they will notice the alternative which has been repeatedly dangled before them, and this is the more unfortunate because, surely, what is necessary, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop), is that the influence and authority of the trade union movement and the working of its vetting machinery should grow in prestige during the coming 12 months.
It was argued that by introducing this Order we may be hindering that process. Neither my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, nor I, nor anyone, has denied that the trade union movement does not like our introducing this Order, but I say also that they have made it very clear indeed that they are not going to let that disagreement inhibit their attempts to make the vetting machinery a success. But if they are now to be told by a party which wants to be the alternative Government that there is going to be this very serious alteration of trade union law, is it suggested that that is going to help the trade union movement to grow in authority and deal with difficult questions of 1673 wages affecting the unions which belong to the T.U.C.?
What, then, is at issue in this Order? It is argued that the powers now possessed by the Government, now until 11th August this year, should be reduced. Despite some of the dramatic pictures drawn—on both sides—of what might happen under these powers, it was not disputed—my right hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) accepted—that this represents a reduction in the amount of statutory power which the Government now have. It is important to notice that, in view of some of the comments made about penal sanctions.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) argued that if two trade unionists met together to talk about a rise in wages they could be prosecuted under the Act. If he will look at what Section 16 says he will see that that is a feat of imagination on his part. The words could not possibly bear that interpretation. There has got to be an attempt to induce or compel an employer to raise wages contrary to an Order which has been made. Hon. Members may say—I understand the feelings of those who do say this—that they do not want the power even to that extent. But even that extent is a totally different picture from the one drawn by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cathcart.
It is reasonable in this connection to look at what in fact has happened. There has been no prosecution under the Act. There has been only a very limited number of Orders under the Act. Every Order respecting wages was the subject, before it was made, of consultation with representatives of the T.U.C., and in no case did they raise any objection to it. That is the reality of what has happened, and I think that trade unionists and the country as a whole are likely to look more at that reality than at the nightmares and imaginations conjured by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor
Would the First Secretary not agree that under the powers it is wholly possible, if they are implemented, for two people to be sent to prison for discussing a wage rise? What is the point of justifying the powers 1674 by saying they have not been used and will not be? If they are not for use, why bring them in at all?
§ Mr. Stewart
I certainly deny that people can be prosecuted merely because they have discussed wages. If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Section he will see that the action has to be of a kind which is intended to get an employer to, or to put on employer in a position where he must, break the law. Two people merely coming together to talk about raising wages could not possibly come within that definition, and I think that it is relevant to draw attention to what has happened, because it might be said that it is the Government's intention to try to interpret their powers as fully and as harshly as possible. What has happened in the past is relevant evidence to judge whether there is any truth in a charge of that kind.
Let me say a little more about how the past powers have been used, because it is relevant to help the House to judge in what spirit the Government approach their present powers. Here, I want to take up some of the points made about the past use of the powers by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), who described what had been done about prices as a "fiasco". The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), in search of further words, used "bluff", and another word which escapes me at the moment.
Let us look at what has happened. It was made clear—[Interruption.] I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford is sleepy—
§ Mr. Stewart
I quite understand that a subject affecting the welfare and rights of working people would be tedious to the hon. and gallant Gentleman—
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
It is not the subject that bores me. It is the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman, well known to be one of the biggest bores in the House, presents it.
§ Mr. Stewart
At least the hon. and gallant Gentleman has come to listen to me, which is more than he did when his right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham opened the debate from his own side.
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
I have been patient and good-mannered in listening to the right hon. Gentleman. I apologise, but I could not conceal my boredom and, as I can no longer conceal it, I will leave the Chamber.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)
It serves my right hon. Friend right for giving way to the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Mr. Stewart
I should have thought that the withdrawal of the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford was, on the whole, an advantage to the House. I may say that if ever again I am able to achieve a like result by a speech, I shall certainly seize the opportunity.
However, if I may take up this question of prices, it was made clear to the country at the time that the freeze was introduced that there would be some rises in prices. During the whole 12 months, the rise in prices has been in the neighbourhood of 2½ per cent., as I have told the House on more than one occasion. The greater part of that occurred in the first six months of the freeze—that is, the last six months of last year. The movement during the latter part of the freeze—the first six months of this year—has been that, while movements of both wage rates and prices have been small, during that period the movement of wage rates has been slightly ahead of the movement of prices, reversing the situation at the end of last year.
Moreover, if one looks at the many applications which there were last summer or autumn to raise the prices of commodities of considerable importance, such as bread, flour, chocolate, milk, fruit and vegetables, all were held back as a result of the Government's policy, and in my judgment it would have been more difficult to do that if there had been no Part IV powers in operation. I cannot, therefore, accept my hon. Friend's judgment that the use of the powers, or the presence of the powers, towards prices was a mere fiasco.
Nor can it be said, despite one example produced by one hon. Gentleman opposite, that the policy has not operated in a way helpful to lower-paid workers. This year there have been increases affecting about 2 million workers, the majority of whom got the increase by virtue of the lower-paid worker criteria. Nor can it be said that the policy has worked in a 1676 way unfriendly to productivity. Indeed, the very fact that one of the ways in which an increase could be justified was by making a productivity agreement is one reason why the number of productivity agreements made, tested, and approved has risen steadily during these 12 months.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there was nothing about productivity in the Bill. He is really too old a Parliamentary hand to use that one, because he knows, and we argued this out some nights ago, that it is an integral part of the Bill that the power can be used only in accordance with the recommendations of the Board, or, to speak more exactly, that the powers cannot be used more harshly than the recommendation of the Board. Further, in doing its work the Board is required to pay attention to productivity as one of the criteria. Therefore, the whole working of the powers under this Bill has implicit in it the encouragement of productivity agreements, and this is apparent to anyone who takes the trouble to read not only the Act itself, but the other legislation with which it has to be construed.
I must, therefore, reject the contention of the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) that this is making collective bargaining more chaotic. On the contrary, it is introducing a greater element of stability in prices. It is helping the lower-paid worker. It is encouraging productivity agreements. It is forging a stronger link between an increase in productivity and an increase in income, and this is a movement towards the more orderly collective bargaining which the right hon. Member for Mitcham said at the outset was what we wanted.
§ Mr. Mawby
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put the matter into its proper perspective. Would he not agree that the increase in the number of workers affected by productivity agreements has brought the total up to only 1 million, which is a very small percentage of the total number of people employed in this country?
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not asserting that the whole task is done. What I am saying is that the operation of the policy caused these things to move in the right direction, and I therefore reject the hon. Gentleman's contention that we were making collective bargaining more chaotic. His view cannot be supported by the facts.
1677 I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West that it is not the Government's contention that prices and incomes policy is the central theme of economic policy. Indeed, I hold very strongly, and I have said it more than once, that it would always be an error in economic policy to lay too much stress on any one of the several instruments which are available to the Government.
I think that the reason why we have talked so much about it is that we have been so much involved with it in the House, but the amount of time something takes up in the House is not, by itself, a complete measure of its importance compared with other things that we do not argue at such length. I agree that measures which help to promote greater efficiency in industry, which give people incentives, which help to reduce the burden of overseas expenditure, are all things which play a great part in economic policy, but I cannot pursue this theme further now, because it happens to be the part of prices and incomes policy in overall economic policy with which the business tonight is concerned.
I have spoken of the past working of the policy. There are a number of questions about how the Government see their handling of the matter when the Bill is law, and Part II of the Act is in operation. The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) asked whether we were sure that there were no loopholes. He can be quite sure that the point raised by the Court of Appeal judgment is fully and satisfactorily dealt with in the new Act; that we have most carefully examined what other possible loopholes there may be and that, as far as a layman may venture an opinion of what courts of law may do in the future, I believe that this Act is foolproof.
The other question concerned the operation of the Bill in Northern Ireland. Both this Act and the 1966 Act were prepared in full consultation with the Northern Ireland Government. The Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Northern Ireland have agreed that the national prices and incomes policy should apply to the whole or the United Kingdom.
The hon. and learned Member for Darwen asked whether there would be a large number of Orders requiring compulsory notification. I can set his mind 1678 at rest about what he has been reading in the newspapers recently. The position is that—as I have earlier told the House—following the discussions we have had with industry it will not be necessary to make a large number of Orders about notification. We expect, and have every reason to expect, the co-operation of industry and voluntary notifications.
As to the list of things to which notification is to apply—to which subject the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) referred—as was made clear in Committee, in due course we shall publish a list, revised in comparison with the list to be found in Cmnd. 2808. I must tell the right hon. Member for Enfield, West that his prospect of praying against thousands of orders next Session will not be fulfilled. Possibly that news will be gratifying to him and many of his supporters.
The hon. and learned Member for Darwen also asked about the position of arbitrators. That question is covered in paragraph 21 of Cmnd. 3235, which states clearly that the criteria to which the Board works should also be observed by arbitrators, independent review bodies, and statutory wage fixing bodies. That seems the logical way of handling the matter.
The hon. and learned Member also asked about the method of selection of what might be referred to the Board. Both in Committee and on Report we went over this question. I can again give the example I gave in Committee. I was arguing that the phrase "a price of economic significance" has a meaning. I was interested to notice that shortly afterwards an hon. Member had argued that the phrase "of economic significance" was meaningless, either he or one of his hon. Friends was using it with great emphasis. This is a matter of common sense. The possibility of a rise in the price of bread is a matter of economic significance. As I had to point out in reply to a Question put by one of my hon. Friends some months ago, an increase in the subscription to the Glasgow Conservative Club is not of economic significance.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Can the right hon. Gentleman possibly say that of all price increases over the last year the increases in laundry prices were of the greatest economic significance?
§ Mr. Stewart
At no time did I use the phrase "greatest economic significance". But they had economic significance, in that they affected individuals, hospitals and schools. It would have been quite wrong to behave as if the prices of laundry and cleaning were not of economic significance.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I shall be delighted the fewer references there are, but the point is not on notification, on which I take what the right hon. Gentleman said, but on the number of references. To put it the other way around, how many references does he think the Board can sustain in a year?
§ Mr. Stewart
I was dealing with references. I had proceeded from notification Orders to how one selects what should be referred. I will not give offhand a numerical estimate, but I believe a selection can be made within the Board's compass and sufficiently representative of the economic scene to be effective in carrying out the policy. I must reject the suggestion that we have selected the weak rather than the strong. The error is that bargaining strength is not necessarily determined by the number of people involved, which might be small, but a settlement or a price increase might occupy such a position in the economy or be fraught with such possible repercussions as to make it of economic significance.
As to how the Government's use of powers fit in with the T.U.C.'s actions, a decision whether to refer to the Board or to take action under the Statute after it has reported must be the Government's, and the decisions of the T.U.C. vetting committee and the opinions of the C.B.I. on prices—though these are much less formalised—would have to be seriously considered by the Government, but there would be no complete delegation of Government powers to any other group.
The right hon. Member asked whether the Government could allow an increase while it was being considered by the Board. The Statute makes it clear that the Government could consent to an increase if they felt it right, and provides that they may make a lesser use of their powers than a Board recommendation would suggest. Finally—
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
On a point of order. How many "finallys" do we need before the matter is final?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
That is up to the Minister and is not a matter for the Chair.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am replying to the points of hon. Gentlemen oposite, who were here during the debate, and do not see why I should be prevented from doing so by their hon. Friends who were not.
A full discussion of the fixing of the norm would go beyond the limits of the Order but the Government's aim has been to get away from the extreme powers of Part IV to a voluntary and orderly system, which I take to be the objective of the right hon. Member for Mitcham. Such a system requires joint consultation periodically between management, unions and Government to try to agree what they think should be—and I prefer to use this phrase—a minimum increase in income in the coming 12 months, and also to agree, if possible, the reasons or criteria why any particular group should have more than that minimum.
It would indeed be over-optimistic to assume that that agreement would always and instantaneously be reached, and the situation might occur when the Government would have to express, and hold to, their view; and that, I believe, would be right. But as speedily as we can get to a system where there are no statutory powers at all, then that would not be a question of the Government imposing a view, but putting forward a view for the country to judge. In the end these matters will not be decided by Statute or even by vetting committees or arguments. What happens in the sphere of prices and incomes will, in the end, be decided by what progress is made by the nation in increasing the productivity of human labour.
§ Mr. McMaster rose—
§ Mr. Stewart
I must conclude my remarks.
These matters of prices and incomes have their place—and an important place 1681 it is—in economic policy. They cannot, by themselves, solve the whole problem, but the nearer we can get to what the tight hon. Member for Enfield, West spoke of as more orderly collective bargaining—the nearer we can get to basing the principles that govern people's
§ incomes on justice and common sense—that in itself will be of great help in increasing the productivity on which everything, in the end, depends.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 146.1683
|Division No. 471.]||AYES||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Grey, Charles (Durham)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Alldritt, Walter||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oram, Albert E.|
|Allen, Scholefield||Hamilton, James (Botnwell)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Harper, Joseph||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Ashley, Jack||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Haseldine, Norman||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Hattersley, Roy||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Hazed, Bert||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Baxter, William||Henig, Stanley||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Beaney, Alan||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Bence, Cyril||Hooley, Frank||Pentland, Norman|
|Bonn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Binns, John||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Blackburn, F.||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Randall, Harry|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Howie, W.||Reee, Merlyn|
|Boardman, H.||Hoy, James||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Huckfield, L.||Richard, Ivor|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Boyden, James||Hunter, Adam||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hynd, John||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Bradley, Tom||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Rose, Paul|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Buchan, Norman||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Judd, Frank||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Kelley, Richard||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Kenyon, Clifford||Slater, Joseph|
|Coe, Denis||Lawson, George||Small, William|
|Coleman, Donald||Leadbitter, Ted||Snow, Julian|
|Concannon, J. D.||Ledger, Ron||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Conlan, Bernard||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Cronin, John||Lipton, Marcus||Stonehouse, John|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Lomas, Kenneth||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Loughlin, Charles||Swingler, Stephen|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||McBride, Neil||Taverne, Dick|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||McCann, John||Tinn, James|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||MacColl, James||Urwin, T. W.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Macdonald, A. H.||Varley, Erie C.|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||McGuire, Michael||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Dewar, Donald||Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruthcrglen)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Dobson, Ray||Mackie, John||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Doig, Peter||Mackintosh, John P.||Wallace, George|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Maclennan, Robert||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Dunnett, Jack||MacPherson, Malcolm||Weitzman, David|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Mason, Roy||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Eadie, Alex||Mellish, Robert||Whitlock, William|
|English, Michael||Millan, Bruce||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Ennals, David||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Ensor, David||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Moonman, Eric||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Finch, Harold||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Foley, Maurice||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Moyle, Roland||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Fowler, Gerry||Murray, Albert||Woof, Robert|
|Freeson, Reginald||Neal, Harold||Yates, Victor|
|Garrett, W. E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Oakes, Gordon||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gregory, Arnold||Ogden, Eric||Mr. Alan Fitch and|
|Mr. Charles R. Morris.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Gower, Raymond||Onslow, Cranley|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Grant, Anthony||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gresham Cooke, R.||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Got. & Fhm)||Grieve, Percy||Page, John (Harrow, w.)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Pardoe, John|
|Biffen, John||Gurden, Harold||Peel, John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hawkins, Paul||Pereival, Ian|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Peyton, John|
|Blaker, Peter||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Body, Richard||Heseltine, Michael||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Higgins, Terence L.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hiley, Joseph||Pym, Francis|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hirst, Geoffrey||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Holland, Philip||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hooson, Emlyn||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Bryan, Paul||Hordern, Peter||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hornby, Richard||Royle, Anthony|
|Burden, F. A.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hunt, John||Scott, Nicholas|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Sharpies, Richard|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Iremonger, T. L.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Channon, H. P. C.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Clark, Henry||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Clegg, Walter||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Stodart, Anthony|
|Cooke, Robert||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Cordle, John||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Costain, A. P.||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lambton, Viscount||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Crouch, David||Lubbock, Eric||Teeling, Sir William|
|Crowder, F. P.||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Currie, G. B. H.||MacArthur, Ian||Tilney, John|
|Dance, James||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||McMaster, Stanley||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Maude, Angus||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Doughty, Charles||Mawby, Ray||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wall, Patrick|
|Eden, Sir John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Elliott, R.W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wells, John (Maldstone)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Miscampbell, Norman||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Monro, Hector||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||More, Jasper||Wright, Esmond|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Murton, Oscar||Mr. Timothy Kitson and|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Mr. Bernard Weatberill.|
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Prices and Incomes Act 1966 (Commencement of Part II) Order 1967 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 20th June.
§ Address to be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.