HC Deb 26 June 1968 vol 767 cc479-572


4.47 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have now published a complete list of selected Amendments. The first Amendment we come to is Amendment No. 15, with which we shall take Amendment No. 121, in page 3, line 3, at end insert: (5) In the case of wage increases awarded solely on the principle of equal pay for equal work as set out in Convention 110 of the International Labour Office the standstill shall not apply. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) has asked me whether I would consider allowing a Division on Amendment No. 121. I am prepared to do so, if she asks for it at the time.

Mr. Keith Speed (Meriden)

I beg to move Amendment No. 15, in page 2, line 11, at end insert: Except that no order shall be made where the Board determine that the effect of the award or settlement is solely to bring the pay of a worker or group of workers in line with other employees within the same company who are engaged on exactly the same work under the same conditions of service. There are many workers in factories, shops and businesses who are on a lower rate of pay and take home at the end of the week lower earnings than workers in the same establishments doing exactly the same work. The most obvious example of this discrepancy is where men and women are working in the same establishment, doing the same work at very different rates of pay.

There are also minority examples, which would be covered by my Amendment, where there can be differential rates of pay based on age or reasons which may be historical, racial, or even possibly religious. I do not know. These minority reasons, although important, are not of great substance. Therefore, I shall concentrate now on the big problem, that of the differential in pay between women and men. My Amendment seeks to stop the Government delaying or freezing an increase that could take place purely to bring women who are lower paid, but doing the same work as their male counterparts, more into line with the men in the company concerned. I understand that if a group of women or an individual woman wished to bring their pay more into line with that of men doing the same work there could be a delay of 2½ years under the Bill before any award could be implemented.

The International Labour Organisation passed Convention No. 100 on 21st June, 1951, paragraph 1 of Article 2 of which states: Each member shall, by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration, promote and, in so far as is consistent with such methods, ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value. Paragraph 2 states: This principle may be applied by means of—

  1. (a) national laws or regulations;
  2. (b) legally established or recognisedmachinery for wage determination;
  3. (c) collective agreements between employers and workers; or
  4. (d) a combination of these various means."
Article 4 states: Each member shall co-operate as appropriate with employers' and workers' organisations concerned for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Convention. It is a matter of personal regret that neither the previous Conservative Government nor the present Labour Government have seen fit to ratify that Convention, notwithstanding the fact that 51 other countries, which are perhaps more enlightened in these affairs, have done so.

That is not the point at issue in the Amendment. More germane to the Amendment is the fact that in this country at the moment, if my researches are correct, only one in nine women who are working have the right to equal pay for work of the same standard and calibre in companies and organisations.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

I have been following the hon. Gentleman's arguments, particularly what he has said about previous Governments and the present Government in relation to the I.L.O. Convention. For 15 years, within my own organisation, the A.E.U., we have been trying to achieve the male labourer's rate for women. The engineering employers have never conceded this point. So a third factor comes into this, and the hon. Gentleman ought also to address himself to that point.

Mr. Speed

I thank the hon. Member for his remarks. I shall be addressing myself to that point in a few moments, if he will bear with me.

The right hon. Lady the Minister is fortunate in that she does not have to accept a lower remuneration than her right hon. Friends in the Cabinet who are doing the same sort of work and have the same responsibility. I am not asking in the Amendment that equal pay for equal work should be implemented tomorrow. The Minister would have a hundred and one arguments why this is not possible. It is never the right time to talk about equal pay for equal work, for the reason that economic circumstances under any Government are always such that it is never the right moment to do so.

This also applies to employers; it is not, I agree, only a Governmental responsibility. It also applies to some trade unions who have, perhaps, not been so persistent in advocating equal pay for equal work as they might have been. Nevertheless, I hope that the Government will accept, that we should be moving now to the stage where equal pay for equal work can be implemented, not tomorrow, but phased over a period, as was the case in the Civil Service when equal pay was introduced. It would be absolutely wrong for this or any Government by legislation to stop even those faltering steps towards equal pay for equal work, which is what I believe the Bill will do unless the Amendment is passed. It is particularly ironical this year, when we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of universal suffrage, that the Government should, by this Bill, be turning the clock back in respect of equal pay for equal work.

We have all for a long time paid lip service to the concept of equality between men and women. We have eminent and senior lady Ministers, lady bank managers; the university unions are open more and more to women; but in the one thing which counts, which is remuneration at the end of the day, eight-ninths of the women in employment do not receive equal pay for equal work. I believe this, in 1968, to be uncivilised.

The Amendment proposes that, where a trade union or individual employees, by negotiation with their employers, establish that they are entitled to an award or an increase, to bring them more in line to equal pay for equal work—it may be the first faltering steps, or it may be an increase that would bring them into line—and this is agreed between the unions or the negotiating body and the employers, the Government should have no right or responsibility to say that this should not be done. For them to do so would be contrary to the spirit and the letter of the I.L.O. convention.

I do not wish to bring party politics into the argument; this is not basically a party political matter; but the House will remember that the right to equal pay for equal work was mentioned in the 1964 Labour Party election manifesto, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), when he was Minister of Labour. He said: … the Government have already accepted the commitment in principle to equal pay."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 23.] The right hon. Gentleman said this in answer to a Question, and he went on to say that a study was being set up to examine the technical problems between industries and unions, and that their report would have to be awaited. We may have to await their report, and I appreciate the problems of implementing the principle overnight, but it is surely wrong by Act of Parliament, by deliberate Government policy, where it is agreed between unions and employers, to suggest that steps towards equal pay for equal work cannot be implemented.

The Amendment puts the onus for determining whether it is a genuine move towards equal pay on the National Board for Prices and Incomes. We have heard from the right hon. Lady and from other Ministries about the reports of the Board, and how good it is at examining problems. This is an ideal problem for it to examine, to determine whether it is a move towards equal pay for equal work, or mainly a dodge to get round the legislation when it is passed.

If a man is earning the correct amount of remuneration for the work that he is doing, a woman doing the same work should receive the same remuneration. If the Government argue that women should not be advancing towards that level, the concomitant of that argument is that the men should have their wages reduced, since, presumably, their wage rates or earnings are too high.

Provided that the conditions mentioned in the Amendment are satisfied, that is to say, that the workers are employed under the same conditions of service—this is important because fringe benefits, and so on, vary between companies—and within the same company, and provided that the Board is satisfied that it is a genuine move towards equal pay for equal work, it should be exempted from the standstill powers in the Bill.

I have a great deal of sympathy with Amendment No. 121. The principle and motive lying behind it also lie behind my Amendment. I have tried to include in my Amendment the small minority who could be discriminated against for various reasons such as race, age, and so on, since it is important that this should not operate purely in the man/woman situation. I have also tried to be specific about companies and equal conditions of service, although this is not covered by the I.L.O. Convention. I have tried to be reasonable and to help the Government by establishing that the Prices and Incomes Board would determine the validity of such a wage claim.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

I presume that my hon. Friend would not extend this principle to a personal employer who is not a company or a partnership?

Mr. Speed

I am grateful to my hon. Friend; indeed I would. It may be a matter of drafting, but the Amendment should cover all persons in employment.

It seems to me that the present situation of eight-ninths of the female working population being effectively second-class citizens is morally wrong, is way behind most civilised countries and is economically wrong for the reason that where there are very low wage rates for work in a number of industries that hon. Members will probably be aware of, and, also, where a privileged number of men are paid higher wage rates for the same work, this does not help productivity and does not provide a proper pattern of remuneration within those industries.

5.0 p.m.

I hope that the Government will be able to accept the Amendment, because it will not, by itself, unleash a flood of wage claims tomorrow. The intention is not to implement equal pay for equal work overnight in the present economic circumstances, but the way should be made clear and we should not legislate against it, particularly since a two-and-a-half year delay would be involved before any wage award towards equal pay could be implemented. This would be quite wrong.

If the Amendment is accepted, I shall be happy. If it is not, I hope that hon. Members will support me in the Lobby. If they reject the Amendment, I would remind them that, 2,300 years ago, at the time of the Peloponnesian Wars, Lysistrata gave an example which the wives of hon. Members who vote against the Amendment would be well advised to follow—[Laughter.] I say no more. I hope that they will accept the Amendment, since it is not designed to embarrass them or to provoke a fresh flood of inflationary claims. It is designed to give some hope to eight-ninths of the female population who are working and it is in step with the spirit and the letter of the I.L.O. Convention which I hope that we will be able to ratify before long.

Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)

I beg to move Amendment No. 121—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. The hon. Lady will have to wait until we reach that Amendment on the Order Paper. She can only speak to it at the moment. The debate is on Amendment No. 15. We may discuss Amendment No. 121, but if she wishes to divide on it, she will have to move it formally in its place on the Paper.

Mrs. Jeger

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your helpful guidance. There is a clerical error in Amendment No. 121, for which I take full responsibility. It should refer to Convention 100 and not Convention 110 of the International Labour Office.

This Convention has been signed by over 50 countries. There must be many people here today who wonder what there is wrong with our country that we have found it impossible to sign this modest Convention when so many of our friends have done so. Equal remuneration for equal work is implicit in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and was one of the points included in the draft Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to which I had the honour of giving Her Majesty's Government's assent when I was the United Kingdom delegate on the Status of Women Commission last year.

I need not remind my right hon. Friends that the Labour Party Manifesto at the last Election stated categorically: Finally, we must move towards greater fairness in the rewards for work. That is why we stand for equal pay for equal work, and to this end we have started negotiations. I went to the Library last night to look at the HANSARD references to those negotiations. I will not weary the House with them, because I could not see "owt" beyond the pile of HANSARDS with references to assent and meaningless support for this aspiration. I was surrounded by a wall of words.

When we are being asked to give our support to a rational incomes policy, it is completely unrealistic and almost dishonest of my right hon. Friends not to include within their strategy for the last half of the twentieth century a downright and absolute provision for equal pay. It is impossible for the Government to persuade us that we are really providing for a national incomes policy which should be acceptable to all fair minded men and women when it has a built-in discrimination against a third of the working population.

The T.U.C. in the last century laid down in a resolution that where women do the same work as men they should receive equal pay. It is disappointing and appalling that 80 years on, when we are discussing a Bill which is supposed to rationalise incomes, we still find resistance to a nineteenth-century T.U.C. resolution. I am defeated in searching for some face of modernity on the Front Bench.

I feel all the more strongly because last night, by a small majority to which I contributed nothing, the House passed the Clauses covering penal sanctions against trade unionists and employers in connection with breaches of the incomes policy. I will ask my right hon. Friend, first, this question. If some group of women in a firm with perhaps a rather nicer man than usual for an employer manages to achieve some measure of equal pay, will she then prosecute them under the Bill? Unless my Amendment or No. 15 were accepted, it seems that some legal brain somewhere could bring within the penal sanctions an increase in pay awarded to women solely in terms of the principle of equal pay, in accordance with the Labour Party Manifesto, the T.U.C. resolution in the 1880s, the I.L.O. Convention and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. We must have an answer to that.

Neither of the Amendments is mandatory. They allow consultations. Of course we accept this. Women are much more sensible than men about these things. With our realism, we know better than to expect equal pay next week. There was a phasing in the teaching profession and the Civil Service, I remember, over seven years. If we could get some commitment from the Government on that kind of definite time period, we would feel that we had made some headway, but so far we have had nothing but words.

The Bill makes the situation much more difficult. It ossifies all the generations of prejudice. It provides no opening whereby women can get equal pay purely for the reason of equal work. These are very complicated subjects and I do not want to denigrate the hours and hours of consultation which have gone on among the T.U.C, the employers and what used to be the Ministry of Labour. Possibly at the heart of the problem is the fact that, in this country, we do not have a sensible wages policy and I am glad that my right hon. Friend is trying to get somewhere near that.

One of the most impressive books which I have read on this subject was Barbara Wootton's book, "The Social Foundation of Wage Policy", in which Lady Wootton worked out that, when she was a professor at Bedford College, she earned slightly less than the elephant in Regent's Park Zoo. This is a measure of the standards of society in working out what are adequate returns for worthwhile work.

We have in my right hon. Friend a woman who is deeply concerned with social justice and with endeavouring to ensure, as far as she can, that women get a fair deal. Nobody knows better than she does, representing a cotton constituency, the tremendous value to the country as well as the families concerned, of the work of the women in that industry, as in so many other industries. I plead with my right hon. Friend not to let the Bill make a gorgon of her, turning into stone, before Perseus arrives to save her, the modest hopes and aspirations of thousands of hard-working women.

Obviously my right hon. Friend will tell the House that nobody will be sent to prison for implementing the doctrine of equal pay. I hope that she will spell out a little more fully the Government's attitude to the problem. If she says, "Of course no one will go to prison for granting equal pay", there is no reason for her not to accept one of these two Amendments. If she says, "I will give my sanction. I will not exclude from salary increases rises given within this principle", there is nothing to quarrel about and nothing to divide the House about. The Bill can be improved in this way and women will hail my right hon. Friend as the first Boadicea we have had on the Front Bench for a very long time.

It is supposed to be part of the incomes policy that there should be a special tenderness and protection towards lower-paid workers. Who are the lower-paid workers? A Government survey recently made it clear beyond a peradven-ture that the lower-paid workers are synonymous with the word "women". Out of 8 million women workers, just over half earn less than 5s. an hour. If that is not low-paid, I do not know what the Government criterion for low-paid is. Only one woman in 30 earns 10s. an hour. Therefore, across the whole range of women's wages there is a gross underpayment. There are millions of women who, by any criteria, must be included in the very general phrase "lower-paid workers".

There are many subtle and complicated reasons for this. Some of them are referred to in the Donovan Report. Part of the trouble is that women sometimes exclude themselves, and sometimes are excluded by circumstances, from the sort of training that would enable them to take better-paid jobs. After all, boys and girls at school are on about the same level, as far as one can tell. However, after school only about 7 per cent. of girls go in for apprenticeships, mostly in hairdressing, whereas 45 per cent. of boys go in for apprenticeships or for some form of training.

So there is a built-in liability in the matter of lack of skill. That accounts for part of the lower wage average for women. This is not a complete alibi, as my right hon. Friend will be the first to admit. There are many jobs requiring great skill which women do but which, because the jobs are done by women, automatically carry a rate less than would be paid if the jobs were done by men. There are, for instance, very skilled girls in the pottery industry who do very fine decorative work on china which goes for export. These girls are paid a basic rate of 2s. 2½d. an hour. The men who sweep the floor are paid more than they are.

Therefore, I shall not take from my right hon. Friend or from anyone else the proposition that the low level of women's pay is due to our lesser skill. During the war it was suddenly found that women were able to do jobs which nobody had previously thought they could do. If the job that the striking women at Fords were doing was done by men, we should have been told, and the unions would have decided years ago, that it was so skilled that it needed seven years' apprenticeship and was worth £30 a week to sew a seat cover. So there is this other aspect that, if women do a job, the chances are that there is a built-in reduction in pay.

5.15 p.m.

I remind my right hon. Friend of the relevance of what I am saying to an incomes policy. While one-third of the total labour force—about 8 million women—are underpaid in this way, the whole basis of the wages structure is being deformed. A vast element of underpaid labour is being built into the wages structure, and this is bound to pull down the whole level of wages throughout industry.

I do not raise this as a feminist issue. I raise it as an issue of social justice. I raise it in the interest of my men friends, because, although male workers are very sensitive to ensure that, for instance, immigrant workers do not take on jobs at lower rates, they seem to accept far too glibly that women should go on for years being paid less than the rate for the job, not realising that this is undermining their position in the mammoth structure of the incomes policy which is being erected.

Sir Edward Brown (Bath)

Does not the hon. Lady agree that, since the House has no division between men and women and equal pay is operated here, it is a little strange that the House, which must make the decision, is so backward in its general approach to this issue?

Mrs. Jeger

I thank the hon. Gentleman, but the Conservative Government were not any better. We have equal pay in the House of Commons. Most of the professions operate equal pay. What about the other women who work in the House? I asked a Question recently which elicited the information that in the Refreshment Department the women are paid 30s. a week less than the men, on average. Therefore, we must not be too cosy about what goes on in the Palace of Westminster.

This is another reason why I think that this principle should commend itself especially to a compassionate Labour Government. We are talking about poor women. It was in some ways a pity that the Equal Pay Campaign Committee wound itself up some years ago when equal pay was achieved for professional women, for the articulate women, for the well-off women. These represent only 10 per cent. of women at work. We are talking about the 90 per cent. of poor women.

I should not have spoken at such length had there been any sign of an improvement in this situation, but, much to my regret, the contrary is the case. The figures that I have been able to turn up show that the gap between the wages of men and women in industry is slightly widening.

There is no evidence that it is drawing closer. I asked a Question which had a Written Answer on 29th November, 1967, from which I discovered that the difference between the average of men's and women's pay in April, 1966, was £10 6s. 7d. and by April, 1967, the difference had increased to £10 7s. 5d. I got the hourly rate and found that in 1966 the difference was 3s. 6½d. and in 1967 that had gone up to 3s. 7d. These in themselves are not large sums, but they represent an appalling tendency. We had hoped that any change would be towards a lessening of the gap. Many of us would have felt much more satisfied, and perhaps less concerned to make this point so fully today, had there been evidence of a closing of this gap.

My right hon. Friend has a difficult job and I do not think trade unions have always been as active as they could have been on this subject. I am glad that there is now some sign of a livelier appreciation of the problems.

Mr. Orme

I agree with what my hon. Friend is saying, but ought she not to make an appeal to women to join trade unions as this is one aspect which has held back the reforms which she wants?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must point out that the hon. Lady is getting very wide of the Amendment. I do not want to stop the debate on equal pay, but we must keep to the Amendment.

Mrs. Jeger

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Amendment No. 121, which would provide for equal pay, would have made it possible when the trade unions were negotiating at Ford's last year to refuse to accept an agreement under which, within the same grade, women were paid 85 per cent. of the men's rate. I am not talking about women doing different jobs. Within the same grading there was an overall agreement to which at that time the unions were party which provided that where women did the same work they should be paid only 85 per cent. for the job. It is that kind of discrimination which these two Amendments would put right.

I appreciate all the difficulties the Government have to face. I know that we shall be told that this will cost a lot of money. There have been various estimates of what it would cost. I think the most fashionable figure is £600 million. Whatever it cost would not be a measure of the expense to the country but a measure of the forced subsidy which women's labour gives to employers at present. It is women workers of the country from whom this money is being withheld. I think they are beginning to see this increasingly.

Mr. Philip Holland (Carlton)

Before the hon. Lady frightens her right hon. Friends too much about the costs of bringing in equal pay, I am sure that she would want to make the point that these Amendments by themselves would not increase costs at all. The would merely make it possible for a slow creep towards this reform. The cost in any one year would be very small, but it would be a slow movement in the right direction.

Mrs. Jeger

I thank the hon. Member. In these Amendments we are not asking for equal pay tomorrow but that we should move towards it and that we should not allow the Bill to go through with its implicit ossification of a situation in which there is not equal pay. If the Bill goes through as it is, it will provide an alibi for every employer, and an excuse for every idle trade union leader —if there is such a person, although I am sure there is not, but some are livelier than others.

This situation has become very much more serious because of advances in science, technology and automation. All the old divisions between men's work and women's work are being gradually eroded. Science has taken the brawn out of industry. There will be a much wider spectrum of employment for women in all forms of industry. We can push a switch down as well as any man can. If men do not see that underpaid women can push a switch down as well as a man can they are lacking prescience.

I ask my right hon. Friend to give the fullest possible consideration to these Amendments and not to feel that she is being asked to be too brave about it. After all, we are only asking her to go as far as the T.U.C. did in the 1880s. She has the strength of the National Executive of the Labour Party in its preparation of the last General Election manifesto to lean back on. She has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to pray in aid, and the International Labour Office to give her a helping hand. I think she has the courage and vision and that it would not be for her to resist such a spectrum of support, especially as apparently it has been widened to include both sides of this House.

Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) on the very good case she has made and the excellent manner in which she put it forward. I am certain that she will have the sympathetic ear of her right hon. Friend, because when the right hon. Lady was on this side of the House she was particularly eloquent on this subject and expressed herself equally well on it, and I am sure there must be accord on this.

This is the fiftieth anniversary of Votes for Women, and it is a very good time to accede to these Amendments. It took a long time to get the vote, and then a long time to have the age at which women can vote reduced from 30 to 21. We all have [earned to be patient in this House, but we have waited a long time for this advance. We hope that the Minister will consider it.

In addition to being a Member of this House, as Chairman of The Status of Women Commission I represent 21 women's organisations, some of them were formed many years ago. They each have their particular objects, but they meet together on the idea of working for equality for women and one of their objects is to obtain equal pay for equal work. Not since the match girls' strike of 1888 has a group of women pressed strike action so militantlyas now at Ford's and the strange thing about Ford's is that Ford's in America give equal pay for this work, so it seems extraordinary that we cannot persuade them to do so in this country. I ask the right hon. Lady to consider this proposal on the lines of the American minimum wage legislation as that would be a great help.

If we enter the Common Market we shall have to accept the Treaty of Rome. It contains two Articles, No. 111 and No. 119, which deal with discrimination and equal pay and these Articles we would have to observe. I give the right hon. Lady an example of what can happen in this concerning the Admiralty. In the Royal Armament Depot, Devonport, 19 women were engaged on a very difficult job with shells and they had to wear special protective clothing. These 19 women were suddenly dismissed at short notice. They complained to me and when I inquired into the matter I discovered that they had been engaged on terms of equal pay with the men. However, there was a secret agreement between the trade unions and the Admiralty—all the workers concerned were members of trade unions—to the effect that when men were available the women would be dismissed. This seems an extraordinary way for trade unions to behave, presumably they had principles in regard to pay and I suggest that that principle should apply to all. Employers should abide by the same principles.

5.30 p.m.

A few years ago, when I was a member of what was then the L.C.C., there was a great demand for equal pay for a great many women in the professions. I played some part in that demand. Now, it seems, women in the professions must fight for the lower-paid workers who are often more in need of equal pay than women earning higher salaries.

Some progress has been made in this direction without disturbing either labour relations or prices. For example, women workers in the engineering trade now get 92 per cent. of men's wages—in 1962 they received only 67 per cent. of men's wages. In the paint and varnishing trade women now receive 72 per cent. of men's wages, whereas previously they were getting 67 per cent. It is on this basis that I support the Amendment. We want women's wages to increase gradually in the next few years, until equal pay is secured, if we cannot get equal pay straight away.

Some decision too must be made about the difference of opinion that exists between the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. on this question. I understand that the T.U.C. wants equal pay for equal work of equal value while the C.B.I. wants the same pay for identical work. We must get this difference straightened out because it has always been put forward as one of the difficulties in the way of arriving at agreements for women's wages. I hope that the Minister will give us some encouragement and will at least agree to put the matter before the N.B.P.I., with the result that perhaps women will receive an increase of more than 3½ per cent. until they get equal pay with men.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is not the purpose of the Amendment to put the matter before the Board. The hon. Lady must address her remarks to a request for including the Amendment in the Bill, which she has not done so far.

Dame Joan Vickers

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope enough has been said by hon. Members to persuade the Minister to look very closely indeed at the principle of the Amendment.

Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)

My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mrs. Lena Jeger) made such a devastating case for equal pay that virtually nothing need be added to what she said. A pamphlet which I have with me asks two questions; first, Are you for equal pay but against its introduction at the present time? and, secondly, Do you think the financial condition of the country is too serious to justify the introduction of equal pay at present? This pamphlet was printed 18 years ago, at the time of the campaign for equal pay for women in the Civil Service. That campaign was successful for the clerical section of the Civil Service, but the same questions are being asked today. The attitude of many people is sympathetic, but too many of them are saying that this is not the right time to introduce it. I suggest that, far from being the wrong time, it is precisely the right time to embody provisions in favour of equal pay in the Bill. That is why I support the Amendment.

My right hon. Friend is probably wondering what has hit her, as suddenly, from all sides, she is being bombarded with demands for equal pay. It is because we have the rudiments of an incomes policy that so many requests are now coming forward. Women in employment are studying the incomes policy and are wondering why they have been left out of it. Indeed, it is a travesty to leave women out of it in this way.

This is the right time to introduce equal pay because women are the lowest of the low paid workers. They therefore have a special right to consideration now. Among my correspondents—I have had masses of it on this subject—from women, many of whom are not normally articulate about their rights, is a letter from a woman who is employed in the toy industry and who writes that she gets 3s. 10¾d. an hour. This is a slave wage for any woman living under modern conditions and with the same expenses as a man.

Another reason for urging my right hon. Friend to accept that this is the appropriate time to deal with this matter is the fact that if it is not dealt with now, when the economic situation becomes easier it will be more difficult for women to catch up. Indeed, precisely the reverse will happen in view of the pent-up wage demands that will be made by all sections of industry. Because women are weaker in the economic sense, they will tend to go to the wall and the differential between men's and women's rates of pay will increase even further at the end of the period of severe restraint—that is, unless statutory action is taken to ensure that this does not happen.

As we are trying to create a just economic structure, women must be included in that structure on an equal rights basis. This is, therefore, the only possible time at which to take action if we are not to put the clock back for many years when the incomes policy comes to an end.

Although reference has been made to the cost of giving equal pay to women by the Amendment or some other means, nothing has been said about the question of productivity. An estimate was made in Sweden that if full use were made of all the available female labour, the national income of that country could be increased by 50 per cent. to 60 per cent.

Nobody knows what the increase in productivity might be in this country if women felt that equal pay was on the way. They would have that feeling if the Amendment were accepted. That would happen directly, by getting equal pay, and indirectly, because many of the industries in which women work at such low rates are so inefficient and out of date that the mere fact of having to give equal pay would make them modernise and thus increase their productivity.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

I am listening with great interest to the hon. Lady's argument, but I see nothing specific in either of the Amendments about equal pay. All they provide is that if someone can be persuaded to arrange for equal pay—and there is nothing in the Clause to persuade anybody—the matter will not have to be subject to Order or be referred to the Board, and there will not have to be a two or three years' wait for its report. It is only a tiny crack in the door.

Mrs. Butler

It is a tiny crack in the door, but of vital importance. This is the point we make to my right hon. Friend. She may want to widen the crack in the door. I do not think that she does, but we should welcome it if she did. Our case is that it is important to make this crack in the door now. The mere doing of it would have an electrifying effect on women workers in this country. They would realise that something was being done and that the situation was steadily improving.

If my right hon. Friend cannot accept the Amendments—I realise that they have been rather sprung on her, and there may be difficulties of wording and so on—I would ask her to find a means of writing into the Bill, perhaps in a new Schedule, an instruction to the Prices and Incomes Board to phase the introduction of equal pay over a period of five or seven years, or whatever period she cares to choose. I realise that I am out of order in saying that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I have said it, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to reply on the point.

What we say to my right hon. Friend is that, if she does not like what we suggest, will she nevertheless realise that this is a serious issue? It is not a gimmick. It is not something thought up on the spur of the moment. There is a real problem here, and now is the time for an answer to it to be embodied in this Bill.

Mr. Gower

I am disappointed that the Minister has not already intervened to say that she accepts the broad principle of these Amendments, a principle which one would expect her to find extremely attractive.

I acknowledge the validity of the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed), and by the hon. Lady for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) in support of her Amendment 121. Equal remuneration for equal work has been accepted as a principle by bodies as dissimilar as the United Nations, in its Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Labour Office, in its Convention 100 to which the hon. Lady referred. What is more, it was accepted by Resolution of this House in the early 1950s. On that occasion, the debate was initiated by a Labour Member, and the principle was broadly accepted by the House.

The question of cost, to which oblique reference has been made, is almost entirely irrelevant. Acceptance of my hon. Friend's Amendment 15 or of the principle alone would not entail immediate or even early implementation of equal pay for equal work. But rejection of the Amendments or of the principle behind them would amount to notice by the Government that even modest advances towards implementation of that principle would constitute offences against the Bill. This is a far more serious matter than, perhaps, some of the speeches have implied.

I appreciate that immediate introduction of the principle of equal pay is not possible. It would certainly be most inconvenient, and in some industries the consequences would be really injurious. A long time is needed to give people notice of its possible impact and to enable firms which have entered into long-term contracts to make the necessary adjustments. It is not an easy thing to do abruptly. But, as I have said, refusal by the Government to accept either of the Amendments or the principle underlying them would mean that small steps towards equal pay would not be made and, what is more, they would become statutory offences.

5.45 p.m.

The hon. Lady the Member for Hol-born and St. Pancras, South said at one point, and I agree, that her Government and our Government were both at fault, perhaps, in not introducing the principle more forcefully in industry. But if the Bill is enacted in its present form, the position will be worse than it is now or was under our Government In those days, it was possible for modest advances to be made towards equal pay. Until recently, it was lawful for firms and unions to make agreements which would advance towards the principle. Rejection of the Amendments would be notice to the women of Britain that the Government would use the machinery of this Bill for a purpose for which it was never intended or devised. I cannot believe that the Bill was drafted partly with the object of thwarting the principle of equal pay. Nevertheless, it could be a convenient vehicle to achieve that purpose, and refusal to accept the principle of the Amendments would amount to notice to the women of Britain that the Government would use the Bill to that end, which would be a most improper thing to do.

In these circumstances, and subject to the extension which I urged earlier, that the principle should cover employers of all kinds, not merely companies but individuals, partnerships and public authorities, I hope that both the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend will press the Amendments to a Division. I shall support them on both occasions.

Dr. Shirley Snmmerskill (Halifax)

Both these Amendments puts Members on this side in a great political dilemma. How can we reconcile support of the prices and incomes policy—

Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)

Many of us do not support it.

Dr. Summerskill

—with rejection of Amendments which embody Labour Party policy? Whichever way we look at it, whether we consider Amendment 15, which is more specific and more easily implemented, or Amendment No. 121, which reiterates the principle of equal pay which has had lip-service from both main parties for many years, the Amendments, if incorporated in the Bill, would drive a horse and carriage through the Government's incomes policy.

Amendment 15 would make it possible to introduce phased equal pay for women in a way which nothing in the Bill would allow. Even the most ardent advocates of equal pay—and I hope that I am one— would agree that it cannot be introduced overnight. The very fact, which we accept, that it would cost £600 million and cripple the economy, however, is a measure of the contribution made by working women today. That is the amount by which women are being exploited and the amount for which the British economy depends on their work. We do not even ask for the pay to be retrospective.

Only when women go on strike, as they have recently, is the issue taken seriously. Hitherto, it has been a subject for the women's columns of the newspapers. But now we see the editorials dealing with the question of equal pay, and the industrial correspondents and financial and City writers are taking it seriously. I hope that this debate will have maximum publicity in the country.

Simply to get the Government and my right hon. Friend out of what is obviously a very difficult and embarrassing position for them today, would she give us a clear and concise statement of the positive rather than the negative intentions of the Government on equal pay, at the end of this short debate? If she is unable to accept the Amendment, as is no doubt the case, let us hear categorically that equal pay will be introduced in stages. Let her state a target date for this—say, 1971.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady can only ask the Minister to reply to the Amendment. The Minister would be out of order if she went into the policy statement for which the hon. Lady asked.

Dr. Summerskill

If my right hon. Friend cannot accept Amendment No. 121, she should at least tell us that she will allow women's wages slowly to approach those of men where they are at present unequal, and the men in their turn must be prepared to hold down their wages to some extent.

Mr. Orme

No. There is no need for that.

Dr. Summerskill

No prices and incomes policy can be fair when there is absolutely no mention of equal pay in it or in the Bill. It is clear from all the speeches we have heard that this is a Case of cheap labour being used, where the discrimination is more severe and humiliating than any other type of discrimination that exists against women.

It is only because of the brave and courageous speech of a solitary hon. Member opposite who raised the subject and the women on this side of the House that the whole subject is being debated today. Otherwise, the Bill would have been enacted with no mention of it. Equal pay can no longer be left to change agreements. Legislation is required.

The history of equal pay is long and tedious. As long ago as 1946, a Royal Commission sat. If my right hon. Friend cannot accept the Amendment, I implore her not to resort to more Committees, more reports and more working parties, on one of which I am sitting at present, with interminable discussions.

The time has come for action. Let my right hon. Friend make history—I am sure that she would like to do that —by being the Minister in the present Labour Government who was responsible for the phased introduction of equal pay for women. She would be honouring an election pledge and at the same time be seeing to it that the prices and incomes policy is really fair and just.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mrs. Barbara Castle)

It might be useful to the House if I intervene at this stage, because, apart from anything else, much of the debate is taking place under a very serious misunderstanding about the operation of prices and incomes policy in relation to equal pay and about the exact implications of the Amendments. Moreover, I have been called upon by both sides of the House to make the Government's position clear. I hope that I may be able to help the House and perhaps shorten the debate.

It is always refreshing to hear a man declare that discrimination against women is morally wrong, and it is also refreshing to hear a Conservative Member quoting the Labour Party election manifesto in support of his Amendment. It is fascinating to me to see how anxious hon. Members opposite are to rush in and support my hon. Friends in battles that they would never wage against their own Government. We have had a very touching demonstration of unity on this issue this afternoon.

My hon. Friends, whose case has been put so well by the three hon. Ladies who have spoken, have a much greater right to quote Labour Party policy at me. I was very impressed not only by the sincerity of their concern on the issue, with which they will understand that I have every sympathy in the world, but also the extremely balanced way in which they urged their case. I have not heard anyone who spoke this afternoon claim that we could have the introduction of equal pay in this country overnight. On the contrary, the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed), in moving his Amendment, disclaimed any such attempt, and my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) said that women are realists and know that they will not get equal pay tomorrow. I should remind my hon. Friends, if they need to be reminded, that the party's election manifesto, which they quoted in aid of their Amendment, also speaks in terms both of moving towards the fulfilment of the principle and of the necessity for negotiations along the way.

I appreciated the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) put her point. She recognised that this was a question rather of phasing in, as a number of people have said. That is the kernel of our discussion.

I want us first to be quite clear what the Bill does and does not allow, and what the Amendments say. I was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Meriden say that the Bill stops even faltering steps towards equal pay. If that were true, my hon. Friends would have very good grounds for alarm and anger. I think that, quite genuinely, my hon. Friends and the hon. Gentleman do not understand what their Amendments say —and it is the Amendments that we are discussing. It is not true to suggest, as the hon. Gentleman did, that either of the Amendments is necessary to ensure that a phased move towards equal pay can take place. It is not true to say that if they are not passed it will be impossible to move towards the implementation of equal pay under the Bill.

The Amendments would enable increases to take place that were not phased, and the Government would be powerless to do anything about it. If the words are studied with great care, it is clear that that is their meaning and effect. They say that if a group of workers negotiated a pay agreement based on existing differentials between rates for men and for women, and had their agreement cleared under the criteria of the policy because they had concentrated on devoting the yield of productivity entirely to improving pay within existing relativities, the workers could then say, "We have to think of the poor women now. Now we negotiate an agreement for equal pay and slap that on top." [Interruption.] If these Amendments were passed—

Mr. Orme

What about the shop workers?

6.0 p.m.

Mrs. Castle

Just a minute. I am coming to this. This is what hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies say. The hon. Member for Meriden said that this is not designed to create a fresh flood of inflationary claims. The simple fact is that unless the claims are kept within the 3½ per cent. ceiling as extended by any really watertight productivity deals they are inflationary. There is no means of getting away from that.

Mr. Speed

The right hon. Lady said earlier that there is nothing in the Bill that would stop the steps towards equal pay about which she is talking. Suppose those steps were at the rate of a 6 per cent. increase a year—for some of the examples we have heard, that will take a large number of years, and it should not be forgotten that differentials may be widening—and would eventually, in five or ten years' time, bring women into line. Is the right hon. Lady saying that such increases would not be possible under the Bill?

Mrs. Castle

Perhaps I may be allowed to finish my speech. I am coming to that. [Interruption.] I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying to whip up an irrational feeling on this. They have done it throughout the Bill, and I cannot be surprised that they are doing it again. But it is a very reasonable remark of mine that I should be allowed to finish my speech, because the hon. Gentleman will then have the answer to his question.

The Amendment would allow purely inflationary agreements to be negotiated, because instead of progress towards equal pay being knit into the rest of the criteria, it would become a separate issue riding on the top of any other settlement.

Mrs. Lena Jeger

Where is equal pay knitted into this?

Mrs. Castle

Perhaps I may be allowed to continue. I am just coming on to that. I merely say that in that situation one would have an inflationary result.

What I think my hon. Friends want is an assurance that moves towards equal pay will be in accord with the Bill and the prices and incomes policy. This is what I have been asked. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South asked where in the Bill this was possible. It is possible within the criteria which govern the whole operation of the prices and incomes policy. I can assure her that it is wrong to say that there is an implicit ossification of the position of equal pay under the Bill.

The three criteria provided for wage increases under the policy—the Bill is operating within the criteria—give considerable scope for movements towards equal pay. There is the productivity criterion. There is nothing to stop unions, if they want to catch up on equal pay, deciding to devote some of their extra productivity deals to that object. This is happening in some of the most go-ahead agreements. The Ford agreement was a step towards equal pay. The unions that negotiated it will be the first to claim that that is so. Previously the women were in a separate and inferior grade, below the lowest men's rate. Now they have been integrated in the various grades. It is true that they are getting only 85 per cent. of the men's rate. It is equally perfectly true that it would have been open to the union to negotiate 100 per cent. of the men's rate for the women if it had wanted to do that— and within the overall criteria.

My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax is right when she says that if we are to get advances towards equal pay without having these inflationary consequences, it means, just as when we are dealing with the lower paid in general, that in certain cases the men will have to hold back some of their increases to enable the women to catch up. This is perfectly open to them.

There is also the comparability criterion for wage increases. In the words of the White Paper, it provides for increases where there is widespread recognition that the pay of a certain group of workers has fallen seriously out of line with the level of remuneration for similar work and needs in the national interest to be improved. I should be the first to agree with my hon. Friend that it is in the national interest that the relative position of women should be improved, and the comparability criterion provides for that.

There is also the criterion of the lower paid. For the reasons which my hon. Friends have so graphically described, this would be generally of greater benefit to women than to men. In all cases, however, it is obvious that increases to women equal to or greater than those to men will depend on the readiness of men to forgo some of their increases if we are to keep within the 3½ per cent. ceiling and the productivity additions that may be agreed.

Mr. Orme

Surely my right hon. Friend is talking as though the 3½ per cent is an iron band. There are exceptions, and surely one of the exceptions ought to be a step for women to obtain equal pay. Ought not my right hon. Friend to take this into account?

Mrs. Castle

My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that the exception has to be one of higher productivity. Otherwise we come up against the inflationary effect of pay increases, with which we are trying to deal. I repeat that productivity deals are being negotiated well within the 3½ per cent. ceiling. There is no reason why the men should not start the levelling process now within the productivity criterion. It is not true to say that it is impossible under the Bill.

My hon. Friends seem to suggest that equal pay should be totally outside the criteria of any incomes policy. Some of my hon. Friends have been attacking the Bill on the ground that it has statutory powers built into it. They say "We want an incomes policy, but it must be voluntary, such as the T.U.C. has enunciated." Let us look at what the T.U.C. said on the question of equal pay in the Economic Review: The General Council have already made it clear that they will treat sympathetically within the overall criteria claims for the establishment of equal pay for work of equal value.

Mr. Orme

Those are not the Government's criteria.

Mrs. Castle

They may not be our criteria—

Mr. James Dickens (Lewisham, West)

That was not a fair quotation. The T.U.C. is arguing for a voluntary incomes policy within the limits of a much higher rate of economic growth, 6 per cent. per annum, and a wage norm of 5 per cent. as against the Government's 3½ per cent.

Mrs. Castle

I accept that. I am not trying to be unfair. But whether we take a ceiling of 3½ per cent. or 5 per cent.— and the more copper-bottomed productivity deals we get the nearer our percentage ceiling gets to the T.U.C. one—the fact remains that the T.U.C. has never argued that one just negotiates up to the 5 per cent. on the basis of present inequalities and says "We will have equal pay on top". That is all I am saying. Hon. Members can argue with me about the size of our ceiling, but in principle we should move towards equal pay within the criteria of the policy, whether it is voluntary or compulsory.

Mr. Speed

This is a very important point, and I think that the air is being cleared for me and a number of hon. Members opposite. Suppose there are women who are working for a company which is near 100 per cent. efficient—and there are such firms, including one in my constituency—and there is little or no scope for productivity increase. How will such firms implement equal pay?

Mrs. Castle

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is either easy or difficult for me to reply to a generalisation like that. I would want to look at the particular case. It may be that they would qualify under the low paid criterion. But I do not know. I have given the three criteria under which women can move forward. As long as there is an incomes policy it is clear that they have to be adjusted under those criteria.

I want now to go a stage further to deal with the wider point made by some of my hon. Friends. First, they feared that under the policy there may be no progress at all. I hope that I have reassured them about that. Secondly, they considered the wider aspect of the future. They asked about the commitment of the Labour Party for phasing in equal pay. It is interesting again to quote from the T.U.C, continuing the same passage I have just quoted from. It says: This will continue"— that is, the sympathetic treatment of equal pay claims— but the General Council also take the view that a programme for the achievement of this objective within a specified period should be established and they are discussing this with the C.B.I. and the Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South spoke rather scathingly of the talks which have been going on within the working party with both sides of industry—the talks referred to in the Economic Review.

So far, the working party has been concerned with examining the practical implications of implementing equay pay. What does that mean? It sounds a stalling phrase. But I think that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) put her finger on one of the subjects for discussion—the exact definition. As she said, the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. have different definitions. So there are certain practical jobs to be done there. But the Government believe that we ought now to carry these discussions into a new stage.

I therefore intend to enter personally into discussions with both sides of industry directly with a view to agreeing a timetable for phasing in the implementation of equal pay over an appropriate period. No doubt the House will ask, "What period"? Clearly—and I am sure that the House will accept this—any final answer on that ought to await the outcome of the discussions I have. But I myself say that, if equal pay for women in the public service could be phased in over seven years, our industrial women deserve no less generous treatment.

I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friends will feel that the Government have responded to their plea for a timetable for phasing in. I hope they will now realise that the talks that have been going on will move into a new phase.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Is my right hon. Friend saying that women public servants are to get equal pay? Is she including the women civil servants who do not get equal pay—the 30,000 women industrial civil servants? Are the 300 women industrial civil servants in her Department to get it?

Mrs. Castle

I said that if equal pay in the public service to non-industrial industrials could be phased in over seven years it was clear, in my view—although I must enter into consultations about this —that our industrial women deserved no less generous treatment than that. Of course these discussions must embrace all women, including those in the industrial section of the public service. We are talking about discussions on equal pay which clearly must include the women to whom my hon. Friend has referred.

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)

There is some confusion in my mind which I am sure the right hon. Lady would like to clear up. Will this move to equal pay which she hopes will take place within seven years nonetheless be contained within the criteria which are supposed to govern the prices and incomes legislation?

6.15 p.m.

Mrs. Castle

It is difficult to be coherent when constantly interrupted. If I had been allowed to finish my paragraph, I was obviously going on to point out that these discussions start within the context of the prices and incomes policy, just as the T.U.C.'s discussions accept that they must operate within the criteria. Therefore, in this respect, we are in line with the policy of the T.U.C.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

Is my right hon. Friend now saying that, within the comparability criterion of the prices and incomes policy, the Government are now committed to introducing in this country equal pay for women before 1975?

Mrs. Castle

I am saying that I am going to enter into immediate discussions with both sides of industry with a view to agreeing a timetable. That is a categoric statement. It will clearly embrace all sectors because it would not be meaningful otherwise. The discussions will be starting as from now. Clearly, the House will be able to cross-examine me on the progress whenever it likes. This is now a commitment which takes us a great deal further than ever before.

I advise my hon. Friends to recognise this and not always try and cast doubt upon the progress that is made. I hope they will recognise also that their Amendment is not necessary in order to enable steps forward to be taken now. I hope they will realise that the Amendment would do something very different from what they imagine. In view of all these circumstances, explanations and commitments, I hope that they will withdraw it.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

Those who served on the Standing Committee heard a number of unconvincing arguments from the right hon. Lady, but none more so than the one she has just given. I am certain that other hon. Members on both sides will endeavour to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, to continue this debate because of the new and rather tortuous arguments presented by the right hon. Lady.

The right hon. Lady seemed to think it rather impertinent of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) and of the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) to raise this matter today. But if she was not introducing a statutory incomes policy laying out who is to get paid what, how, when and where, she would not find herself in such a difficulty.

The right hon. Lady said that there is nothing to stop the movement towards equal pay within the criteria of the incomes policy and complained that my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton was wrong when he said that it was stopping even faltering steps. But surely she realises that any steps taken within the criteria would be taken in any case whether they involved equal pay or not.

It is no argument to say that a move towards equal pay can be accepted if it is within the money which can be agreed —[Interruption.] I know that this is ladies' day. I feel rather like an interloper at this tea party, but I shall try to carry on.

Mr. R. F. H. Dobson (Bristol, North-East)

On a point of order. Is it in order for hon. Ladies to congregate in the centre Gangway during a debate, as they now are?

Mr. Speaker

Any hon. or right hon. Member can sit where he likes, even on the Front Bench, although that would be a bit unusual.

Mr. Page

Let us now examine whether the criteria in the White Paper, now in the General Considerations Order yet to be debated, can help these faltering steps towards equal pay. [Interruption.] In any other circumstances, I would be extremely offended to see hon. Members leave the Chamber while I was speaking, but I suppose that I must just bear it while hon. Ladies decide what they are to do when the Division comes.

The first criterion is whether the employees concerned accept more exacting work, or a major change in working practices. If the women concerned can prove that they meet this criterion, there is nothing to stop the implementation of a pay rise. The second criterion is whether it is essential in the national interest to secure a change in the distribution of manpower, but I would not have thought that that criterion applied.

The third criterion is whether there is a general recognition that existing wage and salary levels are too low to maintain a reasonable standard of living. This, taken with the fourth, can be considered as the low-paid worker criterion. It was the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn & St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) who said that lower-paid workers were almost invariably women. The fourth criterion is where there is a widespread recognition that the pay of a certain group of workers has fallen seriously out of line with the level of remuneration for similar work and needs in the national interest to be improved.

The right hon. Lady seemed to pin most faith to this criterion. However, paragraph 38 of the White Paper, which governs that criteria, says: The criterion justifying increases on grounds of comparability needs to be applied selectively, and must not be used to spread pay increases into areas of employment where the original justification does not apply. My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) and other hon. Members did not say that there was any group of women who were specifically low paid compared with other groups of women. Their argument was that, in general, women were paid less than men. This criterion cannot wash, because it would obviously spread into the employment of all women. We therefore have to return to the decreases in the differentials of wages for women and men, which have to be found within the total of the 3½ per cent. norm allowed to employees in any organisation. This is the right hon. Lady's argument.

There is already a great erosion of differentials. There are different views as to the value of differentials, but I do not think that anyone would agree that differentials should be completely eroded, so that there was no difference in the pay in any organisation for greater skills. If the right hon. Lady is saying that those with greater skills have to make their contribution through extra productivity, first, to the lower paid male workers and, secondly, to removing the differentials between the pay of women and the pay of men, she is making her whole argument even more absurd.

The right hon. Lady says that she is afraid that the Amendments would blow a hole in the bottom of the ship of the incomes policy and that there would be massive wage increases for equal pay. She also produced the absurd argument that if wage increases could be agreed, they would be used as a lever for even greater wage increases for women. My experience is that most employers are not tumbling over themselves to go for equal pay for equal work. That is the experience of all of us.

The Amendment says only that in the few and exceptional cases where an agreement is freely negotiated between employers and employees for equal pay for equal work, it should not be subject to an Order under the Bill. I cannot see any logic in refusing the Amendment. If the right hon. Lady refuses it, with her background of fighting for emancipation, with the rather rocky background of the Labour election manifesto—and one of her hon. Friends said that if she leaned of that, she would find that it was a rocking chair—she has to show why this small but important Amendment would not make only a very little difference.

I suspect that in the first year it would make a marginal if any difference in the cost of wages to the economy, but at least it would show that she, as a member of the Cabinet, was leaving open the door to the principle of equal pay for equal work, which we all understood she had embraced for so long.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

At least, the debate will have proved the truth of the old saying that the female of the species is more deadly than the male. Speaking after my hon. Friends of a different sex, anything I might say will be easily answered by my right hon. Friend. I make it clear that I support the intentions of those who support the Amendment. Where I am sitting, surrounded by my hon. Friends the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler), the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short), the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) and the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), it would be foolish and dangerous to do anything other than say that I support their intention.

However, in logic, I must advance at least one argument, which is that in their claim for equal pay under the prices and incomes policy they are asking that men should be treated differently from women, that women should have an advantage, that in the Bill there should be special and different treatment for women simply because they are women. That is a point which we might develop later.

6.30 p.m.

I intervene because of two suggestions made to my right hon. Friend the First Secretary. The first is that she should consider these Amendments more seriously and find them more acceptable simply because she is a woman. That point of view does a disservice to the case for equal pay and equality between the sexes. She must treat this matter as a Minister rather than as a woman Minister or man Minister. Secondly, it has been suggested that the dispute between the women machinists of the Ford Motor Company and that company is a classic case of equal pay for equal work. If it were, a high price is being paid in unemployment and loss of exports.

I ask hon. Members to consider it more closely and to accept that it is not such a case, but that it is a case of national agreements, of grading agreements. It is one out of only 250 grading disputes and claims at Ford's in which there are men machinists on the same grade as women machinists. This is a grading dispute, not part of the claim for equal pay.

Mrs. Lena Jeger

Would not my hon. Friend agree that at Ford's women get about 85 per cent. of the men's pay in the same grade?

Mr. Ogden

My hon. Friend is not absolutely accurate. There are variations in the same grade. To cite the dispute at Ford's weakens the case for equal pay.

I ask my right hon. Friend, first, to reply to the debate as a Minister and not as a woman Minister, because to do so would be a disservice to the cause of equality and, secondly, to deal with the point raised concerning the motor industry.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

Whether the Minister speaks as a Minister or not, she is a woman. When she was in opposition, we heard her pressing very strongly the claim for equal pay for women on many occasions. To many hon. Members, the cloak which she wears today is not nearly as attractive as the one which she wore when she was in opposition. Her views seem to have changed considerably from those which she expressed then.

There is no mention in the Bill of excluding women from its provisions. Although the right hon. Lady may consider it an impertinence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) to propose his Amendment, and not nearly so impertinent for her hon. Friends to put forward the same sort of Amendment, although she resists it just as strongly, I consider that it is a very good thing that my hon. Friend has proposed it. Because there is no mention of excluding the claims of women from the Bill, we must assume that they are also subject to the 3½ per cent. norm in asking for wage increases.

The Minister made the point that the women's case would be helped by men refusing to take their norm of 3½ per cent. But, if, as the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger) said, many women are receiving only 85 per cent. of the money which men are receiving for doing identical work, the men would have to forgo any increase which they might receive so that the women were able to catch up in seven years.

The House would like to know precisely what the right hon. Lady means when she talks about women attaining equal pay in seven years. Did she mean that the aim of the Government was that women would attain parity with men in seven years and that the 3½ per cent. norm would not apply to them, particularly if men in the same industry received a 3½ per cent. increase? If the women were not allowed more, their position would be unchanged.

I should like to raise one or two points which have not been mentioned. In many industries, mechanisation has reached such a stage that it is possible for less skilled people to do the job and the job is less arduous. Because of this, women might be able to take on jobs which men are doing. In times of economic difficulty and when the country is very cost-conscious, there could be pressures applied to employ women in jobs in which men have been employed in the past.

At a time of high and rising unemployment, this is a point which should be taken into consideration by the Government. If the economic situation improves, instead of taking back men who are at present unemployed because of economic circumstances, manufacturers might well be encouraged to employ women to do mechanised jobs which men do now. In these circumstances, it is in the interests of the men and of the economy that women's rates of pay for similar work should equate with those of men.

I hope that the Minister will take that point into consideration. I think that we are all disappointed about the cloak in which the Minister is at present clad. I hope to see some of the views which she expressed when she spoke from the back benches translated into action. It has been said that she has the door ajar and is in a position to bring about an improvement in women's wages. The door may well be ajar as a result of the Bill, but it seems to me that the right hon. Lady has it kept securely in place with an extremely strong chain.

Mr. Orme

I am a member of a major trade union which has over 100,000 women members who have been fighting for a considerable period for a basis of equality within the engineering industry, one of the main manufacturing industries. In consequence, I am disturbed by what my right hon. Friend said in her reply.

My right hon. Friend has said that she is in favour of a movement towards equal pay for equal work, but that it must be within the criteria of the prices and incomes policy. One more aspect which makes so much nonsense of the criteria of the prices and incomes policy and is to work within this 3½ per cent., when the women workers within the engineering industry have been trying for many years to get the male labourer's rate. What is now classed as women's work in many instances is semi-skilled and very nearly skilled. Still they cannot obtain the male labourer's rate. That has not been due in the past to the interference of Governments. In the main, it is because of the reluctance of employers to agree to such upgrading.

Mrs. Castle

My hon. Friend will recall that I quoted the T.U.C. Economic Review, which states that equal pay should be achieved within the criteria. Do I take it that if the ceiling was 5 per cent., not 3½ per cent., my hon. Friend would be in favour of including it within the criteria?

Mr. Orme

I did not write the T.U.C. Economic Review, nor did I vote for it. It is an admirable report. I certainly agree with the greater part of it. The report says that growth within our society is based on growth of incomes and growth of distribution of the wealth that is created. I accept that we cannot have an open-ended figure, but we must have a far higher figure than the 3½ per cent. that my right hon. Friend has laid down.

My right hon. Friend said that the previous Prices and Incomes Bill, and this one, does not inhibit increases of pay for women as opposed to men. I understand that an increase of 10s. a week was offered for men, 9s. 6d. for women. However, as women are on a much lower rate of pay, the percentage was above the norm. Has this been referred to the Prices and Incomes Board concerning women, but not men? I wonder whether my right hon. Friend can answer that question, because this is germane to the argument.

I do not think there is any difference between my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends about wanting to see this principle implemented. But we find it difficult to see how it can be implemented within the terms of the criteria that my right hon. Friend lays down. I accept that if this Amendment were accepted it would mean that women could perhaps get a 10, 15 or 20 per cent. increase as opposed to 3½ per cent. for men to bring them in some form of higher pay.

There has been talk about the cost of improving pay and benefits for women. We talk about it as if it comes about overnight. This is absolute nonsense. It takes years of negotiation. If, tonight or tomorrow, the Government were to say, "We accept the basis of equal pay for equal work", it would still take a considerable time to negotiate improvements in pay within both public and private industry. These things are not achieved overnight. The long struggle of my union to obtain the male labourer's rate for women is only a stepping stone. If my right hon. Friend accepted the principle in the Amendment, rather than it leading to a high increase in costs, it would prevent many employers from using female labour wastefully as cheap labour and as a form of exploitation.

6.45 p.m.

Yesterday, my right hon. Friend said that she wanted—and it is what we all want—low unit costs and higher wages. We want the maximum productivity within industry. There is, in my opinion, a great waste of the intelligence and skill of women in industry. This is not just a matter of the emancipation of women. It is basically a matter of social justice. I say quite frankly to all hon. Ladies that it is not just a case of them carrying the standard. It is something that affects all of us, because when women are treated as inferior it is an inferior society.

Coming to what my right hon. Friend said about the seven years' period, I would remind her that her predecessor —now the Minister of Power—has been concerned in negotiations over many years. Discussions have gone on over many years and we have had no progress reported to the House since they started. We could, if we are not careful, go on discussing this matter until 1975 and still arrive at no basic starting point.

We need a breakthrough on this issue. The Government, in a way, made a breakthrough by setting the example with civil servants, other professional people and teachers. The Government could set an example by their own employees coming within the industrial grades. Whatever my right hon. Friend says about equal pay for equal work being involved, or not being involved, women workers have seen this as an issue for parity in their present grades. This has acted, and is acting, as a catalyst within industry. I am of the opinion that this has been coming for many years, and at last we see women moving forward in this matter.

I interrupted earlier my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Lena Jeger). I know that my right hon. Friend will not dissent from the proposition that women must accept part of the blame for the fact that advancement has not taken place. I know that when these issues come up on trade union agendas at conferences they tend to get pushed to the back, carried unanimously to the end, everyone says, "Well done", and they go home and leave it at that. Women should become unionised and use their collective strength. My right hon. Friend knows that within her own constituency women organise and use trade unionism to some effect. This could be done more widely throughout the whole of industry.

I believe that this is an evolving policy, if I may use that phrase after yesterday's debate. This is a vital issue, and the fact that we are debating it today shows the kind of realignment that is taking place in our society. Women are beginning to assert their rights as equal citizens at work and elswhere, and this process will continue to evolve. The Government should seize this opportunity of playing a leading part in this process. I say that particularly because the matter is referred to specifically in our Election manifesto.

Sir E. Brown

The Minister said that she intends to start discussions with the C.B.I. and the trade unions about the implementation of this policy. Surely it would have been more honest to have signed the I.L.O. Convention? That would have shown good faith on the part of the Government, and would have been much better than adopting this policy restricted under the Bill.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Interventions must not be speeches.

Mr. Orme

Many of us support the I.L.O. Convention on women's rights. We have fought for them for many years, and will continue to do so. I do not attribute any bad faith to my right hon. Friend. I believe that she regards this matter with as much sincerity as we do, but she obviously has a different approach to the problem and is trying to deal with it within the criteria of the prices and incomes policy. I do not think that this is a laughing matter. There is a basic difference of opinion between us, and what we are trying to do is to overcome the difficulty.

My right hon. Friend was trying to bridge the difficulties which exist, but I regard her proposal as rather vague because it all depends on negotiations, which means that at the end of the day there has been agreement with bodies such as the C.B.I. and T.U.C. If we leave the matter there, we shall not achieve what we want. Somebody has to make a start to deal with the problem, and I think that the Government ought to take the lead.

As I understand, my right hon. Friend's objection to the proposal now being considered is that if the increase is paid on the basis of equal pay for equal work, and if 3½ per cent. is regarded as the norm, women will, in fact, get a higher percentage increase. This is where the difficulty arises, because my right hon. Friend is saying that if women are to get more than the norm men must get less. I do not accept that.

Mr. Burden


Mr. Orme

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way, but I am trying to put forward one or two detailed points about an intricate and difficult matter.

I think that women trade unionists should be honoured, because they have to put up with a great deal. For many years many of them have fought for the principles about which we are talking today. The difficulty arises from the barrier which exists between men and women doing equal work. Exceptions to the rules laid down in the Bill have been made for productivity and other factors. Unless an exception is made to allow women to receive equal pay, we shall not be able to achieve what we want.

My right hon. Friend has made a serious attempt to meet the points which have been raised, but I do not think that she has dealt with the central issue, namely, that on the basis of the 3½ per cent. norm it will not be possible to achieve our objective.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

We have had a most interesting discussion. So many points of view have been expressed, and so many difficulties have been outlined, that we must all feel somewhat concerned about how the issue at stake can be resolved.

I was devastated when the right hon. Lady, in replying to the Amendment, announced what appeared to be a new policy. If this policy had been decided on when the Bill was first introduced, I should have thought the proper constitutional procedure was to make the announcement during the Second Reading debate. I do not think that a matter of supreme policy should be, as it were, tossed off by the right hon. Lady; and I say that because of the effective way in which the case has been presented by hon. Members on both sides of the House. It seemed as though the right hon. Lady suddenly realised that she had to deal with the matter in an all-embracing way. She seems to have gone headlong into a pond, and she will find great difficulty in swimming out of it.

The right hon. Lady said that she would now start consulting the parties concerned with this matter. It seems to me extraordinary that if the Cabinet had approved the policy of equal pay some time ago we were not told about it before these Amendments came up for discussion today. I set no store by what the right hon. Lady said was now her intention, because I believe that such a proposal is impossible.

The right hon. Lady said that £600 million would be added to wages and salaries if the principle of equal pay were introduced now, but she seemed to imply that with her policy she could phase this increase over seven years. At any rate that would add nearly £100 million a year to our commitments—and that is a vast sum. I do not see how that could be acceptable to a Chancellor or to the gnomes of Zurich, who are so bound up with deciding what our financial policy must be.

7.0 p.m.

How will the right hon. Lady ensure agreement between the employers, the trade unions and the other people concerned? I know a good deal about employers; I do not know so much about trade unions. Those who have advocated equal pay for years have always argued that it is the employers who present the real problem; they have never really wanted to ensure social justice for women, right across the board. In those circumstances, I am pleased to realise that so many of my hon. Friends are as interested in social justice for women as they are in establishing it right across the board. This is quite a new feature in my party.

Nevertheless, it was the Conservative Party which, after a long fight, introduced in respect of civil servants, local government employees and the teaching profession, a phasing-in of equal pay over a period of seven years. It is also fair to point out that this was an easy matter compared with the present exercise. The Conservative Government had it within their own power to deal with the problem. Many people argued that the Conservatives were doing something for professional women, but not for lower-paid women in industry. I agree. Nevertheless, it was an achievement of the Conservative Government. But that achievement was much easier than what is being asked today, because when we made our election pledges we knew that we had it within our power to implement such a scheme.

I am not saying that the right hon. Lady is not genuine. I am sure that she is. I am sure that she would like to achieve equal pay for women. But the opposition to the scheme which she has suddenly announced will be tremendous. Does she think that she will be very welcome if she comes to the North-East Coast, with all the closing down of coal mines, and so on, and explains that men will have to forgo some of their wage increases so that women may have pay increases? That she should have announced such a scheme, in a sort of euphoria, has surprised and shocked my hon. Friends and myself. It is quite impossible to achieve.

One point that has not yet been made in the debate is that the chief objection to equal pay for women comes from the large employers of labour. Some of them are completely disinterested in the social justice of this issue. How the House will be able to convince them that it is right to ensure the phasing-in of equal pay when the economy can take the strain, I do not understand, and I am not very happy about it.

I was very sad about the Ford dispute, when I realised the way in which the Chairman of Ford's was dealing with the situation. He merely tossed it aside, saying: This is emotional and evocative—a whole lot of women have become interested in this matter. He had not the foggiest idea that the truth is that women have suddenly realised that they are being used as cheap labour.

Women working in industry can often produce things which men cannot, because they have much more flexible fingers. They can operate certain technical processes much better than can men. They are very skilled in certain processes. Many people will be surprised to know what a skilled contribution to the economy many women make. I still have to learn from the right hon. Lady what process she will use to enable the C.B.I. to accept the proposition that she is now putting forward.

I believe in private enterprise, but I also believe that, like everything else, it has its disadvantages. The nationalised industries have made no contribution in this matter which would enable them to be successfully set against the private sector in terms of achievement. A general feeling of antagonism towards women has been traditional for hundreds of years. When the right hon. Lady talked so glibly about being able to deal with this matter she was living in a fool's paradise.

I have always believed that the real problem in a prices and incomes policy lay in increased productivity. It is quite impossible, however well-managed they may be, for some concerns to increase productivity. This applies to certain industrial groups such as the railways, the buses, the Post Office, and the banks. We have never had a straight answer from the Government to this question. The other day, as I came through the ticket barrier at the railway station, I said to the ticket collector, "How will you increase your productivity, bearing in mind the fact that you can collect tickets only from those people who are travelling on the trains?" He said, "The only way to increase productivity here would be to abolish my job and to have all the passengers put their tickets into a box." The idea of increasing productivity has a stultifying effect in wide sectors of industry. We have never had any directions from the right hon. Lady or her Party in this matter. That is regrettable. There is a feeling among the ordinary industrial workers that they are being "sold a pup."

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady is getting widely away from the two Amendments which we are discussing.

Dame Irene Ward

Yes, Mr. Speaker, but it is always difficult when the Minister has given full rein to matters which have nothing to do with the Amendment, although now and again she put in a few words just to refer to it. She discussed the whole policy—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady must take up with the right hon. Lady what the hon. Lady has done; she must now obey the Chair.

Dame Irene Ward

I have finished, and thank you for letting me go on for so long.

There is throughout the length and breadth of the country a very real interest in the introduction of equal pay. I fully support the Amendment. The right hon. Lady will soon find that the women of the country think that they have been "sold a pup". Her speech today did not inspire confidence that she has grasped what is necessary, and that she will be able to take steps to phase in equal pay from now, as she said.

I almost thought that the Chairman of the Confederation of British Industry would be coming in to sit on the Front Bench to discuss with her how equal pay was to be implemented. She said that she would do so straight away, here and now. Her speech will arouse keen apprehension in the minds of a great many women.

I shall gladly vote for the Amendment. We must at least have one or two realistic things in the Bill, otherwise the right hon. Lady will—she has already done so—get the whole economy of the country into such a mess that we shall never be able to recover.

Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether she will give a precise commitment to enter into talks with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. in order to provide the seven-year limit on the implementation of equal pay?

Mrs. Castle

I am very happy to answer the question of my hon. Friend—

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

The right hon. Lady needs the leave of the House.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Lady does not need the leave of the House.

Mrs. Castle

As a specific question had been asked, I thought that it would be only courteous to my hon. Friend to answer it.

May I say to my hon. Friend that this is exactly what I have been saying in my speech. I have given a commitment to the House that I will immediately enter into discussions with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. in order to draw up a timetable for the implementation of equal pay; and I have made it clear that, in my view, that timetable should have a limit of seven years. I hope that meets the point my hon. Friend has in mind.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what is likely to happen if the C.B.I. refuse to implement equal pay at the end of the seven-year period? This is the crux of the matter.

Mrs. Castle

I have no reason to believe that there will be a breakdown of the talks, but if there were I should report to the House what action the Government would have to take in that situation.

Several Hon. Members


The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Silkin)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 298, Noes 230.

Division No. 243.] AYES [7.15 p.m.
Abse, Leo Ensor, David Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Albu, Austen Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lipton, Marcus
Alldritt, Walter Faulds, Andrew Lomas, Kenneth
Allen, scholefield Fernyhough, E. Loughlin, Charles
Anderson, Donald Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Luard, Evan
Archer, Peter Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Armstrong, Ernest Foley, Maurice Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McCann, John
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ford, Ben MacCoil, James
Baxter, William Forrester, John MacDermot, Niall
Beaney, Alan Fowler, Gerry Macdonald, A. H.
Bence, Cyril Fraser, John (Norwood) McGuire, Michael
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Freeson, Reginald McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Bidwell, Sydney Galpern, Sir Myer Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Binns, John Gardner, Tony Mackie, John
Bishop, E. S. Ginsburg, David Mackintosh, John P.
Blackburn, F. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Maclennan, Robert
Blenkinsop, Arthur Gourlay, Harry McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Booth, Albert Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) MacPherson, Malcolm
Boston, Terence Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Griffiths, Eddie Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Boyden, James Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Lianelly) Manuel, Archie
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Marks, Kenneth
Brdley, Tom Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marquand, David
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hamling, William Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hannan, William Mason Rt. Hn. Roy
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Harper, Joseph Mayhew, Christopher
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Harrison, Walter (WaKefield) Mendelsion J. J.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Haseldine, Norman Mendelson, J. J.
Buchan, Norman Hattersley, Roy Mikardo, Ian
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Millan, Bruce
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Heffer, Eric S. Miller, Dr. M. S.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Henig, Stanley Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Callaghan Rt. Hn. James Hilton, W.S. Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Cant, R. B. Horner, John Molloy, William
Carmicheal, Neil Houghton, Rt. Hn. Dougas Moonman, Eric
Carter-Jones Lewis Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Castle Rt. Hn. Barbara Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Coe, Denis Howie, E. Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Coleman, Donald Hoy, James Morriss, John (Aberavon)
Concannon, J. D. Huckfied, Leslie Moyle, Roland
Conlan Bernard Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Corbet, MRS Freda Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Murray, Albert
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Neal, Haroid
crawsaw, Richard Newens, Stan
Cronin, John Hunter, Adam Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)
Culten, Mrs. Alice Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Norwood, Christopher
Dalyell, Tam Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Oakes, Gordon
Darling Rt. Hn. George Janner, Sir Barnett Ogden, Eric
Davidson, Arthur (Acrington) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas O' Malley, Brain
Davies Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jeger, George (Goole) Oram, Albert E.
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (conway) Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Orme, Stanley
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Oswald, Thomas
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jenkins, Rt, Hn. Roy (8techford) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Davies, Ifor (Cower) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Palmer, Arthur
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey j0nes Dan (Burnley) Pannel1, Rt. Hn. Charles
Dell, Edmund jones.Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Park, Trevor
Dempsey, James Jones, Idwal (Wrexham) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Dewar, Donald Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)
Dickens, James Judd, Frank Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Dobson, Ray Kelley, Richard Pavitt, Laurence
Doig, Peter Kenyon, Clifford Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Dnberg, Tom Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Dunn, James A. Kerr, Dr David (w'worth, Central) Pentland, Norman
Dunnett, Jack Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lawson, George Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Leadbitter, Ted Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Eadie, Alex Ledger, Ron Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Edelman, Maurice Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Price, William (Rugby)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Probert, Arthur
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lee, John (Reacting) Randall, Harry
Ellis, John Lestor, Miss Joan Rankin, John
English, Michael Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Rees, Merlyn
Ennals, David Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.
Rhodes, Geoffrey Small, William Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Richard, Ivor Snow, Julian White, Mrs. Eirene
Roberts, Albert (Normarrton) Spriggs, Leslie Whltlock, William
Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caemarvon) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.) Wilkins, W. A.
Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Robertson, John (Paisley) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Symonds, J. B. Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Rodgers, William (Stockton) Taverne, Dick Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Roebuck, Roy Thomas, Rt. Hn. George Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Rose, Paul … Thornton, Ernest Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Ross, Rt. Hn. William Tinn, James Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Rowlands E. (Cardiff, N.) Tomney, Frank Wilson, William (Coventry, s.)
Ryan, John Tuck, Raphael Winnick, David
Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.) Urwin, T. W. Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Varley, Eric G. Woof, Robert
Shore, Rt Hn. Peter (Stepney) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley) Wyatt, Wood row
Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Yates, Victor Yates, Victor
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wallace, George
Silkin, Hr. S. C. (Dulwich) Watkins, David (Consett) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Silverman, Julius Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor) Mr. Charles Grey and
Skeffington, Arthur Weitzman, David Mr. Neil McBride.
Slater, Joseph Wellbeloved, James
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kimball, Marcus
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Kirk, Peter
Astor, John Emery, Peter Kitson, Timothy
Awdry, Daniel Errington, Sir Eric Knight, Mrs. Jill
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Eyre, Reginald Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Farr, John Lane, David
Batsford, Brian Fisher, Nigel Langford-Holt, Sir John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Belt, Ronald Fortescue, Tim Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Foster, Sir John Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos, & Fhm) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Lang-stone)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Gibson-Watt, David Longden, Gilbert
Biffen, John Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Loveys, W. H.
Biggs-Davison, John Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Lubbock, Eric
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Glover, Sir Douglas McAdden, Sir Stephen
Black, Sir Cyril Goodhart, Philip MacArthur, Ian
Blaker, Peter Goodhew, Victor Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)
Boardman. Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Gower, Raymond Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bossom, Sir Clive Grant, Anthony Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Grant-Ferris, R. McMaster, Stanley
Braine, Bernard Grcsham Cooke, R. Marten, Neil
Brewis, John Grieve, Percy Maude, Angus
Brinton, Sir Tatton Crifftths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Brown Sir Edward (Bath) Grlmond, Rt. Hn. J. Mawby, Ray
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gurden, Harold Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Bryan, Paul Hall, John (Wycombe) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Bullus Sir Eric Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Burden F. A. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Miscampbell, Norman
Campbell B. (Oldham W.) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Harrison, Brian (Maidon) Monro, Hector
Cary Sir Robert Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Montgomery, Fergus
Channon H P G Hastings, Stephen Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Chichister-Clark, R. Heald, Rt Hn. Slr Lionel Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Clark, Henry Heseltine, Michael Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Clegg, walter Higgins, Terence L. Murton, Oscar
Cooke, Robert Hiley, Joseph Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hill, J. E. B. Neave, Airey
Cordle, John Hirst, Geofferoy Nicholls, Sir Harmer
Corfield, F. V. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Noble, Rt. Hn. Micheal
Costain, A. P. Holland, Phillip Nott, John
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthrone) Hooson, Emlyn Onslow, Cranley
Crosthwaite-Eye, Sir Oliver Horden, Peter Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Hornby, Richard Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Crouch, David Howell, David (Guildford) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Crowder, F. p. Hunt, John Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, Graham (Crosby)
Currie, G. B. H. Iremonger, T. L. Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Dalkeith, earl ot Irvine, Bryant codman (Rye) Pardoe, John
Dance, James Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Davidson,james(Aberdeenshire,W.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Peel, John
d'Avigdor-Cioldsm.d, Sir Henry Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Percival, Ian
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Peyton, John
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Digby, Simon Wingfield Jopling, Michael Pink, R. Bonner
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Pounder, Rafton
Doughty, Charles Kaberry, sir Donald Price, David (Eastleigh)
Drayson, G. B. Kerby, Capt. Henry Prior, J. M. L.
Eden, Sir John Korshaw, Anthony Pym, Francis
Quennell, Miss J. M. Smith, John (London & W'minster) Walker-Smith, nt. Hn, Sir Derek
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Speed, Keith Wall, Patrick
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Stainton, Keith Walters, Dennis
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stodart, Anthony Ward, Dame Irene
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Weatherill, Bernard
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Summers, Sir Spencer Webster, David
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Tapsell, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
Ridsdale, Julian Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Robson Brown, Sir William Teeling, Sir William Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Temple, John M. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Royle, Anthony Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Russell, Sir Ronald Tilney, John Woodnutt, Mark
Scott, Nicholas Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Worsley, Marcus
Scott-Hopkins, James Van straubenzee, W. R. Wylie, N. R.
Sharples, Richard Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John Younger, Hn. George
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Vickers, Dame Joan
Silvester, Frederick Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Walker, Peter (Worcester) Mr. Jasper More and
Mr. Humphrey Atkins.

Question put accordingly, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 234, Noes, 272.

Division No. 244.] AYES [7.25 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Dodds-Parker, Douglas Jopling, Michael
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Doughty, Charles Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Astor, John Drayson, G. B. Kaberry, Sir Donald
Atkins. Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Eden, Sir John Kerby, Capt. Henry
Awdry, Daniel Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kershaw, Anthony
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Kimball, Marcus
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Emery, Peter Kirk, Peter
Batsford, Brian Errington, Sir Erie Knight, Mrs. Jill
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Eyre, Reginald Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bell, Ronald Farr, John Lane, David
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Fisher, Nigel Langford-Holt, Sir John
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Berry, Hn. Anthony Fortescue, Tim Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Biffen, John Foster, Sir John Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)
Biggs-Davison, John Calbraith, Hn. T. G. Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Gibson-Watt, David Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Black, Sir Cyril Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Longden, Gilbert
Blaker, Peter Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Loveys, W. H.
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Glover, Sir Douglas Lubbock, Eric
Body, Richard Goodhart, Philip McAdden, Sir Stephen
Bossom, Sir Clive Goodhew, Victor MacArthur, Ian
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Gower, Raymond Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross &Crom'ty)
Braine, Bernard Grant-Ferris, R. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Brewis, John Gresham Cooke, R. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Brinton, Sir Tatton Grieve, Percy McMaster, Stanley
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Marten, Neil
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maude, Angus
Bryan, Paul Gurden, Harold Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hall, John (Wycombe) Mawby, Ray
Bullus, Sir Eric Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Burden, F. A. Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mills,Peter (Torrington)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Harris, Frederic (Croydon. N.W.) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Miscampbell, Norman
Cary, Sir Robert Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Channon, H. P. G. Hastings, Stephen Monro, Hector
Chichester-Clark, R. Hay, John Montgomery, Fergus
Clark, Henry Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel More, Jasper
Clegg, Walter Heseltine, Michael Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Cooke, Robert Higgins, Terence L. Mott-Radcliffe, Sir Charles
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hiley, Joseph Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cordle, John Hill, J. E. B. Murton, Oscar
Corfield, F. V. Hirst, Geoffrey Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Costain, A. P. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Neave, Airey
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Hooson, Emlyn Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Crouch, David Hordern, Peter Nott, John
Crowder, F. P. Hornby, Richard Onslow, Cranley
Cunningham, Sir Knox Howell, David (Guildford) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Currie, G. B. H. Hunt, John Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Dalkeith, Earl of Hutchison, Michael Clark Osborn, John (Hallam)
Dance, James Iremonger, T. L. Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire,W.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Pardoe, John
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Johnson, Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Peel, John
Percival, Ian Scott, Nicholas Vickers, Dame Joan
Peyton, John Scott-Hopkins, James Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Pike, Miss Mervyn Sharples, Richard Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Pink, R. Bonner Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Pounder, Rafton Silvester, Frederick Wall, Patrick
Price, David (Eastleigh) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Walters, Dennis
Prior, J. M. L. Smith, John (London & W'minster) Ward, Dame Irene
Pym, Francis Speed, Keith Weatherill, Bernard
Quennell, Miss J. M. Stainton, Keith Webster, David
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Stodart, Anthony Wells, John (Maidstone)
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Rees-Davies, W. R. Summers, Sir Spencer Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Tapsell, Peter Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Ridsdaie, Julian Teeling, Sir William Woodnutt, Mark
Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Temple, John M. Worsley, Marcus
Robson Brown, Sir William Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Wylie, N. R.
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Tilney, John Younger, Hn. George
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Royle, Anthony Van Straubenzee, W. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Russell, Sir Ronald Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John Mr. Anthony Grant and
Mr. Timothy Kitson.
Abse, Leo Dell, Edmund Huckfield, Leslie
Albu, Austen Dempsey, James Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dewar, Donald Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Alldritt, Walter Dobson, Ray Hunter, Adam
Allen, Scholefield Doig, Peter Hynd, John
Anderson, Donald Dunn, James A. Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Archer, Peter Dunnett, Jack Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)
Armstrong, Ernest Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Janner, Sir Barnett
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Eadie, Alex Jeger, George (Goole)
Baxter, William Edelman, Maurice Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Beaney, Alan Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Bence, Cyril Edwards, William (Merioneth) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) English, Michael Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Binns, John Ennals, David Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.)
Bishop, E. S. Ensor, David Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Blackburn, F. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Judd, Frank
Boston, Terence Faulds, Andrew Kelley, Richard
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, Clifford
Boyden, James Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lawson, George
Bradley, Tom Foley, Maurice Leadbitter, Ted
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Ledger, Ron
Brooks, Edwin Ford, Ben Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Forrester, John Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Fowler, Gerry Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Fraser, John (Norwood) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Freeson, Reginald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Galpern, Sir Myer Lipton, Marcus
Buchan, Norman Gardner, Tony Lomas, Kenneth
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Ginsburg, David Loughlin, Charles
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Luard, Evan
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Gourlay, Harry Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Cant, R. B. Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Carmichael, Neil Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Carter-Jones, Lewis Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McCann, John
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Griffiths, Eddie MacColl, James
Coe, Denis Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Lianelly) MacDermot, Niall
Coleman, Donald Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Macdonald, A. H.
Concannon, J. D. Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McGuire, Michael
Conlan, Bernard Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hamling, William Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hannan, William Mackie, John
Crawshaw, Richard Harper, Joseph Mackintosh, John P.
Cronin, John Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Maclennan, Robert
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Haseldine, Norman McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hattersley, Roy McNamara, J. Kevin
Dalyell, Tam Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis MacPherson, Malcolm
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Henig, Stanley Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Hilton, W. S. Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Horner, John Manuel, Archie
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Marks, Kenneth
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Marquand, David
Davies, Harold (Leek) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Howie, W. Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hoy, James Mayhew, Christoper
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Millan, Bruce Price, William (Rugby) Thornton, Ernest
Miller, Dr. M. S. Probert, Arthur Tinn, James
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Randall, Harry Tuck, Raphael
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Rankin, John Urwin, T. W.
Molloy, William Rees, Merlyn Varley, Eric G.
Moonman, Eric Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Rhodes, Geoffrey Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Richard, Ivor Wallace, George
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Watkins, David (Consett)
Morris, John (Aberavon) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy(Caernarvon) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Moyle, Roland Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Weitzman, David
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Robertson, John (Paisley) Wellbeloved, James
Murray, Albert Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Neal, Harold Rodgers, William (Stockton) White, Mrs. Eirene
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Roebuck, Roy Whitlock, William
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip(Derby,S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Wilkins, W. A.
Oakes, Gordon Ross, Rt. Hn. William Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Ogden, Eric Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
O'Malley, Brian Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Oram, Albert E. Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Oswald, Thomas Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Palmer, Arthur Skeffington, Arthur Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Slater, Joseph Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Parker, John (Dagenham) Small, William Winnick, David
Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Snow, Julian Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Spriggs, Leslie Woof, Robert
Pavitt, Laurence Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.) Wyatt, Woodrow
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Yates, Victor
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Pentland, Norman Symonds, J. B. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Taverne, Dick Mr. Charles Grey and
Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Thomas, Rt. Hn. George Mr. Neil McBride.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

It might be convenient if at this stage I announced a slight change in the grouping of selected Amendments on the Notice Paper. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) for calling my attention to the matter. What I have to announce is a more logical grouping, and I mention this because it alters the order in which the debates follow each other.

The debate which is supposed to begin on Amendment No. 60, plus a number of other Amendments, will, in fact, take place on Amendment No. 55, plus Amendments Nos. 73, 141, 142 and 143. Amendment No. 72 disappears in the process. The debate on Amendment No. 67 will take place on a discussion with Amendment No. 118. This is a better grouping than I had originally proposed. Indeed, the first grouping contained an error. I again express my gratitude to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury for drawing the matter to my attention.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

I beg to move Amendment No. 146, in page 2, line 15, leave out from 'Board' to end of line 18 and insert: '(instead of the six months so beginning as provided by section 1(2)(b)) or, in a case within section 2(2)(c) of that Act, with the date of publication of the direction given by virtue of that section (instead of the six months beginning with the date when the direction comes into force as provided by section 2(2)(c))'. This Amendment and Amendment No. 147 spring from a Committee point raised by my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite who drew attention to the provisions of Section 3(1) of the 1967 Act in that it empowers us to make Orders under specific conditions. That Section says that in imposing a standstill, or extending a standstill, after an adverse report by the National Board for Prices and Incomes, the standstill can come into force either when the Order is made or at a later date.

The intention of the later date provision was very clear and in no way sinister. It was to enable parties affected by an extended standstill to make whatever adjustments and preparations were necessary for their technical convenience. But the Committee expressed the fear that the ability of my right hon. Friend to make an Order operative from a later date might create two situations. The first was a situation in which the effect of the Order, although of course not the legal force of the standstill, might be prolonged. That would be out of the ignorance of the parties, but nevertheless the Committee feared that such a situation might come about.

The second fear which the Committee expressed was that a standstill Order might be kept hanging over the heads of the parties although it was not operative. I gave an assurance to the Committee that the. Order procedure would never be operated in that way, but a perfectly legitimate point was made that if an assurance could be given, was it not possible to write that assurance into the Bill? This would show that my right hon. Friend would not only choose not to operate in this fashion but would not be able to do so. Amendment No. 147 gives exact substance to that intention.

That Amendment says that an Order must end eight months after it has been made. The operation of the Order may begin on the date it is made or at a later date specified by my right hon. Friend, but the Order can last for only eight months. The net effect is that if my right hon. Friend chooses to make the date of operation later than the date when the Order is made, the period of its operation is correspondingly reduced. If it is six weeks after the Order is made, it can run for only eight months minus six weeks. Therefore, the assurance I gave to the Committee that we would limit Orders in this precise way is met by Amendment No. 147.

Amendment No. 146 is a paving Amendment which applies the same intention to other methods of imposing standstills. I commend it to the House as a concession rightly made following the undertaking so that we can assure the House that it is being translated into statutory effect.

Mr. Speaker

From what he said when opening the debate, I understand that the hon. Gentleman wishes these two Amendments to be discussed together.

Mr. Hattersley

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. That was the intention.

Sir John Foster (Northwich)

We are glad that the Government have carried out the corrections indicated by criticisms in Committee. I shall not press the hon. Gentleman to explain Amendment No. 146 in more detail because the underlying legislative provisions are much more complicated than he said they were. We welcome the fact that the Government have corrected that fault about the standstill and about the later date. Without this correction it would have been possible for the Minister to make an Order beginning to operate 10 years hence. We are grateful to the Government for carrying out undertakings given to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: No. 147, in line 20, leave out from 'be' to 'as' in line 22, and insert: 'a period ending eight months after the date of the order but beginning with that date or a later date (instead of a period of three months beginning with the date of the order or a later date,'.—[Mr. Hattersley.]

7.45 p.m.

Mr. John Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 26, in page 2, line 33, leave out from 'extend' to end of line 3 on page 3 and add: 'the period to which the said provision is to apply but so that the same shall expire not later than seven months after the making of the said order'. This is one of the most disturbing parts of the Bill, and one to which in Committee hon. Members on both sides objected. I think it objectionable and that hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish to show their objections to it. The purpose of the Clause is to extend the Government's delaying powers under the 1967 Act over prices and incomes from seven to 12 months. The purpose of subsection (4) is to enable the Government to extend Orders made under the existing old Act and bring them up to the maximum under the new Bill. The right hon. Lady described this as a phasing or bridging part of the Bill, meaning that it would phase the new situation in with the old. I believe it is a retrospective extension of the old Act and a pulling out of the telescope to the maximum length of the new Bill.

To those of us who served on the Committee it was known as the "hanging Amendment" because of the graphic description by a right hon. Friend who said that if we were discussing, not prices and incomes but capital punishment, anyone who at present is serving a life sentence after the Bill became law would be liable to be hanged. That was not denied by the right hon. Lady, although she said she considered it to be a slightly exaggerated example. The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) described the subsection as "a fiddler's charter" because it will allow any Minister—he specifically said that he was not referring to the right hon. Lady—to fiddle with Orders which had already been made.

In instances to which the subsection would apply to prices, even greater confusion and uncertainty than exists at present would be caused. Any companies which might have an existing direction or Order could not plan with certainty for their future if the Order was under the old Measure and could be continued after the new Bill has passed. It will be interesting to know if the Under-Secretary can tell us how many, if any, companies there are at present on whom the effect of this subsection could fall. They would feel that after they had served the sentence they had been given they would be able to carry on business activities in the normal way, but they would be under the threat of having their sentence almost doubled by a further Order. Much more serious is the effect which this would have on wages on which a standstill direction or Order was already in force or was contemplated before the passing of the present Bill. This is not a stop-go Bill qua penalties. It is stop-stop—a continuation of the pain.

I want to give some examples of how the Bill might affect particular cases. I shall be specific about two or three cases and ask the Under-Secretary to tell us what the Government's attitude is to those cases. Before doing that I want to point out a rather cynical piece of humour which is contained in the next following subsection, which reads: Where an order or direction is or has been made … the award or settlement … shall not be the subject of any second or further reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes either during the period of standstill … or after the expiration of that period. It is strange that that should follow immediately after the subsection which extends the lifetime of the penalties contained in orders, if there is an amending order, which had been made under the previous Act.

The intention of the Amendment is to avoid the worst aspects of retrospection and to limit the Minister's power of extension to the full period of the original Bill. The mood of the House yesterday would seem to indicate that these restrictive Clauses are already strong and testing enough. If the Secretary of State persists in taking further powers, the House must conclude that she has a definite objective in so doing.

I suspect that the Under-Secretary is more expert than anybody else in the country in answering these questions. I understand that there are at present Orders Nos. 1 and 2 of 1968 covered by Statutory Instruments Nos. 816 and 905 which direct a standstill on certain transport workers of Nottingham City Council and the Scottish draughtsmen. Order No. 1 is due to expire on 26th July, 1968. Is it intended to extend the length of the standstill or, if an Order is later needed, is it intended that that Order shall be fulfilled under the terms of the Bill? Order No. 2 expires on 19th August. Likewise, is it the intention that this shall be treated as being under the existing Regulations or under the Bill when enacted?

There are a number of other standstills following notification in the London Gazette connected with the Bristol dock undertaking employees, Rochdale municipal busmen, and certain saw milling employees. Will references which have already been made under the old Act be treated with the conditions of the Orders under the Bill when enacted? Are these the workers who the right hon. Lady wishes to catch under subsection (4), or is she thinking of catching someone else?

What would be the legal position of, say, the B.O.A.C. pilots if they were already taking industrial action or striking at a time when an order was made after the National Board had reported? If they were already taking industrial action, would it be incumbent upon them under the Bill to return to their full normal working conditions so that they should not be considered to be bringing pressure to bear against their employers? The railwaymen might not be taking strike action, but they might be working to rule and going slowly, which, if an Order were made, would not be in consonance with the new Act.

Will the hon. Gentleman cast his mind back to an intervention by the right hon. Lady yesterday during the debate on productivity? This has a direct bearing on the Amendment, because it concerns the extension of existing Orders.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

It is not obvious to me how anything that was said yesterday about productivity can arise on the Amendment.

Mr. Page

It was an intervention in that debate. If you will allow me to read it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you will find that it is particularly apposite, because it discusses what happens after an Order is made if there are any changes in the circumstances. I think that you will find that it is totally in order. The right hon. Lady said this: Does the hon. Gentleman not understand that a standstill Order is related to a particular agreement? If the original agreement is torn up, and a new one is reached, then the Order ceases to be effective. If it were desired to put an Order on a new agreement, because it was ' phoney', then a new Order would be necessary."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1968; Vol. 767, c. 292.] 8.0 p.m.

That intervention by the right hon. Lady seemed to throw doubt on the whole position of any agreement after an Order had been made. Does it mean, for example, that if there is any sort of change, the agreement becomes a changed agreement and, therefore, the Order can be torn up? How great a change would need to be made for an existing Order not to apply to the company or organisation concerned?

I ask those questions not in a critical way but to seek an explanation. It is the understanding of all engaged on these matters in industry, employers, trade unions and others, that if an Order is made after the Prices and Incomes Board has reported, the Order entails a total standstill unless permission for an alteration is received from the Ministry. But if what the right hon. Lady yesterday applies, it means that any change in the original agreement would nullify the new Order, despite the great paraphernalia of debate before the Order was made both here and in the Prices and Incomes Board itself.

My hon. Friends and I still maintain the strongest objection to the retrospective aspect of the Clause. We object to it on every ground. It is both unfair and unconstitutional. I hope that the Under-Secretary will give us a satisfactory explanation and accept the Amendment.

Mr. Albert Booth (Barrow-in-Furness)

When discussing this Clause in Committee, the Under-Secretary of State said: Neither my right hon. Friend nor I have ever tried to pretend that the policy we are now debating is not a more severe version of previous policy; of course, it is."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th May, 1968; c. 390.] That statement was typical of the forthright manner which we have come to expect from my hon. Friend on prices and incomes policy matters. While we can admire his forthright manner, I cannot admire the policy which he advocates in those terms.

As the Clause to which the present Amendment is directed is of such serious importance, I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I ask what may seem a rather simple question. I want to know whether the Minister will have power under this Clause to extend existing standstills on wages awards made under the 1967 Act. If that is so, there will be a new situation in the short history of the prices and incomes policy. We have had resentment at standstills in the past. Hitherto, we have not had to face resentment at the extension of standstills in retrospect. Yet this is what may happen if the Clause goes through unamended.

Will all the standstills which are in force under the 1967 Act at the time when this Bill comes into force be subject to a decision by the Minister on whether they should be extended? This, also, is of crucial importance. If that will be so, why is the power being taken? Does the Minister feel that those who have been subject to a wages standstill under the 1967 Act have not been penalised sufficiently? If that is the argument, it could in logic be extended to the ludicrous point where one sought to further penalise those who had had standstills under the 1966 Act, in order to put everybody in the same position. The Clause as it stands must create anomalies as between those whose standstills run out before the 1968 Bill comes into force and those whose standstills under the 1967 Act run out after that date, because only the latter category can be caught under the Clause.

At the least, we deserve an explanation from the Under-Secretary of State of how the power is to be used. Will all standstills be subject to extension, or will only some be picked out? If certain standstills are to be picked out, how will they be chosen? What is to be the criterion? It is obvious that one cannot apply to the extension of a standstill the criteria which applied in determining whether there should be a standstill. In other words, one cannot determine whether a wages agreement shall be subject to extension of standstill on the ground that it embodies a productivity element, that it affected low-paid workers, and so on—the criteria with which we are familiar—because all those tests were used to determine that there should be a standstill.

If the Minister is to start picking and choosing between standstills made under the 1967 Act and deciding that some should be extended, new criteria must be applied. Will one criterion be, say, the date when the standstill was applied? Are only the later standstills brought in under the 1967 Act to be caught? If that were done, I should still contend that it would create anomalies. Has the Minister specific cases in mind in which she desires that the standstill should continue? If that is the purpose, it should be stated here and now.

I should like a categorical assurance that standstills on pay awards to certain members of my union are not to be affected under the Clause. There has already been reference to the standstills on pay awards to members of the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association in certain Scottish firms. It is worth spending a few moments on the details of these to test the effect of the Clause. There were three agreements made in December, 1967, affected by Orders: one between the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association and Steels Engineering Installation Ltd.; one between the union and Steel Process Plants Ltd; and one between the union and British Crane and Excavator Corporation. The Orders were made in December, 1967. They were not gazetted until February this year. An Order was laid before Parliament on 14th June, 1968, which extended these standstills till 19th August.

I may have a nasty, suspicious mind, but one can conveniently assume that by 19th August the new Prices and Incomes Bill will be in operation and, therefore, the standstills must be caught by it. I hope that I am wrong, and if my hon. Friend assures me that I am he can have my most craven apologies. However, if we cannot be given an assurance that men who cannot receive until 19th August a pay award they negotiated last December will not be subject to a further standstill, there will be great resentment among those members of the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association.

I ask my hon. Friend to put himself in the position of anyone who advocated that they should accept the standstill, who said that it was reasonable that they should forgo their pay award for a period of six months, or, in this case, even up to 19th August. What sort of hearing would he receive if it is known that these standstills will be subject to an increased period? I think that there is a danger —and I say this with a full appreciation of the meaning of my words—that those trade union members will reject the proper political solution to the problem which they face under the prices and incomes policy, and that they may seek by the most vigorous industrial action to redress what they consider is a justifiable grievance. If that happens, it will not only damage the working of the Clause but will, as far as those union members and their fellow members are concerned, bring the whole of the Bill down on the head of the Minister in complete ruins.

I therefore urge my hon. Friend to give us an assurance that there is a particular purpose in the Clause, in the Minister taking these powers, and that they will not be used to extend standstills to all those who happen to have been sufficiently unfortunate to have their standstill at such a time that it will still be in operation when the new Act comes into force.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

I can well understand the worries of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth). It is always said that the soldier has a field marshal's baton in his knapsack. We must now expect every shop steward to have copies of the 1966, 1967 and 1968 Acts in his knapsack and to be able to understand what they are all about. That is the problem which faces and will continue to face all those involved in the normal negotiating processes in their industries.

Most of those people are unpaid in their onerous union posts. They volunteer and they must try to negotiate. After all, the Government have told us enough times that they want to move more towards plant bargaining arrangements rather than national agreements. When we consider the various Acts, we shudder to think of the men on the shop floor trying to understand what they are all about.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the problems of the agreement to which a standstill Order has already been applied. We have been given to understand that the whole idea of the Bill is basically to extend the standstill. It is very difficult to know what is really meant by the Clause. The Amendment is at least much more understandable. When one reads the words which my hon. Friend wants to delete, one realises that every shop steward in the future should sit for a Bar examination before he can start to operate. This backs up my judgment from the very beginning that the Bill, like all the others, is really eyewash and not expected to work. The other Acts and this Bill are really expected to intimidate those who do not even begin to understand what they are all about.

8.15 p.m.

I do not understand what this is all about. As far as I can see it is designed to extend the standstill period in respect of those who have been caught under previous Acts, particularly the 1967 Act, on solemn agreements which they have reached by negotiation with their employers at national or plant level. The Government should at least make certain first that the ordinary negotiator in industry can understand what this is all about. Certainly, he should not have to take three different Acts with him to be able to decide whether he is within or without the law in carrying out his normal duties and responsibilities on behalf of his fellow employees.

This is very important, because there are many thousands of decent, honest citizens throughout the country trying for no extra remuneration to represent their fellow employees before their employers and to make certain that their fellows shall enjoy the best remuneration possible. Many of them try to make certain that their demands will be tied up with some increase in productivity. Yet they are faced with this sort of Clause, and particularly with the words which my hon. Friend seeks to delete.

The Amendment seeks to delete words which to my mind are gobbledygook and states quite clearly: … the period to which the said provision is to apply but so that the same shall expire not later than seven months after the making of the said order. In other words, the Amendment would make certain that any agreement reached by an employer or group of employers with a union or group of unions would be liable to be held up for only seven months after the making of the original order.

I have great admiration for the Undersecretary of State. It was obvious in Committee that he knew a great deal more about the Bill than I do, and he was very helpful to us throughout. I have no complaints to make about his replies in Committee, and he will probably be able to give us a reasonable answer to this point. But I am as worried as the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness that the words which my hon. Friend seeks to delete may mean that those who have been subject to a standstill under the 1967 Act will suddenly find that instead of being able to implement an agreement after seven months, as they could under the original Act, they will have to wait another five, eight or nine months, or whatever it may be, when the Bill becomes an Act.

This is completely intolerable. It makes free negotiation a laughing stock. If a free negotiation is to be held up for 12 or 18 months, it means, as I said yesterday, that the right hon. Lady does not mean what she says when she says that free negotiation ought still to be the order of the day.

It has been said by the right hon. Lady and the Under-Secretary that the Bill is the long-stop to make sure that certain voluntary arrangements cannot be carried out. Where somebody tries to jump the gun through conspiracy between an employer and his employees, as a result of which they have the audacity to come to an arrangement for an increase in income of more than 3½ per cent., an Order can be made under the Bill to ensure that the agreement shall not be carried out.

This may well be a valid argument in the future with agreements that are reached or have very recently been reached. After all, we all know of the various problems facing the Government. We saw the devaluation problem, and have heard the various statements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he has made clear that everybody in the country should be expected to accept a reduction of 2 per cent. in the standard of living. This has been explained to us, and it obviously would be taken into account by both employers and representatives of employees in their negotiations in the recent past or the future.

This is a different matter. Obviously, in taking all this into account they would probably end up with a different sort of agreement to that which was reached six or seven months ago. This is what I am worried about. There may well have been agreements reached six or seven months ago between an employer and his employees or a group of employers and a group of unions, but an Order under the 1967 Act may have prevented the increases from being paid. The extent of the Order under existing legislation could not be for more than seven months. But if we do not accept the Amendment, we may easily have a situation in which the period could be extended for 12 or 18 months.

The Under-Secretary ought to make it clear beyond doubt that the Government's intention is not to catch the sort of case to which the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness referred, which I believe is one which ought to be taken into account, where people have reached an agreement a long time ago but were caught, and are looking forward to the point at which the standstill will end and the agreement reached with their employers will finally come to fruition. I trust that the Under-Secretary will make it clear that these people will not be caught by what would then amount to retrospective legislation.

Having read the parts that my hon. Friend seeks to delete from the Bill, I believe, although I am not a lawyer, that it is as well that they should be deleted. Any normal person reading the Clause would say, "What does it all mean?" and rush off immediately to his solicitor, who would say, "On the one hand, it could mean this. On the other hand, it could mean that. I think that we ought to brief counsel and get his opinion about the exact meaning of the words." Reading this as a non-lawyer, it seems to me to mean nothing.

I believe that it would be proper to delete these words. That will certainly be in the interests of all engaged in wage negotiations. They will now have to carry three Acts of Parliament in then-pocket, each of which seeks to take away certain of the others. After all, no shop steward can expect to have a solicitor in his pocket all day long. The ordinary man engaged in negotiations ought to be able to understand what the law is. If these words are left in, then a man who has not passed the Bar examination will not have a chance of being able to say with certainty what the law means. In fact, it could mean anything to him.

My hon. Friend's Amendment at least makes it much clearer to everyone that if an agreement has been reached before the Act comes into operation and if there has been a decision by the Government that it should be held up for a period, the total time that it is held up will not be more than seven months. I believe that this is a fair point, and because the Amendment is so eminently fair and because it seeks to delete from the Bill what I question whether anybody other than a lawyer could understand, I hope that the Government will accept it.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)

I did not hear the earlier part of the debate, so it would be improper for me to address the House at any length on the Amendment. I rise very briefly to appeal to my right hon. Friend to consider earnestly whether the Government cannot accept the Amendment.

One of the things worrying some of my hon. Friends and me about the Bill is the way in which it is an escalation on previous legislation—on the Act of 1966 and the Act of 1967. The Bill goes wider than those Acts in a number of respects. It lengthens the period of standstill and gives the Government powers greater than they contained. It brings in groups of workers, such as the agricultural workers, who were not included in the previous Acts. It extends the period of operation very considerably.

We had one year under the 1966 Act and one year under the 1967 Act. We have a year and a half under this Bill. We have no assurance that there will not be a 1969 Bill. If there is, on the simple line of arithmetical progression it will cover two years and then the 1971 Bill will cover three years or whatever it may be. This gives cause for concern.

We must always recall that this legislation was originally introduced as one time legislation, not to be repeated, and the more I take part in the proceedings on the Bill the more I have brought home to me the French proverb that the only thing which lasts forever is a temporary thing. That is what looks like happening with this legislation.

If the Government cannot give an assurance that this legislation is not to go on indefinitely, at least they should be willing to write in a provision removing the element of escalation. I am sure that the arguments on merits have been deployed and it is on the ground of trying to stop the arithmetical progression of ever greater powers and ever lengthening operation that I urge the Government to give the most sympathetic consideration to accepting the Amendment.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Hattersley

Since the operation of the Amendment is dependent upon powers implicit or explicit in the Clause, I want to correct two or three misapprehensions about the nature of the Clause. The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) was kind enough to describe me as an expert on the Bill. I must correct him on that, as I have done before. I am an expert on the experts on the Bill, which is a different matter.

The hon. Member said that, as far as he could see, it would be possible to extend an Order so that it would impose a standstill for 18 months. He will be relieved to know that this is not the case. It is made clear in the Clause that the power exists … within the limits permitted by section 1(2)(b) or 3(1) … and this clearly limits the operation to a maximum period of 11 months, which is the operative and important figure.

What we seek to do, as my right hon. Friend made clear in Committee, is to operate a policy of transition. She told the Standing Committee that there are in the Bill provisions for phasing out when we get to the end of the period it covers—the end of the 18 months. She asked the Committee to accept that it was reasonable to say that, if the policy should be phased out, it should be phased in.

I ask hon. Members to put themselves in the position of the Government, committed to the idea that a prices and incomes policy with statutory backing is necessary at this time. Is it not reasonable that the Government should ask that that policy be organised in such a way that its operation begins smoothly and does not begin arbitrarily? Let us consider a case where an order has been made under existing powers and should be continued when the life of the new Bill begins.

If it seems necessary for the Government to have power to postpone a wage or price increase for up to a year, it would be unreasonable to say, "We believe that the national interest requires us occasionally to postpone this increase for up to a year but we cannot do it in this case because, by coincidence, it falls between the date on which the first Act lapses and the date on which this Bill becomes law."

Although by our judgment it would be in the national interest to postpone the increase, under the Amendment we could not do it because of some arbitrary distinction of date and time.

Mr. John Page

I am listening to the hon. Gentleman very carefully. He said that there might be a moment when there could be a particular situation which could fall into the gap between the two powers. Is that possible unless, as the hon. Gentleman may expect, he will not get the Bill? If he gets the Bill before 12th August, he will have powers up to 11th August and the new powers thereafter. I do not see that there will be any gap.

Mr. Hattersley

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is listening carefully. I wish that he had listened a little longer, because I was trying to meet exactly that point. Clearly, the gap is a gap of a different sort. In a sense, there will be an overlap of powers for the variety of dates which we are recommending the House to accept.

What I mean by referring to a gap is that a category of workers, whom I will try to specify later, may have been adjudged by the National Board for Prices and Incomes to be asking for a wage increase which is unjustifiable, or a manufacturer or distributor may have been adjudged to be asking for a price increase which is unjustifiable, and we shall have applied to one or to both an order limiting the level of remuneration or price. Suddenly, the Bill will come into operation and suddenly we shall have taken powers to impose a standstill for up to a year.

Yet, because of what is simply an accident of time, we would be bound to say, but for this Clause, that, although it was our judgment that a year's postponement was reasonable, we could not enforce it because of the dates and the way in which they fell. I put it to the House that for a Government, committed as we are to a prices and incomes policy, to allow that sort of situation to come about would be not only inconsistent, but irresponsible.

Mr. Booth

I am listening very carefully to my hon. Friend's words. How can he call an accident of time what is in fact a period precisely chosen and legislated for barely a year ago, when it was provided that anybody subject to a wages standstill for a period of 12 months, would have the maximum period of standstill of exactly that period? That is not an accident of time; it is deliberate and precise policy.

Mr. Hattersley

I justify it by quoting again my own words, doing so with some embarrassment. These are the words which I used in Committee, although at this moment I have forgotten the exact detail of what I said. I said that I had never sought to disguise the fact that this prices and incomes policy was a policy of more severity than that which we operated last year. That is certainly the case and that in our view is certainly the necessity. I believe that to describe it as what has evolved is an accurate description of the position.

What I mean by an accident of time is that we are in a situation in which more severe powers are necessary, in which this tougher policy is an obligation upon the Government, and yet we would be unable to use these powers in specific cases because of the date on which an Order lapsed. To tie ourselves in that arbitrary way would, I repeat, be not only unreasonable, but irresponsible.

Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)

Can we get this quite clear? As I understand, about a year ago Parliament passed an Act which, whether we agreed with it or not, told the people what the law would be until 11th August this year. It seems to all of us on this side of the House that what the Government are now saying is that they will override what Parliament said last year, that they will pass a Bill, which will come into operation at some date not yet known, and override what Parliament said should be the law until 11th August, this year. We think that that is wrong constitutionally.

Mr. Hattersley

What the right hon. Gentleman said is historically right, that about a year ago Parliament decided what the law of the land should be. I am now asking the House to revise its view of what the law of the land should be from this moment. What I am asking is that from this moment the law should enable the Government to impose a standstill, which might well amount to an Order in specific circumstances. I am asking the House to authorise a change in the law, an adaptation of the law, which applies from now, which is an immediate thing and which operates when the Bill begins to operate and not before.

Mr. Emery rose

Mr. Hattersley

I will not give way. I have been very generous about giving way and I think that the House would like some progress to be made.

Let me try to explain to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) the sort of cases which might conceivably be covered by an Order as opposed to those which might not. The hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that a number of cases which are under consideration by the N.B.P.I. are cases which we have in mind, for two reasons. First, those cases which will not be the subject of an N.B.P.I. report until after the Bill becomes law do not need Clause 3(4) for a full eight months standstill to be imposed.

The other reason, which is the crucial reason, why the hon. Gentleman is wrong is that we do not have any cases in mind. If he is asking for a categorical assurance that these Clauses do not appear because my right hon. Friend and her colleagues and I have in mind the specific items, groups and organisations which we are determined to embrace in an enlarged standstill, I can give him an absolute assurance that the idea of this specific application is not in the Government's mind. What is in the Government's mind is the problem of consistency and the application of the prices and incomes policy as we believe it to be necessary.

I must say two things about two specific groups which my hon. Friend suggested were not only in our mind, but, he would probably say, at the forefront of our mind. It is certainly my right hon. Friend's hope, and I believe that it is the House's hope, that there will be no need even to examine these groups of workers in terms of Clause 3(4) because they and their unions and managements will have come to an agreement which enables them to go on without the application of the prices and incomes policy.

If my hon. Friend wants evidence of our hope in that regard—and I put it as no more than evidence of our hope; certainly, it is not evidence that the hope is bound to be realised—he may be interested to know that the numerically largest group to which he refers, the municipal busmen, will have representatives of the workers' and employees' side of their national joint council meeting my right hon. Friend tomorrow. This is one of a series of meetings which, it is the Government's devout hope, will result in a settlement of the bus dispute so that this no longer requiries the application of the prices and incomes policy. I give that information, not as a prediction that a satisfactory settlement will be the outcome, but to remind hon. Members of our constant efforts to enable agreements to be made and prices to be arranged which do not need the application of the prices and incomes policy.

We do not ask for retention of this Clause because we anticipate that it will automatically be needed in any specific cases. We ask for its retention because without it the Government would operate a policy which I can only describe as an unnatural break in its application. I hope that the House will accept that our motive simply is to make a smooth transition and to enable us to operate the powers as we believe necessary, with all the safeguards, checks and Parliamentary control required.

The hon. Member described the paraphernalia of debate which must go into every order. I imagine that I shall remind him during the night, when he and his hon. Friends say that there is inadequate consideration, in a Parliamentary sense, of each Order which we make, that his description—"paraphernalia of debate"—is somewhat of an exaggeration. But there is the opportunity of debate on every Order which applies to Clause 3(4). There are all the other safeguards essential for running the policy. We believe that Clause 3(4) is a just Clause which we hope the House will agree to retain in the Bill.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Emery

I waited for the Minister's reply in the ardent hope that it would not be necessary for me to make a speech. I indicated to him that I should be delighted if he spoke first in the hope that I would not have to make a speech. Nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to hear that the Government were willing to accept the principle of the Amendment. After all, it is not just we on this side of the House who are urging this upon the hon. Gentleman. It comes about because of the ultimate fairness that the Amendment sets out to establish.

I turn now to two of the arguments put forward by the Under-Secretary in urging rejection of this Amendment. The hon. Gentleman suggested that because in Committee we expressed the wish to see the policy phased out properly, it was right that it should be phased in properly. I do not need to remind the hon. Gentleman that that is a slight elaboration of the facts. We wanted the policy phased out absolutely on the last day of 1969. We did not want any phasing out; we wanted it stopped. But, because the Bill allowed for the extension of certain of these powers if Orders were made on the last day of 1969 to be extended for another 12 months, we thought this was wrong.

Therefore, we suggested that that period should be limited, and this came to be known as the proper phasing out. We were willing to go along with that, because we believed that we persuaded the Government to go along with it. To suggest that because we had persuaded the Government to go along with it we should have a variation of phasing in, as it is termed, in order that we can have retrospection on the manner of the application of the standstill, is a travesty of proper argument. It is not right to suggest that, because we wanted phasing out, we should have this kind of action to phase the matter in.

In the same way the hon. Gentleman suggested that hon. Members on this side of the House would realise the need for a prices and incomes policy with proper statutory backing. We spent many hours on this matter in Committee. I would have hoped that, I, if not my hon. Friends, had been able to get this matter across to the Under-Secretary. Only yesterday I said that we considered that there should be a prices and incomes policy, but that it should be a voluntary one, not compulsory, because if we bring in compulsion we need the kind of action that the Amendment seeks to avoid.

The hon. Gentleman used the phrase "an accident of time". The Undersecretary chooses his words with great care. But to suggest that, when we have established in this House how long the Orders may be granted for a standstill, we should give power for them to be extended and that this is an accident of time is misuse of the English language. The Government, not by accident but by scheming and legislation, are increasing the power to extend. That is not any accident. It is a cool, definite calculation. I therefore feel that this is a very strange use of language.

The Under-Secretary spoke about the overlap. The only reason that I could see for his worry was that, in attempting to oppose the Bill, as we have, he would not get it by his set date of August. Nothing would please me more. If the hon. Gentleman had argued that we need action to catch any period when we have not got the Bill, that I can understand. It is not an argument I should like to go along with, but it is one that I can understand. Evidently, that was not the argument that the hon. Gentleman was propounding.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby), who referred in Committee to the great knowledge of the Under-Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman does not like to be called an expert. He likes to be known as an expert on experts, but it was only too apparent that when he was in charge of the Committee things went fairly smoothly. When the right hon. Lady was there she proved that she was neither an expert nor an expert on experts. That is what many of us are concerned about.

Subsection (3)(a) contains unbelievable verbiage, and perhaps I might quote it to prove my point: (a) an order shall not be amended by a further order under this subsection unless the like notice has been given of the proposal to make the further order as is required by section 1 or 3 of the Prices and Incomes Act 1967 for orders under section 1(2)(b) or 3(1) of that Act; and". That is not even a complete sentence. If anyone understands what it means he is a better man than 99 per cent. of the Members of this House.

What worries us is that the powers in the Bill are hidden in dubious language and words which nobody can understand. I tried to table a new Schedule to interpret some of the phrases used by the Government. The words which I have quoted allow the Government to increase the standstill period of an order even when a pledge has been given that that order shall last for only a given period. I do not believe that anyone, either in this House or outside it, can gather what the Government mean by that phraseology. First we have to wait, then there is a standstill order, then there is an overlay, and finally there is a standstill extension. I find it particularly difficult to judge the hardship which we are trying to ameliorate.

I know that it is always unpleasant to have one's words brought back to one, but I think that I must again quote from what was said in Committee. The Undersecretary of State said: The doubling of the total standstill period is essentially the aspect of the policy which makes it more severe. We all asked why it was essential, and the hon. Gentleman went on to say: Why, my hon. Friend says, do we choose to make it more severe now? Is it because of previous failures? No, it is not that. It is not because of previous failures; it is because of future success."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F; 30th May, 1968; c. 390.] If the policy has not failed in the past, what the devil does the Under-Secretary of State mean by suggesting that we have to extend the powers to make something which has not failed a future success? The Government are using words to confuse ordinary people who are trying to follow what the Government are doing. There is no doubt that the policy has not failed, and I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman if he wants to intervene to tell me the instances in which he thinks the standstill Orders have failed.

If the right hon. Gentleman can give me an example I shall be grateful, but unless he can it is clear that there has not been any failure. If that is so, there cannot be any reason for this retrospective extension—unless it is to set a seal on the Government's policy generally to reduce wage levels and so reduce the general standard of living. It is because we feel that such a course should not be allowed that we have moved the Amendment.

It is not that the Government are clear about this question; indeed, in the debate so far Government spokesmen have hardly mentioned the nil norm. The policy is propounded for the future on the concept that, unless there is a productivity bonus—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is now going far beyond the scope of the Amendment.

Mr. Emery

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had no intention of so doing.

Let me show exactly how I seek to bring this argument within the terms of the Amendment. The Amendment seeks to prevent the extension. The extension will be necessary if certain criteria are not met under the new Statutory Instrument. If the criteria are not met, the Government may have it in mind to prolong the standstill.

What worries me is that people now seem to be talking about the 3½ per cent. not as a ceiling but as an accepted thing. I was pointing out that that is not the criterion, and that the extension might be used on the nil norm argument. That being so, we believe that the Amendment is necessary. I hope that I have made clear the relevance to the Amendment of what I am saying.

We consider that there has not been a failure and that when the Minister said in Committee that greater hardship was caused by the standstill, it was a question of hardship for hardship's sake. Unless it can be shown that there has been a failure there can be no other reason.

The Minister said that there is no intention of the question of retrospection being applied in specific cases. He said, "I give this absolute assurance." It is a very strange coincidence that two of the most difficult cases, such as the D.A.T.A. case and the case of the busmen, could be caught. The Under-Secretary has said that negotiations are commencing. Both he and I hope that they come to something, but he knows the militancy which exists in both sides and he will realise that there can be no guarantee of success, especially in view of the fact—whether or not there is a standstill—that we have to consider the hardship aspect which has applied in respect of previous awards in both cases. We are not neglecting what the Minister says when we mention that it is a strange coincidence that both these difficult cases could be caught by the Clause as it stands.

9.0 p.m.

The Amendment sets out in subsection (4)(a) to deal with Section l(2)(b) or 3(1) of the Prices and Incomes Act, 1967. The Amendment does not do away with the standstill. The Act as it previously applied is left with the 30 days and the six months' extension. This is what exists now, but it was not made clear by the Under-Secretary of State.

Secondly, we are trying to ensure that the paragraphs dealt with in the Schedules which affect this Part of the Bill would not necessarily have to operate. I will not go into the details, because there are other hon. Members who want to speak.

The position is that the House says quite clearly and absolutely that the period of standstill shall be 30 days plus six months, and certain people are suffering under that standstill. If the Amendment is not acceptable, powers are given to the Government to say, although they have given their word that this is what the standstill shall be, that no wage increase shall be granted for another extended period. We consider this to be an escalation of the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) used that phrase time and again in Committee. I used the phrase "geometric progression". The powers needed each time are not just doubled, they are quadrupled. Each time we are told that there will be no extension, the powers will not be used, but they will be taken anyway. Each time the powers are used more or less immediately, and then within 12 months we are back again. It is quite wrong that the House should allow this to continue.

Here, for the first time, we see retrospection. I wonder how much more retrospection we shall see in the next Bill, applied either to wage awards, prices or dividends. Once one starts, one does not know where it will lead. Therefore, I believe that my hon. Friend was quite right to suggest that it is essential that the power of retrospection should be limited, and the way to do that is to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)

The Parliamentary Secretary referred, as did the right hon. Lady in Committee, to this being a phasing-in Bill. They also referred to phasing-out at the end, and we had a long debate which I must not open now. Does phasing-in imply that, without the objectionable Clause which we are trying to amend, all the powers of the Government would come to an end on 11th August next? Of course that is not so. The Under-Secretary of State did not intend to imply that this would be so, but this was the inference from the words used, that it is essential to phase-in the new policy.

The powers that allow a seven-month period extended to twelve months may be tidy. There may otherwise be gaps which would have to be filled by going through the full procedure of reference and so on. That is not the point. The point is, is it fair? The answer must be that this provision is monstrously unfair, since it means that a body of workers who have been sentenced—I use that word because the powers are punitive —under the previous Act to seven months can have it extended without further trial up to eighteen months.

We should consider the original circumstances to see what differences could have arisen by the time of the extension. The original sentence was under one Act and the extension will be under another, which was not even thought of at the time of the sentence. We were told that that Measure would be once and for all and another Act was not then contemplated. It was the result of one reference to the Prices and Incomes Board, which had before it facts obtaining at that time, including the cost of living at that time. The seven months which are running out and which will be extended by eleven months—

Mr. Hattersley

I am sure that it was a slip of the tongue, but I would not like it to be read in HANSARD tomorrow. On reflection, the hon. Gentleman will, I think, recall that the powers which we seek under the Clause will enable us to extend the standstill not for another eleven months but for up to eleven months, and that is a very different thing.

Mr. Boardman

I am obliged for that correction, but the same principle applies. It is the extension of a previous sentence which was passed under criteria which are not applicable today. One does not know whether, if today's criteria had applied originally, the sentence would have been the same. Some of the current Orders, which will be extended, were made before the effect of the Budget and the steeply rising prices which followed. One wonders whether, with today's prices, Orders made eight months ago would have been used differently by the Board. The original Orders were made in one set of circumstances and against one set of values, yet without any retrial, without a further reference to the Board, or a fresh Report from it, that period is to be extended.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) drew a dramatic parallel in Committee when he said: I suggest that that is rather like the House of Commons deciding to re-introduce the death penalty as from 12th August and saying that anybody convicted of murder before 12th August shall be hanged after 12th August. He drew an accurate parallel there. The right hon. Lady's reply was no clearer than most of the comments she has made about the Bill, for she said: That is a very graphic comparison, but it is not valid. I say to the right hon. Gentleman straight away, ' Yes. That is exactly what subsection (4) does'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th May, 1968; c. 414.] Perhaps hon. Members understand which way she meant that to be read. It fitted my right hon. Friend's anology of sentencing a man to life imprisonment, then changing the law subsequent to the sentence and pulling him out of gaol and hanging him. Perhaps my right hon. Friend gave too coloured a graphic description for it to be entirely fair, but it illustrated our objection to the Clause and the reason for the Amendment. It is one thing for the Bill to be unpopular, wrong and ineffective. It is even worse if it is clearly and demonstratively unjust, as it will be if the Amendment is not accepted.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

Having listened to this discussion, having read the Bill and having studied the Minister's comments, I now understand exactly what the Government mean by their prices and incomes policy.

They introduce a No. 1 Bill one year, a No. 2 Bill the next year and a No. 3 Bill the following year. They then cross reference them all so that one cannot understand which Clause in which Bill applies to what. And even if one is an M.P. and consults one's lawyer, one still cannot understand what the legislation means. It is understandable why employers cannot understand what refers to what—and the same applies with even greater force to the average trade unionist on the shop floor.

Having gone to all that trouble, the Government then say, "All the penal Clauses in the Bill will never be used anyway because we will so scare people with the complexity of this legislation that they will be afraid to do anything lest they get into difficulties." The result is that the Government are able to get away with it for a longer period as one Measure follows another, each Bill wrapped up in the one that preceded it.

This was called "escalation" by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), last night his right hon. Friend called it "evolving", my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) called it "geometric progression" and the Under-Secretary described it as "phasing in"—that the Clause was justified because it enabled the Government to phase in the legislation more smoothly. This is fine for the Government, and I have no doubt that the right hon. Lady wants the legislation to be smooth. But is it good for those who must have their pay increases restricted, have a three months' standstill imposed on them by the previous Measure and suddenly find that they are involved in a 12 months' standstill? Nor is it really a 12 months' standstill because the previous standstill of three months was imposed under different conditions.

9.15 p.m.

One thing which applies under this Bill did not apply before. The right hon. Lady made a great play with this. She almost said last night that the 1966 Bill and the 1967 Bill were of no account and that the only Bill which mattered, presumably because it is her Bill, was the Bill of 1968. She said it was important because for the first time she, her right hon. Friends and the Ministry were much more involved in productivity and were going to propagate throughout management the need for productivity. She said that a group of work people organised in a trade union and seeking an increase, if they could prove that it was justified on productivity grounds, would be given an increase over and above the 3½ per cent.

We have now reached the stage where the Government accept that 3½ per cent., the present restricted amount of across the board increase, is a minimum. There was a time when the Prime Minister said that 3½ per cent. was an increase within which the optimum should be contained. I would be interested if—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I do not think the hon. Member can go into that question on this Amendment. I must ask him to confine himself to this Amendment.

Mr. Lewis

I accept that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was trying to point out the difference between the three months' restriction and the standstill which is that we are now governed by productivity whereas before we were not governed by productivity. The Under-Secretary mentioned two cases, likely to come before his Ministry, the D.A.T.A. case and the busmen's case. He seemed very optimistic that those two cases would be absolved from any restriction and that the matter would be settled without having to go to the Prices and Incomes Board, that they would be settled within the criteria laid down by the Government. I do not know why he was so optimistic, but I hope that he was right.

The hon. Gentleman is putting himself into the position of being able to select in advance the kind of cases which, caught as they are under the present three-month overlap, will in fact escape it. Certain people will be caught with a three-month restriction, and that will be extended to seven months which will bring the period up to 11 months while others will get away scot-free. This is unfair and arbitrary. In equity the Government should accept this Amendment.

The hon. Gentleman said that it would be wrong for the Government to tie themselves, but what about the people who are involved? We understand that the Government do not want to tie themselves, but the success of the policy, the Government having a loose rein, does not matter very much to the Government. If they look at this sensibly they would recognise that so far as they give confidence to trade unions and management that they will deal with this matter equitably their policy is more likely to work. It is not likely to work if it is thought that large groups of workers are selected to have an advantage over other groups and that they are being favoured, whether that favour is based on productivity—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that we are not discussing the Bill. We are discussing an Amendment which is very specific.

Mr. Lewis

I recognise that, Sir. I have tried to keep to the Amendment, which deals with the whole question of the standstill period and whether there should be an overlap. I accept that you, Sir, did not hear the first part of my speech, which was probably to your considerable advantage.

The whole question of this standstill and the overlap is not something which the Government should determine only in so far as it provides them with a legislative, or even an administrative, advantage. If the Government do this, their policy may evolve, or it may escalate, but it means the end of negotiations. With a prices and incomes policy operating or not, we on this side believe that good relations between the unions will continue. I therefore hope that the Minister will think again and accept this reasonable Amendment.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

I want to add a word of protest about the Government's refusal to accept the Amendment. It is very much as if a man was sentenced to a term of imprisonment and a subsequent Act of Parliament enabled that term to be extended. Although the current penalty for an offence may be changed at a later date, those who are suffering the disability should not be penalised by future legislation and made to suffer longer under duress.

Another example is where one had paid a certain amount of tax on a year's income, as prescribed by the law, and where at a later date one was asked to pay more Income Tax because a new Act of Parliament had changed the terms upon which tax was computed.

In this case, in a given set of economic circumstances, an Order can be made restraining a pay increase for a group of workers and the Order will be current for three months. If the Bill becomes law—I very much hope that it will not —the period can be extended to 11 months, although the extension is done under new powers and it might be done in totally different economic circumstances.

After all, wage increases play an important part in an economic system. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was kind enough last night to pay me a compliment. I do not think it was meant to be. He said that I always tried to bring a little economic basis into the arguments that I advanced against what the Government were trying to do. I was very grateful for the compliment. I want to ensure that tonight I do not fail to bring into my argument a tiny bit of economics.

Wage increases play a real part in our economic life. If wages go up, the effect is to attract more workers into the particular trade, company or industry. If wages are held down, the effect is that that part of the economy loses workers; they will tend to drift elsewhere. All this is part of the delicate market mechanism.

Therefore, if an Order made in one set of economic circumstances is extended, it may well be extended in a totally different set of economic circumstances. There might, for instance, have been a new productivity bargain in the meantime. We discussed this on an earlier Amendment, and the Government were not prepared to accept that a new productivity bargain was an excuse for a new policy to prevail. They insist on retaining the powers although a new productivity bargain may have been made. I cannot accept that. It would be a perfectly valid change in the economic circumstances of the group of workers concerned against whom an Order had been made.

It is wrong simply to say, "This Order has been current under the old powers for three months, so we shall clap on an eight-months' extension irrespective of any new circumstances". The cost of living may have risen. The cost of living is not treated specifically as a ground for allowing a wage rise, but we have the criterion in the White Paper: where there is general recognition that existing wage and salary levels are too low to maintain a reasonable standard of living". Under this Government, practically every one is near the floor. Their avowed intention is to reduce the standard of living by 1 per cent. this year, and they are succeeding very well. More and more people are coming within that third criterion.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Earlier this evening, I thanked the hon. Gentleman. He must listen to me now. The Amendment is designed to limit the standstill period to seven months. The hon. Gentleman must come to the Amendment at some time.

Mr. Ridley

I am attempting to stick strictly to the Amendment, Mr. Speaker. I am setting out the argument that a certain set of economic circumstances dictated the making of the Order in the first place and that, if the Order is to be extended, a different set of economic circumstances may then prevail. However, in view of what you have said, Sir, I do not pursue that a moment longer, recog- nising that it might be on the edge of order.

We had a thoroughly unsatisfactory answer in Committee on this point. The right hon. Lady said that she would give an example of the sort of case she had in mind in which an Order current under the old powers would have to be extended under these powers, the process which we are trying to prevent by the Amendment. She said: Let me give the sort of example of what will inevitably be transitional situations … For example, it might be necessary between now and the enactment of the Bill for me to refer someone "— thinking of Mr. Hambro again, perhaps— to the Board on grounds of either pay or prices. This would be done under my current powers because the Bill had not been enacted— current powers under which a three-months' standstill operates while the Board reports. Should the Board report adversely, the three months could be extended to a maximum of 12 months under the new powers, although the reference was made under the old. This is inevitable. I repeat, there is a transitional period in and there is a transitional period out.'—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F; 30th May, 1968; c. 412–3.] That means absolutely nothing. I have pondered over that example many times since the right hon. Lady gave it. What it means is that the Order under which she stopped someone or a group of people on the previous occasion was current for only three months and under her new powers, she can go to 11 months more, so instead of making a new Order she wants to be able to make the old Order last much longer.

9.30 p.m.

We need a given law. How we behave economically and the decisions we take are conditioned by the law at the time they are taken. To say that because a wage increase was ruled out and stopped by an Order the Government have power to prolong the Order under subsequent legislation, is to say that a man serving a limited prison sentence under certain Acts can have it extended by a later Act. This is not a sane thing for the Government to do.

This leap-frogging of Bills from year to year, this essentially ephemeral policy, with a new set of criteria and a new set of powers every few months, always in sndlessly varying economic circumstances, almost makes the ordinary citizen unable to behave in a rational economic way. I concede that the Government have every right and power to enact legislation to control wages, though I disagree with it. When they produce an Act, as they did in 1967 which is operative until mid-August, 1968, we must all accept its consequences and do the best we can.

But then another Bill is introduced which should operate from the ending of the old Act, 12th August, 1968, and will be current for a further 18 months. It contains certain penal powers, delaying powers, criteria, and so on. To mix the two up is to try to have the best of both worlds, to prolong the sentences which people received under the previous Act. This is not in the right tradition of legislation. I do not believe that it helps people to make economic sense of what they are trying to do, and I do not believe that the Government has any right to do it.

I very much hope that even at this late hour the Government will accept the Amendment, because this is the sort of silly little thing which makes the legislation which the Government are always introducing unworkable and a farce.

Mr. John Page

Again and again during the discussion of the Amendment my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite have explained how difficult the Bill, particularly this Clause, is to understand. This is legislation by reference with a vengeance. When the 1969–70 Prices and Incomes Act comes in I suppose that we shall have further references to the present Bill as well as the 1966 and 1967 Acts.

I should like to remind the Undersecretary of State of a mini-undertaking given in Committee that when the Bill became an Act a simple guide to what it means will be issued for the use of people in industry, the trade unions, journalists and others.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a Third Reading point. I hope that he will come to the Amendment.

Mr. Page

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Only the constant reference to the difficulty of comprehension reminded me of this.

We are still worried by what we consider to be an inadequate answer by the Under-Secretary. His hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) made a most interesting and practical contribution to the debate. He pointed out the significance which the Clause is said to hold by members of D.A.T.A. Then we had the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) making the same point with regard to busmen.

The Under-Secretary said in his reply that the Government were not putting the Clause into the Bill with the specific intention of catching any group of workpeople. We thank him for giving us that undertaking. But I would press him to go a little further. If the Amendment is not accepted, will he give an undertaking that those against whom orders are now standing will not be treated as if the Bill had been passed and that he will not invoke this Clause?

Mr. Hattersley

That seems to me to be the most extraordinary undertaking for which a member of a Government has ever been asked. The hon. Gentleman is asking me to assume that the Clause stands as the Government wants it to stand and the Amendment is defeated, and then promise to act as if the Amendment had been carried. I think that he will, on reflection, see that that is a rather unreasonable request to make.

Mr. Page

It is not entirely unreasonable. To quote from the hon. Gentleman, if he had waited a little longer 1 should have explained to him why he could accept that and give the undertaking.

The first reason is the very small number of people who are present covered by an Order. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman is obsessed with the gap and afraid that the overlap will not be sufficient and that he may slip between the twin beds of 1967 and 1968 and find himself in an uncomfortable position. I do not see that this is necessary. I am suggesting to the hon. Gentleman—I am meeting him in my request for an assurance which I previously asked for—that if he introduces any more references or orders before the Bill becomes an Act we shall expect him to ignore Clause 3(4) for these. We are asking him to ignore it only for those which are already in existence.

I am disappointed that the Undersecretary has not been able to meet my hon. Friends and his hon. Friends on their very reasonable objections to a gross example of retrospective legislation. He tried to explain it as transitional, bridging and phasing. It is not; it is retrospective legislation. If the same approach were applied to the Finance Bill it would mean that any new tax considered to be right for the Government to have after the Budget or after the Finance Bill was passed would apply to all transactions before that date. That attitude to retrospection is not respectable and not in the usual cases adopted. We feel that here his right hon. Friend is not acting fairly and constitutionally.

Finally, the Under-Secretary did not respond to my request for an explanation of his right hon. Friend's statement yesterday that if an agreement which was covered by an Order were changed, the order would fall. This particularly applies where we have this Amendment, which seeks to remove the power to extend Orders. If it were possible for the hon. Gentleman to be allowed just to inform the House how great a change will have to be made in an agreement for an Order to fall, it would be helpful in discussing the Amendment.

Mr. Hattersley

Clearly, the Orders are tied to agreements and if a new agreement were made the Order tied to the old agreement would no longer be operative. This is the point my right hon. Friend made yesterday. She said that if an agreement was the subject of a standstill as a result of its being outside the policy—for example, a flat rate increase—and if the parties negotiated a productivity agreement in its place, the standstill on the old agreement would not apply to the new one. Orders are tied to agreements, and if a new agreement is made this must mean a new order if we wish the standstill to continue.

Mr. Page

I will study the hon. Gentleman's words in HANSARD tomorrow to see whether I fully understand them. However, they have made the position clearer than the right hon. Lady made it yesterday. But it is disappointing that we have not had an effective removal of our fears and I am afraid that it will be necessary for us to divide the House.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:

The House divided: Ayes 226, Noes 270.

Division No. 245.] AYES [9.44 p.m
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Chichester-Clark, R. Gibson-Watt, David
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Clark, Henry Cilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Astor, John Clegg, Walter Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Cooke, Robert Glover, Sir Douglas
Awdry, Daniel Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Goodhart, Philip
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Cordle, John Coodhew, Victor
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Corfield, F. V. Gower, Raymond
Batsford, Brian Costain, A. P. Gresham Cooke, R.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Grieve, Percy
Bell, Ronald Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Crouch, David Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Crowder, F. P. Gurden, Harold
Berry, Hn. Anthony Cunningham, Sir Knox Hall, John (Wycombe)
Biffen, John Currie, G. B. H. Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Biggs-Davison, John Dalkeith, Earl of Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Dance, James Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Black, Sir Cyril Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire,W.) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Blaker, Peter d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Body, Richard Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Hastings, Stephen
Bossom, Sir Clive Digby, Simon Wingfield Hay, John
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Dodds-Parker, Douglas Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel
Braine, Bernard Donnelly, Desmond Heseltine, Michael
Brewis, John Doughty, Charles Higgins, Terence L.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Drayson, G. B. Hiley, Joseph
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hill, J. E. B.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Eden, Sir John Hirst, Geoffrey
Bryan, Paul Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Holland, Philip
Bullus, Sir Eric Emery, Peter Hooson, Emlyn
Burden, F. A. Errington, Sir Eric Hordern, Peter
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Eyre, Reginald Hornby, Richard
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Farr, John Howell, David (Guildford)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fisher, Nigel Hunt, John
Cary, Sir Robert Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hutchison, Michael Clark
Channon, H. P. G. Fortescue, Tim Iremonger, T. L.
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Silvester, Frederick
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Smith, Dudley (W'wick&L'mington)
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Jopling, Michael Murton, Oscar Speed, Keith
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Nabarro, Sir Gerald Stainton, Keith
Kerby, Capt. Henry Neave, Airey Stodart, Anthony
Kershaw, Anthony Nicholls, Sir Harmar Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Kimball, Marcus Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Summers, Sir Spencer
Kirk, Peter Nott, John Tapsell, Peter
Knight, Mrs. Jill Onslow, Cranley Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Osborn, John (Hallam) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Lane, David Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Teeling, Sir William
Langford-Holt, Sir John Page, Graham (Crosby) Temple, John M.
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Page, John (Harrow, W.) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Peel, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Percival, Ian Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Lloyd Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Peyton, John Vickers, Dame Joan
Longden, Gilbert Pike, Miss Mervyn Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Loveys, W. H. Pink, R. Bonner Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Lubbock, Eric Pounder, Rafton Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
McAdden, Sir Stephen Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Wall, Patrick
MacArthur, Ian Price, David (Eastleigh) Walters, Dennis
Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Prior, J. M. L. Ward, Dame Irene
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Pym, Francis Weatherill, Bernard
Macleod Rt. Hn. lain Quennell, Miss J. M. Webster, David
McMaster, Stanley Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Wells, John (Maidstone)
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Maddan, Martin Rees-Davies, W. R. Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Maginnis, John E. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Maude, Angus Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Mawby, Ray Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Woodnutt, Mark
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Robson Brown, Sir William Worsley, Marcus
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Wylie, N. R.
Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Rossi, Hugh (Horntey) Younger, Hn. George
Miscampbell, Norman Royle, Anthony
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Russell, Sir Ronald TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Monro, Hector Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Mr. Anthony Grant and
Montgomery, Fergus Scott, Nicholas Mr. Timothy Kitson.
More, Jasper Scott-Hopkins, James
Abse, Leo Coleman, Donald Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Albu, Austen Concannon, J. D. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Alldritt, Walter Conlan, Bernard Foley, Maurice
Allen, Scholefield Corbet, Mrs. Freda Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Anderson, Donald Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Ford, Ben
Archer, Peter Crawshaw, Richard Forrester, John
Armstrong, Ernest Cronin, John Fowler, Gerry
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Fraser, John (Norwood)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cullen, Mrs. Alice Freeson, Reginald
Barnes, Michael Dafyell, Tam Galpern, Sir Myer
Baxter, William Darling, Rt. Hn. George Gardner, Tony
Bence, Cyril Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Ginsburg, David
Bennett James (G'gow Bridgeton) Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Binns John Davies, G. E1fed (Rhondda, E.) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)
Bishop, E. S. Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Blackburn, F. Davies, Harold (Leek) Grey, Charles (Durham)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davies, Ifor (Gower) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Griffiths, Eddie
Boston, Terence Delargy, Hugh Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.
Bottomlye, Rt. Hn. Arthur Dell, Edmund Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Boyden, James Dempsey, James Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Hamling, William
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Dobson, Ray Hannan, William
Bradley, Tom Doig, Peter Harper, Joseph
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Dunn, James A. Harrison, Waltar (Wakefield)
Brooks, Edwin Dunnett, Jack Haseldine, Norman
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hattersley, Roy
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Eadie, Alex Henig, Stanley
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Edelman, Maurice Hilton, W. S.
Buchan, Norman Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Ellis, John Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) English, Michael Howie, W.
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Ennals, David Hoy, James
Cant, R. B. Ensor, David Huckfield, Leslie
Carmichael, Neil Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Hunter, Adam
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Faulds, Andrew Hynd, John
Coe, Denis Fernyhough, E. Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Janner, Sir Barnett Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Jeger, George (Goole) Molloy, William Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Moorman, Eric Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton, N. E.)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham, S.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Skeffington, Arthur
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Morris, John (Aberavon) Slater, Joseph
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Moyle, Roland Small, William
Kelley, Richard Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Snow, Julian
Kenyon, Clifford Murray, Albert Spriggs, Leslie
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Neal, Harold Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Lawson, George Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Leadbitter, Ted Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Ledger, Ron Oakes, Gordon Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Ogden, Eric Swingler, Stephen
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) O'Malley, Brian Symonds, J. B.
Lestor, Miss Joan Oram, Albert E. Taverne, Dick
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Oswald, Thomas Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Lipton, Marcus Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Tinn, James
Lomas, Kenneth Palmer, Arthur Tuck, Raphael
Loughlin, Charles Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Urwin, T. W.
Luard, Evan Parker, John (Dagenham) Varley, Eric G.
Lyon, Alexander w. (York) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
McBride, Neil Pavitt, Laurence Wallace, George
MacColl, James Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Watkins, David (Consett)
MacDermot, Niall Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Macdonald, A. H. Pentland, Norman Weitzman, David
McGuire, Michael Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
McKay, Mis. Margaret Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) White, Mrs. Eirene
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Price, William (Rugby) Whitlock, William
Mackie, John Probert, Arthur Wilkins, W. A.
Mackintosh, John P. Randall, Harry Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Maclennan, Robert Rankin, John Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Rees, Merlyn Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
McNamara, J. Kevin Rhodes, Geoffrey Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
MacPherson, Malcolm Richard, Ivor Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Robertson, John (Paisley) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Manual, Archie Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c as) Winnick, David
Marks, Kenneth Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Marquand, David Rodgers, William (Stockton) Woof, Robert
Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Roebuck, Roy Wyatt, Woodrow
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Yates, Victor
Maxwell, Robert Rose, Paul
Mayhew, Christopher Ross, Rt. Hn. William TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.) Mr. Harry Gourlay and
Millan, Bruce Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Mr. Ernest G. Perry.
Miller, Dr. M. s. Sheldon, Robert
Mr. Hattersley

I beg to move Amendment No. 31, in page 3, line 4, leave out from 'Where' to 'under' and insert: 'in connection with a reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes a standstill on an award or settlement is or has been imposed or continued'.

Mr. Speaker

It has been suggested to me that we take with Amendment No. 31 Amendment No. 32, in page 3, line 8, leave out from 'settlement' to 'shall' in line 9, and Amendment No. 33 in page 3, line 14, leave out from 'further' to 'in' and insert 'standstill shall be imposed' if that has the approval of both sides of the House.

Mr. Hattersley

Clause 3(5) was inserted as; a result of discussion in Committee, very largely as a result of a speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), who expressed the fear that the Government might use their powers under the Bill to impose consecutive standstills on the same group of workers—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I should like to hear the hon. Member.

Mr. Hattersley

My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar expressed the fear that the Government might use their powers under the Bill to impose a standstill on the same group of workers on two distinot occasions. My hon. Friend described it as a possible policy of cat and mouse. Whilst my hon. Friend was good enough to accept my right hon. Friend's assurance that she would never operate the policy in this way, he went on to say that if that was the case why should we not accept his Amendment which did not simply rely on the goodwill and good intentions of the Government, but specified within the Bill that consecutive Orders could not be applied to the same groups.

I fear that in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity I accepted my hon. Friend's Amendment entirely, only to find, to my astonishment, that it was slightly defective in two or three minor technical aspects—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member cannot address the House against the background of a number of sedentary debates.

Mr. Hattersley

The technical aspects are those which apply to Section 14 in that the Amendment that we accepted, which becomes Clause 3(5), refers to particular awards and settlements. Yet under Section 14 of the 1966 Act, which deals with the notification of awards and settlements and the 30 days' standstill, the Government might wish reasonably to apply that not to individual awards and settlements, but to categories of awards and settlements. Therefore, we propose these three minor Amendments in order that the Government may, should they so wish, apply this policy to groups rather than to individuals, and we limit the Amendments to the actual operation of standstills rather than to the awards.

The House will note that the intention of the Amendment accepted in Committee, that one group of people could not be affected during the same agreement by consecutive standstills, is in all ways preserved. We simply offer these three Amendments as tidying Amendments which we hope that the House will accept.

Mr. Emery

I should like to ask the Under-Secretary one direct question relating to Amendment No. 32. The effect of this Amendment is to leave out the words in respect of which the said Order or direction was made … Can we take this as indicative that the hon. Gentleman is trying to get rid of directions of all forms in the Bill? If that is so, we welcome it.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman can only take it as indicative of my desire to meet the wishes of the Committee and to fulfil my promise to my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar. It is indicative of no more than that.

Mr. R. Carr

We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the consideration which he has given to the point raised in Committee. We cannot pretend that we are happy with the Clause, even with the Amendment, but we welcome the fact that the Amendment inclusion makes the Clause more acceptable, or perhaps less unacceptable is more correct, than it would be without it, and I therefore express our gratitude to the hon. Gentleman.

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.


That the Proceedings on the Prices and Incomes Bill may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr Hatetrsley.]

Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: No. 32. in page 3, line 8, leave out from 'settlement' to 'shall' in line 9.

No. 33, in page 3, line 14, leave out from ' further ' to ' in ' and insert ' standstill shall be imposed '.—[Mr. Hattersley.]

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