HC Deb 22 April 1970 vol 800 cc512-71

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Holland

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 13, leave out ' that has been '.

We withdrew this Amendment in Committee on an undertaking from the Under-Secretary that he would be prepared to take this matter back and reconsider it. The amended Notice Paper gives us no indication that he has done so and we therefore propose once again to delete these three unnecessary and confusing words from this part of the Bill. The Under-Secretary will recall that he was urged in Committee to do this, not only by myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends, but also by his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer).

Alliances between the hon. Gentleman and hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House are rare but none the less welcome. When they do occur I would have thought that the Under-Secretary might have considered that he had adequate grounds for taking the view that there was some logic behind the argument. As the Under-Secretary has not tabled an Amendment dealing with this, I can only hope that he has decided to accept our Amendment to delete what I regard as three clearly unnecessary, misleading and distracting words from the Clause.

Either the words are totally unnecessary, adding nothing to the sense of the subsection, or they mean that if, for example, in 1960 a form of evaluation was carried out which resulted in bad and anomalous ratings—and this was subsequently followed during the years till 1970 by negotiated settlements to put the anomalies right, then the basis for comparison must be the original ratings that have been made at any moment of time in the past, rather than the more recently negotiated settlements.

It seems to be a bit of a nonsense, particularly as this part of the Bill is specifically tied in with job evaluation in subsection (5) on page 2. It gives priority to any pseudo-job evaluated rating from the earliest days of experimentation in this area over any current negotiated agreement.

The Under-Secretary of State has established a reputation for being prepared to listen to reason. I ask him to move just one stage further and not just to listen to reason, but to accept the logic of this Amendment.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Harold Walker)

It might save time if I reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) at once. I must, first, recall that this was the first Amendment moved in Committee. In my anxiety to set the tone, although legal advice suggested that the words were necessary, I undertook to examine the words further. Again, legal advice was that these three words are absolutely necessary, because without them there may possibly be some ambiguity of purpose and meaning in the courts.

However, being anxious to follow the pattern which 1 hope I established in Committee, and anxious to continue the spirit of goodwill—we do not have to rely on Christmas for that—and not wishing to be thought in any sense to be renaging on even a half promise in Committee, can I set the hon. Gentleman's mind at rest and tell him that we are prepared to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

I am delighted to hear that despite the legal advice tendered to the hon. Gentleman he is prepared to accept our Amendment. We are grateful, because we felt that there was a great deal of validity behind our arguments in Committee. There is an atmosphere of good will here and I would add the Under-Secretary's name to the list of those who have been most helpful and co-operative throughout the Committee stage. We believe that as a result we made good progress and that the Bill is in some respects a better one because of the co-operation.

Despite the legal advice which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned I would submit that it was sensible to omit these words. The Clause now reads: for men and women employed on work rated as equivalent… That makes much more sense than if the words that has been were included. Otherwise, once a job evaluation had been carried out, however far back in history, according to the interpretation of the Bill it would have held good. There would have been great difficulty, because of the out-of-date atmosphere attaching to job evaluation.

Job evaluation is in its infancy, it is an inexact science—

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

You have won.

Mr. Smith

I know, but it is worth while mentioning these points, because they were developed in Committee.

Because of these rapidly developing techniques it is wrong to commit ourselves to the job techniques of the past. There will undoubtedly be difficulties when this Bill comes into operation in 1975. No one has ever pretended that there would not be and it is important to get the Bill as clear and precise as possible. That is what we have attempted to do throughout Committee stage and we are grateful to the hon. Gentleman that at this very important and early stage of the Bill he has conceded the point. We believe that as a result the Bill will operate more efficiently.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 30, at end insert: ' but nothing in this Section shall require an employer to give more favourable treatment to a woman employed at any establishment in Great Britain than is given to a man employed there on work rated as equivalent or which would be given to a man if one were to be engaged on such work at that establishment '. This Amendment is in line with a different Amendment, but one which had a similar intention and which was debated at some length in Committee. Our objection to the Clause as it stands is that it would result in uniform rates of pay applying to men and women throughout the country. Regional differences, differences between the cost of living in London and the lower cost of living in other parts of the country, would be completely ignored. There would be no compensation in wage rates for the additional expenses incurred by employees elsewhere. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) gave examples of this in Committee and I will give some simpler ones to illustrate the evil here.

Let us take the case of a factory in London where the men's wages are £25 and the women's £15, and compare that with a similar factory belonging to another establishment in the same group of companies, situated in Scotland where the men receive £20 and the women £12. The result of the Clause as it stands would be that the women in the Scottish factory would be entitled to claim a wage equal to the men in the London factory, £25 a week. The men working alongside those women in Scotland whose pay had gone up from £12 to £25 a week would naturally want the same rate as their women counterparts. They too would want £25 a week, and they should have the same rate as the women. So the wage rates in those establishments in the same group would all rise to the maximum applicable in the group. It would follow that the rates in other factories not associated with the group but in the same areas would rise to keep pace, so we should have a massive escalation of wages and finish up with the national wage for men and women being the highest rate payable throughout the country.

In Committee the Under-Secretary of State denied that this could be so, relying largely on the words …at which common terms and conditions of employment are observed… He argued initially that it could not be said that the Scottish workers could claim the same rate as the London workers, because the terms and conditions of employment might not be the same. But under pressure he said that this was a matter to be resolved by the courts. Although he said that it was a commonly-used expression, he was not sure what common terms and conditions of employment would mean. His answer was that the courts would decide, with their experience in solving such problems.

This is not good enough. It is the duty of the House to express clearly and concisely what we intend the Clause to mean so that we hope there will be no need for anyone to go to the courts for interpretation. If we start off not knowing what we intend the Clause to mean and rely on the courts to try to find a meaning we make complete nonsense of our rôle as legislators. The hon. Gentleman expressed considerable doubts himself in Committee after a fairly lengthy debate in which a great deal of pressure was put on him.

The hon. Gentleman said: …the courts have long experience in interpreting the phrase terms and conditions of employment '. I do not want to be dogmatic about whether the overall level of remuneration is a term of employment. Later, he said: In reply to the question, Is the overall or global sum of remuneration a term of employment? ', I am saying that I do not know whether a court would rule that that was the case. If remuneration is not a term of employment, the Clause will have the consequences to which I have referred. It will mean that as of right the highest rate payable in any part of the country would become the uniform rate for men and women throughout the country.

Later in the debate the hon. Gentleman said: …if someone asked, ' Is not the level of total remuneration a term and condition of employment? ', I certainly would not say that that was necessarily, under this provision, a term of employment. Let us take two workers who in every other respect enjoy absolute equality of terms and conditions, whether they be male and female, or male and male, except that one appears to work on piecework and therefore has higher piecework earnings. That would not mean that they would not have the same terms and conditions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 19th February, 1970; c. 31–42.] The hon. Gentleman's interpretation must result in the wages and remuneration, the total emoluments of the job, not being a term and condition of employment and not therefore being a distinguishing feature between the establishment in Scotland and the one in London. The natural consequence must be that the highest rate will apply.

The hon. Gentleman also resorted to the provisions of subsection (4)(b), relying on it to prevent some of the consequences to which I have referred. But we see from later Amendments that subsection (4)(b) is now to be deleted, so that line of escape has gone.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham, who constantly put this point to the hon. Gentleman in Committee, acknowledged that we would certainly support the object of the Clause, which is to prevent employers evading the Act by employing only women in one factory and only men in another, so that there is no comparison for the women to claim a higher wage rate. The Minister's logic was that if there were only women employed in an establishment, unless they could be compared with another establishment, it might be impossible for them to secure the equality of pay that would have been their right had there been men employed in the same work in the same establishment.

Our Amendment meets that very point. It is constructive and overcomes the difficulty. The last thing we wish to do is to leave legislation in such a form that we do not know what it means or what the Government intend it to mean. If it is their intention, as we believe it to be, that women doing broadly the same work as men should not be deprived of their rights under the Bill because there are no men in the same establishment doing that work, our Amendment will meet that point.

If these additional words are not inserted there will at best be a large area of doubt that will have to be resolved by the courts, or at worst—and this I fear would be the case—the interpretation I put on it in opening would follow, and the highest rate applicable in any part of the country would become the uniform rate of pay for that category of work for men and women. I am sure that that would be quite unacceptable to the Government, as it is to hon. Members on this side.

Mr. Holland

The real reason for the Amendment, as my hon Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) made clear, is that we cannot be sure what is meant by common terms and conditions of employment and to a degree these would include remuneration. I am still not clear what is meant by remuneration. It is easy to define if it is related to time workers, because it is the remuneration for the standard working week, but when it is related to any one of the wide variety of premium, bonus or piece-rate schemes, it is necessary to have a standard or norm to compare like with like.

I wonder whether the terms and conditions of employment would involve the grade rate, or whatever may be the system employed in the company. Could the hon. Gentleman help us on that matter? The confusion and the anomalies created by imprecise definition as to the totality of the phrase will be more than the industrial system of this country can stand.

8.0 p.m.

The Minister has said that the Bill will do nothing to iron out the anomalies over regional differentials and variations in the bargaining systems as between one factory and another, or one district and another. Nor is it the purpose of the Bill to do anything about shortcomings in industrial relations or differences in the cost of living as between one region and another. Unless we do something about making the situation clearer and less ambiguous than simply relying on the phrase terms and conditions of employment we will run into all kinds of trouble in future.

The Amendment does not refer to terms and conditions of employment ", but says that if a woman is doing the same work as a man in the same establishment then she shall be paid at the same rate. If, on the other hand, there is no man doing that work, she will be paid the same rate as a man. I am sure that is the basic intention of the Bill. I would ask the Under-Secretary of State to look carefully at this matter to see if he can accept yet another Amendment from this side of the House.

Sir D. Glover

I cannot understand why the Under-Secretary of State has not said that he will accept the Amendment without further ado. Perhaps he intends to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) said that without something similar to the Amendment it would mean that in a particular occupation in an organisation the rates of pay would become the highest rates of pay obtaining. These rates of pay vary enormously from district to district. We all know that when civil servants move to London they are upgraded, or if they work here they get a higher rate of pay.

It is surely not the intention under this legislation that a woman would be put in a more favourable position than a man and treated as a " most favoured nation " in the same way as applies to commercial treaties. In fact, I understand that the hon. Gentleman has made it clear that it is not his intention nor that of his right hon. Friend, since such a move would create an inflationary situation. This applies particularly to the regions to which industry is being tempted to move. If women in development areas had to be paid the same rates as women are paid in London, the development area policy would not be successful for very much longer.

Therefore, I hope that the Government will be able to accept the Amendment or certainly its spirit, which I feel to be essential to the Bill.

Mr. Harold Walker

I rise not to satisfy the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) but to disappoint him. I have the feeling that I have been at this point before. We spent a good deal of time in Committee dealing with this matter and I will not attempt to go over the same ground. The hon. Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) in moving the Amendment said that the Government's argument hinged entirely on the phrase in subsection (2) terms and conditions of employment as between establishments in which comparisons were being made.

I pointed in Committee to the difficulty which would arise if these provisions were absent from the Bill and if we were to restrict the basis of comparison to the single establishment. It would provide a loophole for an employer who was seeking to avoid the obligations imposed upon him by the Bill if he were to transfer his female operatives to some other establishment down the road. If, for instance, he employed 75 female press operatives and 25 male operatives in a department, the comparisons provided by the Bill would be destroyed if an employer were to transfer the 75 females to some other work place.

Sir D. Glover

Surely this is covered by the Amendment in the words: … than is given to a man employed there on work rated as equivalent or which would be given to a man if one were to be engaged on such work at that establishment. If he transferred women operatives, they would have to be paid at the rate which men were paid to do that work.

Mr. Walker

I do not follow the hon. Member's line of argument. The Amendment says: If one were to be engaged on such work at that establishment. That is somewhat vague and tenuous as an interpretation. The fears which have been expressed are ill-founded and are already safeguarded against by the provisions of subsection (2).

Mr. Tom Boardman

Could the hon. Gentleman clear up the illustration I gave, involving two identical factories one in London and one in Scotland? If the emoluments in London were £25 for men and £15 for women and those in Scotland were £20 for men and £12 for women, would they be regarded as common terms of employment?

Mr. Walker

I am now going through the same experience which 1 had in Committee of being unable to develop the Government's reply in a consistent and continuous fashion because hon. Members opposite seem to assume that I do not intend to deal with the points they raise. I am anxious to clear up any misunderstandings which exist. The differences between us are not substantial and arise from misunderstandings rather than anything of substance.

I shall try to deal with the point which was raised by the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) as to what is meant by the phrase terms and conditions of employment ". In reply to the charge that I leaned on the experience and decisions of the courts or tribunals, this surely is inevitable. We cannot take on the rôle of judges in this kind of situation because of the complexities and diversities which can arise in terms of the phrase terms and conditions of employment ". Had this not been the case it would not have been necessary for this House to pass the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act. It must be the task in the ultimate of the courts and tribunals to determine this matter.

I repeat the point I made in Committee. By the establishment of common terms and conditions and the need for insistence on common terms and conditions, whatever they are, we will be comparing the totality. The point was made in Committee and has been repeated, by "the totality " do I mean comparison with overall levels of remuneration? If in a factory in Scotland £15 a week is paid for a certain category of work and in London £20 is paid within the same company or an associated company, do we say that the overall level of remuneration is a term of employment and, because the payments are obviously different, they are not common and are incapable of providing the comparison?

As I said in Committee, this must depend on the particular circumstances. Suppose the workers in the two establishments were on straight time rates. Clearly the time rate would be the term of employment. There would, therefore, be differences in those factories in terms of employment and there would not be common terms and conditions of employment. The workers may be on payment by results. It may be that the differences arise from the difference of effort on the part of the workers. There may be different piece-work bonus earnings even though the basic rates and all other things are equal. In that kind of situation there could be differences in the overall levels of remuneration but common terms and conditions of employment. This is a kind of hypothetical argument which in the last resort would have to be determined, in the event of dispute, by the tribunals.

There may be a situation where associated companies with establishments widely apart in different geographical areas could have common terms and conditions of employment and a woman in one part of the country could be seeking to establish a comparison with someone engaged on like work. She could use that as a basis for establishing equality of terms and conditions but that is unlikely.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Holland

In the event of the grade rate, basic rate or the basic minimum being exactly the same in two different regions and all other things being equal, the terms and conditions would be the same and any other factor making up the total would be considered a difference in terms and conditions?

Mr. Walker

If the various rates laid down are identical and all other things are equal there would be the common ground which would provide the basis for comparison. Overall remuneration for similar hours of work tends to vary widely between different geographical areas. Differences arise from certain concrete factors and differences of remuneration arise from different terms and conditions of employment, but another factor would have to be satisfied. It is not just any establishment with which comparison can be drawn, but with rates for men employed by her employer or by any associated employer within the terms laid down in the Bill. There we have a dramatic narrowing down of the area and the further very substantial refinement provided by the phrase common terms and conditions of employment. There is a hypothetical possibility, but it is a very unlikely one.

I hope that, without going through all the arguments they made in Committee, hon. Members will accept that their force is ill-founded and will not find it necessary to continue to press this Amendment.

Mr. Speed

The Under-Secretary has again advanced many of the arguments he used in Committee, but at the end of the day the fears originally expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in Committee and which have been expressed tonight by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman), as the Under-Secretary has admitted, have a foundation. The hon. Gentleman has defended the status quo in the Bill, but he has not dealt with the Amendment.

As the hon. Gentleman admitted, there are undoubtedly possible certain circumstances which as the Bill is drafted might lead to extraordinary situations which could mitigate against a development area in Scotland or elsewhere. There is certainly a possibility of that. There is a probability. All these points would be taken care of by the Amendment if it were accepted. I believe that it would be watertight and would cover the hypothetical or any other situation in Scotland or other parts of Britain. The Amendment is not in any way contrary to the spirit of the Clause nor of the Bill. It would tighten it up and make it more sensible and worth while.

Since the hon. Gentleman has not dealt with the Amendment, which I believe to be good, fair and sound, I hope that my hon. Friend will have serious thoughts about pressing it to a Division.

Mr. R. Carr

The Under-Secretary started his remarks by saying that he felt like saying, " I have been here before ". So do I, and I am sure so do my hon. Friends. I am sorry to have to tell him that his remarks have failed to convince us this evening, just as they failed in Committee. His advice and our understanding of the Bill are just as cloudy as they were when we finished our debates in Committee on this point some weeks ago.

This Amendment is very important. There is undoubtedly a very wide measure of support, thank goodness, throughout the country for the principle of equal pay. Equally, there is genuine concern about the overall economic cost of the operation, and if we get it wrong the possible effect of the introduction of equal pay in upsetting differentials between one job and another and between one region and another. The rapid, escalating, economic and industrial relations effects of disturbing differentials are well known.

If the Clause allowed the things to happen which my hon. Friend, in moving the Amendment, suggested might happen, the effects would be serious. The inflationary effect would be serious not only for the firm and associated firms, and for the area in which they are situated, but for the whole country. The total cost to the economy of implementing equal pay would be probably many times larger than the provisional estimates put forward by the Government. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) said, great damage would be done to the employment possibilities and potentials of development areas particularly remote ones. There would be great incentive to the leap-frogging claims which adversely affect industrial relations and inflation in our industrial economy.

If we imagine the women workers in my hon. Friend's hypothetical factory in Scotland suddenly brought up to the level of men working in London, the men in Scotland would have to go up to that level and, before long, the men in London would put in a claim to establish their differential over the men in Scotland because of the extra cost of living in London. The industrial relations and economic effects of this would be serious and escalating.

We accept that the Government do not intend this effect to occur, and that they believe that the Bill as drafted will not allow it to occur, but the Under-Secretary has failed to convince us that the Clause as drafted will ensure the common intention of both sides of the House. To avoid the effect that we have predicated we must have either this Amendment or something like it. The Under-Secretary says that we must lean on the judgment of tribunals. Of course we must, but when we make law we must surely draft it so as to make our intention clear and reduce to the minimum the risk of the tribunals in this case and the courts in other cases interpreting the law contrary to our intentions.

If the Clause remains as it is, there is a substantial risk of tribunals interpreting it in a way contrary to the Government's declared intentions. That is also the view of experts in legal matters outside the House. We and the Government both want the same thing. There is no difference of principle or intention between us. The difference between us is whether the Clause as drafted achieves our common intention. We do not believe it does, and that is why we press the Amendment.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) that the Under-Secretary did not deal with the Amendment. If our intentions are the same, and if it is genuinely thought that the Amendment makes the intention clearer, why cannot the Under-Secretary accept it? His only case for rejecting it was that it was not necessary. The Under-Secretary mentioned the case of an employer moving all his women workers up the road, but that is covered completely by the last phrase in the Amendment, which refers to the rate which would be given to a man if one were to be engaged on such work at that establishment. If a firm, to avoid the operation of the Bill, moved its women workers up the road to another factory, that phrase of the Amendment would prevent it from avoiding the intention of Parliament.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will think again. We would willingly give him leave to address the House for a second time. He should at least give us a reason why our Amendment is wrong and, if it is technically wrong, why something like it would not help to make more certain our common intention. We feel strongly that something more is needed and, if the Government cannot accept the Amendment or undertake to produce in another place an Amendment of similar intent, I shall ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to divide the House.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I want to give the Under-Secretary a chance to explain to his right hon. Friend the irrefutable arguments which we have advanced while she has been away. I beg him to accept the Amendment, which is the most important remaining Amendment. The hon. Gentleman gave the impression that the Bill contained safeguards to prevent what my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) said would happen. He also referred to his speeches in Committee.

I will read one paragraph which shows that he has strong doubts on this:

" If the process of collective bargaining, sought as a consequence of the introduction of equal pay, to readjust some differentials, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that. But my right hon. Friend and I, if I may say so, would deprecate this being a consequence of the provisions of the Bill and something which would mitigate against its in troduction."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 19th February, 1970; c. 46.]

I do not know what the last four words mean. The hon. Gentleman has said that he does not want to happen what my hon. Friend said could happen. He has admitted that it might happen. The hon. Gentleman did not give any good reason for refusing to accept our simple Amendment to put this matter right. As my right hon. Friend said, if he does not like our Amendment we would be prepared to accept any which he produced which would have the same effect. It is up to the Government to give serious thought to this matter.

I read through the proceedings in Committee as an impartial person and it seemed to me that there was a great muddle in the Government's thinking. I wish that they would accept the Amendment. Only by doing so or taking similar action will they make sense of this part of the Bill.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 233.

Division No. 103.] AYES [8.30 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Cordle, John Harrison, Col. 8ir Harwood (Eye)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Corfield, F. V. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Costain, A. P. Harvie Anderson, Miss
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Hawkins, Paul
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Dance, James Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Davidson. James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Hiley, Joseph
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Dodds-Parker, Douglas Hill, J. E. B.
Bell, Ronald Drayson, G. B. Holland, Philip
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hooson, Emlyn
Biffen, John Elliot, Capt. Waiter (Carshalton) Hordern, Peter
Biggs-Davison, John: Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hornby, Richard
Black, Sir Cyril Emery, Peter Hunt, John
Blaker, Peter Farr, John Hutchison, Michael Clark
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Body, Richard Fortescue, Tim Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Foster, Sir John Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Brewis, John Fry, Peter Kaberry, Sir Donald
Brinton, Sir Tattoo Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Kershaw, Anthony
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Gibson-Watt, David Kimball, Marcus
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) King, Tom
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Glover, Sir Douglas Kitson, Timothy
Bullus, Sir Eric Clyn, Sir Richard Knight, Mrs. Jill
Burden, F. A. Goodhart, Philip Lancaster, Col. C. C.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Goodhew, Victor Lane, David
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gower, Raymond Lawler, Wallace
Gary, Sir Robert Grieve, Percy Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Chataway, Christopher Gurden, Harold Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Clark, Henry Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Longden, Gilbert
Clegg, Walter Harrison, Brian (Mafdon) Lubbock, Eric
McAdden, Sir Stephen Osborn, John (Hallam) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
MacArthur, Ian Page, John (Harrow, W.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) Percival, Ian Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
McMaster, Stanley Pounder, Rafton Waddington, David
McNair-Wilson, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M. Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Maddan, Martin Rees-Davies, W. R. Wall, Patrick
Maginnis, John E. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Walters, Dennis
Marten, Neil Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Ward, Christopher (Swindon)
Mawby, Ray Ridsdale, Julian Ward, Dame Irene
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Russell, Sir Ronald Weatherill, Bernard
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Scott, Nicholas Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Monro, Hector Silvester, Frederick Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Montgomery, Fergus Sinclair, Sir George Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
More, Jasper Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Worsley, Marcus
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Smith, John (London & W'minster) Wright, Esmond
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Speed, Keith Wylie, N. R.
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Younger, Hn. George
Murton, Oscar Summers, Sir Spencer
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Nott, John Temple, John M. Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Onslow, Cranley Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Mr. Anthony Grant.
Albu, Austen Edwards, Robert (Billston) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)
Alldritt, Walter Ellis, John Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Allen, Scholefield English, Michael Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Archer, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tlpt'n) Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Judd, Frank
Armstrong, Ernest Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Kelley, Richard
Ashley, Jack Faulds, Andrew Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Fernyhough, E. Kerr, Russell (Feltham)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Finch, Harold Latham, Arthur
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric(Islington, E.) Lawson, George
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Leadbitter, Ted
Barnes, Michael Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Barnett, Joel Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Lee, John (Reading)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bidwell, Sydney Ford, Ben Lomas, Kenneth
Binns, John Forrester, John Luard, Evan
Bishop, E. S. Fowler, Gerry Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Blackburn, F. Fraser, John (Norwood) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Blenkinsop, Arthur Gardner, Tony McCann, John
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Garrett, W. E. MacColl, James
Booth, Albert Golding, John MacDermot, Niall
Boston, Terence Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) McGuire, Michael
Bradley, Tom Gregory, Arnold Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Grey, Charles (Durham) Mackie, John
Brooks, Edwin Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mackintosh, John P.
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McNamara, J. Kevin
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) MacPherson, Malcolm
Buchan, Norman Hamling, William Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hannan, William Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Harper, Joseph Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Carmichael, Neil Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Marks, Kenneth
Concannon, J. D. Haseldine, Norman Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Conlan, Bernard Hazell, Bert Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Cronin, John Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mendelson, John
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Heffer, Eric S. Mikardo, Ian
Dalyell, Tam Henig, Stanley Millan, Bruce
Davies, E. Hudson (Conway) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hobden, Dennis Moonman, Eric
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Hooley, Frank Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Horner, John Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Houghton, Rt. Hn Douglas Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Delargy, H. J. Hoy, Rt. Hn. James Morris, John (Aberavon)
Dell, Edmund Huckfield, Leslie Moyle, Roland
Dempsey, James Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Dewar, Donald Hughes, Roy (Newport) Murray, Albert
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Hunter, Adam Neal, Harold
Dickens, James Hynd, John Newens, Stan
Dobson, Ray Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip
Doig, Peter Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Norwood, Christopher
Driberg, Tom Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Oakes, Gordon
Dunn, James A. Janner, Sir Barnett Ogden, Eric
Dunnett, Jack Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas O'Halloran, Michael
Durrwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) O'Malley, Brian
Eadie, Afex Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Oram, Albert E.
Orbach, Maurice Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tinn, James
Orme, Stanley Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy Tuck, Raphael
Oswald, Thomas Robertson, John (Paisley) Urwin, T. W.
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as) Varley, Eric G.
Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Rodgers, William (Stockton) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Palmer, Arthur Rose Paul Walden, Brian(All Saints)
Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles Ron, Rt. Hn. William Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Park, Trevor Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Wallace, George
Parker, John (Dagenham) Sheldon, Robert Watkins, David (Consett)
Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'e'tle-u-Tyne) Wells, William (Watsall, N.)
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) White, Mrs. Eirene
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.) Witkins, W. A.
Pentland, Norman Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Sillars, J. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg Silverman, Julius Willson, William (Coventry, S.)
Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) Slater, Joseph Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Snow, Julian Woof, Robert
Price, William (Rugby) Spriggs, Leslie
Probert, Arthur Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Randall, Harry Symonds, J. B. Mr. Neil McBride and
Rankin, John Taverne, Dick Mr. Ernest G. Perry
Rees, Merlyn Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Mr. Harold Walker

I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 16, leave out from ' differences ' to end of line 19.

In Committee paragraph (b) was universally criticised and, indeed, shot up with withering fire from all directions. I hope that those who criticised will now feel that not only have we responded in the appropriate fashion, but also that we have more than fulfilled our undertaking to take it back and look at it again.

We have come to the conclusion that the object we were seeking to attain is sufficiently secured by the words in subsection 4, the differences (if any) between the things she does and the things they do are not of practical importance in relation to terms and conditions of employment ". The differences would be " of practical importance "—and, therefore, a woman would have no claim to equal treatment —if the men concerned were paid more than men doing the same work as the woman. We have, therefore, come to the conclusion that paragraph (b) can be dropped, and that is the purpose of the Amendment.

Mr. Holland

I was surprised to hear the Under-Secretary of State say that paragraph (b) was universally criticised in Committee. The hon. Gentleman will recall that my hon. Friends and I were merely concerned about certain words. We wanted to get rid of the double negative, but we were not party to the removal of the whole paragraph.

The proceedings in Committee on this point virtually go from column 93 to about column 99. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) thought that this would deal with the kind of anomaly which would arise in the extremely complicated arrangement, about which we all talked, concerning factory A, factory B and factory C and the various inter-relationships which existed between men and women in various factories in different parts of the country.

I recall that the Minister explained that it was not the purpose of paragraph (b) to deal with that kind of situation but, taken with paragraph (a), to prevent a woman getting the best of both worlds by being able to change the comparison to suit her circumstances. For example, if a woman had already decided that the work she was doing was the same as that of a man in the same establishment she could then claim equality of pay. That was right and proper. But if she discovered that a man somewhere else was doing work which was broadly similar she might, without paragraph (b), be able to claim comparability with that man. Paragraph (b) would stop that happening because it would enable her to claim only the one comparison—namely, comparison with the man doing the same work. For that reason the Under-Secretary firmly rejected his hon. Friend's Amendment to delete this paragraph.

8.45 p.m.

I cannot understand why the Government have decided to delete this paragraph without taking any further action to deal with this kind of anomaly. If this paragraph is deleted, there ought to be something in its place. If the hon. Gentleman does not like the wording of this paragraph, he ought to put something in its place to take care of the situation which he used as an illustration in Committee to show why he could not delete it. I do not understand how the kind of situation which the hon. Gentleman defended in Committee, and to which I have referred, can be safeguarded if this paragraph is deleted, and I hope that we shall get a much fuller explanation about this than we have had so far.

I hope, too, that the hon. Gentleman will think very carefully and seriously about whether to proceed with the Amendment. If he does, it will not only create a lot of difficulty, but will give rise to anxiety and concern amongst those in industry who will have to implement the Bill when it becomes an Act, without the few safeguards that there are in it now.

Mr. Joseph Slater (Sedgefield)

The hon. Gentleman cannot have been taking notice of what my hon. Friend said in moving the Amendment. The Opposition are getting nearly everything for which they asked in Committee.

Mr. Holland

The hon. Gentleman was not a member of the Committee, and he may have got that impression from what his hon. Friend said. In moving the Amendment the hon. Gentleman said that there was fairly universal criticism of this paragraph. If the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Slater) reads the report of the Committee procedings, he will find that the criticism came mainly from his hon. Friends. The only matter which my right hon. Friend and I criticised was the use of a double negative.

Mr. Reginald Eyre (Birmingham, Hall Green)

We would be much happier if the double negative were removed. That was the basis of our case.

Mr. Holland

That is not being removed, but the paragraph is. I assure the hon. Member for Sedgefield that the Opposition are not getting everything for which they asked. They have not asked for this paragraph to be removed because, after the discussions in Committee, they recognised that it acted as a safeguard against anomalies arising. What we cannot now understand is why this safeguard is being removed without anything to replace it.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Unlike the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland), I thank my hon. Friend for meeting me on this point. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I moved this Amendment in Committee, and we had quite a debate on it. During that debate my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said that—

Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)

May I ask the hon. Lady to give the column reference of her hon. Friend's speech?

Mrs. Short

I have not got there yet, but it is column 99. My hon. Friend said that he had had " to spend much time trying to grasp the meaning of the subsection ". That underlined what I said when I moved my Amendment, that the subsection was open to at least three different interpretations, and I set them out. I shall not bore the House by going through them again. Hon. Members can read the report if they are so minded. I said that the difficulty was that there were three possible interpretations, and I was not being facetious when I said that it was pure Peter Sellars and nobody could understand what it meant. My hon. Friend then said precisely the same thing —that he found great difficulty in grasping the meaning of this subsection. He explained that some of the thingsof which I was afraid were not involved and that all would be well.

But, at the end of the debate en this Amendment, after several hon. Members had also confessed that they were foxed by the subsection, my hon. Friend said: It seems the universal opinion of the Committee that this matter should be re-examined. I therefore express my willingness to take the provision back, look at it again and see if the words can be made more clearly to mean what I said earlier they did mean."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee H; 26th February, 1970, c. 99–106.] My hon. Friend has obviously decided that he could not take the words back and turn them around or provide a new selection of words to produce what he hoped to produce. So he has come back with the Amendment which I moved in Committee, to delete the whole subsection. I am grateful to him for doing this.

Mr. Holland

This matter was raised also in column 99, when the Under-Secretary of State clearly stated the purpose of this subsection: …to eliminate the situation in which a woman, by seeking to take advantage of the two fields of comparison open to her, would upset the male differentials. I am sure that the hon. Lady would accept that he made its purpose clear.

Mrs. Short

Yes, he made it clear, but I and other hon. Members were not satisfied, so my hon. Friend gave this undertaking. He has carried it out, and I am grateful to him.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

However enigmatically, the Amendment enlarges the effect of the Bill. I have opposed the Bill on the broad ground that it is bad in conception. I have taken the view throughout, which I repeat, that it is incapable of improvement by Amendment. I am sure that that will be shown to be the position. This Amendment amply illustrates that. It is an Amendment to make the Bill worse by enlarging its effect. That being so, I certainly cannot support it.

Mr. Speed

I agree with what was said earlier—we really must have some explanation from the Government of what will happen with the elimination of this paragraph. Undoubtedly, there was considerable criticism about the drafting of this Clause and the double negative and the Under-Secretary of State said that he would try to make it less muddled and difficult to understand.

But, when arguing about this subsection, the hon. Gentleman said: If a woman has established that she is on the same work as a man and has established the same terms and conditions of employment as that man, had it not been for subsection (4)(b) she would find herself subsequently in a position to make a further comparison with men elsewhere not on the same work but on like work. If she were able to say on the assumption that the man engaged on like work could be offered better pay than in the comparison she has already established with a man on the same work and she wants to draw the second comparison and establish the same rate of pay as men engaged on like work elsewhere and is able to succeed in that, the first man with whom she drew a comparison would be on lower pay than the other man."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 26th February, 1970; c. 98.] It is a salutary experience to read what we said in Standing Committee, but I understand the Under-Secretary to be saying there—he elaborated it in columns 99 and 100—that there were substantial safeguards. We were arguing about the double negative. May we be assured that the safeguards still apply after the paragraph is withdrawn? We have had no such assurance tonight. Presumably, the hon. Gentleman was acting upon the most highly qualified legal advice.

Accepting that this part of the Bill is extremely difficult, and has, perhaps, not been as well drafted as it might have been, I do not think we have had sufficient assurance about safeguards which, apparently, were essential on 26th February but which no longer seem to be essential. We are entitled to a somewhat fuller explanation than we have so far had.

Miss Quennell

I join with the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) in thanking the Under-Secretary for clarifying things by withdrawing part of the Clause. The hon. Gentleman was quite correct in saying that there was considerable criticism of the paragraph in Committee. The use of the double negative lends itself to confusion. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee felt that if the double negative means the affirmative the Bill might have been drafted in more positive language throughout to make it the more comprehensible.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), who is deeply versed in the law, does not think that the Clause is capable of improvement as drafted, so the Under-Secretary might explain which earlier wording he considers to be adequate, so that we may be quite satisfied that the aspect dealt with by paragraph (b), which it is now sought to exclude, is satisfactorily covered.

This is a difficult Clause. It occupies at least half of the Standing Committee OFFICIAL REPORT, and it took up the major part of the Committee's work. Clause 1 is the foundation of the Bill, and carries its whole purpose. We should, therefore, be satisfied of its proper drafting.

Mr. William Wilson (Coventry, South)

If it is my hon. Friend's intention to delete paragraph (b) there is no need to have paragraph (a). He should run that paragraph in with the general subsection, and not differentiate. There is no point in having (a) without (b).

Mr. Harold Walker

I have been astonished at the reaction of hon. Members opposite to a constructive and helpful response to what I believed to be a widely expressed distaste in Committee. I quite distinctly recall the Opposition spokesman in the Committee referring to the paragraph as gobbledegook, among other things. Criticism came from all quarters.

I had to tell the Committee that we could not accept an Opposition Amendment designed to delete what was described as a double negative, because deletion would lead, amongst other things, to ambiguity and to misinterpretation by the courts. After very carefully examining the position, as I thought in response to the feelings expressed in the Committee, and after obtaining the best legal advice available, I thought that we had come to the right decision, and one which would have been widely if not universally welcomed by hon. Members who took part in the Standing Committee discussions.

9.0 p.m.

I said tonight that we had come to the conclusion, after careful consideration, that the object which we sought to attain by having the paragraph in was sufficiently secured by the introductory words of subsection (4): A woman is to be regarded as employed on like work with men if, but only if, her work and theirs is of the same or a broadly similar nature, and the differences (if any) between the things she does and the things they do are not of practical importance … Hon. Members have quoted what I said in Committee. I did not know until tonight that I had been so comprehensive, eloquent and lucid. It is flattering to me to have my words quoted by hon. Members opposite. However, I recall one unforgettable moment when the Chairman of the Committee had to confess that, because of the obscurity of this provision, he was not sure whether I was in or out of order. We were discussing the situa- tion in which a hypothetical woman operative engaged on the same work as a man was possibly in a more advantageous position by having some other operative elsewhere in the establishment with whom she could make a comparison on a broadly similar work basis. Clearly, this ran the risk, if it came off, of upsetting male differentials.

We have come to the conclusion that the third person with whom she might seek to make a broadly similar comparison would, in every case we can envisage, be a person in circumstances in which the differences would be of practical importance. We are now satisfied that it would be best, in order to meet a universally felt view in Committee, to delete subsection (4)(b). I am satisfied that we have the necessary safeguard to protect industry against the situation which might arise.

Mr. R. Carr

The Under-Secretary of State always tries to be not only courteous, but helpful, and I assure him that we appreciate that. I am sorry if we seem ungrateful on this occasion, but he is under a misapprehension in thinking that we were anxious to remove this provision. It was one of his hon. Friends who tried to do that. I said in Committee: All that we are seeking to do is to remove a double negative from the paragraph."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 26th February, 1970; c. 930.] When I used words like " gobbledegook ", which I may have done in the excitement of the moment, I was referring to the difficulty of understanding the Clause and the Government's explanations of it. I pointed out that I had been taught at school that it was always better to be positive rather than use a double negative.

However, finally we came to the conclusion that we understood the Clause and that we had been convinced of its necessity. It is extraordinary that the Under-Secretary should have made a relatively long speech in Committee defending the subsection and then tonight make a very short speech saying that it is not necessary at all.

Mr. Harold Walker

Did I not make a long speech defending " that has been "?

Mr. Carr

Yes, but the hon. Gentleman did not convince us that those words were necessary. He succeeded, after much pain, grief and trouble—I was glad I was not in his shoes—in persuading us that there was some purpose in subsection (4)(b). Having done that at great length, now in a short speech he tells us that it is not necessary and that he expresses this latest view after the most careful consideration with legal experts. He must have had that careful examination and consultation with legal experts before he took the first view. Which view of legal experts are we to take?

If I remember correctly, the hon. Gentleman was taking the view of legal experts almost continuously while we were considering this subsection. The whole time it was clear that the advice he was being given was substantiating the first advice he had been given, namely, that the subsection was necessary.

For the benefit of those who were not members of the Standing Committee I shall quote a few of the things the hon. Gentleman said in defence of the subsection; because, in judging what he is doing, we should recall what he said in Committee: Paragraph (b) is crucial to an understanding of the words ' broadly similar '. The words " broadly similar " are crucial to the Bill. They are the basis of the Bill. Anything that is crucial to the explanation, understanding and clarification of the basic principle of the Bill is of great importance and cannot be deleted like this.

To illustrate how crucial it was, the Minister gave the Committee some examples and at the conclusion of those two sorts of example said that the results of what would happen without this provision would be a nonsense and would upset the differentials… It is no part of the purpose of this Bill to upset the differentials which exist between men and men as a product of the existing collective bargaining system. We all know

that anomalies exist, but it is not the function of this Bill to re-dress them …

Subsection (4)(b) qualifies what otherwise would be the case. This is intended to be a restriction on a possible interpretation of what the hon. Member has drawn attention to in line 11, to eliminate the situation in which a woman, by seeking to take advantage of the two fields of comparison open to her, would upset the male differentials…

The principal purpose of the subsection is to avoid the possibility of upsetting the differentials between men and men which are the product of the collective bargaining system, whatever the differences and illogicalities"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 26th February, 1970; c. 96–100.]

These were just a few highlights in a long speech explaining why we must accept the provision. Tonight we have had no real explanation. The hon. Gentleman has merely said that he has taken further legal advice and can now assure us that all these things will not happen without the provision. He does no convince us. I wish he did, because I am sure that he now believes what he is saying, but he gave us a great deal of evidence to support his previous belief, whereas he has given us none to support his new and quite different belief.

With that lack of evidence, I must reluctantly say to my hon. Friends that I feel that we shall have to divide the House on this Amendment. Although I realise that it is a different point in that it raises again the fear which we expressed on the previous Amendment that, contrary to the declared and accepted intention of the Government, the Bill as drafted, and now as amended, may lead to escalations and the upsetting of differentials which will not only have a far more inflationary effect in the total wage bill of the economy than the Government want or forecast, but, when it comes to upsetting differentials, could be a most undesirable cause of industrial strife.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 229, Noes 143.

Division No. 104.] AYES [9.11 p.m.
Albu, Austen Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Binns, John
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bishop, E. S.
Alldritt, Walter Bagier, Gordon A. T. Blackburn, F.
Allen, Scholefield Barness, Michaet Blenkinsop, Arthur
Archer, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tipt'n) Barnett, Joel Booth, Albert
Armstrong, Ernest Bence, Cyrill Bossom, Sir Clive
Ashley, Jack Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Boston, Terence
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Bidwell, Sydney Bradley, Tom
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Howell, Denis (Small Heath) O'Malley, Brian
Brooks, Edwin Hoy, Rt. Hn. James Oram, Albert E.
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Huckfield, Leslie Orbach, Maurice
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Orme, Stanley
Brown, Bob(N c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Oswald, Thomas
Buchan, Norman Hunter, Adam Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hynd, John Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Palmer, Arthur
Carmichael, Neil Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Park, Trevor
Conlan, Bernard Janner, Sir Barnett Parker, John (Dagenham)
Cronin, John Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Dalyell, Tom Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman
Davies, E. Hudson (Conway) Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Judd, Frank Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kelley, Richard Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Price, William (Rugby)
Delargy, H. J. Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Probert, Arthur
Dell, Edmund Latham, Arthur Rankin, John
Dempsey, James Lawson, George Rees, Merlyn
Dewar, Donald Leadbitter, Ted Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Dickens, James Lee, John (Reading) Robinson, Rt.Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Dobson, Ray Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold (Cheetham) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rose, Paul
Driberg, Tom Lomas, Kenneth Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dunn, James A. Luard, Evan Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Eadie, Alex Lubbock, Eric Sheldon, Robert
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Ellis, John Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
English, Michael McCann, John Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Faulds, Andrew MacColl, James Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Fernyhough, E. MacDermot, Niall Sillars, J.
Finch, Harold McGuire, Michael Silverman, Julius
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) Slater, Joseph
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackenzie, Cregor (Rutherglen) Snow, Julian
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Mackie, John Spriggs, Leslie
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mackintosh, John P. Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Ford, Ben McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Taverne, Dick
Forrester, John McNamara, J. Kevin Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Fowler, Gerry MacPherson, Malcolm Tinn, James
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Tuck, Raphael
Gardner, Tony Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Urwin, T. w.
Garrett, W. E. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Varley, Eric G.
Golding, John Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Marks, Kenneth Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Gregory, Arnold Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mendelson, John Wallace, George
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian Watkins, David (Consett)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Millan, Bruce Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hamling, William Moonman, Eric White, Mrs. Eirene
Hannan, William Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wilkins, W. A.
Harper, Joseph Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Hart, Rt. Hn. Juudith Morris, John (Aberavon) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hazell, Bert Moyle, Roland Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Neal, Harold Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Heffer, Eric S. Newens, Stan Woof, Robert
Henig, Stanley Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip
Hobden, Dennis Norwood, Christopher TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hooley, Frank Oakes, Gordon Mr. Neil McBride and
Hooson, Emlyn Horner, John Ogden, Eric Mr. J. D. Concannon.
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas O'Halloran, Michael
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Biggs-Davison, John Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Black, S r Cyril Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Chataway, Christopher
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Body, Richard Chichester-Clark, R.
Atkins Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Brinton, Sir Tatton Clark, Henry
Awdry Daniel Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Clegg, Walter
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Cordle John
Beamish, Col, Sir Tufton Buck, Antony (Colchester) Corfield, F. V.
Bennett Sir Frederic (Torquay) Bullus, Sir Eric Costain, A. p.
Biffen, John Burden, F. A. Craddock, Sir Beresford (Speithorne)
Currie, G. B. H. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Dance, James Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kaberry, Sir Donald Rees-Davies, W. R.
Drayson, G. B. Kershaw, Anthony Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kitson, Timothy Ridsdale, Julian
Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Knight, Mrs. Jill Russell, Sir Ronald
Emery, Peter King, Tom Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Errington, Sir Eric Lancaster, Col. C. G. Silvester, Frederick
Eyre, Reginald Lane, David Sinclair, Sir George
Farr, John Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Fortescue, Tim Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Speed, Keith
Foster, Sir John Longden, Gilbert Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Fry, Peter McAdden, Sir Stephen Summers, Sir Spencer
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Mac Arthur, Ian Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gibson-Watt, David McMaster, Stanley Temple, John M.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McNair-Wilson, Michael Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Glover, Sir Douglas McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForcst) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Glyn, Sir Richard Maddan, Martin van Straubenzee, W. R.
Goodhart, Philip Maginnis, John E. Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Goodhew, Victor Marten, Neil Waddington, David
Cower, Raymond Mawby, Ray Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Grieve, Percy Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wall, Patrick
Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Walters, Dennis
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Ward, Christopher (Swindon)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Montgomery, Fergus Ward, Dame Irene
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) More, Jasper Weatherhill, Bernard
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Morgan, Goraint (Denbigh) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Harvie Anderson, Miss Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hiley, Joseph Murton, Oscar Worsley, Marcus
Hill, J. E. B. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Wright, Esmond
Holland, Philip Nott, John Wylie, N. R.
Hordern, Peter Onslow, Cranley Younger, Hn. George
Hornby, Richard Osborn, John (Hallam)
Hunt, John Page, John (Harrow, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian Mr. Anthony Grant and
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Pounder, Rafton Mr. Hector Monro.
Mr. Speed

I beg to move, Amendment No. 4, in page 2, line 20, leave out subsection (5) and insert: (5) The work done by women shall be evaluated by the same methods as are used for men and equal pay shall be given for those components of the work which are shown to he equal.

Mr. Speaker

I have suggested that with this Amendment we should take the following Amendments: No. 5, in line 21, leave out ' work ' and insert ' job '.

No. 6, in line 22, leave out ' work ' and insert job '.

No. 7, in line 23, leave out ' the ' and insert ' a '.

No. 8, in line 23, leave out ' in effort, skill, decision and other factors ' and insert: ' under various headings (for instance effort, skill, decision)'.

No. 9, in line 23, leave out 'in effort, skill, decision and other factors '.

No. 10, in line 28, leave out ' on the same factor for men and women ' and insert: for men and women on the same demand under any heading '.

Mr. Speed

I will not say much about the right hon. Lady's Amendments, which we are considering with my Amendment. They go some considerable way to meeting points which were raised in Committee, but there remains a major objection, which is why I have moved this Amendment: we believe that the Bill still misunderstands the method and practice of job evaluation. I know that the subsection which we propose to delete derives from subsection 1(b) and amplifies the provisions of that paragraph. Nevertheless, the subsection seems to misunderstand the working of job evaluation.

In fact, job evaluation is important, as was said on both sides of the Committee. We had considerable support from hon. Members opposite when moving a similar Amendment in Committee. Job evaluation is not an exact science. It is still based on individual opinions and is still changing. It is still a matter of subjective judgement. But certain principles are agreed, and they are not fully understood by the present wording of the Bill.

Report No. 83 of the National Board for Prices and Incomes was quoted in part on the subject in Committee. I should like to quote one or two paragraphs which are relevant. Paragraph 7, on page 3 reads: Job evaluation is impersonal in the sense that it is concerned solely with jobs, not with the particular quality, competence or effort of the individuals who perform them. I agree completely with that. It seems to me that that is where the wording of the Bill is faulty. It continues: In intention, at least, it is the job that is evaluated, not the job's current occupant. I say " Hear, hear " to that. It adds: Job evaluation is concerned, therefore, with the determination of basic wage-rate or salary structures. Where it is desired to reward such elements as individual performance or long service, other components must be added to the job evaluated base to make up the total pay structure. I am sure that that is fundamentally right, and it is completely opposed to the subsection which we are seeking to delete.

I turn to paragraph 142, on page 41, although I will not quote the whole of the paragraph. Part of the paragraph reads: Apart from the advantage which job evaluation offers to management by establishing an accepted pay structure, thus limiting discontent and ' leapfrogging ' claims by different sections of the working force, it also forces on management the same disciplined approach to personnel problems as is required in other spheres. There are definitions of " job evaluation " listed on page 48 of the Report. The International Labour Office, in 1960, said: Job evaluation rates the job, not the man. The United States Department of Labour, Bureau of Labour Statistics, Washington, 1950, says that job evaluation is always applied to jobs rather than to qualities of individuals in the jobs. It is our criticism of the subsection that it does not do those things, but applies to the individual rather than to jobs. It talks of the demands on the individual rather looking at what the job is about.

If we are to make sense of the Bill, and the Bill is to be widely accepted, as we all hope it will be, it is important, when we are dealing with comparatively new and sophisticated techniques, that the wording of the Bill should not be directly contrary to what is generally understood by industry, trade unions and other people who have made it their business to discuss job evaluation. A job can be evaluated and described in a system by a number of different means and methods.

The demands on an individual can vary with his physical and mental capacity, his aptitudes, and even as to whether he had a good breakfast or had a row with his spouse before leaving for work. A worker on a specific job can at different times in the same day be stretched at the same job and find that he has not the capability to do the job properly, while at other times he finds that he is coasting along and the job is well within his capacity. All these things are ignored or misunderstood by the wording of the subsection.

Our Amendment seeks to define job evaluation as understood by industry, by the unions, by the I.L.O. and by the N.B.P.I. It is in that spirit I put forward the Amendment.

Mr. Harold Walker

These Amendments reflect long discussion in Committee on what I referred to one at one stage as the quagmire or minefield of job evaluation. The subsequent discussion proved my description to be justified.

Amendment No. 4 reflects one of the debates we had in Committee and I am surprised that the Opposition still seem to think that the form of words they have chosen has a kind of sanctity endowed by the N.B.P.I. That board used these words in a recommendation in a report on the Armed Forces, but there is a difference between the words used in such a recommendation and words to be embodied in a Statute.

The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) drew attention to the link which exists between subsection (5) and subsection (1). Subsection (1)(b) says that men and women should get equal treatment when they are employed on work that has been rated as equivalent. Subsection (5) defines in careful detail the circumstances in which work is to be regarded as " rated as equivalent". The redraft proposed in the Amendment does not, on the face of it, relate back to subsection (1)(b). It is not clear whether the subsection as amended is intended to be restricted to situations where a proper job evaluation exercise has been carried out. A great deal depends on the meaning to be given to the word " evaluated ". Quite rightly, the hon. Member has drawn attention to the precise way in which this is sought to be used these days compared with the loose, jargon-like way in which it was used in the past.

I think that the Committee agreed with me when I said that there is a certain amount of scientific misuse of the word and that to describe it as a science, as some people do, is to mislead. At best, it is a quasi-science.

Mr. Holland

It is because we certainly go along with much of what the hon. Gentleman has just said that we have prepared the Amendment, which simply lays down that the work done by a woman shall be evaluated by the same methods as are used for men. Whatever form of job evaluation is used—and there are different forms and variations—the same method should be used in evaluating the work of women.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Walker

if the hon. Gentleman will wait until the end of my speech, he will see that we are very much aware of the argument, and it is our argument that the subsection meets that point. We are now repeating one of the arguments in Committee. On the ordinary meaning of words, the amended subsection would apply to any kind of evaluation, that is, one not necessarily based on a job evaluation exercise but possibly and probably one that was merely the result of negotiation or of an employer's general judgment, or, as I described in Committee, possibly a carve-up between male-dominated trade unions and an employer. It is meaningless to say that where men's work is evaluated by negotiation or an employer's general judgment women's work should be evaluated " by the same methods ". In these sets of circumstances the situation is taken care of by Clause 3.

The second half of the proposed sub-section says: … equal pay shall be given for those components of the work which are shown to be equal. It is our view that this point is already covered by subsection (1)(b), which says that men and women must get equal treatment where their work has been rated as equivalent and where the terms and conditions of both are determined by the rating of their work ". For these reasons, the proposed new subsection must be unacceptable to the Government.

With this Amendment we are discussing Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 tabled by my right hon. Friend. We had a lengthy debate on the subsection in Committee, when various criticisms were made, and our Amendments are in response to the views expressed in Committee. The N.B.P.I. Report emphasising the importance of rating the job and not the worker was the subject of some criticism of the Clause. We have sought to respond positively and I hope in a manner that will be acceptable to the Opposition and my hon. Friends who made the same points in Committee.

Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 together make it clear that it is the job that is being evaluated. Amendment No. 8 makes it clear that " effort, skill, decision ", words which were the subject of criticism in Committee, are only examples of the sort of factor which should be used in a typical evaluation scheme, and that it is not necessary for all these headings or factors to be included in a job evaluation scheme for that scheme to be covered by subsection (5).

Amendment No. 10 makes it clear, as the present wording does not, that a man's job and a woman's job must be given the same value under any particular, heading of a job evaluation system only when the jobs make the same demand on a worker under that heading.

We consider that, taken together, the Amendments are an improvement on the subsection. I should express our gratitude to the Committee members on both sides who drew our attention to these points and have strengthened the subsection as a result.

I hope that my explanation of the Government Amendments will also be treated as a reply to the point made in Opposition Amendment No. 9. We have sought to meet the point raised in Committee and largely embodied in the Amendment.

Mr. Christopher Ward (Swindon)

The Minister referred to the quagmire through which he was wading in connection with these provisions. There is one relatively straightforward route through it and it starts off in Clause 1(b), where we are talking about equivalent work and trying to decide, evaluate, or judge in some way what that is. What I do not understand is why, when we come to (5), instead of evaluating the work or the job we alter the concept by introducing an entirely subjective element and try to evaluate the demand which it makes upon the worker, which may be a different thing from time to time.

It may be, and this is something which I do not think my hon. Friend dared to mention on the Bill, that the demand upon the worker may vary according to whether the worker is a man or a woman. If the job is shovelling coal, clearly this will make a very much greater demand on a woman than it might on a man. To say that we must evaluate or judge in some way the demand made on the worker when the worker must either be a man or a woman for the purpose of this exercise, seems to be a nonsense, departing from the fairly clear statement in 1(b).

Then the Government say that they will delete " the " and insert " a ", so that they will assess the demand made on a worker. That does not take us very far at all. Before we knew that we were talking about either a man or a woman. Now we have to determine what the demand might be on a worker without knowing whether it is to be a man or a woman. On what sort of worker will the Minister assess the demand? Will there be a British Standard worker on which we can assess the demand, which will be a mixture in some proportion between man and woman, having an appropriate proportion of the capabilities of both?

Unless the Minister has a concept of this sort I do not see how we can assess the demand which the job will make on a worker. It is this concept of the demand on a worker instead of the work for the job which makes this subsection so difficult and that is why I support the Amendment.

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

I had criticisms to make about this in Committee and the Government Amendments help materially to eliminate some of my fears. Looking at the Opposition Amendment, I would have thought that the first line would be acceptable—perhaps not necessary, but acceptable. But when the Opposition go on to say that certain components of the work should be accepted for equal pay it may be that that would be contravening the whole principle of the Bill.

There are many skilled rates which do not mean that the skilled man is working to the full extent of his capacity during the whole time that he is doing the job. One of the qualities of management is to get the greatest amount of skilled work out of a man. It would be a mistake to believe that at all times he would be working to 100 per cent. of his capacity on skilled work.

If we follow the suggestion literally in the second line of the Opposition Amendment it seems that we would get into an awful jam. We would be giving the equivalent of the skilled rate for that part of the job applicable to his skill, but refusing to do so for the parts which were not applicable. At the end of the day there would be a huge conglomeration of differentials which could not be applied. Hon. Members opposite have tried to meet a difficult situation, but their Amendment would not achieve what obviously they are trying to achieve.

Mr. Dudley Smith

I appreciate that there is some basis in the case put forward by the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), but the phrase " broadly similar work ", which is a key phrase of the Bill, would take account of that position. Where there was a majority of components this trouble would not arise. We put forward our Amendment because it is better than the longer and more complicated phraseology in the Bill. We are sorry that the Government cannot accept it, or something like it.

We welcome the approach of the Under-Secretary, who has gone some way to meet the points made in Committee on this difficult part of the Bill. Although we are sorry that he cannot accept our Amendment, which would interpret the Bill more successfully, with the Amendments the Government have put forward subsection (5) will be much more intelligible to the ordinary person. That will be done by replacing the word " work " by the word " job ". I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has even now got it entirely right by using the various headings of " effort, skill, decision ". The previous wording was rather arbitrary and it would have been better to leave the subsection out altogether, but the hon. Gentleman has gone some way to meet us.

In Committee we were very critical of the drafting of this Bill, particularly as we are trying to pioneer new ground. We considered that the drafting should be as simple and clear as possible. This subsection is far from simple or clear. I have held the view that Bills are sometimes drafted by lawyers for interpretation by lawyers. This part of the Bill will have to be interpreted by laymen on both sides of industry—by trade unions and employees and by employers. It is important that they should understand what is meant. I have had the impression that the harder the Government have tried to define the question of job evaluation and comparability of work the further they have got into the quagmire. The harder one tries to define the more obscure the meaning sometimes becomes. Therefore, any amendment of this part of the Bill is welcome.

My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed) was right to say that job evaluation is an impersonal exercise. It is important that it should be so if it is to be effective. This subsection as drafted, and even when it is amended, will deal with the individual. I do not wish to press our Amendment to a Division because we agree that there are complications, but the phrase " the same methods " would tie up with subsection (1)(b).

We thank the hon. Gentleman for paying attention to what was said in Committee. This proves that Committees can be valuable if Governments pay attention to points made by hon. Members. By putting forward these changes the Under-Secretary has helped to make the Bill more effective.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Tom Boardman

Whilst I welcome the Amendments which the Government have made, I regret that they have not given more thought to this Amendment, the object of which is to introduce simplicity; otherwise, the Bill will be a lawyers' paradise. It would be tragic. when both sides of the House are united, if the Bill failed because we are unable to express our objectives clearly and concisely. The Clause, even as amended. is open to misconstruction and misinterpretation. The Amendment sets out quite simply what we want, which is that the same yardstick shall be applied to the evaluation of women's work as to men's work, which is what the Bill is about.

Mr. Speed

Half a loaf is indubitably more nourishing than no bread.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No 5, in page 2, line 21, leave out ' work ' and insert ' job '.

No. 6, in line 22, leave out ' work ' and insert job '.

No. 7, in line 23, leave out ' the ' and insert a '.

No. 8, in line 23, leave out ' in effort, skill, decision and other factors ' and insert under various headings (for instance effort, skill, decision) '.

No. 10, in line 28 leave out ' on the same factor for men and women ' and insert: ' for men and women on the same demand under any heading '.—[Mrs. Castle.]

Mrs. Renée Short

I beg to move Amendment No. 11, in page 2, line 28, at end insert: 'At any place of work where there is a recognised trade union or unions, the job shall be jointly evaluated by the employer and the appropriate recognised trade union or unions '. In Committee, I moved an Amendment which aimed at bringing the trade unions into evaluation exercises carried out at any work place, to make sure that the trade unions were consulted and were carried along at every stage of the evaluation exercise. My hon. Friend, in reply, said that technically the Amendment was not progressive, but would have a restrictive result by precluding the carrying out of evaluation exercises at places of work which had no trade union organisation.

This Amendment make it clear that at places of work where there are recognised registered trade unions or a trade union, those unions or that union shall be consulted where job evaluation exercises are conducted to determine equal pay for work of broadly similar value.

A basic requirement is that we should carry the trade unions with us. For employers to carry out job evaluation exercises without consulting the trade unions is a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, if the unions are not satisfied—as they may well not be if they are not consulted—the exercise may be in vain, and the result may not be accepted by the trade unions.

As we have heard, more and more job evaluation is needed. Although it is unscientific, it is often the only means of assessing the value of a job, or part of a job, in determining the pay of the workers who carry it out.

We have had a good deal of strong and firm advice about the way in which the trade unions should be consulted in this kind of exercise. We had it in the report of the Prices and Incomes Board, which said clearly that they ought to be consulted. A classic example of the way in which this exercise should be carried out occurred when the coal industry was nationalised. An enormous and comprehensive job evaluation exercise was carried out throughout the whole industry in consultation with the unions concerned, who were brought in from the very beginning. The job was done with the minimum of friction and difficulty simply because the unions had been brought in.

Recently, the T.U.C. Women's Conference brought out a report on equal pay. Obviously, these are the women trade unionists most concerned with the Bill. The report says that the Bill should be amended along the lines I suggest, in order to make provision for consultation with the trade unions. We thus have firm evidence of a desire by the trade unionists most concerned for an Amendment to this effect.

In Committee, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said that an evaluation exercise could be the employer's own crude judgment. This is what the Amendment seeks to guard against. In a firm where there is strong trade union organisation, there will not be this difficulty because the unions will ensure that they are consulted and are brought in at every stage of the exercise. But one is also concerned with those firms where there is weak trade union organisation, where the unions are not in a position to enjoy the same kind of consultation with the employers as in a firm where there is strong trade union organisation. Spurious schemes could well be put forward by such employers which were completely unacceptable to the trade unions. In Committee, my hon. Friend was clearly aware of this possibility.

One of the advantages of the Amendment is that it would encourage trade unions to organise themselves and set up the kind of negotiating machinery we want to see in factories and other work places. It would give them encouragement and great kudos if they were able to organise and meet the employers on equal terms. But, to do this, they have to recruit membership within such places so that they are able to meet the employers to discuss these very important problems. It is in the interests of the working people within different places of work and in the interests of the trade unions concerned. There is great and authoritative support for the Amendment.

My hon. Friend was obviously won over to this view in Committee. He made it clear that he supported the principle when he said: I agree with the view, not confined to one side of the Committee"— this was so, since many hon. Members on both sides spoke on the similar Amendment then before the Committee— that before—indeed, this should apply to schemes after they have been established—the introduction of job evaluation schemes there should be the fullest consultation with trade union representatives and the maximum possible agreement reached."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee H. 26th February, 1970: c. 126.] I assume from what the Minister said that my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment. It is desired by and in the interests of the trade unions. Indeed, it is in the employers' interests to carry the trade unions with them from the beginning of the exercise. We know that if the trade unions are consulted that is half the battle. A great deal of our industrial difficulties arise because there is no consultation with the trade unions. So my right hon. Friend is taking out a very good insurance policy for the minimum of friction if she accepts the Amendment—[Interruption.] " In Place of Strife " is, indeed, a very good insurance policy.

I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment and will bask in the pleasure that this will bring not only to trade union Members in this House, but also to all women trade unionists outside and to those trade unions which have already gone on record in support of the Bill.

Mr. Holland

As a practitioner in personnel management, who has carried out job evaluation schemes in three firms for both staff and employers, I am bewildered by the wording of the Amendment. I fail to understand how the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) can link it with what the Under-Secretary said in Committee at column 126. While I agree with what the Under-Secretary said, I cannot find that this is in line with what is proposed in the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman said that there should be the fullest consultation. Before starting any job evaluation scheme one should consult and make certain that not only the trade union representatives and shop stewards, but also the employees know what is proposed.

Mr. John Ellis (Bristol, North-West)

Not always.

Mr. Holland

I am saying that that is what should be done. One must make sure of this to have a successful exercise. Without willing co-operation by the people doing the jobs being evaluated a successful exercise is not possible. There must be willing co-operation to get a successful exercise—

Mrs. Renée Short rose

Mr. Holland

If the hon. Lady will be patient, I will explain why this is not what the Amendment would achieve. It is only with the willing co-operation of and understanding by the employees of what is being done that one can hope to achieve a reasonable result and a reasonable basis for deciding comparability of work and job.

This is not an exact science. It is still in the process of development. It has progressed from what it was 10 years ago, but it is still not an exact science. Therefore, it needs all the help that it can get to achieve a successful outcome.

I agree that there must be consultation. This is inherent in doing a good and efficient job. But I do not see how two bodies can share the job other than the way in which the employee shares it with management. The employee being assessed fills in a form, the departmental head or supervisor also fills in a form, and the two are considered together and evaluated by a small committee of people with wide experience in that industry or undertaking.

This is a joint effort, but it is not a matter of management and unions vying with each other, or working together in doing it.

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


That the Proceedings on the Equal Pay (No. 2) Bill may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Harper.]

Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.

Mr. Ellis

The hon. Gentleman is trying to teach his grandmother how to suck eggs.

Mr. Holland

Not quite. There must be consultation before the commencement of what is to be done, but that is different from what the Amendment says. It says that the job shall be jointly evaluated by the employer and the trade unions.

Mr. Ellis

Would the hon. Gentleman go as far as saying that there must be, not just explanation, but agreement?

Mr. Holland

I said at the beginning of my speech that ther must be willing co-operation, and one does not get that if there is not agreement with employees, not just employee's representatives, because it is the employees who fill in the forms. They must know what it is all about if they are to co-operate, and that is where I cavil at the Amendment.

I agreed with a lot of what the hon. Lady said when she talked about consultation, but I cannot agree that this job can be done jointly by bodies with differing interests.

Mrs. Renée Short

It seems that there is nothing between us. The hon. Gentleman says that he agrees with most of what I said about consultation, and what follows from the initial consultation between employers and trade unions on a job evaluation exercise. May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he will join me in the Lobby this evening if it is necesary to divide?

Mr. Holland

In industrial relations, and in politics, we are supposed to be able to communicate ideas and thoughts. It appears that I have failed utterly tonight to communicate my ideas to the hon. Lady. I agree with what she said about consultation, agreement, and cooperation before the exercise is undertaken, but I do not understand how this can be organised and directed by two different bodies. There has to be a central direction once it is in operation.

That is why I cannot accept the wording of Amendment, which says that the job shall be jointly evaluated. I find this difficult to follow, and impossible to support, because I do not understand what it is getting at. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite understand what I am getting at, even if the hon. Lady does not.

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the whole exercise should be carried out by managerial representatives, but that it should be agreed to by employees and their representatives, the trade unions?

Mr. Holland

Nearly, but not quite, because the evaluation exercise is carried out by the employee, the supervisor, the departmental head, and people who are concerned with the matter. It is not just the management, as the hon. Gentleman put it.

What I am saying is that before any evaluation of comparability between jobs is started there should be the fullest consultation with employees, and that if there are trade union representatives they, too, should be brought into the discussion. There should be complete understanding of what is being done, and how. Once that is achieved, one can rely on full and willing co-operation in evaluating and making comparisons between one type of work and another.

Mr. Roy Hughes

What my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) is saying is that she wants it to be a joint exercise right from the start.

Mr. Holland

Yes, and it is when one gets beyond the start of the actual mechanics of the thing that I do not understand how it can be a joint exercise. This is where I differ from the hon. Lady although I go with her right up to that point. That is why I sincerely regret that I cannot follow her into the Lobby. It is on that ground and that ground alone. However, on the concentration, of course I agree with her.

Mr. Albert Booth (Barrow-in-Furness)

The subject of the Amendment will be crucial to the majority of the women who can benefit from the Bill. A minority will benefit from the wage-fixing aspect and a minority from the like work provision, but a majority will be able to benefit from the job evaluation provision, providing that it is done properly and democratically. The danger of not having women represented by union representatives at the point of job evaluation is that different criteria can be used in evaluating the jobs done by women and those done by men.

Job evaluation schemes are already sufficiently sophisticated to be designed to produce predetermined results within fairly narrow limits. Unless the guidelines of job evaluation are agreed in advance between the employers and union representatives of the women employed in the works, there is no adequate protection to ensure that this part of the Bill will operate correctly.

Mr. Holland

Would the hon. Gentleman define guidelines? Is he talking about the factors used in a job evaluation scheme? These are usually formally set out in general use, and many different firms use the same factors. Does he mean the weighting given to each factor? What other criteria has he in mind when talking about guidelines? How far does he go?

Mr. Booth

I used the term " guidelines " as a shorthand to cover factors and weighting. Both have to be covered in an agreement on guidelines. The only effective safeguard is trade union representation at this point. It can be argued that Clause 1(5) gives some statutory guidance about the acceptable form of job evaluation, but in practice this could not possibly safeguard a woman.

To try to use this, a woman would have to say to a tribunal, " I want equal pay on the basis of job evaluation, but the job evaluation scheme in my firm does not correspond with Section 5(1)", and then argue that case. Not one woman in a thousand in industry would seek that course to obtain equal pay. What a woman in industry will do is look to her union to safeguard her conditions when jobs are being evaluated. So it is fundamental to have trade union representation at the point of job evaluation.

I would not want us to be bogged down on the words of the Amendment. Enough hon. Members with knowledge of industry, at least on this side, know how this thing can work in practice and what we mean when we say that there should be agreement between employers and unions on guidelines before progress is made on job evaluation.

I appeal to the Secretary of State to overcome this serious difficulty by agreeing to accept the words which the T.U.C. has included in the report which will be put before the T.U.C. Wowen's Conference which takes place tomorrow and on Friday at Weymouth. These words are simple and straightforward and they come from page 19, paragraph 54 of this report: The General Council consider that the best safeguard would be to amend the Clause in order to ensure that when job evaluation exercises are undertaken, there must—at all stages —be agreement by the trade unions concerned and they have suggested that Clause 1(5) should be appropriately amended. I am sure that the House will understand what is meant by that simple phraseology.

If the right hon. Gentleman will accept that to be the purpose of the Amendment we can all go away happy this evening. If not, many of us will be forced to support the Amendment in a Division.

Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)

I intervene briefly because a firm with which I am concerned has had job evaluation going on for about 10 years which is accepted as fair by those whom it affects.

There is a measure of agreement on both sides of the House on this matter. The issue is really a question of the wording of the Amendment. It might meet the case for all concerned if the latter part of the Amendment were to read, " and the job shall be evaluated after full consultation with the appropriate recognised trade union or unions ".

What we all want is full consultation with the trade unions—

Mr. Ellis

We are on the right track; we are making progress. But it is not just a question of explanation. What we want is that one step forward to agreement. If we can have that, it is fine.

Mr. Hall

I would not dissent, because without agreement with the employers and the recognised trade union representatives we get nowhere. Employers require the guidance and help of the trade union representatives, who can explain exactly what is happening, and why it is happening, and can help employers with their problems. 1 am sure that we ail accept the spirit of the Amendment, but some of us on both sides will Lind great difficulty in supporting it as it is at present worded.

Mr. Orme

The Amendment and its inference go to the kernel of the problem. The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) spoke of the mutuality within industry. When the engineering agreement was approved about 15 months ago, this question of mutuality was at the centre of much of the dispute between the engineering unions and the engineering employers. Mutuality gives employees the right to negotiation at all stages whatever may be the issue within the factory.

When we move on from male employees to female employees, mutuality becomes more essential than ever. My right hon. Friend, who is so keen on women asserting their rights, and who recognises the need for women to be in trade unions, must also recognise that if this provision is not written into the Bill women will still not have pressure put on them to appreciate that their interests lie within the trade unions, and negotiations, and particularly job evaluation, within many factories will take place without their views being consulted.

" Job evaluation " is an easy phrase, but those of us who have worked in industry for some years know exactly what it means. As soon as it takes place one can either have friction, mistrust and industrial disputes, or one can have negotiations with the employers which are meaningful, and which both employers and trade unions accept. Friction can be caused by job evaluation.

10.15 p.m.

This is an absolutely central issue. My right hon. Friend has been concerned about worker participation in industry and that workers should play an important part in industry. That can happen only if women in industry have the opportunity of full consultation. I hope that she will accept what the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) has said. There appears to be a great deal of agreement in the House in this issue. The hon. Member for Carlton considerably narrowed the differences on it.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recognises that there is a wide measure of agreement in the House and that the question of consultation is at the centre of it. I hope that we can write into the Bill, if not the words which my hon. Friend suggests in his Amendment, then something like the T.U.C.'s suggestion. The T.U.C. suggests that provision about consultation should be written into the Bill to make it apparent that it is in the interests of employers and employees that the trade unions should be consulted.

This is a matter of great principle. The T.U.C. has made many suggestions about the Bill to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. She has not been able to meet many of them. I support the general principle in the Bill. I recognise my right hon. Friend's difficulties, but I urge her to meet the point which has been raised tonight.

Sir D. Glover

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) said. There is a great deal to be said for the Amendment. I would not argue about the form of words. What strikes me, as a non-member of the Committee, is that there is all too little about trade union participation in the Bill. I have tabled an Amendment about the rôle and activities of the trade unions. I visualise that the only vehicle which would be able to deal with job evaluation and with questions of equal pay on an equitable basis with the employers is the trade union. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Too many impromptu debates are taking place.

Sir D. Glover

I do not think any hon. Member wishes to be adamant about the wording of the Amendment. No one thinks that it is sacrosanct. It is admitted that there may be weaknesses in its wording. However, we should like to hear from the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State that some provision to deal with the point will be written into the Bill, perhaps in another place. If it is not, the Bill will be short of the practical machinery necessary to solve many of the problems which will inevitably arise.

I hope that the right hon. Lady realises that there is a good deal of agreement on both sides of the House about this problem. Perhaps she would view the Amendment with sympathy.

Mr. John Lee (Reading)

There is a great deal of agreement on this matter. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will not feel inhibited from taking a favourable view of the situation merely because of certain textual criticisms which may be made of the Amendment. Earlier, there was criticism of the wording of Amendments and it was said that the more closely we tried to define these matters the more difficult they became. That is not the right approach. There is not a clear distinction between consultation and integrating the trade unions in the process of evaluation.

The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) and his hon. Friends have taken a reasonable attitude, but I believe that they draw an artificial distinction. I have worked as a member of a grading team. It is important that all those involved in the exercise should be incorporated from the start.

Mr. Holland

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not seeking to imply that I have a purely textual objection to the Amendment. I have a real and solid objection to something which I believe is impracticable. Our agreement was with many of the right hon. Lady's statements about consultation—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are on Report. The hon. Gentleman has exhausted his right to speak on this Amendment. Any intervention should be brief.

Mr. Lee

I accept what the hon. Gentleman said. Having gone ac far as he has and shown considerable sympathy with the purport of the Amendment, I am surprised that he is unable to go the whole way with it.

I have taken part in grading exercises. Such an exercise is rarely done by one or two people. Many people are involved. There has to be a great to-ing and fro-ing with those whose jobs are being evaluated. If an Amendment such as this is not accepted, even where there has been sympathetic and conscientious consultation with those whose jobs are under consideration a decision may be made which turns out to be unpopular and all the consultation which has taken place will not sugar the pill, because the decision will he made by one side. As long as this is being treated as exclusively a managerial decision, there is the likelihood of friction arising.

Although job evaluation is not a precise and scientific exercise, a considerable body of knowledge has been built up over the last 15 years. The criteria are not known only to management. The trade unions and their research organisations can avail themselves of the data. There is no reason why they should not participate in the process of evaluation.

I know that my right hon. Friend is concerned to secure good labour relations. She has had some traumatic experiences during the last year. If she accepts an Amendment such as this, she will not only endear herself to hon. Members below the Gangway but will make life easier for herself in her relations with the trade unions.

Mr. Ellis

I am convinced that there is nothing dividing me from the hon. Members for Carlton (Mr. Holland) and for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall). Hon. Members feel that the words the job shall be jointly evaluated by the employer and the appropriate recognised trade union will result in a mish-mash of a trade unionist and a management representative, neither of whom knows anything about the technical aspect of the job, but who will go round the works making a meal of it. That is not what we on this side of the House want to see. Indeed, there is general agreement in the House about what we want to achieve—a fact of which I am sure my right hon. Friend is sensible.

We feel that this issue is crucial. We all know of the sophisticated techniques of job evaluation, but it is unthinkable that a group of men about to undertake job evaluation should charge into a factory and begin taking measurements without first telling the trade unions about it. Were they not to tell the trade unions it would be a recipe for industrial disaster. In practice, the trade unions are informed and there is discussion and explanation in respect of the criteria, and there is agreement. Both hon. Gentlemen opposite agreed with me about that.

There may be some argument about the drafting of the Clause, but it is clear in principle that we want to ensure consultation. We want to see that where trade unions are established in a factory, the men undertaking job evaluation do not charge into the factory unannounced, but that first, there are explanations and agreements. There will be agreement about what is to happen and about the criteria. They will then move on to the factory floor. Often they are technical men doing a technical job. But they are not employers' men and they are not trade union men. There is usually agreement on both sides of the industry about the jobs which they are to evaluate.

I believe, from the murmurs of approval which I hear, that I have carried the House with me so far. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) hit the nail on the head when he said that what we are seeking to state is that when job evaluation exercises are undertaken, there must be trade union agreement at all stages. That is crucial.

I believe that we are all agreed about this matter. It was a mistake for a suggestion of a Division to be made in this atmosphere of sweet reasonableness and light. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not deal with the Amendment on technical grounds. I hope that she will say that she understands the argument and will see that the necessary Amendment is made in another place. If she says that, presumably hon. Members opposite will be happy and I shall be happy, and we shall have achieved what we do not often achieve—sweet reasonableness and light.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

I want to make only four short points. It is obvious that the spirit of the Amendment is generally acceptable, although I have reservations whether it ought to be written in the Bill, certainly in the words on the Notice Paper. The word " shall " is an impossible word to use in this context, because it removes all flexibility from management and at the end of the day job evaluation is essentially a matter for management decision. That is not to say that management should not consult the trade unions. It would be remiss of any management concerned with job evaluation not to consult the trade unions.

Most managements today do this. Clearly, it is the trade unions' job to work within the factory or works to see that management does consult with them. There are many demarcation disputes in industry and they usually arise because trade unions are engaged with management in consultation on job evaluation. It often happens that a dispute arises because one union cannot agree with another. To ask management to consult with trade unions would be putting the obvious into the Bill, because this is what happens.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Not always.

Mr. Lewis

The general structure of the Bill as far as it applies to equal pay will encourage them to do so. I am not sure where this comes in on equal pay, since the whole of the Bill is based on the need for management to have a look at the pay structure of women in relation to men. In so far as they have to do this in any event, under the Bill they will be involved in a revaluation of jobs as they relate to women and as applied to the rates that men are receiving.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Would the hon. Gentleman accept that some trade unions are now training their staff in the techniques of job evaluation? Does he not feel that these people should be brought in at the very start of such an exercise?

Mr. Lewis

I have no doubt that managements who know that trade union representatives have been trained in this area will make good use of them. It is to the advantage of management that they should do so, since it is all to the good to get the co-operation of the unions. This has been a valuable debate, but I doubt whether this Amendment is acceptable and should be written into the Bill.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The principle we are arguing tonight has been accepted in industry for the last 50 years. Job evaluation as we now see it has developed as a refinement—it is not yet an exact science —of the old piece-work system, which was resisted by the unions for many years and accepted only when they could get the employers to sign on the dotted line that the trade unions would take part in determining the manner in which the piece-work was applied.

When we see the development of it into the new techniques of job evaluation, it would be absurd to believe that in any factory where there is strong or medium trade union organisation any employer would be so crazy as to try to get away with something like this without consulting the unions. Maybe I was lucky, but I have been fortunate during my life in having been in the midst of a strong trade union organisation. We occasionally allowed the employers to consult us; we were very democratic. This problem will not arise where there is strong trade union organisation. In that case I do not believe that the tribunals we are setting up will ever have to be consulted.

I am not talking of brute strength being applied in a factory. I am talking about the understanding between management and union. They would consider it a defeat to have to take anything outside the factory. They would say that it was a weakness which would have to go. We are concerned to get the same kind of high-quality decisions in factories where there is inadequate union representation. It would be completely unfair to employers who are working jointly with unions and getting proper results from negotiations if employers with whom they have to compete were allowed to get away with applying their own criteria, without having any trade union to put its view.

If the wording of the Amendment is not acceptable, there are times when another place can serve a useful purpose. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree to find a way of incorporating the principle for which my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) asks. It is obvious that, as this is accepted by both sides, it would be acceptable to another place. We should ask my right hon. Friend to get the words right and get this matter out of the way.

Mrs. Castle

I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) for his remarks about me. Listening to some of the earlier rather hectoring speeches, I began to get the impression that hon. Members thought that I alone in a united House of Commons was dedicated to the destruction of the principle that trade unions have a right to be consulted before job evaluation schemes are introduced. I therefore appreciated the fact that my hon. Friend reminded the House that I think I have said and done more than anyone in the House to further the principle that employers must not only consult, but take their workers with them in all changes of industrial practice if we are not to have absolute chaos and bitterness on the shop floor. I have said this about productivity and certainly about job evaluation schemes, and I say it again.

Let us get this clear. There is no division whatever between us, not only on the desirability but on the absolute essentiality of having employers, where they have trade unions in their factories, taking the commonsense step of good management and consulting the chaps and taking them with them all along the line.

Sir D. Glover

And the girls.

Mrs. Castle

Unisex—" chaps " includes girls.

But we are all agreed—even the mover of the Amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short), I think, and certainly her supporters—that this Amendment will not do. It will not do for a number of reasons. The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) argued very cogently, and, I thought, constructively. I thought that he was with the spirit of the proposal and I was sorry that he was jeered at to some extent when he pointed out that we need this agreement at the outset of a scheme, but that there are technical processes involved in the actual evaluating work which could not be done jointly.

They are too technical and even employers would not be capable of carrying them out. The words " jointly evaluate " carry technical connotations which it is impossible to accept. Let us be adult and recognise that.

There are other difficulties about the Amendment. It is not clear what the Amendment would have us do about job evaluation exercises carried out before the operative date of the legislation. Are they to be re-evaluated, with a process of trade union agreement, step by step? There is also a suggestion that the Amendment might make job evaluation mandatory. I am not standing on these technicalities, but on something much more fundamental, that the Amendment is not what the T.U.C. has asked for. It has not asked that jobs should be jointly evaluated. The appropriate passage has been read out from the report on equal pay which is going to the T.U.C. Women's Conference. It says that there must at all stages be agreement with the unions.

Of course, we are agreed on this, but the impression has been given tonight that there has been a great issue of principle at stake between the Under-Secretary of State and me on the one hand and the T.U.C. on the other. I want to get this into perspective. I have genuine anxieties about the right way of tackling this which I want to put to hon. Members and which I hope the House will accept as being sincerely expressed.

I have never been at issue about this with the T.U.C. In a letter of a few days ago the T.U.C., after further considering the Bill, asked me to give consideration to substituting certain words designed to secure this effect. Of course, I am prepared to give consideration to it. There is not a single proposition that the T.U.C. has put forward that I have not given careful consideration to. I have met a great many of them, just as I have met several points raised by this side of the House in Committee. If I am convinced that this is the right place and the right way to do it, and that it will carry out my aim, why should I object to it?

The reason we did not respond to my hon. Friend's Amendment in Committee was that it was restrictive, as she has admitted. She has had another shot—jolly good luck to her, but she has not got it quite right. I am genuinely afraid that if these words are inserted they may produce a restrictive effect in another form. Any reference in the Bill to consultation or agreement with trade unions about job evaluation schemes would have to be limited to the purpose of avoiding discrimination against women, because this is an equal pay Bill.

My hon. Friend said that job evaluation schemes should be agreed with the trade unions—as if anybody disagreed with her! She quoted the nationalisation of the coal industry, when the pits were nationalised and a joint job evaluation scheme was carried out in consultation with the trade unions, but that had nothing to do with equal pay.

We want to fight for the principle that any job evaluation scheme in any circumstances is carried out in agreement with the trade unions, as part of good industrial relations practice, not only as part of our struggle for equal pay.

Mr. John Homer (Oldbury and Halesowen)

If that is the general concept, would not my right hon. Friend agree that this is a good place to start?

Mrs. Castle

My hon. Friend may succeed in convincing me, but I am putting the reasons that have made us hesitate, and they are very good industrial relations points. I want the House to listen to them before I put a certain proposal to the House.

10.45 p.m.

This has been our reason for anxiety in resisting the Amendment. My hon. Friends may say that it would be a starting point, but we would be taking a general industrial relations principle which should go into an industrial relations Bill and putting it into a Bill dealing with equal pay. We have not got a form of words we could be happy about in this context, but if we accepted the Amendment we should be placing on the tribunal not only the job of interpreting whether the law on equal pay was being fairly applied, but of interpreting an industrial relations situation. It would have to deal with such ques- tions as what is the appropriate recognised trade union. It would start off with an argument about that.

I am putting the sort of problems that we have had to think about. We have to think about what words will mean in law and their practical consequences. With this Amendment, we would be in danger of saying and this is what I am afraid of—that, unless the job could be proved to have been jointly evaluated by the appropriate trade union, the woman might be losing her rights. These are the kind of difficulties I am concerned about.

What we want is trade union agreement to all types of job evaluation schemes. My hon. Friend said that this would be the right starting point logically, but it may be the most illogical starting point because, if the employer has not taken into account the views of the trade unions, has not won their agreement and, therefore, has produced a job evaluation scheme which they think is full of discrimination against women, they have the tribunal to go to.

This is the point of reference for the trade unions where they can make their challenge. The fact that the tribunal is there, and that the trade unions can take the employers before it, will be a massive lever for making sure that any employer in his right senses will take the precaution of consulting the trade unions in the first place about a job evaluation scheme. I put these points to my hon. Friends as issues of validity.

Mr. Orme

I understand the serious points which my right hon. Friend is making, but I think that she is making a hypothetical case of the difficulty of differentiating between trade unions within an industry. If we write a provision like this Amendment into the Bill, the trade unions will resolve the negotiating point. If the matter has to be taken to the tribunal, it will still have to come back to the factory to be resolved. We should surely start by trying to resolve the matter in the factory itself and not by taking it outside.

Mrs. Castle

But if the tribunal finds for them, then that becomes part of the contract of employment of the women concerned there and then. There are counter-arguments of substance from our point of view which should be given more thought than they have been given by my hon. Friends so far and by the T.U.C.

The reason is that it is only in the last few days that the suggestion has been made that I might reconsider this matter after consultations have been held face to face with the T.U.C. I suggest that it would be absurd for us to quarrel about the best way of applying something on which we are all wholeheartedly agreed. It would be absurd to divide the House and pillory the Government, because they might have a genuinely sound basis for disagreeing about how it should be done.

I suggest that I should tell the T.U.C., having received its letter and now that I have this point, that it needs to be further discussed between us face to face so that I can put the anxieties that I have explained to the House. I might convince the T.U.C. I do not know. The T.U.C. might convince me. But together we might work out a form of words. If that were done, and I was satisfied that there was something that we ought to do in the Bill which would not prejudice other situations, and we could find a way of doing it, there is another place where it could be done. However, I should not wish to accept this suggestion, even in principle, until I have had these further consultations with the T.U.C.

Sir D. Glover

Is not what was said by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) pertinent to this point? The right hon. Lady has said that the matter will be taken to the tribunal, but the tribunal is not in a position to evaluate jobs. Therefore, the hon. Member for Salford, West is right in saying that, whatever the decision of the tribunal, it will have to be taken back to the factory floor to be sorted out. The tribunal would only be able to say that the firm in question was not carrying out the Act. So the matter would then have to go back to the factory floor, the trade union would have to be brought into it, and the job would have to be evaluated. I do not see why the right hon. Lady is objecting so much to what has been proposed.

Mrs. Castle

I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) would wish to find himself in partnership with the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover)—[Interrup- tion.] Really, my hon. Friend and I were getting on perfectly well without the hon. Gentleman's intervention. We were understanding each other very well and I hoped that we were about to reach agreement.

One of the purposes of the tribunal is so that the union can go to it and claim that a job evaluation scheme is, in certain respects, discriminatory against women and that the scheme has to be amended. But everything has to go back in the end to agreement on the shop floor. This is what we want. We are arguing about the best way to achieve it.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on the National Superannuation and Social Services Bill, two weeks ago, there was a similar argument concerning consultation with trade unions about pensions? We voted against that Amendment. But at a later stage the Minister of State brought in another Amendment worded in a different way which gives trade unions the right to be consulted about pensions. Could not my right hon. Friend follow a similar course on this occasion?

Mrs. Castle

My hon. Friend could not have heard what I said. Not having discussed this matter with the T.U.C., it having come in as an afterthought from the T.U.C., I want an opportunity to discuss it and to air my anxieties. Then, if I feel that something should be done, I will come back with an appropriate Amendment through another place. I ask the House to accept this course, because I believe that there are points which it would be wise for me to discuss with the T.U.C.

I therefore ask my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment, for the reasons that I have given, so that we can proceed along the lines that I have suggested.

Mrs. Renée Short

I thank my right hon. Friend for the way that she has explained her view on the Amendment.

I am not one to turn aside a friendly proferred hand. I understand that my right hon. Friend will have her discussions at the earliest possible opportunity and that she will come back at some suitable stage with a form of words embodying the spirit of the Amendment, which has been accepted on both sides, and which my right hon. Friend, of course, accepts. Certainly, no one on this side has suggested that she was apart from us on this matter because it is a good, sound Socialist principle on which we are all united.

On that understanding I would wish to withdraw the Amendment.

Mrs. Castle

May I, just to be perfectly clear, —

Hon. Members


Mrs. Castle

—on a point of explanation—

Sir D. Glover

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Lady has not had the courtesy to ask the House for leave to speak again.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Minister does not require the leave of the House to speak again.

Mrs. Castle

I am sure that I do not need the leave of the House to be honest with my hon. Friend, which is what I am anxious to do. I said that I would consult the T.U.C. The outcome might be that it will agree with me, and not with my hon. Friend. I do not want my hon. Friend to be under any misunderstanding about what I have undertaken to do. If I can reach agreement with the T.U.C. on something which we both feel is of value, I shall certainly take action in another place.

Mr. James Ramsden (Harrogate)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Was not my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) right in saying that if leave is asked to withdraw an Amendment, and the debate then continues, the Amendment cannot be withdrawn?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) had not completed her speech when the Minister rose to intervene. Mrs. Renée Short.

Mrs. Renée Short

May I make it clear that I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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