§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [14th December], That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Mr. Walter Johnson (Derby, South)
On a point of order. I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Stewart-Smith) said this about the closed shop:The brutality of how it works was shown vividly in the case of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association at the British Railway depot in Derby. There, a man who refused to join a union, Mr. Hartington, was thrown out of his job …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1970; Vol. 808, c. 1025.]Mr. Hartington was not thrown out of his job. He is still working for British Railways and his case is being considered by management, by trade unions, and by Mr. Hartington himself. The hon. Member for Belper ought to correct that statement at the earliest opportunity.
In addition, during the course of his speech the hon. Gentleman referred to an appeals body as being "a kangaroo court". In effect, this appeals body consists of trade unions and management alike and all appeals are held fairly. I think that this statement, too, should be corrected by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Speaker
With respect, these are two points that might be raised in debate. They are debating points.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that there is a very important point for the House here. As I understand it, the reason my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) could not raise this matter in the normal way during the debate yesterday was that these allegations were made in the course of a maiden speech which, by the convention of the House, may not be interrupted.
I suggest that it is time that we considered that intervention, because it is becoming a little intolerable to have to sit back and listen to mis-statements which cannot be corrected at the time.
You said that it can be raised in the course of the debate, but you know perfectly well, Mr. Speaker, with due respect, 1127 that this depends on who is called during the debate. Nobody can have a guarantee. My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South, as a representative of the T.S.S.A. in the House, has a special standing in this matter. [Interruption.] Yes, his own union. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that as a member of the T.S.S.A. and as a former official of the T.S.S.A. of standing my hon. Friend has a special feeling about this matter. He was inhibited from raising the point yesterday because it was a maiden speech. Can we have your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to how the House can be protected against mis-statements of this kind in maiden speeches?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Lady is on a serious point. The final answer to what she has said is that the hon. Member for Derby, South has corrected, under the guise of a point of order, what he regarded as a mis-statement made yesterday. It was made in debate yesterday. The tradition of maiden speeches is that they should be non-controversial. That has gone, but it places the House in great difficulties if very controversial speeches are made which contain statements which an hon. Gentleman wishes to correct and cannot in the nature of things. It is a rather serious matter.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not also the tradition and convention of the House that if an hon. Member is to be criticised by another hon. Member he is given notice of it so that he can be here to defend himself?
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to take up your time or that of the House, but in fairness to the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) and in fairness to the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), because I am sure that it was not her wish, may I point out that she said that the hon. Member for Derby, South was the representative of the T.S.S.A. in the House?
Surely it is a fact that, although many of us may quite properly belong to various organisations which may have a viewpoint of some value to put forward 1128 in the House, we are only here as the representatives of our constituents. I hope that the other sort of representation will never exist in the House, and I am sure that the right hon. Lady would not wish it to go unchallenged on the record.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Lady both know that Members of Parliament are representatives of those who send them to Parliament.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I remind the House that we are on the second day of an important debate. At least 30 hon. Members sat all day yesterday trying to get in. The more time we spend before we get on to the debate the fewer hon. Members will be called.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Further to that point of order. I will not take more than a moment, Mr. Speaker. It is well recognised that a maiden speech should be uncontroversial, which amounts to an understanding that the speaker should not be interrupted. Surely it is perfectly in order, however, for a speaker called subsequently from the other side to take up the points which have been made in a maiden speech.
§ Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)
Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you are aware that at least ten maiden speeches have been made in the debate on the Consultative Document and in yesterday's debate. Are you aware that when we debated the rate support grant last Thursday, which was an ideal occasion for maiden speeches to be made, not one maiden speech was made? There were no fewer than four consecutive speeches from this side of the Chamber. As ideal opportunities are allowed to go begging, may I suggest that when controversial issues such as the Bill come up maiden speakers should be asked to reserve their debuts for another day?
§ Mr. Speaker
Every hon. Member in the House eagerly waited once to make his maiden speech. We have a record number of new Members in the House. It is true that they are inclined to choose important debates for the occasion of their maiden speeches. I think that that, too, 1129 is natural and not new to this group of maiden speakers. I hope that we can get on.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)
I am glad to intervene in this debate, both because of the importance of the Bill and also because at one time, as the House knows, I held the high office of Minister of Labour. I went through the same sorts of traumatic experience as others who have held that office have recounted from time to time, including the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) yesterday.
Nevertheless, I look back on it with pleasure, because it was that period of my political life when I made fewest enemies—some would say for good reasons; some would say for bad. In any case, it enabled me to establish a working relationship with trade unionists and with employers which I valued and which I have since been able to maintain.
Mr. Speaker, I am mindful of your exhortation about the number of hon. Gentlemen who will, quite naturally, wish to take part in the debate. I noticed that yesterday more than half the time available was taken up by Front Bench speakers. Therefore, with your permission, Sir, and that of the House I should like to make my intervention as brief as possible. In it I wish to address myself to the main principles of the Bill, which is surely the purpose under our procedure of a Second Reading debate. The House will have the opportunity of eliciting detailed information and of debating the drafting during the Committee stage on the Floor of the House. I think that most right hon. and hon. Gentlemen—I think I detected this in the attitude of many on the Opposition Front Bench yesterday afternoon—will feel that there are delicate and important issues in the Bill and that often very fine matters of judgment are required in deciding which is the best way of achieving the purpose of the main objective for the Bill.
What I suggest that we need to do in this debate is to establish clearly some of the issues with which we are dealing and the genuine differences between the two sides of the House.
1130 I approach this matter from the point of view that in the last 25 years, or just over 25 years, since the last years of the war, we have seen a process of intensive change and reform in almost every aspect of our national life. Whether it is in social services, education or housing, whether it is in the economy, in company law, in the field of monopoly legislation, employers' restrictive practices, or in our own political organisations and institutions, we have witnessed a continuing process of investigation followed by modernisation. It was begun in the last years of the wartime Coalition. It was continued under the Attlee Administration and by all Governments since. And yet the one major field in which there has been no such reform is that of industrial relations. But I suggest that no one today, whether inside or outside the employers' organisations and the trade unions, can deny that reform is urgently needed, least of all the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I have here a mass of quotations which I could use to substantiate that, but I have no desire to go into the matter in detail today. Suffice it to say that the right hon. Gentleman staked the future of himself and his party on reform and he lost. No overseas observer does other than express astonishment that since the war it is this field which has escaped the general process in Britain of examination and reform. It is an extraordinary exception and, because of the implications for the Bill, I want to examine for a moment the reasons for it.
I think that there are three reasons. The first is the belief, which was held for a long time, that those concerned with industrial relations, employers and unions, helped by bodies which study these matters both inside and outside universities, would bring about such a reform themselves. Ten years ago I shared that view and openly declared it. At the Ministry of Labour I embarked on a course of trying to encourage those concerned to bring about this reform. But today no one believes that this process is possible, least of all perhaps the moderate, forward-looking employers and trade union leaders who want to see it brought about. The ten years which have intervened have, for some, certainly myself, been years of disillusion which have shown that it is a futile hope to 1131 expect that those concerned will be able to deal with the problems which undeniably exist.
The second reason is that at the outset there was a prevailing feeling that this was an area in which the rôle of the law was almost negligible and in which there was very little room for improving the situation by new and better legislation. [Interruption.]
§ The Prime Minister
I have given up expected that members of the Opposition Front Bench will listen to other people's speeches.
There was the feeling that industrial relations were human relations. This doctrine was held widely at that time, and the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn, having launched an all-out attack on every aspect of the Bill, finished her speech yesterday by summing up her view as meaning "What we need is better psychology".
When I was Minister of Labour 11 years ago, this was undeniably the prevailing view. My judgment then was that it was right to continue with that traditional policy and not attempt a modernisation of the law. The Leader of the Opposition has from time to time enjoyed himself teasing me by saying that I flatly refused all pressure to set up a Royal Commission in 1959, citing a famous Motion on the Order Paper. I have a photostat copy of the Motion here. What he never revealed was that that famous Motion was signed by precisely two Members. That illustrated the extent of the pressure at that time for any sort of inquiry or any change in legislation.
I can well understand the position of those who argued that case in the 1950s and early 1960s. What I cannot understand is the position of those like the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn who still argue that case today. There has been a deterioration in the standard of industrial relations so marked and so damaging as, in my view, to undermine the whole basis of that traditional argument.
There are still those who argue that the law should not be brought into industrial relations. [HON. MEMBERS: " Hear, 1132 hear."] I understand that point of view which is held in all sincerity. In the thought which I have given to this matter since those days, I have come to realise that this is not the issue. The law is already in industrial relations. It receives little publicity in many of its aspects, but it is there and it is sometimes effectively used. There are very recent cases in which unions have sued employers quite justifiably and successfully.
The unions have never hesitated to use such rights as they have when they thought it appropriate to do so. There are far more injunctions against unions today than are recognised publicly or in this House. Those injunctions are, almost without exception, observed by the unions because they are law-respecting bodies when the law is brought into action. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many injunctions have there been?"] In 1969 there were about 10 injunctions against unions. None of them received publicity, and they were observed.
Human behaviour in industrial relations is based on the existing law, much of which has remained unchanged for between three-quarters of a century and a century. There is no question, I believe, that human behaviour in industrial relations is conditioned, governed and based upon the existing law. Very well, then. It is not a question of keeping the law out of industrial relations. There are some who object to bringing the law up-to-date in accordance with the concepts of a modern industrialised society. In my view, a modern law will be respected, just as an out-of-date law can be evaded or exploited to the detriment of the community.
We can argue about and discuss the proposed law in Committee, but one of the things which I regretted about the speech of the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn yesterday was her attempt to undermine the instrument of the law, namely, the courts proposed to be set up by the Bill, before it has even been established. She described the proposed courts as "Government dominated". I hope not to hear that phrase about a British court of justice mentioned in the House again. The proposed courts are to be established on the same basis and same principle as the restrictive practices courts for dealing with the restrictive practices of employers or 1133 with resale price maintenance—judges, plus those with knowledge of the relevant conditions.
I do not recall any criticism of this arrangement when it was a question of setting up courts to deal with employers and their restrictive practices and resale price maintenance. Nobody then argued that those were "Government dominated" courts. Nor do I believe that a British court will ever be dominated by any Government of any party.
The third reason for the lack of action in this field is the strength of the interests opposed to change and the entrenched nature of the privileges which must be called into question in any serious attempt at modernising industrial relations. We saw vividly these interests at work in the defence of these privileges in the closing years of the last Administration, and they triumphed. I do not wish to go over that matter again, except to say that the price paid by this country has been very high and is now recognised more and more clearly. It was higher than any believed possible at the time. Perhaps many of us looked at it then as a political matter. It has since proved to be a matter of industrial relations of the highest importance: nearly half as many strikes again since that time as before, nearly twice as many days lost, and wage settlements directly afterwards at a wildly inflationary level by the criteria set out by the last Administration. The return to any sort of normal healthy situation is bound to be an anxious and painful process.
Yesterday the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn made a negative speech. It was more than that: it was an intemperate speech. To many of us it was, I think, a depressing speech. When she was in office she attempted reform. It was through no fault of her own that she was not able to bring it about. In the view of many of us, the right hon. Lady—and I said this to the House at the time—showed remarkable courage. It is, therefore, rather sad that, although we criticised her for her approach over the cooling-off period, when she suggested that responsibility should lie with Ministers rather than with the courts and in one or two other cases, she should condemn root and branch a Bill which is trying to do many of the things she attempted and which 1134 contains many of the provisions which she herself wanted, and I believe in her hearts of hearts still wants, she does less than justice to herself in the attitude she has taken.
There comes a time when the country as a whole realises that the case for reform is proved beyond doubt. And when that stage is reached, the arguments of the diehards and those who oppose no longer carry weight. That is the position which we have reached in this country today. To many it must be ironic that the Labour Party, which was founded to accelerate the pace of change in this country, and which has a notable record in many spheres in so doing, should now base so much of its political activity on resistance to change where it is obviously needed, and where the Labour Party itself has acknowledged that need.
This Bill is a recognition, which is perhaps long overdue, of the major place occupied today by trades unions and employers' organisations in the economic and social life of the nation. As this Measure recognises, the rights and responsibilities of employers' associations and unions are a matter for the community, and the community are responsible for their ordering through Parliament, just as with other institutions throughout the course of history. I still fail to understand why those who are so concerned, quite justifiably, about individual rights and about democratic procedures can be slow to recognise and indeed applaud the fact that those will henceforth be ensured in the clearest possible way under the law of the land. Recent events have shown—
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North) rose—
§ The Prime Minister
No, I cannot give way. Recent events have shown beyond any doubt that the country, if not the Opposition, is well aware of this need for this comprehensive reform. Too often the attempt to resolve these differences purely by co-operation based on the existing state of affairs has failed. People are sick and tired of the consequences of this failure. What we need to do now is to produce a legislative framework for industrial relations which will meet contemporary needs instead of the needs of 75 or 100 years ago. This is necessary not only for the health of our society but 1135 also as an essential part of a long-term economic strategy.
Both sides of the House recognise that Governments have tried to establish a pattern of steady and sustainable economic growth by various means during the last 25 years. Too often their efforts have been frustrated by the requirements of short-term economic management. We are determined that this should not happen again.
Successive Governments have been forced by an adverse balance of payments to resort to deflationary measures. Having achieved that deflation, they have then found it necessary to stimulate the economy, to reverse a rise in unemployment, and to try to make use of what has become spare industrial capacity. We are all familiar with this story. Then there is excessive pressure on demand and more trouble with balance of payments. The round starts again, but the underlying factors have not changed during the past 25 years.
In this process the competitive pressures inherent in the existing system of collective bargaining and the consequences of industrial disputes, as of other forms of industrial disruption, have pushed up money incomes beyond what both sides of the House recognise to be possible in a productive economy. Sometimes the rise has been faster, sometimes slower, but nobody can deny what has been happening over all this period.
This, then, is the underying problem. Even when the present rate of growth of incomes and prices has been moderated, the problem will still be with us. It is possible for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that this Bill will not produce an immediate answer to this problem. But there is no doubt whatever that it is a vital element in the longer-term strategy for dealing with it. It has now become clear to the country that such a strategy is necessary for our industrial health and for an expanding economy.
That strategy is aimed at establishing a framework which will enable this process to come about, but it has many other strands which I have constantly tried to emphasise, and I do not wish to go into them in detail this afternoon. These are the strands of control of public expenditure which have been constantly 1136 emphasised by the Labour Administration, the reform of the tax system, improved management and industrial training and the social policies of both Governments. If these are to be completed, one must add the reform of industrial relations. One must also take into account what it would do to help responsible management and responsible trades union leadership, and to provide the opportunity of securing genuine and lasting improvement in pay and conditions.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) rose—
§ The Prime Minister
No, I will not give way. How often have we heard that those who should be supported in industrial relations are those who are forward-looking and who wish to obtain a genuine improvement in their standard of living through improvements in earnings which will equal productivity. This is the problem that this Bill seeks to answer on both sides of industry. It cannot by itself bring results. It must be accompanied by the rest of the economic policy I have been describing, but it is essential and will contribute to the changing attitudes which everybody recognises is necessary.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday, in summing up the purposes of the Bill, said that it sought to bring order, stability and confidence to the system of free collective bargaining. This would happen because the rules and procedures laid down in the Bill will be clear and firm. There will, of course, be the benefits of adhering to the rules. If contracts are made, I believe that in a law-respecting society the great majority of them will be kept, and that once disputes arise they can be resolved in an ordinary way.
The people of this country are asking more and more that we should abandon the old methods in which every Minister of Labour has taken part and should have a means under the law for orderly resolution of industrial problems. It is this change in climate that British industry and the whole economy desperately needs today.
The rules and procedures will undoubtedly secure growing support from the majority of employers and trade unionists as they are seen to work to their 1137 advantage. It will exert a growing influence for good in industrial relations and in the way in which employers and unions deal with one another. No longer will management and union leaders in some industries need to devote so much of their working time to wearing each other down in a senseless war of attrition.
§ The Prime Minister
We have heard constant emphasis on the number of strikes, and this undoubtedly is an important element in our economy and in our production. It takes no account whatever of what those of us who meet the employers and leading trades unions know, and that is the burden it places upon them individually in handling these problems constantly and in knowing all the time that the next problem cannot be far away. No longer will it be necessary to go on strike over a man's dismissal. Is not that an advantage? An orderly method—[Interruption.] I am sorry if there are some who do not wish to see these things resolved in an orderly way. What the Bill does is to make—[Interruption.]
§ The Prime Minister
It will be unnecessary to strike over the question of deciding who belongs to whose union or whether an employer should recognise a particular union, again, because an orderly procedure is laid down.
§ Mr. Skinner rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way the hon. Gentleman must sit down.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I must warn the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) that he must contain himself.
§ Mr. Skinner
On a point of order. I just heard the Prime Minister remark, after I had attempted to get him to give way to an intervention of mine, that I 1138 had not distinguished myself in my interventions so far. May I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, to encourage the Prime Minister to explain precisely what he means by that?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It is not for me to encourage the Prime Minister. That is a point of argument, not a point of order.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
Further to that point of order. By common consent, this is an important debate and most of us on both sides want to hear the right hon. Gentleman. I suggest that my hon. Friends do not press this point any further. On consideration, the right hon. Gentleman might regret that he made his last remark, but whether or not he does, this is an important debate in which it is important that the right hon. Gentleman and other right hon. Gentlemen should be heard.
§ The Prime Minister
I was developing the thesis that such strikes will be unnecessary because an alternative and orderly means will be laid down. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may well have views as to whether they are the right means of doing it in an orderly fashion. That is a matter for open and frank discussion in Committee. It is not a reason for repudiating an orderly means of dealing with these matters under the law. The House will take the view that a principle of the Bill is that it is the force of argument and not the argument of force that must be decisive in these matters.
As a result, both managements and unions, instead of being constantly harassed by unnecessary disputes, can plan ahead to improve productivity and create better working conditions for everyone in their industry. When that happens, the employer will have a better chance of maintaining his schedule and his delivery dates—
§ The Prime Minister
Exactly. And out of his profits he will be prepared to pay more in wages as the product of assured industrial peace. It will be to the advantage of both sides. If hon. Members opposite have not yet realised that aspect of industrial life, they are way behind most of the people in their own trade unions.
1139 The employer will undoubtedly be prepared to pay more with an enforceable agreement which gives him that period of time in which to plan ahead and achieve results. That is the whole basis of advantage in the way in which the Bill is constructed. What is more, the nation will better be able to afford higher real wages, because they will be soundly based on productive efficiency.
No one has ever denied that there will be hard bargaining before contracts are signed, but the trade unions as well as the employers will be the better prepared for it. They may need to improve their organisations. They will probably decide to pay their leaders and their staff salaries which will match their new responsibilities. This, too, has been urgently needed, as has been recognised by every foreign observer of the industrial relations scene in this country. Those of us who have talked to leading trade unionists in other countries, as I did when I was Minister of Labour and have done many times since, have so often wished that we could have here by voluntary arrangements many of the advantages which they have overseas.
Is it too much to expect that in this country we, too, could have a statistical bureau, supported by both employers and trade unions, so that this element was automatically taken out of any discussion or negotiation, because it would be paid for and supported by both sides, and both sides would accept its conclusion? To any ordinary person, it is elementary that we should have such a system. It exists in other countries, but here we have never got anywhere near it.
I do not think that when the Bill becomes law the trade unions will shirk the responsibilities of which I have spoken. Certainly, under the Bill these new responsibilities will have solid advantages for their members. Their bargaining rights will be extended, and their membership can therefore increase. This will depend on the trade unions themselves and what they achieve.
As the provisions of the Bill take effect, we shall see better-organised unions. It may be that the number of individual unions will decrease, because they will see it to be to their advantage to bring that about to get the staff they want and to pay better salaries. The unions will 1140 have the rights and incentives to membership offered under the Bill.
In the end, this will produce what everybody has been urging upon the Governments for many years, which is to introduce legislation to have stronger and more successful union leadership. That is a view which I very much support. They will be in a position to negotiate a better and fairer deal for their members in exchange for genuine productivity and for the assurance of industrial peace. Those are the advantages of the Bill, which I believe to be very great indeed.
If the procedures are not followed, and enforceable collective agreements are broken despite the union's effort, then provided the union uses its best endeavours to persuade its members to return to work, neither the union nor the official union leaders will be liable to compensation awards. The official union leadership, therefore, will be in a much stronger position to deal with troublemakers. Again, it is something for which moderate union leadership has been asking.
§ Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire) rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Members for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) and Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) must contain themselves.
§ The Prime Minister
The employers will be in a position to take disciplinary or legal action against unofficial strike leaders.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
On a point of order. As one who has listened very carefully to the Prime Minister, and who might have liked to put one or two points to him, may I suggest that it would be easier for my hon. Friends to contain themselves if he would kindly consent to give way once or twice?
§ The Prime Minister
I am trying to meet the wish of the House that as many hon. Members as possible should be able to take part in the debate. I just wish 1141 to say that when I am asked to name particular individual union leaders, I do not wish to do so—[Interruption.]—I do not intend to indulge in personalities about trade union leaders.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman said just now that the provisions in this legislation have been asked for by responsible prominent trade union leaders. How does he explain that these proposals have met with the unanimous opposition of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress? Where are these leaders to be found if they are not there, because the General Council is made up of the general secretaries and presidents of the unions? How can the right hon. Gentleman be so barefaced as to imagine that we will believe such nonsense?
§ The Prime Minister
I said that moderate trade union leaders have long been asking for their own position to be strengthened. There is no doubt about that, and those of us who have talked and dealt with them know that—[Interruption.] Indeed, so do the right hon. Gentlemen on the front bench opposite. It was asked for many times during the last eight days, when these matters have been publicly discussed.
If the unions themselves disregard enforceable agreements or engage in unfair practices unprotected by the law, they will be liable. There are those who object to this provision. In my view, in any society based on the rule of law, this must be so. It is essential that it is accepted. But I do not believe for one moment that the unions are likely to put themselves in breach of the law. They will not choose to act in such a way as to risk their funds, the subscriptions of their members, in ill-judged and unlawful actions. I am sure that their members would not wish them to do so and will themselves exert pressure to prevent it happening.
§ The Prime Minister
But managers and management will find that they have new responsibilities which they must accept if the new climate in industrial relations is to be created. They must take the initiative to secure improved industrial relations in their own businesses and factories. This 1142 responsibility is clearly upon them. They will have to negotiate collective agreements including dispute procedures, which will be effective. These are agreements by which management must abide just as much as the unions and union members. Therefore, the responsibilities are placed on both sides and are fair and equal. The Bill provides the legal framework which will enable both management and trade unions to advance in authority and in efficiency.
There is one point which the Leader of the Opposition may wish to deal with later when he winds up, as I understand he intends to do. It was left to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) to say, last night, that if his party is returned to power, at some future date, it will repeal the whole of the Bill. It is a little unusual to allow such an important announcement to be made by one so newly on the Opposition Front Bench. Nevertheless, it is a vital and important announcement about which all those concerned with industrial relations, employers and trade unions, should know. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will live to regret the day that he ever allowed that pledge to be made. It will cost him just as dear as his original retreat did.
In my view, the people of this country in these last few days have made clear their own view about the conduct of industrial relations, with which the Bill is concerned. They have faced many difficulties and hardships. They have faced the immediate difficulties with courage and determination because of, and for the sake of, the longer-term interests of the nation which they have at heart. Right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House have had evidence of that. They will have found that although there has been resentment—
Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
On a point of order. I am sure that the Prime Minister does not want to mislead the House or the country, but by his recent remarks he has clearly implied that the Bill would have dealt with the recent electricity dispute. It is completely untrue to suggest this.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That is not a point of order but a point of argument which was also made yesterday.
§ The Prime Minister
I have—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I have summarised what has been revealed and commented upon amply in the Press and which has also—[Interruption.]—been appreciated by the great majority of right hon. and hon. Members. It has been a resolve of the nation that as a community we should stand firm until a position is reached in which the interests of the community are respected. Allied to that has been a very real determination that our industrial relations ought to be conducted in a new way, to get away from the bickering and bitterness with which we are all too familiar, and to search for an orderly way of resolving difficulties; to establish rules which are fair to all, and then to make sure that those rules are kept to give everyone in industry a chance to work out a more fruitful relationship. This resolve has been quite clear in the public mood, and it gives particular importance to the timing of this debate. It was said years ago that there is nothing so strong as an idea whose time has come.
The ideas in the Bill have been widely discussed and carefully prepared. The time has now come to carry through this reform which the people overwhelmingly demand.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
In his speech the Prime Minister has ignored some of the important aspects of the conditions and circumstances in which the party opposite is introducing the Bill. We know that trade unions are within the law already. What the Prime Minister has to justify is the extension of the law into trade union activity and industrial relations, and to show that this is the best way of achieving a common purpose. We are not against change. We have views on how change should be brought about. If change can be achieved by voluntary action, by self-discipline instead of statutory discipline, we believe that that is the better way.
The party opposite has not a good record on either industrial relations or trade union law. I was very interested in the philosophy of the Secretary of State when he read the first Clause. He referred to liberty and freedom, order and discipline, and we were told that many fears entertained about the Bill would 1144 prove to be unfounded. He also said that there was no reason to doubt the Government's motives, and that the purpose and object of the Bill was contained in Clause 1.
On these benches we have a philosophy about trade unions, too, and it goes back a very long way. Our aims are to make trade unions strong and free to strive for improvements in people's living standards, to enable them to play a constructive rôle in industry and society, and to combine their growing strength, which we on these benches welcome, with modernisation, moderation and responsibility.
The Prime Minister may say that those are his aims, too, but I regret to say that millions of trade unionists, including the most respected, responsible and trusted members of the Trades Union Congress, do not believe that; and, I am sorry to say, neither do we. When I was on the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, as I was for nearly 10 years, we used to go carefully through the agenda beforehand, and sometimes we had before us a motion to which, on the face of it, one could not object. It looked all right. But the late Arthur Deakin, a shrewed and powerful man, used to say, "It is not the wording of the motion that matters so much as who is moving it." So even where the wording of the Bill seems fairly harmless, we have to see who is moving it.
Why should we on these benches have any reason to doubt the Government's motives? It is because the Tory record on trade union legislation in my lifetime has been pretty awful. The last major change was the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, a punitive Measure deliberately intended to break trade union power. That Act was born on the benches opposite under a Conservative Government.
§ Mr. David James (Dorset, North) rose—
§ Mr. Houghton
I am among the dwindling number of survivors of the historic meeting at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, when the General Strike was declared in April, 1926, and I shall say something of the consequences of that experience a little later.
1145 As the Prime Minister said, or implied, although we spent a good deal of time yesterday on the detail of the Bill, the general principles and objects of it have not yet been decided by the House, for there was no approval of the Consultative Document in the Motion which the House carried; it was a Motion to note the Consultative Document. I shall, therefore, as did the Prime Minister, examine some of the broader aspects of the Bill and the conditions in which it is introduced.
In winding up yesterday, the Undersecretary of State asked: Is the Bill necessary? Is it fair? Is it workable? He answered, "Yes" to all three. But these are matters of opinion. The Secretary of State has neither asked for nor yet obtained from the House any approval of the Consultative Document, so each of us must bring his own judgment to bear on these questions. I disagree with the Under-Secretary of State, but my first observation is that this is a bad time to be discussing a Bill of this kind at all, and this is an important aspect of the matter on which the Prime Minister failed to comment.
The atmosphere at present is distinctly unfavourable for the introduction of a Bill of this kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] What is bad in it is being feared, denounced and hated by the trade unions outside, and what is good in it—which is not a great deal—can scarcely get a hearing. The reason for that—again, not mentioned by the Prime Minister—is that the Government have alienated the working people by their recently announced policies, and now the right hon. Gentleman is antagonising them. Many of the Tory backwoodsmen are beating their tom-toms and demanding that something be done about the unions. How can the Bill possibly receive a calm reception and rational debate in present circumstances?
The Prime Minister declared from the steps of No. 10 in June that his aim was to unite the nation. Now he is dividing it. The heading to a remarkably perceptive article in the Sunday Times last Sunday said it all:To divide the nation is to fail to govern.Last night, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) said that he thought it very 1146 necessary to restore the consensus to get get acceptance of this kind of legislation in the country today.
As for freedom, in his famous Guildhall speech—which many of my hon. Friends seem to want to have placed in the Library of the House—the Prime Minister said of freedom, "You have it; you are going to get more of it; but you must use it aright". We want to know the respects in which the Bill enlarges the area of freedom. The truth of the matter is that the Government are visibly failing in the main purpose of government, and I believe that in due course they will be dismissed for it, probably sooner than many expect.
We wish to be fair, even in a debate such as this which rouses considerable emotion and controversy. Admittedly, the Government inherited noticeable trends towards inflation. This was brought about by only partial success—[Interruption.] This seems to amuse the Prime Minister. Did he find that inheritance funny when he came to power? I was saying that the trend has been brought about by the only partial success of the prices and incomes policy and its subsequent failure—let us face it—under a Labour Government. But since last June the Government have done nothing but aggravate the situation.
The mini-Budget, with its shift of social expenditure from the State to the individual, and the failure to give more support to families with young children, except among the desperately poor, have fanned the flames of social discontent. Fears of a prices spiral and the substantial gains of the pacemakers in wage movements have, naturally, aroused most serious anxieties among others about being left behind. This is what many of the pay claims now are about, and especially in the public sector which is notoriously too close for comfort to the chilly winds of plateaux and the draughts surrounding guiding lights. The public sector is the one in which there is the deepest apprehension.
I was in this sector of trade union activities myself, and I know the difficulty there has been over the years in settling any firm principle for fixing pay in the public services. Civil servants, for example, took years to obtain fair comparability as a firm principle for 1147 fixing their pay, and they were always worried lest Governments, in pursuance of their economic aims, might resist the application of the principle upon which they had staked so much.
I turn now to a general look at the industrial scene in Britain today, where, I think hon. Members on both sides will agree, there is much room for disquiet. A new generation of workers are on the march. They are seeking to uphold their dignity and attain fulfilment of their personality. There are tensions and stresses on the shop floor, due to intensive methods of modern industrial production. Small things spark off big rows. The use of power has become obsessive in the minds of some people. The level of tolerance is falling all the time. There are more and more conditions up with which the worker will not put.
People generally and workers in particular feel that they are being propelled helplessly along by hidden forces of finance, science and technology over which they have no control. This state of discontent cannot be brought within the framework of any trade union law. We are in the midst of one of the great human changes in history, and the problem all the time is how to contain it, how to encourage what is good in it without aggravating it by pettifogging interference by the law. The urgent task of Government as never before is to unite the nation with policies which make us feel that we are all one of another, and that our common aim is to make life really worth living for all the people.
Instead, the Government are pushing us towards the more ruthless social and competitive philosophy of the Britain of my youth, to be seen even today in the United States. The Government are preaching to the unions on Sundays and turning the lawyers on them for the rest of the week. What can be more futile than to contain symptoms of widespread unrest by legal constraints and collective penalties? This means first the law, then the courts, then the bailiffs and then the police. This Bill deals with the traditions, instincts and behaviour of mass movements of large sections of workers, bound together by the struggles and history of a common interest and purpose and organised for collective action.
1148 The Prime Minister ignores this. He talks of the people of Britain expecting something as if 10 million trade unionists were not part of them. We are talking about them when we refer to what the people of this country expect. The great mass of the trade unionists are expecting a fair deal, they are expecting to retain their freedom to combine, they are expecting to retain their right to negotiate, to retain their right to strike. What is there between us except that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are disqualified from joining in this discussion?
The exercise of the traditional rights and policies and practices of the trade union movement, strenuously fought for, often bitterly won, cannot be converted into a form of industrial delinquency and pitched into the realm of law and penalties without deep resentment on the trade union side. No doubt many hon. Members have read the plausible paragraphs of the Consultative Document and wonder what the fuss is about. Is it not fair; does it not seem right; is it not necessary; will it not be workable, what is the matter? Fundamentally, what is the matter is that there is a wide difference in thought and mode of life and attitudes between working people and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. This is about pride and history.
Many unions will be required to alter their rules to qualify for registration. We might just as well ask the Church of England to alter the 39 Articles to get State approval. Suppose trade unions said in large numbers that they would prefer not to register but soldier on and sweat it out to retain what they believe to be their right to conduct their business in their own way. In any case, it is a mistake to try to codify human behaviour for those who have to live together where the mood and circumstance make great differences in attitudes between men and women on both sides of industry.
This Bill reads like a guide to good order and discipline in a grammar school. It was drafted in the solitude of the Inner Temple, and many of the provisions will not withstand the mighty roar of disapproval from the mass meetings. The Donovan Commission was sensitive to the deep complexities of its task, but this Government think they know better. Again, I will be frank with the House. The Labour Government at one time 1149 thought that they knew better until they persuaded the T.U.C., as they were entitled to do and as it was proper to do, to take on board in the voluntary movement the aims and purposes which otherwise would have to be achieved by legislation. This Government are in no position to get that response from the Trades Union Congress, and so they are attempting to do it by legislation, without consultations or consent.
If the Trades Union Congress had been left to get on with the job, it would have been making good progress by now in building up its authority with the unions. But the Tory Government have wrecked it. The Government are so foolish as to believe that they can introduce a Measure like this without any prior consultation or prospect of cooperation. Despite all that Donovan said about compulsory strike ballots and against the introduction of new procedures for dealing with public utility stoppages, the Government go stubbornly on.
Union ballots have many problems, and those of us who have had to conduct them know what they are. There are problems of time, cost and security. On the face of it, there are opportunities in, for example, Clause 48 for serious mischief where a dissident minority can be in a position, so it appears, to force a ballot on the question of sole bargaining agent every two years. Many similar questions were raised yesterday. In my experience, very few Bills have been introduced in which so much is in doubt or obscure. We have only touched the fringe of the legal picnic that we shall have in Committee.
Only decided cases, reached at great cost in time and money, will make sense of many of the general phrases such as "arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination". There has been nothing like this since the Trade Disputes Act, 1927, and that was the Tory idea of putting handcuffs on unions which were getting above themselves. No wonder the Labour Government repealed that Act lock, stock and barrel at the first opportunity. I was there in 1926. I saw great men of the trade union movement, including Ernest Bevin, sing themselves to disaster to the hymn "Abide With Me". They were men of character and integrity, patriotic men whose last thought was to overthrow the Constitution or intimidate 1150 Parliament. When the law had construed their actions as an attempt to do both, they speedily called off the General Strike and the miners were left to struggle on alone. Then the wrath came. A sympathetic strike was outlawed; the closed shop in local government employment was made unlawful; the Civil Service associations were banished from the T.U.C. and their political funds dispersed. The Civil Service Union had to get a certificate of approval from the Registrar to make sure that it was fit for civil servants to belong to.
During the war, when I and some of my friends went to the then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to beseech him, in view of the war situation and of the co-operation and patriotism of the trade unions, to repeal that part of the 1927 Act which forbade Civil Service unions belonging to the T.U.C, the tears streamed down his face and he confessed that his Conservative supporters would not let him do it. The great man, the biggest of the war leaders, was not able to persuade his hon. Friends, even during the war, to release the ban on Civil Service associations joining with others for their mutual benefit. Not even Ernest Bevin, who was Minister of Labour at the time, could win back their freedom. His hour came in 1946—an hour for which he had been waiting 20 years, to move the repeal of the 1927 Act.
The House will forgive me if I feel deeply emotional about those experiences at the hands of people who preceded right hon. and hon. Members opposite. I simply cannot listen to a Conservative who says that he wants to strengthen trade unions. He is not fit to try. This must be left to those of us on this side of the House and to the trade unions.
The Labour Government left an uncompleted task last June, and we shall take it up again. It was an honourable endeavour to assist trade unions in their work. We had published a Bill to which probably right hon. and hon. Members opposite would not take serious exception. It can be studied afresh and discussed with the unions. We shall give more attention to management—the education and training for management and the qualifications for management. It takes a lot of training to make a craftsman, but anybody can be a manager. 1151 Any blunderbuss can be a staff man making lots of trouble and mischief.
There are two sides to every dispute. What the public hears most about is what the unions are doing. All too frequently they hear very little about how management brought about the dispute. Managers are as important as engineers and designers. In some places management still lives in the era of the bully and the sack.
The solution to industrial relations, to the extent that there is any such thing permanently in our changing society, lies mainly with those directly involved in them. It is there that we should get things moving. The Government have lost one of their most valuable assets in undertaking this exercise, and that is the good will of the unions. It is no good saying that it is the wild men who are protesting loudly about the Bill. This Bill is an affront to the responsible leaders of the trade union movement. How can it possibly succeed without their support?
We want a revival of the spirit brought about in the early days after the First World War by a distinguished Speaker of the House, Mr. J. H. Whitley, the Chairman of the Whitley Committee. He created the Whitley Councils throughout the public services here and in the Government services in the Commonwealth which are now celebrating 50 years of fruitful work. Speaker Whitley learned his industrial relations the hard way, as an employer in Halifax, and in his dealings with the most unpredictable and at times most unruly and noisy group of workers I know—the House of Commons. We have no qualifications to talk to anybody about behaviour, still less about efficiency and productivity. We are as Victorian as the most backward mill in my constituency.
This Bill is not the answer. It is not the small print which we must look at so much as the men behind the print. They are spreading disaffection in the land. They are stimulating pressures in our acquisitive society which make for militancy and unreason. The Prime Minister did not examine the turmoil in social and industrial life which is creating this restiveness of human activity and purpose.
We believe that there is an alternative to the Bill, but it will not come in this 1152 Parliament and it will not come from this Government. To find that constructive alternative is the task which we on these benches are setting ourselves.
As the Prime Minister has referred to statements made about the intentions of a future Labour Government concerning the Bill, including that of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) last night, may I be permitted to give the authorised version, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. What we say is this—and let me put it on the record because this is what we intend to do:We call upon the National Executive, in conjunction with the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress, to develop our constructive alternative to the Tory Bill which will ensure that a workable accord between a future Labour Government and the unions and their members can be put to the electorate as a firm basis for the repeal of the Industrial Relations Bill now before Parliament.That is what we say, and that, I am confident, will come to pass.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)
I am most grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye so that I may make my maiden speech. I am very pleased to make it in the last few days of Mr. Speaker's active service in the Chamber.
My constituents in Bosworth will excuse me if I do not give a long description of the constituency's excellence. We are down-to-earth people who live and work in West Leicestershire, and we like to get on with the job. My predecessor, Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, a distinguished Parliamentarian, would wish me to debate the matter in hand. I should like to say only this about him. His independence of mind and action proved attractive to his constituents for many years. I hope to emulate his independence of thought, but I hope that in so doing I shall not fall out with my Front Bench to the same extent as he fell out with his Front Bench.
Yesterday the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) gave maiden speakers a little homily. I respect his words as I respect his 50 years' service as a trade unionist. If I overstep the limit of non-controversiality, I beg the indulgence of the House.
1153 This is a controversial Bill, with disturbing, and meant to be disturbing, implications for some people. The controversy will die down only when the proposals are properly understood and recognised for what they are meant to be, and when elements outside the House stop fanning the flames of that controversy. The Bill will only be properly understood when it is seen to contain a set of fair and reasonable rules under which the voluntary system can freely operate.
As right hon. and hon. Members would expect, I shall speak from my own experience and from a study of industrial relations for a number of years. I have worked, and I mean worked, in industry for 15 years. I started off by experiencing 168-hour working, and I may be one of a comparatively few hon. Members who have done so. I do not mean 168 hours round the clock: hon. Members will recognise the seven-day, three-shift system. Recently I have risen to management and have been running manufacturing and selling units in my constituency. This is a broad experience which allows an insight into industrial problems.
My experience has been largely in an industry where industrial relations are good. Our principal union is the Hosiery Workers' Union, and I say " our" because management and union see eye to eye on the main objectives. As the Prime Minister said this afternoon, both sides see that on the future prosperity and profitability of our industry depend its ability to pay good wages and defend the jobs of the union members. Relationships are good, in that we have procedural and substantive agreements which allow for plant bargaining. We have in the past negotiated three-year agreements which have been observed, and for men at least we have moved from what might be described as the obsolescent system of piece-rate payment to what is effectively a time rate with an added incentive bonus. This has all been done under a voluntary system.
Hon. Members might well ask why we should alter this state of affairs. If all industry had the virtually strike-free record of the hosiery industry and plenty of other industries, there would be much less need for the Bill. There would need to be a tidying up of what 1154 has become an anomalous situation in the law, but much would not be necessary. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Following advice from the Opposition Front Bench yesterday, instead of taking to bed with me tomes of law, I took "In Place Of Strife" and re-read it. I am struck by the similarity of the analysis of the problem and of the solution—although there are important distinctions in the degree and emphasis of the solution—to the proposals in the Bill. The author, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), clearly saw some need for an outside force to help to rectify the situation. "In Place Of Strife" required a greater use of law and of lawyers. By implication the author saw that legal agreements should eventually be legally binding. The difference lies in what that force should be. In "In Place Of Strife" it was to be the force of the intervention of Government. The Secretary of State could produce an order to recognise unions; an order on the employer to bargain; an order on the employer not to recognise unions as bargaining agents; an order for a conciliation pause, and so on.
Our proposals put maximum emphasis on the continuance of voluntary relationships within a framework of law, as opposed to interference by Government. In this country we observe and respect the law if it is fair and sensible, but we in industry bitterly resent interference in matters which industry can better deal with itself from its own experience.
I hope in due course to see agreements become legally binding. This will ensure better preparation of agreements and, more important, bring about longer periods of trouble-free running in industries which are beset by intermittent troubles. Whatever may be the argument about America losing more days through strikes than this country, the general feature in America is that strikes come at the end of a period of trouble-free running for which management and men are able to plan.
In opening the debate yesterday my right hon. Friend emphasised the importance of the C.I.R. This is clearly close to the centre of the Bill, and I shall want to look very closely at the Clauses defining its responsibilities, areas and sequences of action. I shall also want to 1155 look at the safeguarding of minorities. By that I mean the clerical and professional staff whose position can easily be overcome by the majority of manual workers.
The Bill has been criticised as taking away freedoms and rights. It has been said that it does not have majority support in the country. I am on the edge of controversy here, but, if the House will permit me, I will read a letter which is typical of many letters which my hon. Friends have received:I have never voted anything but Labour in national elections, but I am wholeheartedly in favour of reform in industrial relations … I am convinced that, quite apart from the emotional outburst caused by the power cuts, the great majority of people hope that our elected representatives will not give in to industrial pressure.This I think is the crux of the matter:Some kind of order and reason must come into the country's economic affairs. You have the good will of us all in your efforts to end irresponsible stoppages.I could not have summed up my own feelings better than that letter does. I believe that the majority of the people are behind the Government, and behind the proposals in the Bill. They certainly were on 18th June, and that is why I have had the pleasure of speaking in this Chamber this afternoon.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
I listened to the debate on the Consultative Document and to yesterday's debate. I listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon, and I marvelled that he should say that there were delicate and important issues in the Bill. Of course there are. The delicate and important issues are industrial relations, which were never more important than now when this country can live only as well as it can sell abroad.
Industrial relations cannot be computed, but that they are valuable, intangible and very real no one can doubt. Here, the man who heads a grade 3 Administration is dividing the nation. The Bill is the greatest divisive factor we have seen for many years.
I note that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, from the industrialists to the so-called workers, do not state their interest, but I will state mine. I have been a 1156 member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers for over 30 years. I am the son of working people. I represent a constituency in South Wales which returned me with a majority of thousands because of the trade unionists in that great Socialist belt. I am a former secretary of the Trade Union Group of M.P.s in this House. These are distinctions which are personal to me and of which I am proud.
I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) was right that one should declare one's interest. Yesterday I was appalled to hear one hon. Gentleman, declaring that he was a libertarian, say that he was in favour of bashing the trade unions in Belper. The hon. Gentleman forgot all the lessons of history. The Minister is, I think, a former industrialist. He will have read history and will find historians on these benches who will always find parallels.
It is unfortunate, but true, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said today, that the people of this country do not trust this Government.
§ Mr. McBride
The hon. Lady might be an expert on rubbish. In that case I bow to her expert knowledge.
The Labour Party and the Trade Union Movement will oppose the Bill to the uttermost limit of the law. We will oppose it in totality. When we come back—it may be soon—we shall repeal it.
Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell)—he and I are members of the same organisation; I hold the same qualifications as he does—said that the Tories have never loved the trade unions; they never will. The road from Tolpuddle in Dorset through Peterlee to the 1970s is studded with examples of industrial victimisation, repression and social ostracism. Nobody can deny that. The facts are there for all to see.
Let us look at those whom the Tory Government are attacking: the unions, the nebulous faceless ones, the unidentified. They are used to the faceless ones, but these people are easily identified. They are the people who talk to 1157 me over my garden wall as I cut the grass in front of my house. They are the women in my area who do a good job and then come home and make an excellent job of running a home. When I have an opportunity to go to the football field in Swansea to see the City win, I come up the road with the blokes, ordinary people like myself, some of the 10 million. The right hon. Gentleman should have a care electorally because they have families; they have votes. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten that—[Interruption.].
The Bill does not comprise original Tory thinking. The right hon. Gentleman and the Solicitor-General have borrowed from the American, the German, the French and the Italian legal scenes.
The right to join or not to join a union comes from the Germans. The enforce-ability of collective bargaining is of French and Italian origin. The old Taft-Hartley Act, the cooling-off period, is well known. The Bill is a composite of something about which the Tories have not thought.
There is no doubt that the trade unions are fighting against not merely repression but legal strangulation. I believe that it is the duty of everyone in this House and of the free Press, for which I have a profound respect, to present a balanced picture to the country. We should let the people know precisely what is afoot.
Even now the Minister is perhaps a little worried. The right hon. Gentleman has said that if consultations can be entered into he will alter the Bill. He is on record as saying that. Yet the Minister told the trade unions: "You are welcome to come and discuss my document as long as you stick to details." But the crooked pillars remain. What cooperation did the right hon. Gentleman expect from that?
Recently the Solicitor-General was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying that… the new law would reaffirm and set beyond all doubt basic principles which protected the right of employees to strike and to act in combination … The law … would be law with a human face.I suggest that the Solicitor-General, who is a veritable tyro in industrial relations, did not know what he was talking about.
1158 The Minister of State said that we could not expect the Government to carry out the Bill without the co-operation of the trade unions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby has stressed that the trade unions are responsible bodies. The Prime Minister talked about moderate leaders, but he was careful not to name them. In fact, he could not. The people in the trade union leadership who support the Bill can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The Government hope that the Bill will be on the Statute Book before the Summer Recess and that it will begin to operate next autumn. The Government are seeking to tie the trade unions by having rules vetted by a Registrar. The right hon. Gentleman, who had the privilege of writing in my trade union's journal this month, knows better than most that that union is the most democratic in the world. Over many years it has made provision for rules revision. In every branch room there is a rules revision book in which members can enter suggestions. The right hon. Gentleman cannot say me no. Therefore, that argument does not apply to my union.
Let us consider the code of industrial practice which has to be presented within one year of the passage of the Bill. What is in the code? No one knows. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman knows. But he is singularly coy about it. I believe that it is wrong that the Minister should be empowered from time to time to alter it as he sees fit.
Turning to the Clause dealing with the simple issue of the right to join or not to join a trade union, I would say that since June this has been causing trouble in Germany. This is embodied in the trade union law of the West German Republic. What will happen? The free rider, the man who will take everything for nothing, will disrupt authority. He will erode the authority of the trade unions and create dissension in the shop. I accuse the Minister of adopting the old French colonial maxim of "divide and rule".
Consider the principle of the closed shop. I asked the Minister last Thursday if it had not been of inestimable value to the country in maintaining high standards of skill in qualifications and he was forced to say "yes".
1159 I share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West that the employer alone should not be the sole labour recruiting agent. The system has stood the test of time and has been of value to the country. But the agency shop is a hotch-potch if ever there was one. It is a product of several disordered minds. We shall find with agency agreements that the deciding factor is not trade union members, but those who are not in a trade union.
I believe the Bill will create chaos in industry. There is no doubt that it will cause trouble for those who, like myself, have been shop stewards in one industry in particular—and at one time I was a deputy general convenor of shop stewards—where there are no industrial relations; namely, the shipbuilding industry. No hon. Gentleman opposite can tell me anything about the good graces of employers. I have never experienced any.
§ Mr. McBride
The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) represents a smallish county and has a smallish mind.
§ Mr. Lewis rose—
§ Mr. McBride
No, I will not give way. What will happen is that industrial relations will be enveloped in a cocoon of case law, and shop stewards will be bewitched, bothered and completely bewildered because the Bill is vicious anti-trade union legislation. The chief responsibility of the new registrar is to ensure that trade union and employers' association rules conform to certain standards and are observed. I have already mentioned my own trade union's rules. If the Minister wants to find any better standard than those rules, he is looking for rules par excellence.
On the presumption of creating legal enforceability in collective bargaining, it is ludicrous to seek to abolish that which is freely recognised; namely, the observance of settlements binding in honour only, which, amazingly, are well observed and work very well. Why alter this situation? Where will the benefits accrue? I suggest that there will be no benefits, 1160 and no hon. Gentleman opposite can say otherwise.
If we are to be confined in the rigidity of a legal straitjacket, then we must deal with the question of unfair practices. What happened yesterday was that when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) spoke on the point of law it emerged that there were five lawyers in the House all of whom had different opinions. We shall find the matter of precedent impinging on the argument. The only people who will benefit are the members of the best closed shop in this country, the lawyers, though personally I have an affection for the law.
In the list of so-called unfair industrial practices in the matter of freedom from liability for action offenders could be called upon to pay compensation. However, in the Bill there is no mention of a man without whom modern industry could not cope; namely, the shop steward. I know the Government do not like shop stewards, but industry could not get on without them. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), who has been connected with industrial matters for so long, knows as I do that shop stewards are the people on the spot who make arrangements, and their agreements work well and enable the whole industrial process to continue.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West) rose—
§ Mr. McBride
No, I will not give way. Everybody knows the ostensible reason for the unofficial strike and the Bill itself makes special provision for getting at the wildcats. But the real reason behind an unofficial strike may be that a certain issue is the last straw which breaks the camel's back, or it could be due to a dozen other reasons.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby said that an examination of industry could be effective in finding a solution. Middle management, which is pretty rotten in British industry, could be examined with a view to seeing what contribution it could make. I agree with what was said by my union president, to whom reference was made yesterday, that this Bill is probably the most iniquitous piece of legislation to be placed upon the Statute Book.
1161 If we look at the penalties contained in the Bill, we see that even the Cloth Pressers Union, with 120 members, is liable to a £5,000 fine. The Tory sledgehammer intends to enact provisions to crack a nut like the Chain Makers and Strikers Union with a similar penalty when that union contains only 236 members. There are some unclear passages in the Bill which will have to be clarified.
Clause 52 empowers an employer to disclose information in accordance with good industrial relations, but he also has a right to withhold information. There again is a conflict which will need to be clarified. Trade unions are required to carry out agreements and procedures and the situation may well occur—which would be a ludicrous situation—that the general secretary of my union could be held responsible for the actions of 1,300,000 fellow-members.
It is significant that many big and powerful groups have given a cautious welcome to the Bill. Indeed, British Leyland, one of the largest concerns in the United Kingdom, has expressed the view that reforms can be achieved only by management and workers getting together voluntarily. I believe that that is right. The Bill in its present form would, if enacted, contravene the International Labour Office resolutions which have been ratified by the United Kingdom. It is clear that the Bill will bring political action into industrial relations and eventually will be the reason for causing chaos and harm to industry.
There will be a new hierarchy of 1,000 civil servants as a result of the provisions of the Bill. A sum of £5 million will be required to carry out its requirements. This comes ill from the Conservative Party, which during Labour's term of office railed against the increase in the number of civil servants. We on these benches will oppose the Bill, which is designed to bring the trade union movement to heel with the aid of the stick. It follows inevitably that we shall work to see the day when it is repealed.
The Government have forgotten that the T.U.C. has made great strides in modernising the trade union structure. On a day when the importance of industrial relations was never more strongly exemplified, a Tory Minister throws a spanner into the works.
1162 I wonder whether hon. Members opposite have thought that running through the trade union movement like a golden thread has been the undoubted courage and ability of my forebears in the trade union movement. The direct political forebears of hon. Members opposite repressed and victimised my people and ostracised them socially. But with the courage that is legendary we won the day. [Interruption.] That might be unpleasant to hon. Members opposite, but it is a fact and I should like to imprint it on the minds of hon. Members opposite.
That is why in the end our viewpoint will prevail and we shall see the Bill repealed, Providence willing. Tory Governments created the necessity for the workers of this country to combine to secure decent wages and conditions, though not all have yet achieved that standard. The Tories sought to victimise and repress my forebears, and they lost. They will lose again in these modern days when the Bill is thrown out.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. McBride
I shall not give way. I am sorry. I am not discourteous, but I have already said "No", and I hope that hon. Members will understand.
History will record that though the Tory Government of 1970 introduced a Bill seeking to repress the trade union movement, the resilience and fighting ability of the movement saw to it that we defeated the Tories yet again.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mrs. Peggy Fenner (Rochester and Chatham)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech. I am mindful of my good fortune when many hon. Members wish to speak. I trust that the House will have no cause to criticise the length of my contribution, but I admit that it may be a little difficult for me to be entirely non-controversial. I ask hon. Members for the traditional indulgence of the House towards a new Member, and hope that they will forgive me if I lean rather heavily upon it.
I have the honour, as a Kentish maid, to serve a remarkably individual Kentish constituency, comprising the ancient cathedral city of Rochester and the great historic naval and military town of 1163 Chatham. In this service I follow distinguished predecessors, the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) and my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley). The last Member, Mrs. Anne Kerr, made many highly individual contributions to debates in the House, and she was a keen supporter of the view that the House needed more women.
It comes as a surprise to many people to learn that Rochester is the fifth busiest port in the country. It is true that this is mainly due to the activities of the B.P. oil refinery on the Medway. But certainly, unlike many other ports in the country, it has enjoyed harmonious industrial relations, a credit to the men and management.
My constituency, in addition to its historic amenities, is an industrially expanding area. It is shown as such in the South-East Study, and, consequently, it is clear that fair, just and good industrial relations are vital to the well-being of the people I serve. Although the naval dockyard acreage falls primarily within the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), many people from Rochester and Chatham work there, and it must be a matter of satisfaction for all the parties concerned that after many months of patient negotiations a productivity agreement has been secured.
My interest in the Bill is not only because it is an important matter for my constituents, but because I believe it to contain principles vital to the cause of individual freedom and human rights. Hon. Members will know that I have particular reason to be well aware of the support given to human rights, certainly in the international sense, by past and present Members opposite. It seems, regrettably, that they have a blind spot about the human rights denied to many by union action.
I wish to speak to Part II of the Bill:Rights of Workersand specifically about Clause 5, which speaks of a worker's right:… if he so desires, to be a member of such trade union as he may choose;dealing with the agency shop agreement— 1164
- (b) subject to subsections (3) and (4)"—the right, if he so desires, to be a member of no trade union or to refuse to be a member of any particular trade union or other organisation of workers".Reference was made yesterday to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and to the clause that states that no one should be compelled to belong to an association. That seems to be a basic human right to which our people are entitled.
Because of my long association with local government, I read with interest the response of N.A.L.G.O. to the Government's Consultative Document on Industrial Relations. Before I offend against the strictures to new Members yesterday by the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), may I say that I am referring to that union only very respectfully, and admitting that its document is against the Government's proposals. Nevertheless, within a paragraph headed:Issues of Principlethere is the following sentence:… on the need to preserve a fundamentally voluntary system of industrial relations … firmly rooted in a tradition of independent and responsible self-government by a Movement whose ineradicable base is voluntary association.That may well be the view from N.A.L.G.O.'s window, but I should like to tell the House of a matter brought to my attention which hardly falls within the phrase "voluntary association".
It concerns the young owner of a firm which employs about 50 or 60 staff. I understand there are fewer than 50 such firms in the country. Their work is contracted out to them by large firms with their own similar departments, and only when the pressure of work extends their own staff beyond capacity.
The union involved has, by strike and other industrial action, "induced"—the word used in the Bill—the larger firms to sign agreements containing clauses saying that they will not contract work out to any firm which does not operate a closed shop. The young owner of the firm to which I refer has now had placed before him an agreement which he is requested to sign before 1st January. His staff were members of the union. Many of them have complained to him about the union's actions, and one of them has thrown in his union card in disgust at the union organisers' behaviour. The firm's 1165 owner is now confronted with the agreement, which he knows to be totally in breach of the Bill's proposals, though they are not yet law, and confronted also with the prospect of the enforced dismissal of a loyal employee and, presumably, payment of redundancy pay.
Hon. Members will see clearly that this firm and its staff, having at present no protection in law, are confronted with extinction unless they comply with the closed shop agreement—
§ Mrs. Fenner
I leave other hon. Members and the public at large to assess whether this is a freedom and a human individual right.
Even more important than this firm, the one man who has rejected his union because of its action is denied the basic human right to take this decision to reject the union to which he faithfully belonged, because of its action, and thus to retain his livelihood. Surely, while there remains one man or woman in this country subjected to this unfair industrial practice, the Bill is necessary—
§ Mrs. Fenner
Hon. Members will have noted that, not wishing to infringe upon their kind indulgence, I do not refer to the union by name. My reason for the cloak of anonymity in regard to the former union member and the firm is different. While I have immunity and privilege in this House for the things I say, the owner of the firm in question and his loyal staff have no protection.
I have written to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment on this matter. In his reply, he has naturally drawn my attention to the provisions of the Bill, which will prevent this abuse. I have written again to him pointing out that it is only when the Bill is law that protection will be afforded. What is his advice in the interim to victims of this unfair practice?
1166 I am sure that under Clause 11(2) no one person can selfishly exercise this human right not to belong to a trade union. Applied to the case that I have set before the House, the union could clearly, under that provision, desire this employer to enter into an agency shop agreement. The employer, if unwilling to do so, or the union or negotiating panel may make application to the Industrial Court which, if satisfied under paragraphs (a) and (b) can request the Commission to proceed with a view to taking a ballot on the question. This Clause ensures that if it is the wish of the majority of workers in a firm, no one man and no member can thwart the wish of the majority to seek to secure such an agreement.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—I am sorry that she is not here to hear me say this—said yesterday that the Clauses concerned with the agency shop agreements were irrelevant and a dangerous piece of frivolity. I am sorry that she should refer in such a way to legislation which pays heed to the wishes of workers about union representation. It is quite clear that, to her, what is in this case of importance is not the majority wish of the workers but only the unfettered power of the unions.
No union behaving responsibly and lawfully, and with the real interests of its members at heart, needs to fear that a majority would not support an agency shop agreement asked for and sought by such a union.
It is as a former member of a union, the A.C.S.D.D., that I speak in support of the Bill. I am certain that the interests of a strong and responsible trade union movement and the interests of individuals and, thus, of my country will be best served if men and women can continue to be sure that membership of unions is on the basis of voluntary association.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
May I exercise the privilege of a semi-old hand and congratulate the two maiden speakers so far in this debate? They replaced two great characters, Mrs. Anne Kerr and Woodrow Wyatt, both of whom I knew very well and for both of whom I had a great respect. Woodrow Wyatt was in trouble in the 1964–66 Parliament, and Anne Kerr was in trouble from the 1966 Parliament onwards. Every 1167 one of us here this afternoon could pay tribute to the work of those two people.
However, to the maiden speakers I should like to make one or two suggestions. First, if there are any Whips about, they should send some notice to people making a maiden speech to inform them of the rules of the House, or the conventions as to what it is about.
§ Mr. Ashton
Would my hon. Friend not agree that it would be common courtesy for an hon. Member, making a speech attacking any particular union—as my own union has been attacked in two speeches yesterday and today referring to D.A.T.A.—to mention the name of the union and also the name of the firm involved? Would he also agree that there is no difference between a trade union putting pressure on a sub-contractor to make his employees join the union and any firm making a take-over bid for another firm? Surely if the principle of take-overs between firms is right for free society and free enterprise, it is equally right for a trade union doing the same thing.
§ Mr. Atkinson
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his analogy: I think that that is so.
But to return to the question of maiden speakers, the position is, as I understand it, that all people coming into this House have served an arduous apprenticeship. They are not newcomers to this business but professional politicians. None of us, as a professional politician, should ask for the indulgence of the House or its protection during a maiden speech. I see no reason for this. The two maiden speakers this afternoon are capable of looking after themselves and answering interruptions.
When maiden speakers get up to speak, I understand that they should say that they are going to make some controversial remarks and have no objection to people intervening during their speech. This overcomes the problem. I am certain that the two speakers we have heard today could have said that they had no objection to interruptions, and all would have been in order. I would therefore suggest to the Whips that a note of this sort might go to maiden speakers saying that it is up to them to decide whether they want interruptions or not. 1168 I hope that we can have some change over these conventions.
A few other conventions have been shattered this afternoon. One was the time today when the Prime Minister's mask fell off, pretty early on in his speech. He then went on to contradict the views of at least five members of the Government sitting on the Front Bench beside him. This raised a most curious situation. As one's eyes travelled from the Prime Minister along the Front Bench, we were going over in our minds some of their recent comments about this legislation. The right hon. Gentleman who sat next to him was referring to blackmail; he said that the unions were blackmailing the nation. I remember the right hon. Gentleman sitting next to him saying last week that the trade unions were holding the nation to ransom. The right hon. Gentleman's third colleague—and I made a note of his contribution—said that the trade unions were absolutely irresponsible.
Recognising all these contributions about organised labour, the Prime Minister went on to give us his solution, which was to strengthen trade unions. He said that what he wanted to do was to so frame the law of the country so that it would enable trade unions to act effectively, and therefore make more effective this blackmail and irresponsibility referred to by his right hon. Friends.
In an inflationary situation, of necessity there will be more strikes. One must inevitably follow the other. One of the tragedies of the political mechanics of a society such as ours is that it is not the other way about. I wish it were. When there is a need for strikes and militant action in industry it is during periods of depression or deflation. It is then that militancy would be most effective, but, unfortunately, it is only in periods of inflation that we have maximum militancy. There is a relationship between the number of strikes and what is happening in society and the fact that workers are now taking home a smaller share of the profits.
The other thing about the Prime Minister's speech was that it was the first time that we have had an honest acceptance that this Bill is about wages. This is the first time we had a statement from the Conservative Party saying that the policy on industrial relations is about 1169 wages, trying to curb inflation and all the other phrases which they use. It is their method of intervening in the whole question of wage bargaining, in the hope that they will strengthen the employer, enabling him to resist more effectively the demands of organised labour. The Prime Minister said this this afternoon, and that was the point at which his mask fell away and we had the truth for the first time.
Now we understand what it is about, and it confirms the views expressed by the C.B.I., which said that this Bill will enable industry effectively to combat what is called "wage drift". The C.B.I. agrees that this will strengthen the employer, not trade unions, in dealing effectively with wage drift, particularly as it applies to piece workers.
The other point arose when dealing with the matter of the transfer of power to the shop floor. It is true, as my right hon. Friends have said, that power has shifted to the shop floor. Therefore, the Government, in arguing against this shift, say that the Bill is designed to help deal with the situation, to deal with militant shop stewards and this new power which has found its way to the shop floor and is effective in obtaining wage bargains.
The final point in the Prime Minister's comments was this curious misunderstanding as to what is going on. I hope that the powerful speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has answered his questions. I hope he understands that the T.U.C. and organised labour are opposed to the Bill and that it is the employers who support and welcome it. It seems as if the Prime Minister was claiming that there was support from the trade unions.
I have been reported in one or two newspapers as suggesting that the Bill should go through "on the nod", that we should not amend it. My view has been consistent from the beginning of the debate about procedure. It has been that we should intensify our opposition to it, that we should oppose the Bill in principle. I say that to do that we should not amend it. I welcome the Government's decision to allow the Committee stage to take place on the Floor of the House. It will enable us to oppose the Bill more effectively and promote our alternatives. My point is that it is a Bill 1170 with which we disagree in principle, and because the rules of the House forbid Amendments which break the principle of the legislation we should not attempt to amend it but should design our own constructive new Clauses to replace the present ones.
I hope that ultimately this will be our strategy. I hope that we shall use the opportunities in Committee to oppose the Bill in principle and not amend it in the way that Bills have been amended here over the centuries. I know that it would be the first time that it would have been done but this is the one occasion when to stretch the Government to the limit we should argue the case in principle.
I turn to Part VIII of the Bill. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not here because I want to refer to something he said about it. This is the Part of the Bill that deals with the 60-day cooling-off period. I want to quote from the Amalgamated Engineering Union Journal published the day before yesterday and containing an article by the Secretary of St0ate headed "The Government's view, by the Secretary of State for Employment". The right hon. Gentleman says:Finally, to protect the national interests, it will propose measures for use as a last resort in an emergency. Where a strike may cause an emergency, the Bill would enable the Secretary of State to ask the N.I.R.C. either for a 60-day restraining order against its leaders, while everyone seeks an alternative solution, or a ballot if there is doubt whether the threatened strike has majority support. In no circumstances, I should add, would there he any power to order the individual to go back to work.That is a clear statement that there is no power in the Bill to order workers to return to work if they are on strike.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has arrived in the Chamber. I am quoting from his statement that there is nothing in the Bill which would empower anyone or any court to order a striker back to work. Trade union leaders have already said that they will not order anyone back to work if a dispute occurs in these circumstances. It follows that if the C.I.R. or the N.I.R.C. or the trade union leaders have no power or desire to order people back to work this 60-day cooling-off period is non-existent. Any provision under Part VIII of the Bill cannot be effective in the circumstances described by the Minister.
1171 Assuming that a dispute has taken place and a strike has occurred, it appears that even though the Minister may say that there is a national emergency and seek from the N.I.R.C. power to order a 60-day cooling-off period, neither the Minister nor the trade union leaders will have power under the Bill to order the men back to work. I take it that the 60-day cooling-off period would not be effective unless the men actually volunteered to return to work.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)
The hon. Member is right to the extent that the Bill makes clear, as we made clear in the Consultative Document, that there is no power to order strikers as a whole to return to work. What the Bill does take power to do, and the power already exists through injunctions under the present law, is to get an order from the court that those who call or induce a strike should cease and desist from so doing. Hitherto in this country, and also in the United States where this power exists, injunctions of this kind have always been obeyed, and I suspect that they will continue to be obeyed.
§ Mr. Atkinson
I am grateful to the Minister. He now confirms that even if trade unions or shop stewards do not try to persuade men to go back to work and the men themselves decide not to return to work, there is every right to ignore the 60-day cooling-off period ordered by the N.I.R.C.—
§ Mr. Atkinson
Under the Bill, it cannot be contempt of court. I know that if I am wrong I shall be corrected, but, as I read the Bill, there cannot be contempt of court. I understand that the Bill is worded as it is in order to allow men to remain away from work irrespective of any advice given to them; that if they wish to ignore such advice they are not in contempt of any court decision.
§ Mr. R. Carr
The law cannot compel, and we do not seek to compel, large numbers of men to do anything like that. The law can, if operated, place an order on those who induce or call strikes to do 1172 certain things. If they do not obey the order of the court, they will be in contempt of court. Assuming that it was a registered union, the penalty for contempt of court would fall on the union—that is, the corporate body—and not on the individual union representatives. But let there be no mistake about it: contempt of court is a serious matter, and a serious penalty would fall on a union whose authorised officials did not obey the court order.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Again, I am grateful to the Minister, because it is part of my case that if the men remain away from work they are liable to destroy their own organisation if the property of the union is confiscated or measures are taken against the leadership as a result of their contempt. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman in the Amalgainated Engineering Union Journal is not correct. The men would be destroying their own union by ignoring the advice to return to work, because their property would, in part, be confiscated.
There is no clear definition in the Bill of what is an unusual industrial practice. One assumes that during a 60-day cooling-off period it would be quite in order for an employer to say to his workers, "I want you to work seven days a week. I want you to work all the possible overtime and step up the speed of production so that we can stockpile in order to face a strike when it comes about." If during the 60-day period the shop stewards refuse to do that, are they also in breach of any decision taken by the N.I.R.C.? According to the Bill, they are.
But there is worse than that. This legislation is hated by the trade unions because not only can they not prevent the employer from building up stocks in anticipation of a possible future strike but, assuming there was failure to agree after the 60-day period and there was a strike, it would be illegal for anyone to prevent that employer from delivering those goods to a customer, because the Bill forbids action to be taken which may harm some innocent person, and in this case the customer would be an innocent person. That means that the whole argument is loaded heavily against organised workers—
§ Mr. R. Carr
I certainly do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman unnecessarily but he was, with respect, talking nonsense a few minutes ago about what the employer could make his workers do during the 60-day cooling-off period. Of course he could not force his employees to work overtime and do all the things the hon. Gentleman mentioned. They are perfectly all right as long as they maintain their contract of agreement, and under the contract of agreement the employer could not force them to do any of the things about which the hon. Member talks. So, with respect, he is wrong.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Not at all. The right hon. Gentleman knows that if overtime is a particular feature in a workshop it is accepted as being normal working. If piecework is a normal function, the worker himself has no right to say that he will work to rule. He has no right in that 60-day period to say that he will work a minimum number of hours, work to rule or go slow. The Bill makes it impossible. It means that the employer can say, "We will continue to work overtime during the 60 days"—if that is the normal practice. Or he can say: "We will continue on piecework". Or he can say: "We will accelerate output in order to stockpile in readiness for a future possible dispute".
These are arguments which will doubtless be developed in Committee, and I do not want now to delay the House except to refer to procedure, and to take up a statement made by the Prime Minister. I will refer particularly to engineering.
I do not know whether hon. Members opposite know it, but since 1922 the employers have resisted any change in the York agreement and it is they who now look for a strengthening of their position by using the C.I.R. and the Industrial Court to make certain that their right to take unilateral decisions is reinforced by the law. That is what the employers are demanding and have demanded of the party opposite and, presumably, it is what they will get under the Bill. On the other hand, T.U.C. statistics show that about 55 per cent. of disputes are caused by decisions made unilaterally by employers to change working conditions, sequence operations, materials or the like.
Obviously, the C.I.R. and the N.I.R.C. will endorse the employer's right to take 1174 decisions of that sort in the absence of consultation In fact, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, neither the C.I.R. nor the Industrial Court itself will reverse the whole of this procedure in industry and make a change which the employers have resisted for 48 years. Yet, if change is to be made, it must be made by the courts that the Minister wants to set up.
I come now to the question of what is likely to happen in the Trade Union Movement in the months ahead. The Trades Union Congress is to be recalled on either 16th or 18th March, and between now and then a lot of trade unions will want to make up their minds about what sort of action they will take and how the Labour movement as a whole will resist this legislation.
It is obvious from the decisions taken by the majority of executives so far that there will be no co-operation. Trade unions have rejected the legislation, made known their objection, and declared that they will not co-operate. It follows from that that no member of the Trades Union Congress or of a recognised trade union will accept any invitation from hon. Members opposite to take part in any of these quasi-judicial bodies—or even judicial bodies—set up by the Government. It is now generally accepted—words like " quisling " have been used—that any trade unionist would incur the wrath of his comrades in the union movement if he were to take on a job with the C.I.R. or the National Industrial Court. That is the first sign of non-co-operation.
Then there is non-registration. We all know that under these proposals all trade unions are registered automatically for the first three months of the Bill's operation. If unions decide not to register in the future, they must contract out. The discussions throughout the union movement now is on whether unions should contract out of the whole process of registration; and the unions' views will be put to the T.U.C. on 16th or 18th March. All of them recognise that there are difficulties. [Interruption.] I do not want to take on the hon. Member for Hendon. North (Mr. Gorst) on the subject of commercial radio. We all recognise his interests. We understand one of the real reasons why he is here.
Unions recognise that there are difficulties with superannuation funds and the property problems may be involved.
1175 None the less, they recognise that they may be driven to contracting out of their registration obligations as proposed by the Bill.
I suggest that the argument that there are serious disadvantages may not be valid. If unions, registered or not registered, agree with any employer's proposition or industrial wage agreement, there is no question of registration and no problem. The problem arises only when there is disagreement—disagreement with the employer, disagreement with the decision of the C.I.R., or disagreement with the decision of the National Industrial Court. The point unions must then consider is that, if that is so, they lose immunity both ways. They lose immunity by non-registration and by the disappearance of the 1906 Act. They also lose immunity if they disagree with a decision taken by any of these courts or if they disagree with an employer. Presumably compensation against the union will be the same in both cases. Therefore, a trade union has nothing to gain from registration. This will be the basic consideration before the T.U.C. on 16th or 18th March.
During your absence, Mr. Speaker, we were interrupted for a little time. On your return we resumed a degree of reasonableness. None the less, I apologise for having delayed the House for longer than I originally intended.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. John Sutcliffe (Middlesbrough, West)
I have listened to many speeches in the House since June. I have in mind the words of Edward Gibbon. He was most famous as an historian, but as a Member of the House he wrote:The great speeches fill me with despair, the bad ones with terror.He was eight years a Member and never made his maiden speech.
I am sure the House will understand if I approach my task with some apprehension. I may be controversial, but I hope not so controversial in the context of this debate that the House will not show me indulgence.
I must declare my interests. They are not substantial. I am a director of a family hotel business.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller), in the debate on the Consultative Document, took us back to 1176 the 1825 Act. I think it was Joseph Hume who said, during the passage of that Bill,The trade unions are estranging their best friends.The same may be said of the forces opposing this Bill so far as public sympathy goes.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said that the problems of 1970 are not cured by turning the clock back to 1870. In saying that the right hon. Lady turned the argument upside down. There is no question of turning the clock back. It virtually stopped in 1906, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister illustrated. The law governing unions has not advanced, although the British economy has. Today our economy is immeasurably more complex, highly geared and intermeshed than it was in the reign of King Edward VII. The community is vulnerable as never before. These things are so obvious that they should not need saying.
It simply is not good enough to say that we are all right as we are and as we were in 1906 and to say, as did the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), that we must wait for change by self-discipline. For at least the last 20 years we have been waiting for change, whether by self-discipline or by a new psychology, and we have been content to afford the luxury, if one does not call it injury, of a great many avoidable industrial troubles.
I am not saying that those industrial troubles have all been due to unions rather than management. There has been progress—progress in improvement and extension of the machinery for settling disputes and in removing, or at least alleviating, some of the greatest injustices of the past. Some of this progress has been relatively recent. It has not provided the psychological break-through or the discipline.
We have had progress in another direction, too. I refer to the not unsuccessful efforts of governments to secure and maintain full employment. The corollary of that full employment is the undreamt of power of organised labour. Everyone knows that concentration of private economic power can grow oppressive from lack of restraint. This is no new phenomenon.
1177 My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to the fair balance he was seeking to strike between freedom and order. Shakespeare knew about this. He expressed it no more eloquently than my hon. Friend, though perhaps more poetically:Take but degree away, untune that string An heark what discord follows!My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that "unfettered freedom destroys itself". Shakespeare rendered it like this:Power into will, will into appetite;And appetite, an universal wolf,So doubly seconded with will and powerMust make, perforce an universal prey And, last, eat up himself.Our 16th century ancestors lived in an age of confusion and violence, if not of inflation, and they were as great as those of our own day.
I do not find the opposition credible or consistent. As the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) has more than once intervened in the debate to point out, if race relations is suitable for legislative action, why not industrial relations? The argument is well nigh identical in the two cases. To support the one but to reject the other, on whichever side of the House, demands a great deal of casuistry.
A few moments ago I taxed the right hon. Lady who leads from the benches opposite for her insistence in turning the clock back. To understand the mentality of the party opposite, that is just what I propose that we should do. We should go back 100 years to the Ballot Act. It became law in 1872, but the die-hards fought it for more than two years in what a contemporary described asthe fiercest conflict ever known up to that time within the walls of Parliament.In the tradition of all good last ditchers defending the indefensible, they said of the secret vote that it was "un-English", "the practice of America and the countries of Europe", "foreign to our habits and repugnant to our instincts". That is almost exactly word for word what hon. Members opposite are saying now about the legal framework.
The opponents of the ballot box said, "No hole-in-the-corner voting—publicity is the keynote of our constitution," to which hon. and right hon. Members opposite echo, "No legalistic structure." 1178 Those were the words of the right hon. Lady earlier: " No legalistic structure—the voluntary system is the keynote of our negotiation."
But the parallel is more remarkable than that. They said of the Bill in 1870 that it would not stop and would not even check bribery. It is interesting that the Commission appointed in 1880, eight years after the Act, to investigate an Election Petition, was hailed to have proved them right. According to the Commission,it did not appear that the mode of taking votes by ballot had had the slightest effect in checking bribery.How easy it is at one and the same time both to overestimate and underestimate the effect of good law!
The Opposition condemn the Bill as unlikely to check or stop the abuse of strikes. It would be just as reasonable for them to assert that there should be no law or law courts because the law is sometimes breached. But how right my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is in his emphasis, in his assessment of the purpose and effects of his Measure. He has said that he sees it as a means of educating people and influencing their behaviour, not as a preventive but a deterrent. I wish that hon. Members opposite would get the message. A piece of legislation is no painless overnight cure but more like a convalesence. The Bill is not a pill. The Opposition will abandon their pledge to repeal it, as surely as there is no pressure in Britain these days to repeal the Ballot Act, or in America to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. Once the unions get this law and hon. Members opposite come out of their last ditch, they will not want to go back.
My constituents in West Middlesbrough and Thornaby live south of the Tees, and they are surrounded by the Cleveland Hills, the North Yorkshire Moors and the sea. They work in what is appropriately called the "powerhouse of the North". Nowhere in this country will one find so great a concentration of industrial investment in chemicals, steel and oil, and port facilities which will soon be second to none. Nowhere in this country will one find an industrial complex so cut off by bad road communications from its main artery, the A1. There will be no through dual carriageway until 1975. But in almost every other respect the 1179 growth of industrial Middlesbrough has been revolutionary. Barely 140 years ago, Joseph Pease sailed from Teesmouth to see the newly completed railway terminal, and he prophesied that the bare fields would be covered with a busy multitude. Middlesbrough in 1858 was described asthe town which has won a name without a history, is important without antiquity and commands the attention of statesmen by the magnitude of its commercial activities.The recent merger of the towns alongside the Tees, including Norton which has a unique claim upon the attention of the House, has been no less revolutionary. It has created the country's newest county borough, which is also its seventh largest town.
Tees-side deserves to be better known. Its four revised constituencies are not even recognised in this House and probably will not be until seven years from the borough's creation. This is a particularly regrettable result of the last Government's failure to implement the Boundary Commission's proposals.
If our history has been short and dramatic, it also has its harsh side. Above national average unemployment for many years has been our lot in the North-East. Apart from the hardship of people out of work and the waste year by year—£50 million worth of output lost annually would not be too high a figure—it has left its mark on industrial relations. For most of the Trades Union Congress's 100 years' history, insecurity has probably been the most important single factor animating unions. It created a tradition of bloody-mindedness—the result of the not unjustified belief in the past that "if you don't do down you will be done down". So long as we continue in the North-East to lose more jobs than we gain—our gross loss in Tees-side is up to 3,000 jobs a year and so long as we continue to move rapidly from labour intensive to capital intensive industry, a sense of insecurity continues. It is difficult for us to extinguish completely the searing memories of the 30s. Even in a new generation they smoulder on.
It is against this background that tribute should be paid to management and men, many of whom are my constituents, involved at I.C.I. in what is perhaps the most comprehensive and radical reform of the industrial relations 1180 system within any major British company. A new structure of pay and conditions has been agreed nationally, but it has to be negotiated at plant level before it can be implemented. The approach is a very positive one. It provides for wage increases of 20 per cent. or more, improved status, and the replacement of incentive bonus schemes in eight grades based on a job assessment scheme. It also deals with sick pay and annual holidays, provides no enforced redundancy, and concedes the closed shop. It is estimated that at least 10 per cent. of management time will be absorbed to introduce it, and that that cost in time and effort will continue while it is in operation. Every job is analysed, and revised. Objectives are modified by feed-back from the plant floor. Finally, jobs are classified on a points system according to grade.
The main opposition has come from craftsmen over that part of the scheme which allows production workers to do simple maintenance when no craftsman is available. Progress with this weekly staff agreement has been slower in Teesside than in other parts of the country, but Tees-side has more craftsmen than anywhere else. Bargaining is hard. To preserve the direct gains anticipated in productivity over a period is not easy.
The example of men and management at I.C.I. shows what can be done in a multi-plant company. I hope that the Bill will be a spur to plant bargaining of just this kind, with managements involved from top to bottom in negotiating basic wages and conditions of work instead of trying to adapt and fit national agreements to local plant circumstances. I am sure that this is the most critical factor in industrial success.
I am sure that a number of hon. Members will have seen the engineering industry's Handbook of National Agreements. It is a daunting tome and sufficient explanation of much industrial trouble. The weekly staff agreement—known as W.S.A.—approach demonstrates a much more realistic division between managers and managed. It is important to recognise that the interests of employees, employers and owners are not the same; yet the whole of our industrial relations has been based on the old dichotomy of workers and bosses. That cannot fit the industrial pattern of the future.
1181 No one was more clear about this than my predecessor, Dr. Jeremy Bray. He foresaw more and more highly qualified employees with educations equal to that of managers as the result of advanced technology. Dr. Bray could claim to be more at home with a computer than any hon. Member of this House, and literally so since I believe that he had one in his sitting room. It may have helped him to make his disturbing calculation that Labour Government spending on the creation of new jobs cost more than pensioning off workers from the North-East to live in the South of France. While this portrays him at his most provocative, I am sure that he is missed by this House for his admirably thoughtful and commendably independent contributions to debates.
This Bill will not have, in that it will not need to have, any startling impact on a firm like I.C.I. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler) said in a very fine maiden speech, there are firms in the country where the impact from the Bill will not be very great. At I.C.I., management and unions are unlikely to make their agreements legally binding. Negotiation is give and take, with a great deal of compromise. I am not sure that agreements which are full of reservations and exclusions can be expressed in legally effective language. However, it should be possible to make both sides agree on watertight arrangements for settling disputes and abide by them. Disputes procedures can be accurately described. Such a procedure can be made an element of every contract of work, and it should be made enforceable because disregard of it is both abusive and irresponsible.
The provisions for bargaining units in Clauses 41 to 51 will not have any major impact upon I.C.I. There are about nine unions involved at I.C.I. plants, and they have a signatory union approach equivalent to the joint negotiating panel envisaged by the Bill. It works well.
The Bill outlaws the closed shop, and this is a provision of W.S.A. which has been the subject of a lot of hard bargaining at I.C.I. But it is most unlikely that union membership will be affected materially. I have listened to the fears of union representatives that militants who are dissatisfied with a settlement will opt out, stir up discontent, and form break- 1182 away unions. I do not dispute the strong feeling and the sincerity on this issue.
I think that the case for the closed shop was put more convincingly by the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) than I have heard it put before. But the need to maintain bargaining power will be a strong deterrent to unions becoming fragmented. The agency shop is a compromise unlikely to command support on either extreme in this issue, though I think that it demonstrates my right hon. Friend's determination not to be dogmatic.
The public image of unions is that they are undisciplined and oppressive, though I do not suggest that that is a true reflection on the movement as a whole. There can be no denying that the public has been puzzled to understand why unions can be so harsh to individuals who refuse the join them and so tolerant of their adherents who refuse to adhere and be bound by union rules.
Fair rules, clearly defined responsibility, better finances and greater confidence will change the unions' image under the law. Mr. Frank Cousins had a sane attitude on this issue. He said:I have never favoured making a man join. It should be within the power of our organisation to persuade people to come in.I believe that the Bill will give unions a better case and the persuasive power that hitherto they have been unable to command.
I agree with the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) that too much hysteria has been worked up against the Bill. However, I cannot believe that he really thinks it irrelevant in the long and the short term, even to a firm like I.C.I. It is beneficial that it is there in the background. Its influence is all on the side of responsible people. The inept and irresponsible on both sides of industry will feel its pressures. But largely it will work undramatically, contrary to what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have led us to believe. It will be in the background and, at best, with time it will bring about a far better climate.
I am aware of no inconsistency in affirming my support for the Bill and at the same time my belief that the key to good industrial relations remains with management, men and unions. The Bill 1183 represents a long overdue attempt to introduce in place of strife an element of reason, fair play and justice.
§ Mr. Speaker
I remind the House that many hon. Members, having sat here during our two days of debate so far, wish to take part. Brief speeches will help.
§ 6.50 p.m.
Mr. Emlyn Hanson (Montgomery)
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) on his maiden speech. The early part of what he had to say gave us the fruit of some literary researches, greatly appreciated by the House, I am sure. The hon. Gentleman quoted Gibbon, and mentioned that during his eight years sojourn here he had never made a speech. No doubt, Gibbon was the recipient of the sort of advice which Sir Winston Churchill is reputed to have given to a new Member who sought the advice of that great man about when he should make his maiden speech. It is said that the new Member was astonished to receive the advice, "Never, Sir", and that, when he asked for an explanation, Sir Winston replied, "Better that your fellow Members ask, 'Why does not he speak?', than, 'Why does he?'." [Laughter.] That sort of advice or stricture could never be given to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West, but it might have explained Gibbon's silence.
I was greatly struck yesterday by the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), when, speaking proudly after his 50 years of experience in the trade union movement, he referred to the trade unions as one of the great estates of the realm. One recalls that Sir Winston Churchill once described the trade unions as the fourth estate. Yet even as the right hon. Gentleman was speaking on that theme, I could not help reflecting on how extremely conservative and how resistant to change the great estates of the realm always are.
Would the Monarchy, for example, have changed but for the barons at Runnymede or but for what was done by Pym and Hampden in this House? Of course not. The Monarchy always wanted its power to remain absolute. What of the Church? It was always in- 1184 tent on keeping its power, until that power was eroded by the action of Parliament. Parliament itself was always resistant to change until it was forced to change by pressures from outside, pressures which brought about the great Reform Bills and enlarged the franchise. In this century, there was a tremendous battle with the other place until it surrendered its power to the representatives of the people in the Commons.
The trade unions are no different from any of the other great estates of the realm. They do not want their power to be touched or interfered with in any way. They are as conservative and as resistant to change as any of their predecessors in the great and proud rôle which they have in our community.
I am not, therefore, impressed by the argument that there is no room for the Legislature to intervene on trade union matters. Far from it. The trade unions themselves are the child of this House. They have no legal powers or rights save the powers and rights given to them by the House. The situation is the same on the other side of industry where we are concerned with corporate power. The limited company is itself a creation of the law; its powers are controlled and restricted by the Companies Acts, which are revised from time to time. The power of companies to conspire together in restrictive practices is subject to legal sanction under an Act passed by the House. It is right, therefore, for the House of Commons from time to time to look at the trade union law and see what change is necessary, for, inevitably, change must come from outside the trade union movement itself.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) made an eloquent and effective speech, the most effective speech we have heard. It was effective because it was emotional, and it was emotional because of his experience. I thought it a fine parliamentary performance. I sympathised with the view which the right hon. Gentleman expressed, that change ought to come from the inside and there is so much which the trade unions themselves could do. I think that that is right, but the point is that they do not do it.
In my view, the trouble with the Bill is that it has been oversold. For political reasons, this being an election year 1185 and trade union reform having been an electioneering slogan, so many hon. Members opposite—not the Minister himself or the Solicitor-General, but the Tory backwoodsmen—have been selling the idea that there is a magic formula in the Bill to overcome much of our industrial troubles. In fact, there is not.
That part of the Bill about which there has been the greatest ballyhoo, that is, the part dealing with the legal enforcement of work contracts, is, in my view, the least effective part of it. I very much agreed with the view expressed by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Helfer) when he wound up last night. The hon. Gentleman's speech was in marked contrast to the opening speech of the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who attacked the Bill and evoked frightening thoughts of what might happen; of the whole panoply of the criminal law being brought to hear, and of people being sent to prison. I thought that that was nonsense. Much the more effective criticism came from the hon. Member for Walton when he said that the Bill, or that part of it, was likely to prove ineffective.
I agree with a good deal of what the hon. Gentleman said about the Clauses dealing with legal enforceability. It is difficult to find an effective sanction for that kind of approach. My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) was right last week to direct attention to the penal provisions in the Act of 1875, repeated later in—I am not sure of the date—
§ Mr. Hooson
I am much obliged—the Electricity Supply Act, 1919. Those penal provisions were not invoked during the General Strike, and they have not been invoked by the Minister recently, and rightly so. This shows how difficult it is to get people, as it were, to obey that sort of law and to apply that kind of sanction. In his heart of hearts, the Minister understands this, I am sure. I noticed that he nodded yesterday on one or two ocasions when I intervened on the question of effective sanctions behind these provisions as they stand, and I am certain that he will find it extremely difficult to enforce some of these agreements.
We are told that in this country our great problem, as opposed to that of 1186 the United States, is the problem of the unofficial strike, not the official strike. The unofficial striker is breaking the law now. He breaks his contract of employment. He can be sued by his employer. Why should employers show great enthusiasm for taking him to court for breaking the law under the new Bill than they have shown under the present law?
§ Mr. Hooson
I know the argument about special courts, but the great problem in taking a man to law, quite apart from the difficulties of litigation in any event, is that a long time passes between the point when the contract is broken and the point when the remedy is obtained. By the time one goes to court, whether it be an industrial court or any other, to seek a remedy, one has forgotten what the dispute was all about. This is why it is so difficult to apply the right kind of enforcement.
I believe that the Bill has been oversold in that there have been gross misstatements about the efficacy of this part of its provisions, and on the Labour benches there has been the grossest exaggeration of what this part of the Bill is designed to achieve.
In fact, it is not a pernicious Bill. The right hon. Member for Sowerby put his finger directly on the real point of opposition when lie said that what worried him was the authorship of it. "We cannot", he said, "accept a trade union Bill from a Tory Government". That was the burden of his speech, and, in the light of his background, I can understand it. But I cannot accept that as the right approach to legislation. From whatever side of the House it comes, we must judge legislation on its merits, not on the ancestry of its authors. It really beggars description to have a fine parliamentary performance from someone of the right hon. Gentleman's standing which, when one analyses it, comes down to the basic criticism, "We cannot trust the authors of the Bill. Although the Bill says one thing, we think it is designed to achieve another."
I have referred to what I regard as, in many ways, the worst aspect of the Bill, but I must now talk of other aspects. One of the results of the Bill may be to change the pattern of industrial disputes. We may have far more official strikes 1187 and fewer unofficial strikes. I do not know whether sufficient thought has been given to this aspect. Another matter I find to criticise in the Bill is the 60-day cooling-off period. My experience in the United States, and I had some discussions about this recently, is that it has not been very effective. On the other hand it has to be said that the critic from the United States whose article was distributed by the Trades Union Congress regarded this provision as what he called "plus" despite the criticism of it. I do not think that this will be so in this country because the tradition of the United States is very different from ours.
I believe that two of the best members of the Government Front Bench had a large part to play in the handling of this Bill, namely, the Secretary of State and the Solicitor-General. I was in the United States recently and by accident followed in the footsteps of the Solicitor-General. I discovered he had been there in the spring and had been making various contacts with certain people and had held discussions with a view to preparing a Bill of this kind. I accept from the Minister and the Solicitor-General that this is a serious attempt to deal with the great industrial problems of the country. I regret that he has taken so much of his model from the United States and so little from such countries as Sweden and Germany which, certainly in the post-war period, have had relatively fewer labour troubles than the United States.
My approach and that of my party to the whole problem with which we are concerned in this important Bill is markedly different from that expressed by the Front Bench opposite or the Opposition Front Bench. I do not accept that unofficial strikes invariably, as seems to be suggested, result from wild-cat action or irresponsible attitudes. There is a great deal of validity in the point made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton yesterday and the right hon. Member for Leeds, West that very often on the work floor an aggravating problem suddenly arises. There is no proper management procedure to deal with it. There is the abrasive effect of perhaps a headstrong management and possibly a headstrong shop steward. Nevertheless, there is more often than not a genuine reason for the start of a dispute. The dispute 1188 is not dealt with quickly and it soon grows to be an unofficial strike.
I greatly regret that in this Bill, which is supposed to start putting our industrial relations on a better footing there is no kind of grievance procedure laid down to deal with the problems where they really arise, which is on the shop floor. The modern labour reform law which this Bill is supposed to represent is in marked contrast to the 1962 Act introduced in Germany where they recognised that the important relationship in industry is on the shop floor between employers as represented on the shop floor and the employee as he is doing his daily work on the shop floor. The Government have started at the wrong end of the scale.
Having made these general criticisms, I nevertheless think that, in the mood of the country at present, with the background of the failure of the trade unions to reform themselves, it is necessary for this House to have a prolonged look at labour relations, the kind of opportunity that we can only have when a Bill of this kind is presented and considered in great detail in Committee. This Bill has many valuable parts to it. The more valuable parts have had less publicity so far.
§ Mr. Hooson
I will tell the hon. Gentleman which are some of the valuable parts. Let me name one very important potential development, and this is the permanent Commission on Industrial Relations. Everyone in the House knows that we are dealing with the most sensitive matter in our community in industrial relations. There is no subject on which posturing and pontificating contribute less than on this subject. We are setting up procedures, but whether or not they will be effective will largely depend not on the procedures but on the skill of the people who are to use them. That skill does not come overnight, but it is likely to come through such a Commission. This is a long-term matter and it could make the most valuable contribution to relations in British industry.
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman concede that an indisputable factor required for this Commission to work is the co-operation of the 1189 trade unions? Does not this Bill deny that type of co-operation?
§ Mr. Hooson
I do not agree with the hon. Member on this subject and with others who say that this will never get off the ground. In three years' time this Bill will be less controversial than our decision last week on British Standard Time.
§ Mr. Hooson
I sometimes am in the habit of joking, but I am not joking when I venture this opinion. I believe this because the fears of the trade unions have been over-stated. The real contribution of the Bill will be in the long term. Another provision which could be of the greatest value is the code of industrial conduct. I belong to one of the oldest-established trade unions in the country. I am a member of the Bar.
§ Mr. Hooson
If hon. Members would like to qualify for the Bar we would be delighted to welcome them.
§ Mr. Hooson
They have The Law Society. However, I said that I was a member of one of the oldest trade unions in the country. It is a trade union and because it has a monopoly position it has to have very strict standards and a code of conduct which is strictly enforced. If a person wants a privileged position in society, and sometimes it is necessary to have it, there must be, whether by law or otherwise, a code of conduct laid down. Every good trade unionist would agree on this point. If any trade union, whether the Bar Council or any other, is in conflict with the public interest and this House then this House must be paramount. If it applies to the professional bodies in this country it equally applies to trade unions too.
The code of industrial conduct could be most beneficial. On the other hand, it could he a series of platitudes, unexceptional and unenforceable, and that is what codes sometimes tend to be. But if great thought is brought to bear on it, the code 1190 of industrial conduct should be another valuable contribution to the Bill.
I intend, and I have so advised my hon. Friends, to vote for the Bill on Second Reading.
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Member is in no position to talk about Liberalism. He does not know anything about it. This Bill needs to be considered in depth. There are many parts of it about which I have great reservations but there are many parts which could be of great value. I hope that the combined wisdom and experience of this House is brought to bear upon it. Whatever its origin, whatever its authorship, it is important that this House should bring its vast combined wisdom and experience to bear on it and I hope that the Minister meant what he said yesterday when he invited Amendments and suggestions for improving or changing the Bill. The Government cannot afford to be dogmatic about it. It is important from the country's point of view that we get the right answer. The country is certainly in the mood for a Bill of this kind, but it is equally and more important that the answers that eventually go from this House should be the right ones.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
On a point of order. The tradition of the trade union-sponsored Members of the House is a long and honourable one, Mr. Speaker, and it so happens that the biggest sponsored group is that of the Transport and General Workers' Union, which correspondingly also happens to be Britain's biggest trade union. I feel that there is, therefore, a need for the voice of that trade union to be heard in debates of this kind. I therefore respectfully draw this matter to your attention, Mr. Speaker, and seek your guidance about it.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The question of selection of speakers is the very difficult task that is given to Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker is aware that many trade unionists wish to speak in the debate. Mr. Stokes.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Oldbury and Halesowen)
As a true blue Tory, I listened with the greatest enjoyment to the spen-did speech which we have heard from the gallant representative of the Liberal Party, the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). One thing which it proves is that perhaps today the Liberal Party is more up to date than the Labour Party.
I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, that you have allowed me to take part in this debate, because I have spent 25 years in industry, first in two of the greatest companies in the country—I.C.I. and Courtaulds—and latterly as a mangement consultant dealing with personnel affairs on my own account. Of the many personnel managers whom I meet from time to time, very few indeed are opposed to the Bill.
I should like to start by recommending some of the less controversial aspects of the Bill. I am sure that one general benefit from it will be to highlight to everybody the importance of human relations in industry, because too often many people tend to think that better organisation and methods, more expertise and the latest techniques and systems are the answer to company problems. In my submission, they are not. It is the men who matter and, in particular, the men at the top.
Another essential factor in good relations is, as the Bill states, to encourage good communications by employers disclosing information to workpeople. This is something which, even today, some large firms in industry still find exceedingly difficult. This is perhaps an aspect in which industry could turn to the Forces, where young officers are taught very early on to put their men in the picture. In particular, the foreman, who is in a sense the n.c.o. of industry, should be given much more information, a better office and better facilities, because he is the man who is dealing with the first-line troops.
I speak as someone who goes into several factories every month and I think that there is sometimes a misunderstanding in the country about workpeople and what they do. I seldom find factories where workpeople are not working hard. There are, of course, black spots in cer- 1192 tain industries, but most people do a good day's work in their factory and workplace. It is, however, up to management, in collaboration with the trade unions, to work out policies for more effective work. I believe that in the years to come, the Bill will support that.
We aim for higher productivity, about which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke earlier today, but productivity alone is not everything. People must be interested in what they are doing and be involved. That, again, is a task for management. I welcome in the Bill the proposals to safeguard employees from the actions of those who might lead them away from their duties. I do not subscribe to the view that subversion starts trouble, but sometimes subversion feeds on trouble when it is already there. Sometimes, both management and unions have to appeal direct to the rank and file over the heads of those who are irregularly and temporarily leading them badly.
The Bill is very clear on a man's right to decide whether to join a union. In future years, this problem is likely to occur more often with the staff of a company than with the workpeople, because we have seen in recent years a very large increase in staff unions. It is difficult to generalise—much depends on local circumstances—but, in the main, I am a strong supporter of workpeople on the shop floor being strongly unionised. I am not, however, generally speaking, a supporter of all staff people being unionised in the same way and, in particular, belonging to the same union. Their needs are different.
I welcome the new periods of notice specified in the Bill for employees. I felt that it was absurd and unfair that, until recently, a typist, for instance, because she was on the staff, was entitled to three weeks' holiday and often to a long period of sick pay, while a charge-hand or senior workman with many years' service would, perhaps, be on a week's pay with no sick pay entitlement.
One feature of the Bill which, to my knowledge, has not been touched upon from either side of the House is the overlap of the Bill with race relations legislation. I know that this is a dangerous and difficult topic, but I fear—and I speak from experience—that 1193 already, in some circumstances, the existing race relations legislation can prejudice the rights of natives of this country as compared with those who have come from overseas. This factor must be carefully looked into.
The Bill is particularly relevant when we have seen in recent years the tendency of certain unions to abuse the strength of their position. As a practising industrialist, I sincerely believe that the Bill will strengthen leadership in the unions—and all good managements wish to face a strong and well-organised union.
Employers' associations have scarcely been mentioned. I believe that they have a great deal to do to make themselves more effective. Their members should take a more active interest in their activities, and their public relations in particular fall far short of those of the unions.
In conclusion, I return to my original theme that it is management, and management alone, which can ensure good industrial relations. I believe that the Bill will set out the framework. The rest is up to all those who work in industry.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes) spoke in remarkably non-controversial style, possibly because he was not a maiden speaker. Today we have heard one maiden speaker after another on the benches opposite making blistering attacks on the trade union movement and on the Opposition, always preceded by an avowal that they would not be controversial and leaving us wondering what on earth they will be like as orators when they loose their restraints and become controversial. The hon. Gentleman said a great deal with which I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House agreed. I wish that I could feel that my speech will be as uncontroversial as his, but I feel obliged to register a disagreement with the attitude to the Bill of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench.
Of course, many criticisms can be made about the Bill. It is complicated. It may well not work in its major provision. It is only partly relevant to the current prob- 1194 lems which plague us. If legislation is needed in this field, as I think it is, the Conservative Party is not the organisation one would choose to introduce and implement it, for all the reasons admirably given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton).
On the other hand, there is a real problem. The public knows that there is a real problem. My right hon. Friends stated over and over again last year that there was a real problem. At the same time there are some good things in the Bill. I wish very much that my right hon. Friends had tabled a reasoned Amendment and set out to improve the Bill in Committee. I cannot understand or support the violent, unrestrained and partisan attacks made on the Bill by my right hon. Friends. To describe it as a monstrous tyranny which takes us back over half a century, as one of my right hon. Friends did, or as a blackleg's charter does not seem to me appropriate. It is dangerous and likely to mislead the public about the Labour Party's true attitude in this important field.
I wonder whether it is right to say, "No matter what happens, no matter how the Bill works or does not work, we will repeal it if we get the chance." I wonder whether that is wise. It may well be that when we return to office, as we shall do in due course, we shall want to repeal the Bill. But I wonder whether it is wise to close the option between repealing the Bill and amending it and to say, "If we are returned to power we shall not amend the Bill but repeal it completely".
I was glad when my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby made clear that the pledge about repeal is conditional on our successfully co-operating with the trade union movement in producing a new, constructive alternative to the Bill. I am glad that the unconditional statement of repeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) last night is apparently not a true statement of the Labour Party's position. Further, I assume that the statement which my hon. Friend made in the debate on 26th November does not represent the position of the party. He said:My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn made it clear that we would oppose this Measure root and branch and that, if it should come on into operation, we would destroy it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1970; Vol. 807, c. 733.]1195 That goes much further than the pledge of repeal. It is not only an unconditional statement; it hints at direct action against the Bill if it comes into operation. I am glad to have had the assurance of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sower-by that that is not the position adopted by my party.
I find it difficult to understand the extreme attitude of my right hon. Friends. I do not think that it is the view of my constituents. I do not believe that it is the view of the Labour voters who sent me to this place. It gives a dangerously misleading impression of the Labour Party's relations with the trade unions. We have to be a little careful in our statements to the public, bearing in mind our close partnership and our many ties, including financial ties, with the trade unions. I think that our party would be wise to try to avoid giving a misleading impression about our rôle in this field.
Finally, this attitude contrasts so sharply with the attitude of my right hon. Friends quite recently when they were the Ministers responsible. We all know that from time to time politicians have to eat their words. It is one of the drawbacks of our profession. Like our low pay, it is one of the things we cannot avoid. It is no great disgrace to eat one's words on a small matter, or even on a big matter, provided a decent interval of time has elapsed between one's avowal of conviction in one direction and changing it to an avowal of conviction in the other direction. But when one eats one's words on a major matter of national importance with the minimal interval, the politician concerned loses credibility when it comes to discussing the subject in question.
We all know that there were differences between "In Place of Strife" and this Bill. But there were also remarkable similarities. Both accepted the principle that the law must be invoked to check unofficial strikes. "In Place of Strife" provided for the fining of unofficial strikers. I recall one or two of my right hon. Friends speaking in favour of the attachment of wages for this purpose. At that time I thought—and I am sure that I was right—that my right hon. Friends were facing up to a very serious 1196 national problem with great courage and complete conviction. I agreed with what they said. I spoke in my constituency and on television in favour of the stand which they were taking. Now tonight they invite me, with a three-line whip, to change my mind.
But I have not changed my mind. Why should we change our minds compared with the position a year ago? Has the problem got better? On the contrary, it has got worse. Has the alternative policy, the solemn and binding undertaking, succeeded? It may have helped marginally, but it has certainly not begun to solve the problem. Or is the argument simply that since then we have become the Opposition and we can now take a different and more relaxed view of the national interest? That is not an argument which should weigh with us.
I see no reasonable excuse for this change of front. It is not good enough to declare one year that the national interest imperatively demands all-out support for "In Place of Strife" and the next year that the national interest imperatively demands the destruction of the very similar Industrial Relations Bill. This is simply playing party games, and I think that the public is growing sick of it.
Then there is the question of public opinion. We do not need public opinion polls to tell us that the great majority—
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell(Southall) rose—
§ Mr. Mayhew
—of the public, including the majority of members of trade unions, are deeply convinced, not only that unofficial strikes are wrong—that goes without saying—[Interruption.] Let me take the public opinion polls. If my hon. Friends say that the public is not overwhelmingly in favour of action to stop unofficial strikes, they are quite wrong. I am not saying whether it is right or wrong; I am talking about public opinion. I admit that public opinion polls can be 5 or 10 per cent. wrong, but anyone who studies the polls and gets outside Westminster and speaks in public in his constituency knows that the overwhelming majority of the public and the majority of members of trade unions are deeply disturbed by the excessive growth of power in the trade unions and the use made of that power from time to time, and want the law to be brought in 1197 to curb that power. I am not saying that the public is right; I am talking about the attitude which I feel it is wise for my party to adopt on the whole question of industrial relations. If we utterly ignore the public, we could get into great difficulties, and I urge my hon. Friends to take this argument seriously.
Is the public wrong about the growth of power of the trade unions and its occasional misuse? The Labour Party must face this question. It is no good just remembering the good times when the partnership between the party and the unions was so easy. When the Labour Representation Committee was founded 70 years ago, and when the partnership between our party and the trade unions began, there were no problems, because the demands of the unions and the demands of the people were identical. The demand of the trade unions for a living wage was the major need of the people, and it was the partnership between our party and the trade union movement which was more responsible than anything else for the increase in the living standards and the welfare of the people.
We must recognise that today it is different. The partnership is not, and cannot be, as straightforward and as easy as it was. The first change is that the demand of a trade union for higher wages is no longer automatically the need of the public as a whole. It used to be, but today the demand of a trade union for higher wages often conflicts with the need of the public for lower prices. Today the public think and act much less as producers earning wages and salaries, as they did in the old days, than as consumers, as people who are interested in prices, in the rates of mortgages, in rates and taxes. Of course this makes it different, because it is no longer true that those whom we represent are necessarily served by the demands of trade unions. It is no good just getting hot about this problem; we must face it and see what we can do about it.
There is another change which is a great embarrassment to this partnership. The nature and effect of the strike have changed in the last 70 years. What used to be a simple action which hurt the employer, and, indeed, the employed, is now a quite different social phenomenon, as we have seen in recent days. It is unrecognisably different and full of peril 1198 for the political organisation which is affiliated to the union that takes this action. We cannot laugh this off.
§ Miss Devlin
May I make one simple proposition to the hon. Member? In drawing the differences between the existing party and party leadership and the unions, he is possibly missing the fundamental fact not that the unions do not represent and continue to represent the mass of the people but that the party leadership has sold out the masses of the working people, because still only 7 per cent. of the people own 84 per cent. of the private wealth of the country, and that is why there is not enough money to go round.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am not wholly on the same wavelength as the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). I remind her that the last time we spoke together in public we spoke on the same side, and won a notable victory in another place.
There has been another change in the trade union movement which is almost as difficult for us as the two other changes. The political views—I am speaking very frankly—of trade union activities and some trade union leaders diverge a great deal more than they used to from the views of the party and the public. We are dealing in some instances with trade union leaders who have got to the job and keep themselves there thanks to extremist political support. I would hope that we were able to talk frankly about this, as it is of the greatest importance.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I will state what is common knowledge, that a number of trade union leaders today are no longer the Ernest Bevin type, the Sam Watson type or the Tom Williamson type. They are people whose views diverge much more from our party's views, and therefore, they present us with a problem.
To sum up, I maintain that although the Bill has shortcomings—and I agree 1199 with a number of complaints that have been made—there is great danger to the party if we simply react to the Bill as though nothing has happened between the trade unions and the Labour Party over the last 70 years, as though no problem faced us, as though we can go on un-discriminatingly backing a movement that has changed a great deal in the last 70 years.
The attitude that my right hon. Friends have taken to the Bill is dangerously misleading. They should not be ashamed of the stand which they made last year on this issue. They should recognise that there is a serious problem here, about which something needs to be done, and about which the public expects something to be done, and that we do no good to the party by wild partisan denunciations of the Bill. We should have had a reasoned Amendment, and we should make a constructive attempt to improve the Bill in the national interest.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)
For some hours I have been wondering which telling phrase 1 might start with if I were fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Comments were made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite with which I so profoundly disagreed that I hardly know how not to follow them. Then came the interesting and provocative speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who, if I may respectfully say so, raised some much more interesting points for discussion than had been raised before, and I was tempted to follow him. The one thing which I never expected was that 1 should be following a speech such as that made by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) with which I so wholeheartedly agree. In these circumstances, the only thing I can do is to abandon my preconceived beginnings and to limit myself to a brief contribution in that one area of the matter in which I can claim to have a little experience.
The reason I am glad to have the opportunity of speaking in this debate is that in the course of the discussions on this matter ever since the Consultative Document was published and, more particularly, since publication of the Bill, there has been too much huffing and 1200 puffing about the law and lawyers in general. Most of it has been grossly misconceived. It is time that a little straightening out was done by at least one lawyer. I am glad I have that opportunity because I think I can fairly claim to have had some special experience in the field of the reform of the law and in seeing whether such reform can assist in resolving some of the problems which have arisen in industrial relations in recent years.
In 1965 I had the honour to form a committee under the chairmanship of the late Sir John Hobson, whom most people in the House will remember with affection as a colleague for whom we had great respect. That committee was set up by the Inns of Court Conservative and Unionist Society and, contrary to what is said in this House about lawyers wishing to take over this whole matter, that committee's terms of reference were to consider whether any, and if so what, changes might be recommended in the law relating to industrial relations which might assist all the other possible methods for improving industrial relations.
That committee, of which the then Solicitor-General was a member, produced a pamphlet called, "Trade Unions for Tomorrow", which was a print of written evidence submitted to the Donovan Commission. I had the privilege of attending, together with Sir John Hobson, the Solicitor-General, and Mr. Alan Campbell Counsel to give oral evidence on that document to the Royal Commission. In passing, may I add that I am one of the few lawyers in this country who have been to the United States to see what happens there in the industrial courts. A great deal is said both inside and outside the House about what happens in the United States, but I have sat in the National Labour Relations Courts in the States to see what it all about.
As a result of my experience, I am 100 per cent. with the Government in the objectives which they seek to achieve in this Bill.
There is, of course, great room for difference in detail and as to methods. I have been pursuing some of those differences of methods with my right hon. Friend. There is room for difference of opinion and discussion on the meaning 1201 and effect of some parts of the Bill. The Bill is in parts technical and difficult to understand. There is plenty of scope for trying to work out between ourselves areas of doubt and in seeking to resolve them.
I apprehend that, whatever political differences there may be across the Floor of the House, lawyers in the House will be united in the objective that, whatever Bill is enacted, we want to see it contain the minimum number of ambiguities. All lawyers in the House are tired of seeing legislation pass out of the House containing so many ambiguities that it brings the law into disrepute. The one thing for which there is no excuse is the sort of line that was frequently pursued in the debate yesterday, a line which has been pursued by other people in public, epitomised by the hon. Gentleman who said that the Bill means that negotiation will be replaced by litigation. There is no room for extravagant statements of that kind—for the fire and fury and froth of the kind we heard from the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) today—about the effect in law of the Bill. It is such nonsense that one looks for some kind of explanation of how people can say these things.
I can only think that such statements must be based on one of two assumptions, each of which is as false as the other. It appears that some people feel that there is an unidentified group of lawyers who feel that they and the law can solve everybody's problems and want to take them over. I assure anybody who thinks in that way that no such body of lawyers is known to me, and I do not believe it exists.
The attitude of the lawyers is typified in a passage which I shall quote from "Trade Unions for Tomorrow", which is as follows:We recognise that the legal framework within which management and employees, trade unions and employers' associations, must work is only part of the problem. In the ultimate analysis, the spirit and good intentions, the vision and the effort, the failings and inadequacies, the stupidities and fears both of management and of employees and of their representative institutions, are infinitely more important than the legal framework within which they work, whatever it may be.This is one of the few public pronouncements I know which was made entirely 1202 by lawyers. They included the Solicitor-General, Sir John Hobson, Sir Lionel Heald and I myself. I believe that is far more representative of the attitude of lawyers to this problem, namely, to ask, "what contribution can the law make to supplement the efforts of everybody to bring sense into this field where there is so much nonsense at the moment?"
Is it not as plain as a pikestaff that this is what the Bill sets out to do: to supplement all the other means which are already available, if people wish to use them, to avoid a conflict in a number of ways. Two of these reforms involve (a) making a long-overdue attempt to set out clearly the rights and obligations of the various parties who have a part to play in this matter and, (b) by way of last resort or long-stop, to provide means of resolving disputes if none of the other means available is effective.
This will of course mean that in some respects people will need the assistance of lawyers, but surely there is nobody in this House who really believes that litigation and legal advice is to take the place of negotiation. Surely every single person must believe that everybody concerned to find settlements to the difficulties which arise will still seek to do so by every negotiating means that is available. There are so many other things which can and must contribute to restoring a more favourable climate. A return to a better sense of values than we saw last week might do more than all the legal framework can do. A clearer realisation that all sections of the community are so inter-dependent that one section cannot any longer hold another section to ransom would do as much as any framework of law could do.
I am sure that all hon. Members here hope that such remedies provided by the Bill will not be taken as the last word and that everybody who is concerned will make the same sort of vigorous effort as is being made in the United States to make available more effective arbitration procedures. Arbitration procedures have the great benefit that they are carried out entirely by and with the agreement of the parties. In the United States I had unqualified admiration for the strides which have been made by the Association of Arbitrators and others in 1203 making available quick and effective means for resolving disputes by arbitration.
I turn now to the second assumption which seems to be being made which I think is as false as the first. The belief seems to be that the minute the Bill has been passed there will be a flood of litigation arising out of and relating to industrial matters. I have not yet heard anybody who puts forward that argument condescend to any particulars of whence this flood is said to come.
There may well be a great increase in litigation in one sphere. There may well be a large number of claims for alleged unfair dismissal. But what right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite would complain about that? The Bill is introducing into this country for the first time a remedy and compensation for the man who can fairly and rightly claim that he has been unfairly dismissed.
§ Mr. Ray Carter(Birmingham, Northfield) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. It is impossible for an hon. Member to speak against a conversational background of noise. It is very unfair to hon. Members who have sat here for two whole days in the hope of speaking, many of whom I still hope it will be possible to call in the last hour of the debate. Mr. Percival.
§ Mr. Carter
The hon. and learned Gentleman raises the subject of unfair dismissal. If this is such a new approach to industrial relations, if we are to get increased freedom for the worker, why cannot that principle be extended to approximately 5 million workers who work in establishments where four people or less are employed?
§ Mr. Percival
The hon. Gentleman should not come into the House at the last moment and raise a technical point like that in the middle of a question of substance. The hon. Gentleman must appreciate that in introducing a new procedure like this one must make sure that the procedures can be worked. I understand that it is my right hon. Friend's intention to make this remedy available in the first instance to a very wide area of people and then, as the system is got 1204 working, if there is a case for extending it more widely, to do so.
I return to my general theme—
§ Mr. Roy Hughes rose—
§ Mr. Percival
I will not give way. I ask those who say that the Bill will substitute litigation for negotiation and that it will be followed by a flood of litigation: who will indulge in all this litigation? I think that it is pie in the sky. All this huffing and puffing about the law and lawyers in general is in substitution for detailed consideration of the contents of the Bill. There is so much in it which calls for discussion. For instance, what a joy it will be when we get some serious discussion of this new concept of unfair industrial practice. There is much to discuss in those parts of the Bill which create this new cause of action, the way that it is to be dealt with, and the remedies available.
There might even be grounds for discussing a new name in place of the present one which is 24 letters long. We might perhaps find a four-letter word for it like—[interruption.] I thought perhaps that hon. Gentlemen opposite might have some suggestions but that is not what I have in mind. I am thinking of a word like "tort", which simply means a wrongdoing, another nice, short word like that so easy to use.
There are many points involved in those parts of the Bill which introduce this concept about which we could have a useful discussion, but about which we are not having a useful discussion because of all this huffing and puffing about the law and lawyers in general.
I was glad that at least some hon. Members referred to the agency shop. I was surprised to hear such strictures as these were about that, because those who profess to know about the American system would, I thought, have known that in Canada and America the agency shop concept has been introduced fairly recently. They use the Rand formula in Canada, and it is giving some satisfaction there.
I do not propose to go further into those matters partly because of the time, partly because we shall have ample opportunity to develop them in Committee, and partly because I want to trespass on the time of the House to make one other general point. I think that the drafting 1205 of the Bill is quite magnificent. The more one reads it—at the moment I am inclined to think that there are perhaps more opinions floating about than there are people who have read it—the more one is amazed—
§ Mr. Percival
Hon. Gentlemen may sneer. When they get down to reading the Bill, they may agree with my whole sentence. The more one reads the Bill the more one is amazed how the draftsman has married all the different parts into one another. It represents a complete, coherent, cohesive system for providing as long-stops remedies for resolving difficulties which at the moment seem so often to be intractable. To do that it is necessary to have some fairly complicated and technical law, and, of course, there will be a part for lawyers to play in that. But why is that such a bad thing? Would anybody thinking of building a bridge say, "We will not have any engineers to help in building it"?
The lawyers will have a part to play in implementing the Bill. Parties will want to know their rights. Judges will need assistance. But let hon. Gentlemen not forget that lawyers are never employed unless their services are required and thought to be useful. No lawyer will come into this unless someone wishes his assistance. Surely it is plain commonsense.
That is the keynote on which I want to end. Can we not all now start to approach the Bill with a little more commonsense and in a rather more workmanlike way than has been the case thus far? Is it not possible for those who have strong personal prejudices, whether they be anti-capitalist or anti-lawyer, to drop those prejudices? Is it not possible for the House at last to get down to a joint effort, pooling all the experience of hon. Members on both sides to produce the most workmanlike scheme than we can? That is what the public wants, without any doubt. Surely, there is nothing finer that we could do in this House than to serve it, the public, by making that joint effort.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I listened very intently to the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival). I began to be interested in 1206 his second sentence, but by the time he finished he had me as confused as a cross-eyed kitten. I only hope that when I read his speech in the morning it will give me something more than I could get out of it tonight.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the more we read the Bill the more we became amazed. I agree with him. I have read it four or five times, and it is the biggest maze I know. We are having a two-day debate and there have been constant instances of differences of opinion between hon. and learned Members on both sides on the legal interpretation not just of Clauses but of subsections. We had a long and sustained argument last night involving four lawyers—the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner), and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams). They all tried to give interpretations of Clauses 32 to 40, and we had four lawyers and four different opinions. That is one of our difficulties in examining a Bill like this.
Even the language relating to the trade unions and the ordinary man in the factory and shop stewards is very imprecise, making it a lawyers' paradise. But I do not want to repeat all the arguments about the difficulties which everybody will get into, thus giving the lawyers additional remuneration.
I should like to draw to the attention of the Minister of State, Department of Employment, who I assume will reply—
§ Mr. Loughlin
I should like to draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to Clause 6(1) which says:it shall be an unfair industrial practice for any person (including any trade union or other organisation of workers or any official of a trade union or of such an organisation)—The Clause also refers to "inducing", which appears in Clause after Clause. Unless there is a clear definition relating to the actions of individuals in industry, 1207 every trade unionist and trade union official will be inhibited when considering his job in industry, because he will have no idea of the words which might be construed as constituting an offence under the Bill in certain circumstances.
- (a) by calling, organising, procuring or financing a strike, or threatening to do so …"
This is not what industrial relations are about. Industrial problems cannot be solved on the basis of legislation or creating a situation in which the people involved are so ignorant of what offence they might commit that they are completely inhibited in pursuing their side of industrial relations. The Bill will produce such a situation. I do not believe that it will make the slightest contribution to future industrial relations. The solution of industrial problems, whether we like it or not, requires a great deal of patience. We must create an atmosphere of confidence on both sides of industry and be prepared to settle our negotiations either on the shop floor or at the central negotiating table.
The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes) struck the right note when he talked about the place of the foreman on the factory floor. One of the biggest weaknesses in British industry—not in all parts, but in large sectors—is the failure of management to see the real significance of first- and second-line supervision. I have been fortunate; I have been on both sides of the negotiating table. I was in management before I became a trade union official.
I have had experience of the appointment of chargehands in what I consider to be a key post in good industrial relations. A chargehand should have qualities of leadership that will enable him to solve some of the immediate problems as they arise. He must be trained, but large parts of British industry attach no importance to the leadership quality of chargehands or foremen. They get the fellow who will take the job as promotion, even though he may earn less money than he would on the benches. He will possibly be the fourth choice, anyway. We must remember the significance of individuals.
The Bill will not work, and I am not particularly bothered about it. Being as charitable as I can, I believe that this is a naked attack upon the trade union movement. Hon. Gentlemen opposite can 1208 wrap it up as much as they like, but it reflects the Prime Minister's stated intention in his Carshalton speech many months ago to cut the unions down to size. I do not believe the intention is to deal with industrial relations at all.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), who has again left the Chamber—he has not been here very long either—talked about modern trade union officials as "wild men". If there are any wild men on the T.U.C., they will oppose the Bill; but the Bill is opposed by every trade union official who is a member of the T.U.C. I am a member of U.S.D.A.W., and no one in his right senses would accuse Alf Allen. who is a member of the T.U.C., of being a wild man, a Communist, a Maoist or any other "-ist" that people find under beds. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or a Tory."] He is certainly not a Tory. He is a responsible trade union official and a man whose sole concern is defending the interests of his members. He opposes the Bill as strongly as any Leftist official. The Bill will not work: that is the nub of the issue.
Hon. Members opposite have some weird ideas, in relation to the closed shop, about what goes on in industry. Does the Minister of State believe that he can stop the pre-entry closed shop? He will not. If there is a pre-entry closed shop, anyone who does not want to join will be told by a shop steward or someone else that he must. Then all the procedures will be put into effect against the man who challenged this paragon of virtue, whose sole virtue is that he does not want to pay his 1s. 2d. a week, and the shop steward might then have to pay a fine or compensation. The net effect is a fine. The man will be told that he does not have to join the union, and the employer, having invoked all the procedures, will be very happy. But does that man, having been given the right to work in that establishment, return? Of course not, because as soon as he did, someone else would tell him that he had to join the union. Having been put to the expense and difficulty in the first place the employer will not dare do it again.
I have another question relating specifically to my union. We have membership in the co-operative societies, which are democratically controlled. Many of their boards of management agree at an annual 1209 meeting to recommend to the shareholders that a condition of employment shall be that the person concerned shall be a member of his appropriate trade union. The workpeople themselves agree on a closed shop. Will the Government then say that, despite the employer and the workpeople having decided democratically, there will be no closed shop?
We have heard about the agency shop, and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) spoke yesterday about building sites. Having been at the Ministry of Public Building and Works for 18 months, I know something about this. On a £2 million project, the first site contractor could get 20 or 30 people together and say that he did not want a closed shop. Although 1,000 people might eventually be employed there, those 20 could determine the matter, which would mean that for two years there could be no agency shop there. In other words, the Bill would cripple the trade union movement in the building industry. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have a responsibility for refusing to put into effect the legislation to which they agreed in four Committee meetings just before the General Election which would have dealt with those who tried to evade their responsibilities in that industry.
The Bill is conceived in a spirit of vindictiveness, spite and ignorance. I do not believe that right hon. Gentlemen opposite think it will make any difference to industrial relations. They are concerned primarily to smash the unions, and all their protestations to the contrary cut no ice with me.
We will do whatever we possibly can to ensure that this Bill never gets on to the Statute Book. We are taking this action not because we think the Measure will work—indeed, we sincerely believe that it will not work at all—but because the importation of an American system into our industrial relations is not what we want to see in the circumstances which apply here. We will fight hon. Gentlemen opposite on the issue that they are concerned primarily with attacking the trade unions. We will defend the trade unions.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. David James (Dorset, North)
I trust that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) will forgive 1210 me if I do not pursue the line which he followed. His suggestion that we are engaged in union-bashing is too peurile to warrant further argument or discussion.
On the other hand, I am pleased to be speaking following the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) because he made a courageous speech. Many of his remarks came far more appropriately from the benches opposite than they would have come from these benches.
I was also interested in, and pleased to hear, the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). If he were in his place I am sure that he would welcome my saying that I will happily keep a seat warm on this side of the House, where he will always be welcome.
I have listened to all but about five minutes of this debate. I was particularly interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride). I was sorry, however, that he did not pay the customary tributes to the immediately preceding maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler). I am glad in a way that he did not because it gives me an opportunity to do so, and I will tell hon. Members why.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth is, of course, the son of the former Rab Butler, and my father was his P.P.S. for 13 years. There has been a long association between the Butler family and this House, and I am glad to see that our new hon. Friend has inherited many of his father's persuasive attributes.
I take issue with the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) over one point. He said that he did not give a hoot about our views because he claimed that my hon. Friends were so self-evidently in bad faith that it was not worth considering what we had to say. I was surprised that anybody with his well know degree of tolerance and intelligence should be prepared to make that type of imputation against all hon. Members on one side of the House. It was similar to the suggestion made last night, rather incautiously, by an hon. Member who forgot that he was addressing the Chair, and asked Mr. Speaker whether he had ever worked in the construction industry, to which Mr. Speaker said that he had.
1211 The general implication on the part of many hon. Gentlemen opposite is that ail Conservative hon. Members are starry-eyed and steely-jawed industrialists—they claim that we are both things at the same time—who have never been outside the board room. In fact, I began work, and manual work, for 10s. a month and was a deck hand on a North Sea trawler for a considerable time. I trust that hon. Gentlemen opposite accept that I have had experience on both sides of the industrial fence.
Indeed, to suggest that anybody could have gone through the last war and still lack human sympathy and be incapable of discussing these matters in a sympathetic manner is to insult the intelligence of the House. I will, therefore, assume that we are entitled to discuss this matter with hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, in any event, do not have a monopoly on all good will and knowledge on this subject.
I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite listened to Alistair Cooke's "Letter from America" on the radio on Saturday night. His letters are always worth hearing. He drew attention to the irony that when the 1935 Wagner Act was introduced it contained many of the provisions which we are proposing to introduce now. Indeed, that measure was held to be a triumph for the trade union movement.
§ Mr. James
I agree, and in precisely the same way the measure which we are introducing will be a triumph. [Interruption.] I admit that in an intervention last night in the remarks of the hon. Member for Walton I was wrong. He was right to say that it was the Taft-Hartley legislation which subsequently permitted the American Government to end a crippling national strike within 24 hours. This only goes to prove that it is no good saying that legislation which has been successfully applied overseas cannot have an impact in this country.
My main concern tonight over the Bill is not only with its content but with the way in which we discuss it in that this should be a vindication for democracy and for this House. I was struck by 1212 what Mr. Speaker said on the radio last Saturday morning. He said—I agree with him, though while he was referring to the last 20 years my experience is with the last 10—that this House has become more hard working, more democratic and, despite the deep differences between us, in many ways more friendly.
In discussing the brute realities of the outside world—of the hijack, the kidnap, the demo and the unofficial industrial action—I am concerned to ensure that we maintain the democratic principle that legislation in this country is passed by the House of Commons and is not subject to external pressure. We have knowledge, on the authority of no less a person than the former Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, of a tightly-knit group of politically motivated men. We have had a similar confession by Lord Robens. [Interruption.] Indeed, it is common ground that the Communist Party of Great Britain and all the other associated extremist groups have been trying to make a dog's dinner of the Bill.
§ Mr. James
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not need any such assistance. In any event, it is not good enough, and I wish to expose what is happening because unless one does this sort of thing one is not doing one's job.
I want to suggest what I believe is likely to happen. On 12th January there will be a mass meeting of the T.U.C. at the Albert Hall which will be addressed by the Leader of the Opposition. No human being could conceivably object to that as being a proper and reasonable democratic procedure.
I wonder, however, whether many hon. Gentlemen opposite are aware that the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions, a totally Communist-inspired body, is proposing to try to call a one-day general strike on that same day, riding on the backs of a legitimate T.U.C. protest. If the hon. Gentleman has time to talk to the Leader of the Opposition, I hope he will persuade him to condemn this type of extra-parliamentary pressure here and now, and not even wait until he arrives at the Albert Hall before doing so.
1213 The next key date in the diary is the recall conference of the A.E.F. on 4th February in connection with the amalgamation of the spidermen and the draughtsmen. Hon. Members opposite may probably know that the general secretary of the spidermen, Ernie Marsden, has never made any bones of the fact that he is a Communist. This, once again, will be a Communist—
§ Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) knows that if the hon. Member who is speaking does not give way he must resume his seat. He will also realise that time is getting very far advanced.
§ Mr. James
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is because time is getting so far advanced that I am trying to be quick, and so will not give way.
As I was saying, on 4th February there is to be this very explosive conference with considerable Communist influence, and the general objective at which those taking part are aiming is a general strike to try to deflect the will of Parliament.
Finally, on 7th February in Manchester there will be the Young Communist conference which has been inspired by lobbying at the T.U.C. conference in September last, and at which, once again, an attempt will be made to bring out the country in a general strike in defiance of what may well prove to be the wishes of Parliament.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have a very honourable record, and I wish to pay tribute to that record, in successfully preventing the extreme Left from taking charge of these matters, but I suggest to them that if this type of provocation goes on there is a very real danger of a Right-wing backlash, which I would deplore every bit as much as I would Left-wing extremism, and which one might find equally difficult to control. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, I make no bones at all about this. That being so, it is in the interests of both sides of the House that we keep discussion of the Bill at a low temperature; that we 1214 insist on the principles and details being debated in the House, and do not permit any external pressure to be brought to bear from either the extreme Right or the extreme Left.
§ Mr. Rose
We agree with this, but since the hon. Gentleman has quoted Lord Robens he should refer to what Lord Robens recently said of the Bill:It could in the present climate cause the downfall, within the unions, of the very elements who presently are struggling to keep to the generally practised 'rules' of industrial relations. Once they have disappeared, the militants who take their place will be interested neither in legal sanctions, nor the 'give and take' tradition.It is precisely this Bill which will play into the hands of those militants.
§ Mr. James
I fully accept that point. This is the risk one is bound to run. There is a very real danger that by bringing forward the Bill in the climate of present opinion we may antagonise those very trade unionists for whom we have the very greatest respect. In this connection, since no one has in my hearing mentioned his name tonight, I must say that I only wish that we still had the benefit of the advice of my very old personal friend, Les Cannon. He was a close friend of mine 12 years ago when he was trying to oust Mr. Haxell from the E.T.U. I am only sorry that in these admittedly difficult decisions we have been deprived, at the age of 50, of probably the ablest trade union leader the country has had for a couple of decades.
The main burden of my plea is that it is encumbent on all of us on both sides who believe in parliamentary democracy not in any circumstances to countenance any illegitimate extra-parliamentary pressure. On both sides of the House we have a vested interest in seeing that the Bill is discussed here, and no doubt improved, because thereby, and thereby alone, lies the vindication of democracy.
It has been suggested by that very distinguished American anthropologist, Robert Ardrey, whose books "Territorial Imperative" and "Social Contract" are almost essential reading, that the reason for the widespread internal dissension in every country is the lack of any external threat. No doubt zoologically this is true. But I for one will not countenance the possibility of having a war 1215 once every generation to maintain social cohesion.
I believe that Britain may be the only country which is sufficiently mature to be able to put through this type of legislation in a fully parliamentary manner without the type of pressure groups to which I have referred. I have full confidence that Mr. Speaker's view of the future of Parliament will prevail and that the rowdies, the demos, the hijackers and the other pressure groups outside Parliament will fail. But I expect the cooperation of colleagues on both sides of the House in ensuring that this happens.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
The intellectual force of the speech made this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) is backed by the moral force which only those of us who have come through the trade union movement can understand and appreciate. The trade union movement is a cornerstone of British democracy. Struggles which took place in the past long before trade unions were thought of led to the formation of unions and laid a basis of democracy in Britain. Our democracy is unique amongst countries in Western Europe and North America.
In Britain working people can stand freely for Parliament and be elected because they have the support of a trade union and need not be backed by private finance, as must happen in many other countries.
Because the British trade union movement has a political force and will it is powerful. I agree that in many instances this can make it controversial. However, when the movement acts in industrial matters it does so from an industrial view-point. When it operates in the political field it is operating in a different field.
When the trade union movement evolved in Britain and the question of negotiations and agreements first arose, the concept of free collective bargaining was at the very basis of the movement's raison d'etre. The fact that the Bill will bring the law directly into the centre of collective bargaining on wages and on conditions in industry is what we are opposed to.
1216 The Prime Minister said today that the law, in the shape of the 1875 and 1906 Acts, was already involved in industrial relations. The law now allows trade unions to operate freely under the cover of the law, not outside it, whereas the proposals in the Bill will bring the law directly into the centre of industrial relations.
Some of the lawyers' speeches make me fearful about what will happen in industrial relations. Yesterday the Minister was unable to answer a legal point and said that he would have to pass it to the lawyers. Does this mean that every one of the 185,000 shop stewards will have to be accompanied by a lawyer every time he goes to see the management? If so, a ludicrous situation will develop. It may lead to the parallel in this country of the American U.A.W., which is a formidable and powerful union; the building which houses its lawyers is larger than the building which houses the other union officials.
In speaking of agreements I am thinking in particular of those in the engineering industry. I am a sponsored Member by the A.E.F. and have worked the whole of my life, with the exception of my war service, in the engineering industry. As my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) mentioned, we operate under an agreement called the York Memorandum. It is interesting to look at its history. It was imposed upon the engineering unions at the time of the 1922 lockout, when the engineering unions in effect were defeated by the employers. That agreement canonised for British industry up to this day the basic tenet of managerial function. But it also introduced a measure of collective bargaining and a method of operating which was terribly unsatisfactory from the engineering unions' point of view, but which has, nevertheless, survived from 1922 to 1970. The engineering unions have operated that agreement, so that one cannot talk about responsible unions not carrying out agreements.
The engineering unions are now trying to negotiate a fresh agreement which they have almost reached. The president of the engineering employers gave his word to the negotiators six months ago that he did not wish this to become a legally binding agreement. But he has now gone back on his word and is insisting that a 1217 clause be put in to make it legally binding on both sides. The engineering unions say, "We are not having this. If we believe in free collective bargaining, it is free collective bargaining", and they have given notice that the current agreement, the York Memorandum, be finished within one month's time. If this is done, we shall be left with no agreement within the industry. After that agreement is abolished we shall see how much work shop stewards and officials now do to maintain industrial peace.
When we consider the Bill we come to what the unions will do under such circumstances. We would have the unique position in British law where a contract which has not been agreed by both sides would be imposed. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) made this point crystal clear last night when he dealt with Clause 39. So much for the freedom of action at the present time.
Another central point is the question of non-unionists who are equated in the Bill with trade unionists. Many hon. Members opposite cannot understand how we are so incensed about non-unionists being equated with trade unionists. If they had worked on the shop floor and had combined to obtain better working conditions and wages, and had done this through persuasion and through an endeavour to get a strong organisation, they would often have seen some individual come along who wanted to accept all the benefits but not pay the subscriptions, and who, in many cases, through all sorts of means, had tried to break that organisation.
One or two hon. Members in maiden speeches yesterday spoke about the right of the non-unionists to work and the right of people to work alongside them. I put the argument the other way round. If the Bill is passed and if Clause 5 is implemented, one will find many establishments with non-unionists working but not with trade unionists working because there is nothing to compel them to work alongside non-unionists. Trade unionists will not see their basic rights frittered away, the rights for which they fought in trade union organisation.
When hon. Members talk about union and non-union shops, I am reminded of one very interesting distinction. Anyone 1218 who knows anything about industry realises when he enters a factory whether he is in a well-organised shop. He sees proper conditions, safety regulations being applied, clean shop, people working regular hours, proper canteen facilities and negotiations taking place. A non-union shop is dirty. People often work odd hours. There are all types of different wages. The foreman comes round at 4 o'clock and says to a man, "You will work tonight". If the man replies that he does not want to, he is simply told, "You will work tonight". There is no proper negotiation. To hear right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite talking about trade unions, one would think that we lived in an ideal society. I am sorry to have to tell them that, in large parts of British industry, many workers are first-class citizens only outside the factory gates.
I come now to the central issues of the agency shop and the closed shop or, as I prefer to put it, 100 per cent. trade unionism. I do not believe in anyone being denied the right of employment so long as he is prepared to accept the conditions operating in his work place. I am in favour of 100 per cent. trade unionism as opposed to the closed shoo. I quite understand why the closed shop works in certain industries. It is not always possible to organise workers in the way that I prefer.
There is nothing undemocratic about trade unionists demonstrating actively and positively against this Bill. If demonstrations were right for farmers and for other sections of the community, they are right for trade unionists. The trade unions have fought for a century to establish their basic rights. The belief that they have unlimited power is a myth perpetrated in our society. During the 1940s and 1950s, trade unionists were very gentle with our society, at a time when they could have gained far more by using their powers with unlimited force. But they have never failed to consider the nation as a whole, because they are part of it.
In the Division Lobby tonight, I believe that the Labour Party and the trade unions will be united. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) takes a different view, and he is entitled to express it in this House. I only wish that another 1219 right hon. Friend of mine would put his views as forcefully and frankly as my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East does.
My hon. Friend spoke of trade union leaders and militancy. However, if by some mischance this Measure becomes law and is implemented, and if the disruption occurs on the factory floor which its implementation can bring about, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and my hon. Friend may look back with nostalgia to moderate trade union leaders of today like Jack Jones and Hugh Scanlon. In their places, we may find a great deal more industrial unrest.
The Bill will not solve the problem of industrial unrest. We shall achieve some form of industrial sanity in this country only when we have proper agreements, when employers are prepared to recognise trade unions—which many are not—when they are prepared to negotiate properly with trade unions and to recognise that trade unionists have a part to play in management as well as on the workshop floor. In this latter respect, perhaps I may add that I should like to see a change in the ownership of many of our basic industries, by which, I believe, we could achieve a great deal. However, that is a much deeper economic issue, and I shall not go into it now.
If he wishes to see in 1970 the sort of sanity about which he speaks, I remind the Secretary of State of what was said today by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). We are not dealing with the people of the 1920s or the 1930s. We are dealing with people in the 1970s, who are not necessarily prepared to accept past standards, who are not prepared to accept the impositions of law. We can see what is happening in Germany, in America and in Sweden. In Sweden, recently, there was an unofficial strike. Quite an unusual event. What happened?—600 workers were out. The shop steward was responsible, and he was brought before the industrial court. He was ordered to use his best endeavours to bring the workers back to work. What happened? The following morning, one man turned up at the factory, the shop steward. He said to the management, "I am here to work. I have used my best endeavours, and 599 have stayed outside". The British workers 1220 are second to none in ingenuity, so that is just a little example of what can and will happen.
I shall conclude now, because I know that I am keeping my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition from addressing the House. Ministers do not understand the trade union movement. The Secretary of State is misreading the situation. He does not understand the tensions and pressures. He does not seem to appreciate that the trade unions will not co-operate with him and that what he is doing will create a divisive influence and difficult situations for everyone concerned.
We must vote against the Bill tonight, and we must fight it every inch of the way until we see it repealed and off the Statute Book, because that is the only answer to the situation.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
I do not intend to follow in full the line adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in parts of his speech today. I shall not follow him in what was, in the main, a philosophical, or quasi-philosophical, defence of the Bill, and I do not think it necessary at this stage of the debate to reply to those parts of his speech which seemed rather ad hominem, as far as I was concerned—or "ad feminem", as far as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) is concerned—including his recital of the well-worn Conservative legend about the events of June, 1969.
I shall not follow the right hon. Gentleman in the substantial part of his speech in which he appeared, I thought, to seize upon the Bill as the centrepiece of his economic strategy. On another occasion, I should have liked him to spell out the Government's economic strategy, which is some mystery to many of us, but, unfortunately, he did not choose to speak in the economic debate a month ago. But I welcome, as the whole House will, that the Prime Minister has, after nearly six months, intervened once again in our debates, and I do not need to tell him that we look forward to hearing from him again.
The right hon. Gentleman went so wide of the Bill, and I intend to stick, on the whole, so close to it for most of what I have to say, that I hope to be 1221 in order if I remind the House—after all, it is nearly Christmas—that after the vote tonight the Prime Minister will not be in the House again, I think, before we adjourn, or, indeed, for some time after the House resumes. I am sure that the whole House will wish him an enjoyable—inevitably tiring though it will be—and, at the same time, productive visit to North America. In the New Year he will, of course, be at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and I am sure that when he gets there he will thank me for my original suggestion which led to its being in Singapore. I think he will find that that is all right. In offering him good wishes for that as well, I would say in relation to what must be the main subject of discussion in Singapore, the South African subject—I do it in the traditional words addressed to someone attending a Christmas party—"Don't do anything I wouldn't do".
Rather than follow the right hon. Gentleman in some of his other comments this afternoon, I would like to use my time, with the help of the House, to give adequate time to the Solicitor-General whom we would all like to hear tonight, by trying to sum up our case against the Bill in the same manner as the Secretary of State did yesterday and on other occasions when he has put the Government's case forward. Yesterday he was certainly putting his case seriously and sincerely, even if we disagree fundamentally with his proposals and conclusions.
Similarly, my purpose tonight is to summarise, from the main themes of this debate, the reasoned case which leads us to seek to reject the Bill as unworkable, provocative and, in our view, harmful to industrial relations in this country.
This has been by common consent, I think, a constructive and serious debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) last night paid a tribute to five maiden speakers: the hon. Members for Liverpool, Exchange (Mr. Parry), Cheadle (Mr. Normanton), Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. McCartney), Belper (Mr. Stewart-Smith) and Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Coombs). It is right that all of us should pay tribute to the other maiden speakers tonight, the hon. Members for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler), Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Fenner) and Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe). One of them is, I think, the 1222 son of an esteemed Parliamentarian, Lord Butler. How any son of his can support such a Bill I cannot understand.
I want to deal first with the claim, repeatedly made, that this Bill is based in some sense on the Donovan Report. This claim has been made by the Government. It is not. It has been made clear in all the public comments on the Bill, including comments made by members of the Royal Commission itself, that this is not so. If the Government seriously want to maintain their argument about Donovan, and I do not think they would want to sustain it, I would suggest that they get Lord Donovan to prepare a commentary on the Bill, setting out where it follows and does not follow the Royal Commission's Report. Then I hope they will publish his comments as a White Paper.
For my part, I will cite a few of the most serious departures, and this will be anything but an exhaustive list. Perhaps the Solicitor-General who is trying to establish a Donovanian paternity for his Measure, might comment upon or even seek to correct what I am saying. Donovan said that where conditions of registration of unions were involved they should not be worse than the 1871 Act. He refused specifically in terms to equate the right to join a union with the right not to join a union and said that they were not comparable. We referred to the fact that unions should have freedom to decide with whom they work; the Bill asserts the flat contrary.
At least it asserts the flat contrary especially for manual workers but it does not assert it for the lawyers, with whom the British system of industrial relations will be increasingly infested if this Bill becomes law. This Bill, we are told—and the Government have claimed this—is "Fair Deal at Work" translated into action. It is not exactly "Fair Deal at Work", and I want to make one or two points about that later. In the main let us grant that this is "Fair Deal at Work" writ in legislative form. "Fair Deal at Work" was promulgated as I understand it, before Donovan reported. It was based on the evidence presented to Donovan by the Inns of Court Conservative Association, as it then styled itself, although I gather it is now operatig under a different alias. It failed at any rate to provide, in the work it did, for the lawyers' trade union 1223 having to admit anyone who sought entry. That is the biggest closed shop of all. Indeed, the lawyers whom the Bill inserts at every stage of industrial relations, at shop floor level and right up to the top courts of the land, are not only the biggest closed shop that we know in this country: they are even closed against other lawyers.
I do not suppose that it is suggested that solicitors should be on the Court—I do not know—as judges. The barristers, however, who are exalted under this Measure, are a closed shop against that branch of the legal profession which, for some reason, in this House we do not call learned—namely, solicitors—although they are no less skilled than the barristers and are often more down to earth because they are much more in touch with ordinary human problems. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are busy safeguarding the restriction of entry in another piece of legislation to prevent solicitors sitting on the bench in county courts and elsewhere, even though there are not enough barristers to go round and we have to find lots more jobs for barristers in industry from now on.
The fourth point about Donovan is that he proposed a direct right of appeal for trade union members dismissed by their employers and was much more positive, although it was agreed yesterday that this might be a Committee point, concerning reinstatement. Donovan never proposed what is a central feature of the Bill: the imposition by outside bodies of procedure agreements on industry and on trade unions.
I think I am right in saying, although the Solicitor-General can correct me on this when he winds up, that "Fair Deal at Work" did not propose this. I do not think that "Fair Deal at Work", for which the Prime Minister claims—with some justice, I concede—an electoral mandate, provided for this imposition of a procedural agreement or an industrial agreement from outside through the mechanism of the courts or in any other way.
While I readily concede to the Prime Minister that, according to the rules, he is entitled to claim an electoral mandate for the Bill, of course he did not win the election on this. He won it on the different mandate that he would bring 1224 down prices immediately. This mandate has followed the other one—it has been slipped in on the side—but the Prime Minister cannot maintain this new constitutional game of choosing one's mandate, rejecting the one on which he was not elected but which he slipped in on the side. Even though, according to every established rule, the Prime Minister has a mandate for the Bill—I grant him that—I would still like to hear from the Solicitor-General whether he believes that the Prime Minister had a mandate for the insertion or imposition of an agreement from outside.
Again, Donovan rejected the enforceability of agreements by legislation. Donovan specifically rejected the enforcement of agreements. It is, however, a central feature of the Bill. Indeed, on this point, my reading of the Bill is that it goes far beyond a specific pledge made by the Prime Minister during the election. I will return to that later.
Seventhly, Donovan rejected the doctrine of imposing heavy damages on a union for action against an extraneous party even if that party may be an associated party, whereas the Bill provides just for that. Perhaps, therefore, the Solicitor-General when he replies, despite what he said publicly about the Bill being based on Donovan, will be prepared to discuss Donovan from the Government's case and let the Government's case stand, if I may borrow a phrase from the Prime Minister, on its own two feet. A lot of far more deserving cases will be required to stand on their own feet. Therefore, on the Government's arguments, there is no reason why this lame duck should not do so.
I come now to a more fundamental argument against the Bill. This legislation is based primarily, I think, on United States experience. No one is likely easily to convince any hon. Member of this House that the Americans are more successful in conducting their industrial relations or avoiding and settling strikes than we are. The House has on many occasions been given the number of man-days lost in the United States and in this country over comparable periods—the last 10 years, the last five years or the last year. Even in 1969, which was by common consent a bad year for industrial relations in this country, per thousand employees the number of days 1225 lost in America, with all the legislation which we are now borrowing, was something like two and a half times what it is in this country, and over the five years as a whole, five times what it is in this country.
Hon. Members will have seen comments on the Government's proposals—I am referring to the Consultative Document—by Mr. Theodore Kheel, who is known to many of us in the House personally. He is one of the leading, if not the leading, American industrial legal experts, the regular choice of successive American Presidents on arbitrations and conciliations in connection with nationwide disputes—rail roads, airlines, shipping, docks—and he is also, as many of us have good reason to know, Chairman of the New York State Commission on Public Service Employees.
It is relevant to this Bill to point out that Mr. Kheel chaired a speech which I gave in New York earlier this year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I wish that some hon. Members opposite had read it, in which case they would have cheered much louder. It is relevant to the Bill to say that in the audience on that occasion was the head of G.E.C. of America and the main union leaders involved in the G.E.C. strike which was going on at that time and which, with all America's laws, had lasted 11 weeks. It was a strike which, even by that time, had caused the loss of more man days than were lost in the whole of British industry in the whole of 1969. They got together that night to see whether they could settle the strike, which they did some little time afterwards. It was a very expensive strike, despite the laws.
A few weeks ago we saw that what was bad for G.E.C. last winter was bad for General Motors this autumn, because General Motors had a strike of similar length—more than 11 weeks.
We on this side of the House do not believe that we have anything very much to learn from the United States in industrial relations matters. Yet we are being asked to vote for a Bill which almost exclusively conveys into our law irrelevant and alien provisions from the United States.
I referred just now to Mr. Theodore Kheel. I should like to quote what he wrote recently on the Government's pro- 1226 posals, having said that they had all been borrowed from American legislation:We Americans should be flattered even though significant parts of our system have been omitted. Perhaps we would be"—that is, flattered—if we were not in the middle of a strike"—that was the General Motors strike—likely to break all records for time lost: it wage increases and living costs were not reaching astronomical heights; if rank and file rejection of negotiated contracts were not at their highest level: and if public employees' strikes—illegal in the United States—were not occurring with increasing frequency.There is a testimonial for you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Kheel went on to say:We probably could improve our system by borrowing some, but not all, of England's practices.He referred to "England's" practices. That was his ignorance. He meant, of course, Britain.
As we have been reminded in the debate, the Bill is based partly on the Wagner Act of 1935, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947—and how much it reflects the views of those twin reactionaries—and the Landum Griffin Act of 1959. But it would be fair to say—and searching analysis will make it clear—that it reflects very largely the views of Taft-Hartley and Landum Griffin much more than the Wagner Act.
But it will be noted that all the legislation in America was inflicted on the long-suffering United States at 12-year intervals—24 years in all. The Prime Minister's distillation of the worst features of all three is to be inflicted on Britain, not in 24 years, but in 12 months.
When the Prime Minister claims the support of public opinion, as he did this afternoon, he rightly refers to public disquiet about some of the big strikes of the last two years which have occurred under successive Governments in this country—highly publicised strikes, rightly so, and damaging to exports and in many cases to employment and in some cases to thousands of workers not in any way parties to the dispute. The plain fact is that there has hardly been a big strike in recent months and years to which the Bill would be relevant.
Let us take Pilkingtons. Pilkingtons was a damaging strike. I saw it at close quarters, as some hon. Gentlemen did. Many of my constituents work there, and 1227 part of the factory is in my constituency. The strike was very costly to employment in the car industry. This Bill would have been irrelevant in dealing with the Pilkington strike, and one of its provisions would actually have aggravated the situation. The 20 per cent. formula for the agency shop would create a situation in which there could be a strike at Pilkingtons time and time again. The problem at Pilkingtons was a militant break-away from the General and Municipal Workers' Union and the difficulty of getting the men back. The break-aways in the end and after a difficult struggle were repudiated by firm leadership by moderate union leaders and also by the firm action of Mr. Vic Feather of the T.U.C. Under the 20 per cent. system, the militants would have had it dead easy to overbid the moderate leadership. They could have chosen their moment. They could, for example, have become very popular in the last-ditch fight to prevent the return to work and the end of the strike.
Some hon. Members, perhaps not in the House now, within my recollection have fought hard for the rights of breakaway unions in the past. By "breakaway unions" they mostly meant nice well-scrubbed, house-trained, well-behaved, mainly Conservative trade union break-away workers who could be relied on to be even more moderate than the union leadership. I think that that is what has been generally understood by "break-away union", but that is not symptomatic of the people who would be able to claim benefit from the 20 per cent. agency agreement.
I have heard the Bill described in some respects as a blacklegs' charter. That is a matter which no doubt will be much debated in the House, but in the Pilkington strike which I have mentioned and many others, in respect of this 20 per cent. menace, the Bill might even be called a militants' charter or a "Trots'" charter, because it is the militants who will be encouraged.
The Bill could not have dealt with the G.K.N. Sankey strike. The Bill could not have dealt with the two coal strikes, the one under the Labour Government in October 1969 and the one this year. Both 1228 those strikes related to the preparation of a new agreement. Instead of the sporadic strikes this year, damaging though they were, under the Bill there would have been an official strike covering the whole coalfield. Only the rules of the N.U.M. prevented this. In the ballot a majority of about 56 per cent. were in favour of an official strike, but the N.U.M. rules required a two-thirds majority, and the N.U.M. leadership insisted on observance of the constitution. Some of us on this side of the House, as well as Ministers, pressed for the observance of the N.U.M. constitution. Many of my hon. Friends did, and I did in South Wales.
Compulsory ballots have another snag, and I am quoting this in relation to this strike. We considered compulsory ballots favourably 18 months to two years ago and decided not to press on with them — [Laughter.] — hon. Gentlemen might listen to the argument. This was before consultations began. Compulsory ballots can make it much harder to stop a strike than to start one. If there had been—[Interruption.] I want hon. Gentlemen to address themselves to the seriousness of the situation. We are to vote on a Bill providing for a compulsory ballot. Had there been a compulsory ballot in the recent coal dispute which showed a 56 per cent. majority in favour, the men would have been committed to a strike. That having once happened, it would have been extremely difficult, without having a second strike, for the leadership, even with a new offer, to pull out of that strike, because there would have been a ballot in its favour.
Last week's electricity dispute was not a strike. Suppose it had been. There would have been a ballot, and I would have thought far more than 50 per cent. would have been in favour. It would then have been impossible for Mr. Frank Chapple this weekend, in the face of that ballot and without another ballot, to have shown the statesmanship to which both sides of the House pay tribute. This is an appealing and plausible proposal of which at one time I was in favour, but I hope hon. Gentlemen will consider whether this is not more likely to perpetuate strikes than to stop them.
In regard to coal strikes, does anybody think that any conceivable National Coal 1229 Board Chairman would have sued the unofficial strikers when the strike came to an end? It has not happened this year and certainly did not happen last year—any more than the Betteshanger coal miners could have been sued, or the strike in the Yorkshire coalfield just over a month before D-day could have been the subject of legislation.
Let me take another case with which the Bill could not deal, Port Talbot. That was one of the most difficult strikes that have ever taken place. Certainly in the end, after settlement by the intervention of Vic Feather, the Bill could not have touched it. Then again, the Ford strike would not have been dealt with by the Bill because it involved the negotiation of a new agreement.
I referred a moment ago to the enforceability of contracts and made clear that it had no authority from Donovan. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and others claim that they have a mandate for the present form of the Bill on enforceable contracts. There is no such mandate on enforceable contracts in the form in which the Bill has been drafted.
During the election on 2nd June I challenged the right hon. Gentleman, the then Leader of the Opposition. I asked whether under his proposals enforceability would require the assent of both parties, as was proposed in my right hon. Friend's Bill which was introduced into the House, or whether, for example, employers could withhold assent from the proposition that it was not to be enforceable.
I then challenged the right hon. Gentleman directly and he was good enough to respond in his own Press conference an hour later at 11 a.m. on 2nd June. This is what he said, and it is on record.
The Conservatives would not give the right to enforce a contract against the wishes of the unions.
§ Mr. Wilson
Perhaps the Solicitor-General will explain tonight how Clause 32 (1) can be reconciled with that pledge. But that is not all. Even if we were to accept that the present post-electoral Conservative mood move gave them the right to forget about those pledges, we must ask whether, in fact, enforceability is workable. I ask the 1230 House how many employers, having, after a long and costly strike, got their men back to work, would sue, embitter and poison the post-settlement atmosphere and would risk bringing them out again? How many? A few industrial Bourbons of the Arundel Roberts, B.S.R. type, yes, possibly.
Let me take as an example the Leyland strike last winter, which lasted 11 weeks. The management went to extraordinary lengths to get the men back to work. It was the first time I had ever heard of Communist shop stewards being invited to lunch at the House of Lords on the occasion of the maiden speech of the chairman of their company. It was at that lunch that the return to work was effectively negotiated—the first settlement ever achieved in ermine. Does anybody think that the noble Lord, having gone to all that trouble, would then have instituted civil proceedings against the union when the strikers went back, especially as it was not an official strike? It is a dream world to be talking in this way. And it is also unthinkable that Lord Pilkington would have thought of taking such a step when at last the Pilkington dispute was settled.
It is not merely that no responsible employer would invoke the clause after a settlement. In how many cases would this provision foul up negotiations for a new agreement, negotiations necessary to avert or end a strike, by insisting that the last-minute agreement reached should be enforceable in the courts? Hon. Members with industrial experience will know that in a difficult dispute there is frequently no settlement until the small hours. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, who yesterday bravely struggled to make an important speech after a very late sitting on Sunday night, well knows this. It was true of a number of strikes that were settled in that way—some by my right hon. Friend. In the Ford dispute in 1969 one sitting lasted until 2 a.m. on Sunday.
Take a settlement at any hour in the middle of the night: two o'clock, agreement near, after tempers have been badly frayed; agreement ready for signature and just a handshake—I am assuming no lawyers present—just men on both sides steeped in experience in industrial relations and in the point at issue at the factory or plant; drinks perhaps ready to 1231 pour out. Do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen believe that in that situation—that fragile situation of a settlement ready to sign—the agreement would not be imperilled by an insistence on legal enforceability—imperilled not for a day, but perhaps for weeks? It is wholly unrealistic to suggest that they would.
The right hon. Gentleman may say that that is not the point; that this situation need not arise; if nobody mentions it at two o'clock in the morning it will be enforceable unless both sides agree that it is not.
Then let right hon. and hon. Gentlemen consider another way in which this can really muddy the waters of industrial relations. The unions might insist on a non-enforceability clause or, at their option, they might not, and the employer will buy it at a higher basic rate—more paid holidays, more earnings, more bonus, or whatever it is. That is a recipe for inflationary settlements if ever there was one.
I think that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen should be warned by my right hon. Friend's reference yesterday to the current negotiations on the engineering industry's procedural agreement. We all know that the right hon. Gentleman has many times said that it is atmosphere of industry, the ambience of industry, the procedural agreements, the machinery, the atmosphere, the training, and the good will which matters more than legislation.
If there is one thing more important than any other in industry today it is to get an up-to-date engineering industry procedural agreement instead of one 50 years out of date. But this is held up—we could have it immediately, from what I am told—because of this issue of enforceability.
Is it not a fact that going back almost to 1920 to get an agreement expressing the necessities of the 1970s would do more to improve industrial relations than insisting on legislation going back to the 1870s?
Enforceability of contracts is an import from America. There is no time for me to set out tonight all the facts about how enforceability operates in America. I am sure that hon. Members will have read the report "Greener 1232 Grass" by Mr. Pat Lowry, at that time industrial relations director of the Engineering Employers' Federation, now industrial relations director of British Leyland, following his own authoritative survey on behalf of the Engineering Employers' Federation. I will briefly summarise it—no one who has read the report will regard this as an unfair summary—in these terms.
Mr. Lowry reported that the making of contracts is becoming more difficult—that is because of enforceability—that unions have increasingly tended to refer contracts back to their members for final ratification—that is because of enforceability—that the number of contracts now being rejected by the membership after conclusion has recently been growing—this is because of enforceability—that even then the making of an agreement is not final, because many contracts now, and increasingly, include a list of items that may be reopened during the term of those contracts; all those supposedly sacrosanct contracts providing room for legal strikes over, for example, rates for new jobs, new jobs which emerge from factory reorganisation, production standards, or even, in some cases, providing that there can be re-negotiation of wages for jobs which were originally agreed in the enforceable contract.
Surely right hon. Gentlemen must agree that the facts of industrial life in America are making a nonsense of enforceable agreements and that they will do so equally in this country.
There is no time to go through certain other issues, though there will be time. I understand the right hon. Gentleman's feelings about it. He does not like having his Bill shown up for what it is. But I will, at any rate, quote this to please the right hon. Gentleman. At the end of the report by Mr. Lowry, when he was talking—[Interruption.]. We do not think that the right way to settle these things is by abrasiveness. We would like to hold on not to a pane of glass but to a mirror of what is happening in America. Mr. Lowry said:… to the best of my knowledge"—and the whole thing depends on the employers suing afterwards—none of the employers I met had ever allowed the law to take its full course to the extent that damages were collected from the union.1233 He goes further and records that employers who hadbeen through it alltold him thatlaw suits and the need to live thereafter with the union concerned were quite impracticable.But that is the central part of the Bill.
I regret that there is no time to quote two very important judgments on this legislation by the late Lord Justice Slesser. Perhaps it will be possible in Committee. He wrote two letters in The Times which perhaps most of us missed, because this was during the election campaign, when many of us were quite busy. There was no one more expert or learned in these matters both as a counsel for trade unions on industrial matters and as a judge. His letters gave his utter refutation of the system of law behind the consultative document and now behind the Bill.
§ Dr. Tom Stuttaford (Norwich, South) rose—
§ Mr. Wilson
I shall not give way, the Prime Minister also had to take account of the lack of time. I want the Solicitor-General to rise on time.
I think that there is worry about the effect of the Bill, on shop stewards and others in various positions in industry. There is worry that they can be held responsible in certain circumstances, that what they say in an informal situation can be quoted in court, when they may not have their lawyer present at the time they said it. Something may go wrong in industry. There may be some lack of consideration, the kind of thing described by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) last night from his industrial experience, leaving a shop steward or someone else in authority saying, "We will not have this." Even that could be quoted in court. What many people wonder is, who will report on them? What kind of system will be set up for reporting? I do not believe that 99 out of a hundred employers would even want to do that. It will be the suspicion that they may be doing it that will embitter relations.
The biggest indictment of the Bill is quite different. It is its irrelevance, its almost complacent irrelevance, to the most significant development any of us have seen in industrial relations in our 1234 lifetime. It is recent in this country, but is not confined to this country. Every advanced industrial country has it. It has extended even to countries such as Sweden, where the rule of law worked by a powerful trade union movement has operated for 30 years. I refer to the growth of shop floor power, industrial militancy, part of it spontaneous and part of it capable of being created by unscrupulous unofficial leaders. This is the central fact of the 1970s. The Bill, not least the 20 per cent. agency proposal, will encourage the militants to overbid the responsible trade union leadership. I have referred to Pilkington and the electricity dispute. It would have been impossible, I think, for Mr. Chapple to lead the return to normal working if the Bill had been in operation.
I do not think that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have shown much sign of recognising the importance of something I threw across the Floor of the House to the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade last Tuesday, when I referred—[Interruption.] This is not a laughing matter. Any hon. Members who want to laugh can go out and miss the next bit of what I have to say. I referred then to the history of the Electrical Trades Union, as it was then called, in recent years, and I said that that history must have a warning. That was before the tragic death of Mr. Les Cannon, which the whole House mourns. That union is in an electoral situation. What do right hon. Gentlemen opposite want? What can be achieved by every irresponsible weekend speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for example, and every gloating reference in the House to humiliating moderate trade union leaders?
Faced with this new and dangerous development, the most significant fact in industrial relations today, the Bill is totally irrelevant. It reflects a kind of Maginot mentality to what is really going on in British industry, and perhaps not even that. In a revolutionary situation—[Interruption.] I intend to finish this, so if hon. Gentlemen will let me finish my last two or three sentences, we can hear the Solicitor-General. If they are going to barrack, they will delay his getting up. If I am going to be interrupted I will say I do not intend to follow the precedent of the Prime Minister when, more than once, he insisted, 1235 having been interrupted, on cutting into Government time. I will now finish, if hon. Gentlemen will stop interrupting.
It is, as I have been saying, a revolutionary situation, in which practically every weekend speech made by right hon. Gentleman, every action from the mini-Budget to the divisive speeches of the Prime Minister, is irrelevant. What we must face here is that in this Bill the court of right hon. Gentlemen opposite shows as much understanding in the revolutionary situation as the court of Louis XVI or Nicholas II, or even King Farouk. [Interruption.] I have plenty of time for this last sentence. For its basic and irrelevant approach, no less than for its provocation and its unworkability, I call on the House tonight to vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We have had a very good debate so far. It is my fate to hear the point of order.
§ Mr. James
As I was called too late in the debate for a point that I addressed to the Leader of the Opposition to reach him, could I ask him, Mr. Speaker, through you, as a point of order, whether, when he addresses the perfectly legitimate mass meeting of trade unionists at the Albert Hall on 12th January he will take the opportunity to condemn—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who has not addressed me so far on a point of order, will realise that he is taking the time of his hon. and learned Friend. [Interruption.] Order. Now that we have got back to the serious debate, I would point out that we have listened to both sides tolerantly, in spite of the deep divisions. I would ask the House to be fair to the winding-up speaker.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
I begin on a non-controversial note by following the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in welcoming the maiden speakers who have contributed to our debate, all three being my hon. Friends.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler) struck, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, a note not uncharacteristic of his distinguished father when he called for some sort of order and reason to come into our affairs. Then my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Fenner) and my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) both made human and clear contributions to our proceedings, and we look forward to hearing from all three of them again.
I come at once to the point which the Leader of the Opposition made when he suggested that we were endeavouring to assert a Donovanian legitimacy for our proposals. We have never gone as far as that. What we have said—and I repeat tonight—is that a substantial part of the proposals to be found in the Bill are derived from Donovan. Many other parts go beyond that.
The present Government were not alone in feeling the need to go beyond that because the right hon. Gentleman, when speaking in the House in July of last year, pointed out where his Government parted company from the Donovan recommendations. They did soin the need for firm and specific action to deal with some of the most urgent problems of industrial relations, and particularly the problems of inter-union disputes and unconstitutional stoppages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1969; Vol. 786, c. 681.]It is along those lines that our proposals made in "Fair Deal at Work", and discussed and elaborated upon since then, have gone beyond the Donovan proposals, though there is large measure of common ground.
I come to the second line of criticism made by the Leader of the Opposition; his suggestion that our proposals are derived from some unique transatlantic setting and are irrelevant to the needs of this country. The proposals contained in the Bill are as British as those contained in "In Place Of Strife". They are designed by Britons for Britain's 1237 needs and to meet the same problems as those identified in "In Place Of Strife".
It does not follow, however, that we should not look at what other countries have done or compare the features of our industrial scene with theirs; and it was in "In Place Of Strife" that the Labour Government pointed out thatCompared with other countries, we have a large number of strikes in relation to our work force and in industries other than coal mining the number of strikes has gone up considerably in recent yearsand they concluded on this:The typical British strike is unofficial and usually in breach of agreed procedures.and it is for that reason that we have got our own proposals designed, as those submitted by the previous Administration, to meet our needs. If we look at the experience of other countries, which surely we are entitled to do, we find, as the Donovan Report noted,—and as, indeed, those comparisons made in "In Place Of Strife" acknowledged—that almost every other country in the Western industrialised world has a clear, modern framework of law to meet the problems for which this system is being brought forward.
Whether one looks at Socialist Sweden on the one hand or capitalist North America on the other—or at our European competitors across the Channel—one sees that they all have a framework of law; and it is that deficiency which our proposals are being brought forward to try to meet.
It is no good pointing, as though it were proof of the argument, to the fact that the General Motors strike in the United States lasted a long time, because at the end of it, as the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) pointed out—it was the first strike for 24 years—when the men were led by Mr. Walter Reuther, he brought them out on strike after at least three years' peace, without the contract having been broken by anybody, and it was known that when the men went back there would be another three years' peace. The dilemma of British industry is the continuous interruption of production lines. Nobody knows where a strike will take place next.
There are, of course, differences in the patterns obtaining in the various countries and our problem, which is that to which I have referred, was pointed out in "In Place of Strife". Here we share 1238 common ground with Donovan in terms of the diagnosis that our problem arising from unofficial strikes is not only serious but it is urgent that we get to grips with it. It is to that end that our proposals are designed.
It is no good suggesting that the American system does not work. The right hon. Gentleman in his earlier references to Pat Lowry's book, did not refer specifically to the passage which he quoted more than once during the General Election campaign. The sentence he quoted was:As regards the law in relation to strikes, it is worth emphasising again that in spite of its entitlement to do so not a single company I have met has ever sued a union for damages as a result of wildcat strike action.The right hon. Gentleman did not quote the following sentence:Virtually every company I met stressed that the threat of this sanction is a most potent weapon in securing effective intervention by a trade union …".The whole of that paragraph, if I were to weary the House by quoting it, supports the diagnosis underlined by an article to which, again, the right hon. Gentleman did not refer, in The Times—a few days after that of Mr. Theodore Kheel—by Mr. Jack Lee, last year's president of the Institute of Personnel Management, which pointed out that almost all ex-Colonial territories which inherited our system of law have hastened to change the framework of our law and are following the pattern set by other countries.
The specific point, again, which the right hon. Gentleman sought to make, think by reference to Mr. Kheel's article and to American experience, was to suggest that proposals in the Bill for a pre-strike ballot are out of joint with what is needed. He sought to suggest that they were dropped because of second thoughts by himself and the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). If we look at the first formal proposals for a pre-strike ballot in this country we find them in the document "In Place of Strife"—not a lightly considered document but one placed before the House with the full authority not just of the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Lady but the Government.
We read in paragraph 3:The Government"—1239 The Government:places the following proposals before Parliament and the nation convinced that they are justified …We will come back to the grounds later on, but one of the proposals which they were convinced were justified was this very proposal for a pre-strike ballot in certain circumstances exactly in the form, and to meet the need, that is now laid down in the Bill. One reads:The power will be used where the Secretary of State believes that the proposed strike would involve a serious threat to the economy or public interest, and there is doubt whether it commands the support of those concerned. The object will not be to place a prohibition on such strikes, but to help to ensure that before strikes of this importance take place the union members themselves are convinced that they are right to go on strike.That is the objective of the proposal contained in our Bill. Our proposal does not go beyond that. It does not make prestrike ballots compulsory. It is designed for the exceptional case; to meet the exceptional need rightly identified by the right hon. Gentleman's Government.
It is not, as I understand the history, though the history of this matter is difficult to follow, right to say that the proposal was abandoned because the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends had second thoughts. It is true that it did not find a place in the interim Bill which the right hon. Lady was drafting in mid-April—one of the several industrial relations Bills for which she was responsible to various stages of gestation—but not because it was being cast away. The right hon. Lady said:The reason for this omission is partly that the problem of official strikes is less acute than that of unconstitutional strikes and, therefore, the need for action is less immediate.The right hon. Lady went on:But there are a number of unions which do not have any provision in their rules for conducting ballots, and it will take time for them to work out and incorporate the correct procedures in their rules."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1969; Vol. 781, c. 1187.]So at least until 16th April of last year that proposal was more than a glint in the right hon. Lady's eye; and it is legitimised by its ancestry when it finds its place in our Bill.
I come now to a rather more general line of criticism developed by a number 1240 of right hon. and hon. Members opposite. It is the suggestion that the Bill will provide a lawyers' paradise, an infestation of lawyers. Before I analyse a little more fully the objects and rôle that the law can play, I remind the House that the Bill runs to 150 Clauses and eight Schedules—a complex document, said the right hon. Lady yesterday, suggesting that it was long and likely to lead to difficulty.
It was the right hon. Lady herself who told the House yesterday that she drafted an Industrial Relations Bill, and that even in her own Bill—I know not to which one she was referring—she knew of the complexity and that she had put towels round her head. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary referred to the right hon. Lady's published Bill yesterday as a miniscule, emaciated document. Emaciated it certainly was. Miniscule it certainly was not with 97 Clauses and eight Schedules. That was only the Bill that saw the light of day and that was designed to enact and place upon the Statute Book only 14 of the 25 proposals for legislation listed in the appendix to "In Place of Strife", of which proposals the previous Government had said that they were convinced that they were justified.
How many further Clauses, how much further expansion of law and lawyers, were visualised? [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman may not like what I am saying, but what I am saying is very relevant to the points made in the debate. One of the points made, and made not least by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), was that the Bill will introduce too much law and too many lawyers. It was he who in the last speech before the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition spoke complained specifically of this. I am answering the point by reminding the hon. Gentleman and the House of the extent to which his own Government's legislation involved precisely the same commitment.
The Bill published by the last Government—[Interruption.] The Bill published by the last Government—[Interruption.] The more often hon. Members interrupt the longer it will take me to finish my sentence. [Interruption.]
§ The Solicitor-General
The Bill published by the last Government—[Interruption.] I intend to finish the sentence and I have been given the opportunity of doing so—as well as that which the right hon. Lady did not publish, would have involved as extensive, as detailed and as complex—indeed more so—a framework of law. That legal framework—we can analyse it in a moment—was that which the right hon. Lady was convinced was justified and which the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) now finds it difficult to understand as the subject of what he has described as the violent, unrestrained and partisan attacks made from the Opposition Front Bench upon the very proposals which were being advanced by right hon. and hon. Members opposite only 18 months ago.
I will now say a few words about the rôle of law in the more general sense.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose—
§ Mr. Paget rose—
§ The Solicitor-General
It is right that the law which is to be advanced must be a proper and a just law. But the law is about justice. The law contained in the Bill is designed to produce a framework for a civilised society in industry. Many of the troubles which the previous Administration sought to solve arose from what has been described as the deliberate abstention of the law, and it is the need for a new law which was identified and which is being sustained by the Government to create a proper framework. I welcome the support of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who made this very point about the value of a proper framework of law. It is strange to hear it suggested that the 1242 law can play no useful rôle in supporting sustained responsible voluntary action. It is also strange to hear it suggested that the important Part I of the Bill, and the code to be introduced under it, can play no useful part.
The House may not have entirely forgotten what the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said in a debate on another subject:I attach great importance to the declaratory nature of the first part of the Bill. I believe that the very process of giving the law brings an instinctive response from the great majority of our citizens."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 23rd April, 1968; Vol. 763, c. 55]That is the belief of hon. and right hon. Members on this side. If it was right for the right hon. Gentleman to say that in the context of the Race Relations Bill, then it is justifiable for us to assert the same respect for law on this side of the House—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
Does not the Solicitor-General appreciate that the difference is that in the case of the Race Relations Bill the declaratory nature of the law was accepted by and acceptable to the overwhelming proportion of the population of the country? As hon. Gentlemen should know by now, this Bill is unacceptable to millions of trade unionists.
§ The Solicitor-General
What I know and what the House will know about the Bill is that the basic analysis upon which the Bill is rested was shared by the previous Administration, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member. They were convinced that the proposals were justified. What is more important, in the context of the point put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, is that the results of the last election are increasingly sustained by the figures produced in one and every public opinion poll in this country. Not only is it the majority of the public that wants this Measure but a majority of trade union members as well. [Interruption.] If there is anyone seeking to build upon and extend a consensus in support of this legislation, it is my right hon. Friend and the members of the Government. The consensus for which the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) asked is to be found in the analyses made by this Administration and the previous Administration, endorsed and supported 1243 by the overwhelming majority of the people of the country. [Interruption.]
§ Mrs. Castle
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It is only right that he should give way, as he has persisted for the last quarter of an hour, instead of dealing with his own Bill, in misrepresenting the policy of my own—[Interruption.]
§ Mrs. Castle
Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware, and is he not honest enough to admit, that the White Paper "In Place of Strife" specifically—[Interruption.]
§ Mrs. Castle
—specifically set out and examined the proposals in this Government's Bill and rejected them in terms as undesirable and anti-trade union?
§ The Solicitor-General
It is true that "In Place of Strife" considered a number of proposals. But the House and the country cannot fail to be impressed by the fact that the right hon. Lady's hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East put his finger on the point when he said that the basic diagnosis of her proposed legislation and the diagnosis underlying this legislation are exactly the same and directed to the same end.
I turn now to one other point raised—
§ Mr. Mendelson
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is well recognised that many hon. Members have sat here during two days of debate and raised detailed 1244 points on the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman has no right to evade replying to the debate.
§ The Solicitor-General
If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had restrained themselves in the last few minutes, I could have got in a good many more useful arguments.
I was about to deal with the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition about the proposed enforcibility provisions. I say only that it is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman, having heard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister advancing the essential framework of these provisions up and down the country for five years, now to suggest that in respect of one subsection we have no mandate. [Interruption.] The proposal is directly in line with what my right hon. Friend said on 2nd June. What is more important, where did the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend begin to find the shadow of a mandate for what they sought to introduce in their proposals in "In Place of Strife"?
As several right hon. and hon. Members opposite have pointed out, the truth is that the trade unions are a great estate of the Realm, and they are now at a state of maturity. It does not follow from that that they are the one estate which is to remain immune from any change in the law or the one estate whose responsibilities are to remain for ever undefined.
The proposals in the Bill bring the law in this country regulating industrial relations up to date. They are advanced. They are justified. The nation is convinced that they are justified. The present Government are convinced that they are justified. We got a mandate for them at the last election. I believe that the House will share that conviction tonight.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell) rose—
§ Mr. Francis Pym (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.1245
§ Question put accordingly:—
|Division No. 45.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Drayson, G. B.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Dykes, Hugh||Jones, Arthur (Northants, South)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eden, Sir John||Jopling, Michael|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Astor, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine|
|Awdry, Daniel||Emery, Peter||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fell, Anthony||Kilfedder, James|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Kimball, Marcus|
|Balniel, Lord||Fidler, Michael||King, Evelyn (Dorset, South)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Kirk, Peter|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Kitson, Timothy|
|Bell, Ronald||Fookes, Miss Janet||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fortescue, Tim||Knox, David|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Foster, Sir John||Lambton, Antony|
|Benyon, W.||Fowler, Norman||Lane, David|
|Berry, Hon. Anthony||Fox, Marcus||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Biffen, John||Fry, Peter||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Blaker, Peter||Gardner, Edward||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Gibson-Watt, David||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Body, Richard||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Boscawen, R. T.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Loveridge, John|
|Bowden, Andrew||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Goodhart, Philip||MacArthur, Ian|
|Braine, Bernard||Goodhew, Victor||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Bray, Ronald||Gorst, John||McLaren, Martin|
|Brewis, John||Gower, Raymond||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Green, Alan||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Grieve, Percy||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)|
|Bryan, Paul||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Maddan, Martin|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Gryils, Michael||Madel, David|
|Buck, Antony||Gummer, Selwyn||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Garden, Harold||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Marten, Neil|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mather, Carol|
|Campbell,Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maude, Angus|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hannan, John (Exeter)||Mawby, Ray|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Channon, Paul||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Haselhurst, Alan||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hastings, Stephen||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Havers, Michael||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hawkins, Paul||Moate, Roger|
|Clark, William (Surrey, East)||Hay, John||Molyneaux, James|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hayhoe, Barney||Money, Ernie|
|Clegg, Walter||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Cockeram, Eric||Heseltine, Michael||Monro, Hector|
|Cooke, Robert||Hicks, Robert||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Coombs, Derek||Higgins, Terence L.||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hiley, Joseph||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Cordle, John||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Mudd, David|
|Cormack, Patrick||Holland, Philip||Murton, Oscar|
|Costain, A. P.||Holt, Miss Mary||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Critchley, Julian||Hooson, Emlyn||Neave, Airey|
|Crouch, David||Hordern, Peter||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hornby, Richard||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Curran, Charles||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Normanton, Tom|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Nott, John|
|Dance, James||Howell, David (Guildford)||Onslow, Cranky|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hunt, John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Osborn, John|
|Dean, Paul||Iremonger, T. L.||Owen, Idris (Stockport, North)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||James, David||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Dixon, Piers||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Paisley, Mr. Ian|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pardoe, John|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Jessel, Toby||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)|
§ The House divided: Ayes 324, Noes 280.
|Peel, John||Scott, Nicholas||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Percival, Ian||Scott-Hopkins, James||Trew, Peter|
|Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Sharpies, Richard||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Shelton, William (Clapham)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Pounder, Rafton||Simeons, Charles||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Sinclair, Sir George||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Skeet, T. H. H.||Waddington, David|
|Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Smith, Dudley (W 'wick & L'mington)||W alder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Soref, Harold||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Speed, Keith||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Spence, John||Wall, Patrick|
|Raison, Timothy||Sproat, Iain||Walters, Dennis|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Stainton, Keith||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stanbrook, Ivor||Warren, Kenneth|
|Redmond, Robert||Steel, David||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, East)||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Rees, Hn. Peter (Dover)||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Stokes, John||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Wilkinson, John|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Sutcliffe, John||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Tapsell, Peter||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, North)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Tebbit, Norman||Worsley, Marcus|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Temple, John M.||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Younger, Hn. George|
|Rost, Peter||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Royle, Anthony||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Mr. Jasper More and|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Tilney, John|
|Abse, Leo||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Garrett, W. E.|
|Albu, Austen||Grossman, Rt. Hu. Richard||Gilbert, Dr. John|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Ginsburg, David|
|Allen, Scholefield||Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Dalyell, Tam||Gourlay, Harry|
|Ashley, Jack||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Ashton, Joe||Davidson, Arthur||Grant, John D. (Islington, East)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Barnes, Michael||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Barnett, Joel||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Hardy, Peter|
|Baxter, William||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, Central)||Harper, Joseph|
|Beaney, Alan||Deakins, Eric||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Henn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Delargy, H. J.||Hattersley, Roy|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dempsey, James||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Hilton, W. S.|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Doig, Peter||Horam, John|
|Booth, Albert||Dormand, J. D.||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Bradley, Tom||Driberg, Tom||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Duffy, A. E. P.||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Dunn, James A.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North)|
|Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Dunnett, Jack||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Eadie, Alex||Hunter, Adam|
|Buchan, Norman||Edelman, Maurice||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Janner, Greville|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Ellis, Tom||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, West)||English, Michael||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Cant, R. B.||Evans, Fred||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Faulds, Andrew||John, Brynmor|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Fernyhough, E.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Fisher, Mrs,Doris (B'ham,Ladywood)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, South)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jonies,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Coleman, Donald||Foley, Maurice||Jones, Barry (Flint, East)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Foot, Michael||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Ford, Ben||Judd, Frank|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Forrester, John||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Cox, Thomts (Wandsworth, Central)||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Kelley, Richard|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Freeson, Reginald||Kerr, Russell|
|Cronin, John||Galpern, Sir Myer||Kinnock, Nell|
|Lambie, David||Moyle, Roland||Skinner, Dennis|
|Lamond, James||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Small, William|
|Latham, Arthur||Murray, Ronald King||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, North)|
|Lawson, George||Ogden, Eric||Spearing, Nigel|
|Leadbirter, Ted||O'Halloran, Michael||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||O'Malley, Brian||Stallard, A. W.|
|Leonard, Dick||Oram, Bert||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Orbach, Maurice||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Orme, Stanley||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Oswald, Thomas||Storehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Strang, Gavin|
|Lipton, Marcus||Padley, Walter||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Paget, R. T.||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Loughlin, Charles||Palmer, Arthur||Swain, Thomas|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Taverne, Dick|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, East)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|McBride, Neil||Pavitt, Laurie||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|McCann, John||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Tinn, James|
|McCartney, Hugh||Pendry, Tom||Tomney, Frank|
|MacColl, James||Pentland, Norman||Torney, Tom|
|McElhone, Frank||Perry, Ernest G.||Tuck, Raphael|
|McGuire, Michael||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Prescott, John||Varley, Eric G.|
|Mackie, John||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Price, William (Rugby)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Maclemtan, Robert||Probert, Arthur||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rankin, John||Wallace, George|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)||Watkins, David|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Weitzman, David|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Wellbeloved, James|
|Mallalieu, J. P. w. (Huddersfield, E.)||Richard, Ivor||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Marquand, David||Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Whitlock, William|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Roderick, CaerwynE.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Meacher, Michael||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Roper, John||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Mendelson, John||Rose, Paul B.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Millan, Bruce||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Wilson, WHIiam (Coventry, S.)|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Woof, Robert|
|Molloy, William||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythemhawe)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Mr. William Hamling and|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Sillars, James||Mr. John Golding.|
|Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Silverman, Julius|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Humphrey Atkins.]
§ Committee tomorrow.