HC Deb 26 November 1970 vol 807 cc632-748
Mr. Speaker

Before we initiate the debate, may I again remind the House that so far nearly 50 right hon. and hon. Members have intimated that they wish to speak? That figure includes nine hon. Members who wish to make their maiden speeches. I am afraid that I shall not be able to call more than four maiden speakers, two from each side, and I would inform the hon. Members for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson), Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe), and Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Silence) that I have selected them to take part in the debate.

4.3 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)

I beg to move, That this House takes note of the Consultative Document on the Industrial Relations Bill. The Consultative Document is based on three fundamental beliefs. The first is that the best and probably the only way of determining pay and conditions of work in a free society is by a voluntary system of negotiation, free from State control, between employers and their employees and that normally that is best achieved by collective bargaining with strong trade unions representative of the employees concerned.

The second fundamental belief is that serious defects have developed in the voluntary system of collective bargaining in Britain and that the system is in urgent need of renewal and reform if it is to serve both the national interest and the interests of the parties in each sector of industry and employment.

The third essential belief is that this vital and urgent reform can only be secured, to quote paragraph 10 of the Consultative Document, by … collective effort on the part of Government, managements, unions and workers within a new framework of law which:

  1. (i) sets national standards for good industrial relations;
  2. (ii) safeguards those who conform to them;
  3. (iii) protects individual rights in employment; and
  4. (iv) provides new methods of resolving disputes over the conduct of industrial relations."
Those are the three basic beliefs on which the document is founded.

Even it there is controversy over the means of securing the renewal and reform, surely we can and must all agree that the reform and the renewal must take place, that specific and urgent action must be taken to get it moving, and that matters cannot just be allowed to go on taking their course as they are at present and have been for the last few years.

The Donovan Commission's Report said in paragraph 500: It is imperative that the number of unofficial and especially of unconstitutional strikes should be reduced and should be reduced speedily. This is not only a serious, it is also an urgent problem … That is what the Donovan Commission said in 1968. The problem has got much worse and much more urgent since then. Action has to be taken. The whole country knows it, and an overwhelming majority in the country wants it.

Rather than devote my speech to a detailed description of the contents of the Consultative Document which by now hon. Members have had much time to read and study, I want to try to make sure that the House and the country realise the real nature and seriousness of the disease in our industrial relations and the real nature—not the pretended nature—of the remedy that we propose.

When one looks at industrial relations in Britain compared with other industrial countries, two outstanding features distinguish them. The first is that we are the only industrial country of any size which does not already have a comprehensive system of industrial relations law. The types of systems vary considerably from one country to another, but every other industrial country but Britain has already found both in theory and in practice that a comprehensive system of industrial law is useful and, indeed, necessary.

The second outstanding feature which distinguishes industrial relations in Britain is that the overwhelming majority of our strikes are unofficial and/or unconstitutional. As the Donovan Commission said in paragraph 501 of its Report, The problem is peculiar to this country. The typical British strike can still be small in scale and only last a few days. This is why, in terms of working days lost, our record may even now seem not so bad compared with some countries—

An Hon. Member

You can say that again.

Mr. Carr

I will say it again, as the Government said it and as the Donovan Commission said it, and then went on to point out that this was not what was really wrong.

Every time that there is a strike there is disruption not only in the factory where it occurs but also in the factories of that company's customers and suppliers. These indirect effects are not recorded in the strike figures. Moreover, the typical British strike occurs at unpredictable times and often with little or no notice. There can be little doubt that, in a modern economy with highly capitalised production methods and a high degree of interdependence between one company and another, stability is increasingly important, and the frequent and unpredictable interruptions in production from which we suffer are particularly damaging.

As the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) said in the House on 13th November—[Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members to sneer at their right hon. Friend, but they had better remember that when he was a Minister in their Government he was one of the few who commanded respect throughout the country, regardless of party—and, thank goodness, still does. As he said when he was Minister of Labour, on 13th November, 1967: When"— the now, alas, late— Walter Reuther brings his men out on strike in the American motor car industry, they have had at least three years' peace. No one has broken a contract. When he takes them back, there is another three years in which they can can plan and wait. The dilemma of British industry is continuance interruption of production lines. No one knows when it will srike next."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1967; Vol. 754, c. 55.] Those were the views of the Minister of Labour in the Labour Government.

In that sort of atmosphere—[Interruption.] Whatever some hon. Members opposite—not all of them, I know—may say or shout, that sort of atmosphere is only too common, not, thank godness, throughout the whole of British industry, but in too many important sectors of it. In that sort of atmosphere the threat and fear of strikes can be almost as damaging as the strikes themselves. When industrial relations are constantly on the boil in a company or factory, the job simply of keeping the peace from day to day becomes so consuming of time and attention that managements and trade union officials alike are diverted from the longer-term, more constructive and important tasks urgently requiring to be done.

So it is not strikes alone that matter; they are just the visible tip of the iceberg—the symptom of what has gone wrong deep down in our industrial relations system, namely, inadequate procedures for dealing with grievances, pay structures which have got out of hand, agreements which are broken at will, wilful action without proper authority, the loss of authority of trade unions over their members, and misguided or inexpert management. But although the strikes are only a symptom of the deeper disease, the number of strikes is the most important indicator of the state of British industrial relations at any given time. It is the register of the degree of turmoil, and a truly alarming register it has become. In the first 10 months of this year the recorded number of stoppages amounted to 3,491.

That figure represents an increase of no less than 32 per cent. on the same period in 1969, which was in itself easily the worst year in British industrial history—the first year in which we ever had more than 3,000 recorded strikes. In other words, this year we have passed the 3,000 mark when there are still two months to go. At this rate—of about 350 strikes a month—we could top the 4,000 mark only a year after first breaking the 3,000 mark.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

You should not have sacked Lord Hall.

Mr. Carr

If that is what the hon. Member believes is important in industrial relations today—[Interruption.] I thought that the hon. Member wanted us to pay great attention to getting, in every place we can, managements in which we all have the greatest confidence. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way the waving of papers will not make him give way.

Mr. Carr

In other words, the situation has now reached the stage where each year we are breaking by a substantial margin the record of the year before. The situation is seen to be even more serious when one looks at the way in which the number of strikes outside the coalmining industry has been increasing over the last two decades. Throughout the whole of the 1950s the highest number of strikes in a year, outside coalmining, was 786, and the yearly average for that decade was 590. The escalation began with the 1960s. The average for the 1960s was no less than 1,600 strikes per year—getting on for three times worse than in the 1950s. The most alarming feature of all is the way in which the escalation has gathered speed in the last two or three years. Thus, in 1967 the number of strikes outside coalmining was 1,720; in 1968 it rose to 2,160; in 1969 it was 2,930, and for only the first 10 months of 1970 it is 3,360.

I earlier gave the total figures, including coalmining. I am drawing the attention of the House to what has been happening outside coalmining because, thank goodness, coalmining is one industry in which there has been a reverse tendency. But if we are concerned with the overall efficiency of our industry, and especially those parts of it which contribute most to the export trade and our balance of payments, we must see what has been happening thoroughout the rest of the manufacturing and service industries. The figures that I have given the House illustrate what has been happening, and I believe that they are truly alarming.

The need for remedial action goes deep and has been obvious for a long time. The Conservative Party has been publicly committed to action for five years, and the fact that action has been neglected until now has been to the country's great detriment. Something will now be done. Whatever may be the argument on reading the signs earlier—as long as five years ago, when we first became committed to this policy—in the light of the record of the last three years which I have just mentioned the House must surely agree that no Government with any sense of responsibility could refrain any longer from immediate action. That is certainly the strong view of the public, including the great majority of industrial workers. That was also the view of the Leader of the Opposition during the first part of 1969, when he was Prime Minister. On 20th May of that year he spoke to the country on B.B.C.1 and said: I believe that the life of the country is at stake in all these issues … we have got to deal with these problems. I do not exaggerate them but I am damned if I am going to underrate them. He was right then, and he knows that he was. Unfortunately, he was driven off course and he did underrate the problems. We do not underrate them and we shall not be driven off course.

The urgent need for action cannot be in dispute now by any responsible person of any party or of none. The question is: what to do? The temptation is to try to tackle strikes directly. I believe that that would be wrong because, as I have already said, strikes are only a symptom of the disease; they are not the disease itself. The disease is the breakdown of stable and constructive collective bargaining, particularly at company and plant levels. The only effective remedy therefore is to strengthen collective bargaining so that agreements, particularly at company and plant levels, are more comprehensive, more precise, more directly related to real conditions in each factory, contain better grievance procedures, and carry the full, binding commitment of both sides to them. That must be the remedy if the diagnosis of the disease is right.

That cannot be achieved quickly or easily. The disease from which we are suffering in our industrial relations—

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Disease?—what a silly word.

Mr. Carr

The hon. Member may not like the word, but it is a disease. I am talking about the system in which management and union leaders and workers have to operate, and that system has become seriously diseased. The disease has a firm grip, and will be cured only by steady and persistent treatment over a considerable number of years. The question which we have to ask is how we stimulate the change, the renewal, the reform and the development of constructive collective bargaining.

One way is by the C.I.R. approach: examination, education and persuasion, on a case-by-case basis. This is important and valuable and an increasing rôle for the C.I.R. has a central and important place in our proposals.

But we are convinced that it is not enough on its own in relation either to the scale or to the urgency of our problem. It must be strengthened and supported by pressures and incentives operating simultaneously and continuously over the whole field; in other words, at the tens of thousands of points throughout industry at which collective agreements have to be made real and effective and meaningful in terms of those who have to work under them.

If this is to be achieved, there must be a framework of common rules and common standards representing the judgment of the community about what is fair and reasonable both in the interests of those who work in the factories and in the interests of the country at large. [AN HON. MEMBER: "That is what collective bargaining is about."] That is what it should be about, and what it has to be made about, in the interests of those who work in each factory and in the interests of the whole country.

In the old days, when bargaining at national level was supreme and was able to lay down terms and conditions which were substantially applied and accepted by individual companies and their employees throughout large sectors of industry, informality may have worked well and the absence of comprehensive rules may not have mattered, or may not have mattered much. But as the bargaining which really matters has become increasingly decentralised to thousands of different points, common rules and standards have become that much more necessary, and so has guidance about the right procedure and practices for both management and union representatives.

Such is the rôle and purpose of a system of civil law coupled with a code of industrial relations practice which we are putting forward in this Consultative Document.

It is necessary also, if we are to get more stable, confident, constructive bargaining at company and plant level, that shop stewards should play a larger and not a smaller part in it. But in so providing, it is necessary also—this is part of what many of our important proposals are about—that shop stewards' status and authority should be more clearly integrated into that of their unions, so that they are clearly seen to be the extension of the line of communication and the line of constitutional authority in their unions and are the clearly authorised spokesmen and agents of their unions in the plant level collective bargaining.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Trades Union Congress has already drawn up a whole series of proposals in relation to precisely the rôle of the shop stewards in the trade union movement, and, therefore, all that the right hon. Gentleman is saying is precisely what the trade union movement itself already is doing.

Mr. Carr

This is what a framework of civil law is about, because in so far as that is true, there will be nothing in our process of registration which unions which have followed the line to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred need fear or which will in any way affect them. What it does is to lay down standards. I am sure that the right hon. Lady will agree with me about one thing, if no other, and that is that the very mention in 1968–69 of a new system of law concentrated remarkably the attention of the Trades Union Congress and its constituent unions on this sort of thing in a way it had not been concentrated before. I have heard her say something to that effect.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

Yes, but I do not agree that the right hon. Gentleman has made at all clear what he means by these vague and evasive references to the need for shop stewards to act with their trade unions' authority. Can he tell us now whether paragraph 110 of the Consultative Document means that if a shop steward of a registered union called an unofficial strike, that strike would be illegal and the person inducing it would be liable to damages? That is what we want to know.

Mr. Carr

I am sorry, but I missed the essential part of the right hon. Lady's question. I cannot read the whole paragraph now.

Mrs. Castle

Paragraph 110 lays down that a union's authorised agent is to have immunity in certain situations. Does that mean that if a shop steward, even of a registered union, called an unofficial strike, that strike would be illegal and the person inducing it would be liable to damages?

Mr. Carr

The right hon. Lady has it all mixed up. The rôle of the shop steward within a union must be defined in the union's rules, and no doubt it would be different in different unions. The level at which a strike can be called is a matter which we say must be dealt with in the union's rules, but it is up to the union to decide, and no doubt again it will be different in different unions. Also, within a particular collective agreement at a particular plant, the rôle and power of the shop steward in relation to calling strikes will no doubt differ from one agreement to another. These are the sort of things collective bargaining is about. It would indeed be a legal straitjacket if we said that this had to be the same in every agreement a union makes.

What is true is that if a union official or if a shop steward within the terms of his union rules and within the terms of a particular collective agreement affecting the place of work where the strike occurs, acted within that agreement and not in breach of it, and not in breach of the authority delegated to him by the union, he would certainly be at no risk of any liability under our proposals. If, however, he acted outside the terms of the agreement, outside the rules of his union and the authority delegated to him by his union, then certainly he would be liable.

Mrs. Castle

That is the point.

Mr. Carr

Does the right hon. Lady really defend shop stewards acting outside the terms of a collective agreement, outside the rules of the union and outside the authority delegated to them by the union? If so, she really is advocating shop floor chaos.

Mrs. Castle

At this stage I am only trying to find out—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Hon. Members need not worry; I shall answer it all right. What I am trying to find out at this stage is what the Government's proposals mean when they say that a shop steward must not operate outside the rules of his union. If, for example, a shop steward, as an immediate reaction to a shop floor situation, calls an unofficial strike, that is, off his own bat on the shop floor, does it mean that he would be liable under the Bill for inducing and would be liable to damages?

Mr. Carr

If he acts outside the rules of his own union, if he acts outside the terms of the agreement which his own union has made, in inducing other workers to break their contracts of employment which have been negotiated on their behalf by their own trade union, yes he is—and so he should be. [HON. MEMBERS: "So it is a crime."] Of course it is not a crime, and we are not saying that it is a crime. What we are saying is that to do that would be wrong, it would be an unfair industrial action, and there should be some means of restraining such unfair action. We say that people who take action contrary to their union rules, contrary to the agreements which their union has signed, and without the authority of their union, should be capable of being restrained.

I have always believed that trade union membership had something to do with solidarity—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—had something to do with forming common rules and acting in common according to those rules, accepting the proper democratically constituted authority and rules of one's union. If trade unionism is not about that, I do not know what the whole Labour Party and trade union movement of this country hitherto has been about. What is more, if it is departing from that, if the Front Bench opposite are encouraging the trade union movement to depart from it, they will have the support of very few people in this country, and they will do grave damage.

Mrs. Castle

May we carry this a stage further? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether under his rules the lads who walked out in a spontaneous expression of solidarity with Lord Hall and not under the instructions of their union—[Laughter.]—Oh, yes—would be liable under his law for damages?

Mr. Carr

Without knowing the details of their agreement—[Laughter.]—I could not say. But one thing I do say to the right hon. Lady. Let us suppose for a moment that, technically, they were. There is one enormous difference, and it is fundamental, between our proposed law and the sort of law which she was proposing last year. Under her law, if people did what was wrong, if they disobeyed her consultation procedures, for example, they would have been committing a crime. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, they would have been, and her hon. Friend—her No. 2 or her No. 3, whichever it is—knows that that is what one of the arguments was about last year. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. The House realises that there are bound to be varying opinions on this matter. It is only right that the House should listen to all opinions which are being expressed and which will be expressed.

Mr. Carr

Under our proposals, if those workers were wrong, at most they would be subject to some possible civil liability. It is extremely important—

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carr

No, I will not.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have just pointed out that, in the best interests of the House, our business should be conducted in accordance with custom. The right hon. Gentleman did not give way.

Mr. Rose


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Carr

No. In the last ten minutes I have given way I know not how many times. I was in the middle of trying to answer one point when the hon. Gentleman was so discourteous as to try to interrupt me before I had even finished what I had to say. Although I am usually generous in giving way, I will not give way in face of that sort of discourtesy. [Interruption.] If I may—

Mr. Orme


Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Carr

I am trying to reply to a specific question put by the right hon. Lady. I was saying that, even supposing that the Post Office workers concerned were in breach of their agreement, under our proposals they would at worst be potentially liable in respect of some civil wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is the great point."] Then let me answer it, if it is the great point. The central point about civil law as opposed to criminal law is this. If we do not enforce, even in the long run, relatively technical offences under the criminal law, we bring the law into disrepute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why make the law?"] Because all of us behave sometimes in the heat of the moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Look at the right hon. Gentleman himself."] All right. I accept that. The whole point is that one should stop to reflect on whether to exert one's civil rights, and it may not always be sensible, wise or advantageous—frequently it is not—to try to extract the last pound of legal flesh in terms of the civil right to which one might theoretically be entitled. But the fact that one does not always do so, that it would be wrong always to try, does not alter the fundamental point that the existence of the civil law and rules influences the way people behave and, on the whole, leads them more often than they would otherwise do to make a genuine and, therefore, a sucessful attempt to keep to the rules. That is the basic answer.

Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)


Mr. Carr

I am sorry, no. Mr. Speaker has already referred to the number of hon. Members who wish to speak. I have been very generous in the last ten minutes in giving way, and, because I have done so, my speech will inevitably be considerably longer than it would otherwise have been. This is always a difficulty; the more one gives way to interruptions, the longer one's speech must inevitably be.

Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)


Mr. Carr

I am sorry; I cannot give way. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General is to wind up. He will do his very best—and that is a pretty good best—to note and answer as many questions as the half hour which he may have will allow.

For the reasons I was giving before that set of interruptions, the Bill which will shortly be forthcoming, and which will be based upon this Consultative Document, will establish the basic rights of trade unions and employers, together with matching obligations. It will lay down what are fair and unfair actions in the conduct of industrial relations. It will protect the fundamental liberties of individual employees in an industrial society increasingly dominated on both sides by powerful organisations and pressure groups. It will set new guide lines in the Code of Practice for good industrial relations practice in the individual company and plant by both management and trade unions. It will provide new machinery and institutions for resolving some of the most stubborn and troublesome disputes, such as, for example, over recognition rights. It will provide new machinery for protecting the public interest in situations which are so serious that they threaten the basic national interest.

Let me take just a few examples from the Consultative Document of what our forthcoming Bill will be intended to provide. It will provide a clear right to everyone to belong to a trade union, with a clear-cut remedy against any employer who tries to prevent it. It will also provide a clear right to everybody not to be compelled to join a trade union against his will, coupled, however, with a guarantee to eliminate the "free-rider", whose presence is so understandably objectionable to trade unions and their members.

It will provide a clear right to recognition in negotiation when that is the wish of those who work in a company, freely expressed and, if in doubt, by a secret ballot. It will provide a clear definition of the right to strike declared clearly in statute law, a right by which we say explicitly that no court or other body will have the power to order any striker back to work against his will.

Our law, in so far as it will place restraints on people, will place them only on those who induce or threaten to induce industrial action of an unfair kind. In our Bill, too, there will be a clear right to information for employees and trade unions for the purposes of their negotiations, because if we expect people to enter into binding agreements, when they go to the negotiating table they must have equality of information. The Bill will also provide a right of appeal and redress for unfair dismissal.

It will also provide a right, which does not exist at the moment, for unions and individuals to put their case to the court before any court order can be made on an industrial relations matter. There will be clear statutory confirmation for registered unions of their full rights and protection in calling and carrying on fair industrial action.

What we are asking from the trade unions in return are, above all, two things. First, we are asking them to accept registration. Trade unions are voluntary associations of free members, and so they will remain. They ought to be able to make their own rules, and so they shall. But they are not just horticultural societies or angling clubs. They are major institutions claiming and exercising, and rightly claiming and exercising, great influence in our economy and society. Surely it is fair and right that any voluntary association which claims to do that should be prepared to accept some authority of approval to make sure that its rules include certain basic standards in the public interest and in the interests of its members, and some supervision to make sure that those basic rules are observed.

Hon. Members

What about employers?

Mr. Carr

Certainly rules for employers, and they are there, too.

Secondly, we ask trade unions to accept that some kinds of industrial action are unfair to the community at large and that they must therefore accept liability for the harm which they do to other people against whom they direct such unfair actions. These unfair actions are described in our document and will be defined in our Bill. They are limited in scope and reasonable and fair in their nature. Whatever may have been the case in the past, I do not believe that it is necessary in modern conditions for a union to indulge in any one of our listed unfair actions in order to achieve its full aims and objects for its members.

What about sanctions, sanctions to buttress the framework of rules, because, however little they are used, any system of law which is to have effect must be backed by some sanctions in the last resort. We are convinced that legal sanctions should very rarely be brought into play. Above all, they should on no account be criminal sanctions.

Mr. Rose

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Would he agree that whether sanctions are criminal, civil or quasi-criminal, the ultimate manner in which sanctions are enforced in any event must be by imprisonment, even if a prior stage is attachment of earnings?

Mr. Carr

I will come to that in a moment.

In so far as sanctions are needed, the deterrent most likely to be effective is that which can be made to apply against corporate organisations, that is to say, against companies and unions, by making them liable for damage which they may cause directly by failure to honour their obligations, or through indulging in actions which are laid down as being unfair in the public interest.

The principle of protecting the individual against sanctions is maintained and will be seen clearly in our Bill to be maintained in our proposals for registered unions, their officials and agents. In this respect, the individual union official under our Bill will be protected far more effectively than he is under the law as it now stands. So long as the official or agent—and I beg the right hon. Lady to listen carefully to what I am saying—of a registered union is acting on behalf of and within the authority of his union, he will be protected, as he is not at the moment, against personal action or liability. The liability and responsibility, once our law is on the Statute Book, will fall only on the union itself, and a union cannot be sent to prison. [HON. MEMBERS: "It cannot now."] That is not so at the moment. What I am saying is that we intend to make it so in future, and this is a very important new safeguard.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)


Mr. Carr

I am sorry, but I do not have time to give way.

The possibility of personal liability—and perhaps hon. Members will listen to this, too, for it is an important clarification—will arise, and I want to admit this quite clearly, under our proposals—and here we follow precisely the recommendations of the majority of the Donovan Commission—only in the case of an unregistered organisation and against individuals acting outside the control and authority of the unions.

But those who act within the authority of a registered union will not have this liability. The liability will be only on the corporate body and, as I have said, a union cannot be sent to prison.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Carr

I will not give way; there will be plenty of time for hon. Members to make their speeches.

Finally, where do the Opposition stand? The country, as well as the House, is entitled to know. Their Amendment admits the need for constructive action. They reject our policy, but what is their constructive alternative? They have only two choices: to follow the T.U.C. line, or to stick to "In Place Of Strife". Which is it to be? If the T.U.C. line is to be the Opposition's policy, let us look at what that means.

The T.U.C. rejects our policy, just as it rejected that of the Labour Government, but what did the T.U.C. offer in place? Nothing new; the facts since June, 1969, speak for themselves. In spite of the efforts of the T.U.C. under Mr. Victor Feather's leadership—and tribute has been paid to that and I do so again—the position has got much worse in the last 18 months. Far from stemming the tide, the T.U.C. is being swamped by it. As I understand it, the T.U.C. is saying to us and the country, "Leave it to us". That is what it has been doing for the last 20 years. However hard it has tried, and it has tried, it has not succeeded, as the facts show. The Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister said in his Festival Hall speech on 4th May, 1969: Nothing has happened in these past five years and more to suggest that the trade union movement alone can produce with the urgency that is required, effective means of dealing with unofficial strikes.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

Read on.

Mr. Can

The right hon. Gentleman was quite right then and events since 1969 have proved that he is still right. [Interruption.] The late Prime Minister, the man who was Prime Minister, he said it. He is the person who wrote it.

Mr. Kaufman

On a point of order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to read a tiny, selective quotation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the Festival Hall last year when later in that speech the present Leader of the Opposition specifically said that he was ready to listen to further suggestions from the T.U.C. and to drop his legislation if the T.U.C. put forward viable proposals?

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. John D. Grant (Islington, East)

Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to select his quotation from the report of the Royal Commission in the same way, thus distorting what the Commission said?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is a practice not unknown to 629 Members of this House.

Mr. Carr

I am sorry if I have pricked the pride of the real author.

Mr. Kaufman

On a point of order. May I point out that if I had been asked to help the right hon. Gentleman with his speech it would have been less drab than it is?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman has been here for a sufficient number of weeks to know that that is not a point of order.

Mr. Carr

I am glad that we have established the real author of those words. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is right, the then Prime Minister did go on to say what the hon. Gentleman has said. He did that, we believe wrongly, the country believes wrongly, and he has been proved to be wrong. Far from getting better, things have got catastrophically worse. Is the Opposition really saying that its policy now is just to leave it to the T.U.C.? If so, it would seem, to the country, neither credible nor responsible. If they are not saying that, the only other possible alternative is to complete the package put forward "In Place of Strife". It must be the complete package, not bits of it. The complete package was a mixture of the carrot and the stick.

The fatal mistake that the last Government made was that they offered it in two halves. The first half was in the spring of 1969 when the right hon. Lady offered an interim Bill which included mainly the stick with very little carrot. Then, in the spring of this year she offered another Bill which was virtually all carrot with no stick. Neither was any good on its own. It should be the whole package or nothing.

What does the right hon. Lady now say about "In Place of Strife" which she was passionately and sincerely convinced was right then and was in the national interest, as was the then Prime Minister? In the end they dropped their proposals and took another course, but that course does not work. What do they say now? Let me remind the right hon. Lady—and I will not bore the House with tedious quotations from her words—of what she said in "In Place of Strife". The House knows that she spoke of this with conviction and sincerity in the House and the country as a complete package. Let me also remind the right hon. Lady of some of the contents of "In Place of Strife", in which she once believed so passionately and now apparently disbelieves just as passionately.

First, registration of unions, also recommended by Donovan. If it was necessary in 1969 why not now? Next, the conciliation pause. If necessary in 1969, why not now?

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

Not recommended by Donovan.

Mr. Carr

No, but recommended by the right hon. Lady and ourselves. Next, recognition disputes. If in 1969 it was necessary to have an ultimate right to enforce a C.I.R. recommendation why is it wrong now? If the right of the union member to appeal against the union discipline to some outside judicial tribunal was correct in 1969, why is it wrong now? If penal sanctions against individuals were right as an ultimate deterrent in 1969, why are much milder civil sanctions wrong now?

Let me remind the right hon. Lady of what she said in this House on 3rd March when we debated "In Place of Strife". This is something which the House will remember. She said: Indeed, I believe that it is the attitude of some critics of the White Paper which smacks of the corporate State when they suggest that employers and workers should be left alone to wage their private fights and that Parliament has no right even to consider the consequences of what they do."—[OFFICIAT REPORT, 3rd March, 1969; Vol. 779, c. 48.] This was and still is a basic case for the right and the need of Parliament to enact a framework of civil law, that is to say, a system of rules and good practice for the conduct of industrial relations. Of course, the law offers no magic cure. We have never pretended that it does. Good industrial relations are a matter of human attitudes, and the law cannot compel people to adopt correct attitudes. The law can and does help form opinion and influence behaviour. It can and does put on record the judgment of the community about what is fair and reasonable and when it does that a large number of people respect it and alter their behaviour accordingly. That is what we are seeking to do. The law is no substitute for voluntary action—

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)

Then why bring it in?

Mr. Carr

Because it can assist, buttress and help, and because it can also deter irresponsible action by small minorities—

Mr. Kerr

You will find out.

Mr. Carr

—totally unrepresentative either of the unions or the majority of their fellow workers. Parliament must create an environment which will support responsible action.

Mr. Thomas Torney (Bradford, South)

On a point of order. The Secretary of State has made it clear that he believes that the fault for industrial strife lies with the workers and the trade unions. [Interruption.] Is it in order for him to say that when we know that managements and employers are often to blame?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must know that that is not a point of order.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

On a point of order. It was impossible to hear the point of order of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Torney) because of the disruptive tactics of right hon. and hon. Members opposite. Would it not be best for the House as well as yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to hear my hon. Friend's point of order fully before a Ruling was given?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

As it was not a point of order, it was not proper to say it once, far less twice.

Mr. Carr

Parliament's job is to create in this and in other fields the right environment which will support responsible action. Having done that, we must call for, and expect to get, responsible leadership from the leaders of management and trade unions. Once having created the environment, the prime responsibility for taking the initiative must rest with management. The fundamental need is that management in each company must come to terms with its own employees and their proper rights and aspirations. That leadership from management must start right at the top—from chairmen, the boards and senior managers—because if they do not lead no one else can follow.

Mr. Orme

Tell that to the Engineering Employers' Federation.

Mr. Carr

I hope that it is listening. I hope that leaders of the hon. Gentleman's union are listening, too.

Our new law cannot compel such leadership, but it can and will give a strong push in the right direction. It can and will be a powerful continuing pressure and incentive towards stronger and more professional management and unionism. Under its influence, unions will over the years become stronger in numbers and in natural constitutional authority in depth and therefore a democratic influence over their members, just as unions have become stronger under the influence of comparable law in every other country where it has been introduced.

The Opposition should think very carefully before they indulge in total, irresponsible rejection of a policy which is in tune both with the public will and the public need.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Speaker has selected the Amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

4.53 p.m.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'recognising the need to take constructive steps to improve industrial relations, condemns the proposals in the Consultative Document, which are motivated by hostility to the trade union movement, deprive trade unionists of basic rights, reverse the growing trend towards industrial democracy, and will by their irrelevance and impracticability exacerbate industrial unrest in this country; and places on record its determination to reject any legislation based on this Document'. The Secretary of State is usually one of the more well-mannered members of the Government Front Bench, but this afternoon he has treated the House with intolerable discourtesy. After all, we are being asked to take note of a Consultative Document, so apparently the Government want the views of the House upon it—or do they not propose to consult the House of Commons either? Yet the right hon. Gentleman began his remarks by saying that he did not intend to give us a detailed description of the document which he was asking us to endorse. Instead he treated the House to the usual homily—all the generalisations, generalised accusations and general euphoria to which we have become accustomed from the right hon. Gentleman. This is the bold type of dishonest salesmanship, because the reality of this document is in the small print and we need a battery of lawyers to help us to decipher it.

As we are becoming accustomed to from this Government, we have a document which is complex, confusing and in places deliberately obscure. It was quite clear from the Secretary of State's speech that he did not understand it himself. This is a document written by lawyers for lawyers, just as "Fair Deal at Work" faithfully echoed the evidence to the Donovan Commission of the Conservative Society of Lawyers. It has not made a scrap of difference to the right hon. Gentleman, in presenting his policy to us, that the Donovan Commission rejected that evidence. He has just gone bulldozing ahead, ignoring the Donovan Report, what industrialists say, what some of his own friends in industry say and, not least, what people on his own side used to say about industrial relations not being a proper field for law.

If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to talk about people changing their minds, I suggest to him that he rereads the speech of one of his predecessors, Mr. John Hare, to the Conservative Party conference in 1961.

Above all, the Secretary of State has ignored the trade unions. Then he has the nerve to call this a Consultative Document. It must be unprecedented that on an issue of such importance to the trade union movement he should refuse to consult the movement except on his own terms. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying, as he has said before and no doubt will say again, that the T.U.C. could have come to see him—that, as he once put it, it could have discussed the whole scope of the Bill—when he goes on to say, as he said in the House only the other day, that the T.U.C., in coming to him, must accept his principles and merely discuss their shape.

There has never been a case in living memory, and certainly not under a Labour Government, when a Minister introducing such revolutionary changes has refused to discuss their "principles". It is like the right hon. Gentleman saying to the trade unions that he is prepared to discuss the length of their sentence if they will only plead guilty and come into the dock.

Mr. Carr

I am sure the right hon. Lady would not wish to get the record wrong. I have never refused to discuss these matters with the trade unions. What I said to them, and what I believe it is right to say to them, is that we have been elected with this policy, it having been spelled out in considerable detail over several years as a major plank in our election programme; that we regarded this as a commitment and that I could not discuss whether it should be done. I said to them that there were certain principles here which were a major and essential part of our commitment, but it could and should be discussed as to shape and important detail. That is all I believe that any Government with such a commitment has ever done before.

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman has added nothing to what he said to us in the House recently and which I have just faithfully reported to the House. Never has a Labour Government, even one elected on a mandate to nationalise certain industries, refused to discuss the principles of nationalisation with the C.B.I.—certainly not. It is this highhanded attitude which reveals as much as anything else that this legislation was conceived in prejudice against the trade unions, is designed to cripple them and, if it ever becomes law, will deform and not encourage the voluntary system of industrial relationships.

The Opposition will reject root and branch any legislation which is based on this document, for three main reasons. First, because it is motivated by spite against the trade unions; secondly, because it is irrelevant to our industrial relations problems and will make them worse; and, thirdly, because it is a violation of the whole principles of industrial democracy to which, if the country is to have industrial peace, it will have to move ever more rapidly. We will reject it outright because the individual items in the document cannot be separated from its overall philosophy. There is an overall philosophy, however shy the right hon. Gentleman may be at spelling it out in the document, however shy he may be about telling us how his actions would work in practice.

Whatever the right hon. Gentleman, or the Solicitor-General—who is much more expansive on this than was the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon—may say about the document being in accord with Donovan, they know perfectly well that it is inspired by a philosophy which is diametrically opposed to the analysis and philosophy advocated by Donovan. Indeed, it is amusing to see how last Saturday the Solicitor-General began to run for cover under Donovan—

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

The right hon. Lady knows all about that!

Mrs. Castle

This is the party that denounced the Donovan Report when it first came out as a "recipe for inertia", to quote the late Iain Macleod. The Tories then went on to say that the situation had worsened so much that we needed something more drastic. They now ask us what we are complaining about because, as the Solicitor-General said, "our proposals are based on Donovan". I wish they would make up their minds. Of course these proposals are not based on Donovan. What was the Donovan philosophy, which is our philosophy? When we are talking about industrial relations we are talking about how to keep men and women—

Mr. Cormack

Scuttle, scuttle, scuttle.

Mrs. Castle

We listened attentively when the right hon. Gentleman gave his analysis of industrial relations problems with which he thinks we should all be so preoccupied. He challenged us on our approach, and I am answering him. When we talk about industrial relations, we are talking about how to keep men and women producing the goods the nation needs. We have to face the fact that there are, inevitably, conflicts of interest in industry because to the employer labour is just one of the "resources" of production, but to the worker his job is his whole means of life. How, and indeed, whether, a man can earn his living is a vital part of his rights as a citizen. A worker only ceased to be a helot when by his own efforts, and despite constant interference from the courts, he won the right to combine and to use coercive action to make that combination effective. The law was eventually forced to recognise those rights, because Parliament knew that coercive action was not a piece of original sin by trade unions. It was employers who first started "combination in restraint of trade", and employers use coercive action every day of the week. That is what the market economy is all about. That is what the philosophy of "get what the market will bear" is all about. For this Government to complain about workers exploiting their position when they are busy removing the checks on everyone else's freedom, nay, positively adjuring them to take greater responsibility for looking after their own interests, is nauseating hypocrisy.

The unions of this country have always operated in a legal framework. There has been a framework of reluctant tolerance of essential rights. What Donovan said and what we said was that if we want to reduce the conflicts in industry we must restate the rights and rôle of trade unionists in our society more positively and more constructively than we have done in the past. In doing so, Donovan stressed the importance not only of retaining but of strengthening the voluntary system of industrial relations: that is, the freedom of men and women to influence the decisions that affect their working lives. As Donovan pointed out, that means strengthening collective bargaining by strengthening: the organisation of workers on which it depends. That means positively. If the right hon. Gentleman had done the House the courtesy of explaining the Consultative Document, he would have shown how incompatible his document is with this philosophy.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

What did the right hon. Lady say last year in "In place of Strife"?

Mrs. Castle

This means positively welcoming and encouraging the extension of trade unionism. It means reducing industrial unrest by getting at the causes of strikes, half of which arise from struggles to assert the basic human rights that should have been in the laws of the land years ago, just as they are in the Conventions of the I.L.O.—the right of appeal against unfair dismissal, the right to union recognition. It means making a reality of consultation by sharing information and decision making, and it means finding industrial solutions for industrial problems by painstaking reform of negotiating and disputes procedures by voluntary means instead of by legislative imposition. All this the Labour Government had set on foot by the registration of procedure agreements—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentleman opposite laugh. To them this is a political subject, not an industrial one. Therefore they dismiss this as—[An HON. MEMBER: "Claptrap."] This is not claptrap. This is what Donovan asked for, it is what we said in the White Paper we would do, and what we did without wasting a moment of time.

We started voluntary registration of procedure agreements so that the causes of strikes could be stopped. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite like to have the strikes—it gives them such a useful alibi.

In spite of lack of interest or understanding among hon. Members opposite, that process has gone steadily ahead. The right hon. Gentleman appreciates its importance, if some of his giggling hon. Friends do not. Already, thanks to the action of the Labour Government, that registration already covers a fifth of the total working population. We carried this out, too, through the establishment of the Commission on Industrial Relations, whose work these proposals will undermine. We set it on foot also through the Industrial Relations Bill, which I presented to Parliament just before the election. It is this constructive approach that the right hon. Gentleman has put into reverse.

Let us examine the proposals that he says are so innocuous and "based on Donovan". Central to his theme is that trade unions will be allowed to function as trade unions only if they register. The right to strike will virtually be taken away from everyone else.

Mr. Carr

indicated dissent.

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman says that is not so. He might have done us the courtesy of telling us what he is doing about registration. He could have produced a White Paper which was not a lot of legal jargon, telling us in simple clear terms what he was trying to do and how his Measures would have the effect he says they will have. He cannot just sit there shaking his head. This was his opportunity to win the support of the House.

Mr. Carr

I do not want to sit here shaking my head. I will repeat something I said in my speech. It is that our proposals in relation to the right to strike and the protection of that right—on the one hand the registered organisations and on the other the unregistered—are precisely in line with the recommendations of the Donovan Commission.

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman is giving us a generalisation. Let us examine this claim. This rôle of registration has now taken pride of place in Conservative policy on industrial relations over that former panacea of which we used to hear so much: making collective agreements legally enforceable by the agreement of both sides. This shift of emphasis is an indication of the hardening of attitude that has taken place in the Conservative Party on industrial relations over recent months.

Getting agreement to make collective agreements legally enforceable means winning consent. This Government are not out to win consent. They are out to coerce, and registration is their starting point. It is absolute nonsense for the right hon. Gentleman to say that this is based on Donovan. The powers he proposes to give the registrar would alter, and are intended to alter, the whole character of a union. Donovan's approach on this matter was purely pragmatic. Donovan said that in their own interests unions should have corporate personality and that means keeping a register; but Donovan insisted that the conditions of registration ought not to be more onerous than the 1871 Act. Certainly rules could and should be more precise. They ought to be adequate to cover all the points that a voluntary organisation ought to be able to deal with: admission, expulsion, conduct of elections, and so on.

Donovan insisted all the way through that there must be no interference with the freedom which trade unions ought to enjoy to frame rules to meet their own circumstances and that in particular they ought to retain discretion as to whom they should admit". The concept of unions should be that of voluntary associations freely managing their own affairs. The right hon. Gentleman will stop all this because his legislation would dictate the sort of rules he thinks unions ought to have. Nowhere is this clearer than in paragraph 90 of the Document. What a pity we have not had those vital provisions explained to us in the House today.

The new formula laid down in paragraph 90 relates to rules and includes the new provision of the right to resign. Most revealing of all is paragraph 90(vii): no member who refuses to participate in any industrial action which is deemed unfair by the Bill may be expelled, disciplined or discriminated against …

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mrs. Castle

Hon. Members opposite may chorus, "Hear, hear". We are delighted to see them coming out in their true colours and not in their General Election colours. But this is not in Donovan. This means that the Government will compel unions to write into their rules the Government's chosen restrictions on union activities, the Government's view about the closed shop, the union shop, the sympathetic strike, as conditions of being allowed to function as a union at all. But none of these is in Donovan.

There has been no greater interference with the right to organise since the Combination Acts. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to ask Lord Donovan to get up in another place and say that this was what the Commission meant. Moreover, the registrar is to have discretion to de-register a union if its rules do not give it "adequate control" over its members and their representatives. Even when a union is registered and has gone through the right hon. Gentleman's political hoops, the traditional immunities of trade unions will apply only to those "acting with its authority". This was the point on which I challenged him and he seemed so confused.

This document gives the union an impossible policing task. It leaves an impossible threat hanging over the head of the shop steward and local official who have to deal with the day-to-day eruptions on the shop floor. The right hon. Gentleman claims to have some knowledge of industry. He must know that shop stewards and local union officials have to react spontaneously to issues which suddenly arise affecting their members. Under his proposals even if the lads in a factory demand that a dangerous industrial practice should be stopped immediately and the shop steward threatens to bring them out, then that shop steward and his union—and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to disprove this—under these proposals will be breaking the right hon. Gentleman's law.

It was nonsense for the Lord Chancellor to say in another place, contradicting the facts for a change, instead of his own Front Bench: … there is nothing in this Consultative Document which does not exist in other advanced countries …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords. 4th November, 1970; Vol. 312, c. 445.] I say that there is no other comparable country that gives such sweeping discretionary powers of registration, for the simple reason, as the Sunday Times pointed out the other day, that these powers are almost certainly in conflict with I.L.O. Convention 87. Is the right hon. Gentleman proposing that we should deratify?

It is the same with all the other proposals which he said he has "taken from Donovan". The right to belong to a union, followed by the equal and unqualified right not to belong to a union, written for the first time into the law of this land, is a blackleg's charter.

I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have not read and studied these provisions as those of us on these benches have done. I challenge them to take the Committee stage on the Floor of the House so that we can explain to them the small print of the prospectus which they are buying so frivolously.

Consider the right of appeal against unfair dismissal. That was in Donovan. The right hon. Gentleman makes reference to it, but he knows, as Donovan said, that without the right to reinstatement the right of appeal against unfair dismissal is meaningless. The right to reinstatement was in my White Paper. It is not in the right hon. Gentleman's document.

And even on the disclosure of information—and how he must have got into trouble with the C.B.I. for even making this vague reference to it—we have to wait for the Code of Industrial Practice. We have to wait for a year after the Bill becomes law before we know what it is worth.

But there is one thing that he did not get from Donovan, and that is the decision to impose procedure agreements. It is not even in "Fair Deal at Work", Earlier today, the Prime Minister said that he was going ahead with measures for which he had a mandate. He has not got a mandate for that. Is he going to drop it as something that has not been endorsed by the people of this country?

The right hon. Gentleman knows that Donovan considered this provision and specifically rejected it, arguing: This is one thing the law cannot do: it cannot make people co-operate if they do not want to do so. Indeed, to saddle unions, as the right hon. Gentleman proposes, with the responsibility for policing agreements which they have not negotiated, and in which they have not even acquiesced, is a monstrous tyranny which takes us back over half a century.

But although these proposals are a tyranny, they are also a fraud. They are a fraud on a gullible public, because they will not work. They will not produce the effects which the right hon. Gentleman is trying to tell the country they will. They will not be a magic solvent for all our difficulties, because even the employers—except the stupidest and worst of them—know that they cannot run their industrial relations this way, and yet they are the people who will have to operate these sanctions and apply for damages. They will get the worst of both worlds. They will get the overflow of the odium from the right hon. Gentleman's proposals, which will poison their industrial relationships, and yet when it comes to the crunch they will not use those powers because they know that they would do more harm than good.

Let me give the House examples from recent strikes. The right hon. Gentleman spent so much time on the strike figures, and what we would do about them. Consider the recent dirty jobs strike. How many working days were lost? The right hon. Gentleman told me the other day that the figure was over 800,000.

An Hon. Member

Who encouraged them?

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman caused it. When his proposals were published, he was asked on television whether these powers would have applied to the local government manual workers' strike and he said, "No, they would not have made any difference". Why? The answer is, because the strike was official. It was not in breach of procedure. It was one of those end-of-contract, American-type strikes which the right hon. Gentleman thinks do not cause us any kind of difficulty. The public who are buying this pig in his poke believed that they were buying something that would prevent their dustbins from overflowing. That was fraud No. 1.

Consider the docks strike of last July. That again was an official strike. There was no breach of procedure. The only part of the right hon. Gentleman's law under which that could have been caught was that it might have been a candidate for his Taft-Hartley type of cooling-off period. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether, if he had had these powers then, he would have used them in the dock strike? Would he have imposed a cooling-off period? He knows that the strike was ended, as it could have been avoided, by the inquiry that he set up and which settled it. If only he had set the inquiry up earlier we should not have had that strike, and we should not have had a more inflationary settlement. To have imposed, in that situation, a 60-day cooling-off period, giving dockers weeks and weeks for resentments to boil up and for the militants to get working, would have been follly, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. That was fraud No. 2.

Consider, next, the Pilkington strike in April this year. That was a typical strike of the kind which the right hon. Gentleman says his measures will deal with, because it was unofficial. At one time it covered about 11,000 workers, and was extremely damaging. A total of 346,000 days were lost by the Pilkington Glass Works. It was damaging to the motor car industry, because it held up the production of screens for motor cars. The strike was over a pay claim. That is something which the right hon. Gentleman is always trying to check.

Would the right hon. Gentleman's powers have been appropriate in that case? Would they have avoided the Pilkington strike? The General and Municipal Workers' Union used every effort to get the men back. Indeed, its officials carried their loyalty and their pressure so far that they risked the formation of a breakaway union. Under the new rules of registration proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, would the General and Municipal Workers' Union have had to prove that it was using its "best endeavours" and exercising "adequate control" by expelling the dissidents who were defying its authority? That is just what the militants wanted—the formation of a breakaway union—and the right hon. Gentleman has enough industrial experience to know that the interests of industrial peace in this country were served in that case by trying to keep the men in the union, not by forcing them out.

During the election campaign I went on television with the right hon. Gentleman to discuss our relative policies in this matter. We discussed the Pilkington strike. The right hon. Gentleman's only answer was that it "was not typical". Under his Bill, presumably Pilkington would be entitled to sue, the unofficial strikers. In the course of the interview Mr. Pilkington, another participator in the discussion, was asked whether he thought the Conservative Government's proposals would have made any difference in this strike, and this is what he said: Most people when they think in these terms think of clobbering the unions—that is they think in terms of fines … the idea of fining people who will go on some sort of unofficial strike or strikes in breach of agreement this I think is what most people think about in these terms and I do not believe that that myself would have any effect at all. I think the real work is done within the industry in terms of building up relationships—just sheer hard work and effort on the part of management, on the part of the unions, on the part of the shop floor to understand each other and to learn to communicate to each other. That is our policy, which the right hon. Gentleman scorned. It is against the interests of industrial relations to support his alternative.

Let us consider the recent miners' strike. That, too, was unofficial, and in defiance of the unions' national executive. Lord Robens has been making a great deal of play with it in the last few days, to the great delight of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The noble Lord is certainly working very hard to avoid Lord Hall's fate. But there is something very significant about Lord Robens' speech if hon. Members have really studied it. They will find that he is not saying, "If only we had the right hon. Gentleman's law, all would be well," although that law would enable him to sue unofficial strikers, from whom the immunity of Section 3 of the 1906 Act would be withdrawn.

That does not attract Lord Robens at all, because he knows that, when he had his little fracas with some of the miners, the men were already going back, and of course he would not have sued them and brought them out again. No—what he is demanding is the repeal of the whole of the 1906 Act. It is Section 2 that he is after—to abolish the right of picketing.

Apparently some 70 furious miners—no doubt furious because the strike was breaking up—jostled him and shouted rude words at him in Doncaster. At one stage, he hinted at violence. If it were used, it should be dealt with sternly, but despite all the ferreting of the journalists, no violence was ever established. So what is the noble Lord complaining about—mental cruelty? If he wants to experience that, he had better try debating in this House. We shall have the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry demanding the Queensberry Rules here next.

No one here would tolerate violence or physical intimidation, and, thank God, we have been mercifully free of it in this country. But all these cases that I have quoted are typical of situations that we have to deal with from time to time in industry, when men, rightly or wrongly, feel a sense of outrage which they can express only by withdrawing their labour. By these proposals, the right hon. Gentleman is going out of his way to create a new sense of outrage now.

The sense of outrage against his Bill is not confined only to militants. It leads a moderate and responsible trade union leader like Alf Allen of U.S.D.A.W. to withdraw his labour, to resign reluctantly from the work he loves at the C.I.R. because he believes that the right hon. Gentleman's proposals violate all his principles as a trade unionist and will undermine all the constructive work that the C.I.R. is doing.

I warn the right hon. Gentleman that, by his arrogant disregard of the views of responsible trade unionists, he is playing straight into the hands of the disruptionists. He spent much of his speech making a virtue of closing his ears. He called it "not running away", as we were supposed to have done. I say to the right hon. Gentleman, it is not cowardice but statesmanship to argue with, to challenge, to listen to the trade union leadership of this country and then to be persuaded that there is a better way than the one that one has chosen.

The aim of our policy was to strengthen the voluntary system of industrial relations, and that is what our agreement with the trade union movement was all about. This is what has been happening since the agreement with the T.U.C. Of Course—

Mr. Cormack


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. The hon. Member knows that, if the right hon. Lady does not give way, he must resume his seat.

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know and do not want to know about the constructive work which has been going on since that agreement was reached with the T.U.C., how the T.U.C. has been encouraging the unions—as my hon. Friend said in his intervention on the right hon. Gentleman's speech—by their own efforts to overhaul their rules and make them deal with such questions as who has the authority to call a strike and what are the roles, rights and responsibilities of shop stewards, by examining the structure of trade unionism, by holding far-reaching conferences with the C.B.I. on how to improve the industrial relations situation and our procedures, and not least by constantly intervening in disputes at our request—when I was at a Department which really was a Department of conciliation—and trying to get the men back to work.

The number of disputes in which the T.U.C. intervened more than quadrupled in the year following our agreement with them—[An HON. MEMBER: "So did strikes."] The right hon. Gentleman sneers. No doubt their reply is, "What about the strike figures?". Yes, they have risen, but we do not know, the right hon. Gentleman will admit, by how much more they would have risen if it had not been for that agreement with the T.U.C.—[Laughter.]—

Mr. Sillars

Did my right hon. Friend notice the laughter from the Government benches? Would she not accept that, when asked about prices, the Prime Minister gives exactly the same answer that she does?

Mrs. Castle

I hope that I will never be cajoled into answering for the Prime Minister. But other people, not as prejudiced as right hon. Gentlemen opposite, know the constructive work which is being done. The right hon. Gentleman is throwing it away and will live to regret the recklessness with which he has thrown it away.

Of course we are all worried by the strike figures, but, what is equally important, we are all puzzled by them. The right hon. Gentleman knows that this is an international phenomenon. It is intolerable that he should come here with these sweeping new laws without giving us any more profound analysis of why he thinks strikes have risen than that we ran away. That is worthy of a juvenile and not someone with the right hon. Gentleman's experience.

The needs to study and understand the causes of strikes is part of the need to study and understand what is happening in our whole society. Where does the right hon. Gentleman stand? Does he belong to the "Reds under the bed" school? Does he think that it is all due to bloody-mindedness, or does he agree with those who are as expert in this field as he is, who thinks that this strike wave, this international phenomenon, is a reflection of the deep malaise of modern industrial society, with its bewildering technological change, its ever-present threat of redundancy, its job insecurity, its failure to make work meaningful, its failure to involve the worker constructively or excitingly in the decisions which govern his whole working life?

A man is not given a sense of security by people talking, as many Conservative supporters do, about curing our economic troubles by creating one million to two million unemployed. One does not give a man a sense of involvement by putting his great representative expression, his trade union, in leading strings. None of the token gestures which the right hon. Gentleman is making to the trade unions will amount to a row of beans in the context of the authoritarian atmosphere of this Bill.

It is because we think that authoritarian atmosphere inimical to the whole growing movement towards industrial democracy and greater worker involvement, because we think that it will increase unrest and not lessen it that we cannot accept that the Bill will improve industrial relations.

We believe that the real purpose behind the Bill is a political purpose, designed to let this Government get out from under their own responsibilities to create a more just society, designed to give the Government a political alibi for their own economic failures by blaming all our economic troubles on the trade unions. Because we believe that it will be a political Bill, we shall fight any legislation based on these proposals tooth and nail, line by line, and, however long it takes, we shall destroy the Bill.

5.51 p.m.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Heston and Isleworth)

I do not know whether I will deserve—

Mr. Ashton

On a point of order. I am sure. Mr. Deputy Speaker, that most of the hon. Members whom you call to speak from this side of the House will declare their interests in trade unions or state any other vested interests they have in regard to sponshorship. Can you ensure that hon. Gentlemen opposite do the same about their directorships?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for the Chair. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] I am sure that the matter to which the hon. Gentleman refers will be taken as the custom by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Mr. Hayhoe

I hope that the House will, in its generosity, accord to me the traditional kindness and indulgence which it reserves for those who speak for the first time. I immediately respond to the point of order—whether or not it was a point of order—raised by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) by telling him that I have no directorships. I am, however, a retired member of my trade union, the I.P.C.S. I trust that he considers that I have made my position clear.

I contribute to this debate because my interest in industrial relations goes back over nearly 30 years, since first I started my working life as an apprentice in a tool room at the princely sum of 10s. a week, with annual increments of 2s. 6d. a year. That was in a non-union shop. Indeed, after being in that shop for two years I took a hand, with others, in creating an organisation, a works committee, to represent the point of view of the apprentices to the management.

I therefore learned at a relatively young age the advantages of combination and unity. I also learned how fear and bad communications can poison relationships in a company or plant and how important it is for these matters to be dealt with if one is to improve the quality of industrial relations. Equally, I learned how bad working conditions and dull, frustrating and repetitive work can lead people to take actions which are not always as wise as they should be.

I certainly agreed with a compelling passage in the speech of the President of the T.U.C. last year, at the Bournemouth Congress, when he referred to these matters. Indeed, when reading the maiden speech which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made nearly 20 years ago, I found that he referred in rather similar terms to this issue.

After I left the tool room I became a draughtsman and, for the information of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, I became a member of the then A.C.S.D.D., which was the Civil Service link with the A.S.D. Later, as an engineer, I joined the I.P.C.S.

I saw enormous advantage in the Whitley system, which is one of the prides of industrial relations in this country, where agreements are made to be honoured and where there are sensible and fair procedural arrangements for the settlement of disputes. If the spirit which animates the Whitley system in the Civil Service and the detailed agreements which can thereby be entered into and kept could be spread more widely through industry, we would make great improvements in industrial relations.

A short while ago I saw the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) seated on the Opposition Front Bench. I knew him by name, not as a right hon. Member of this House but as the distinguished chairman of the National Staff Side of the Whitley Council. I knew him for years in that capacity, long before I dreamt that I would join him as an hon. Member of this House, albeit on the other side.

I of course accept the central thesis that good industrial relations can be based only on good human relations and that one can have good human and industrial relations only if there is fair and reasonable behaviour by all concerned. I pay tribute to the voluntary spirit which animates the British trade unions. I confess, however, that when I see Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon or Clive Jenkins hogging the television screen, I take the view that they do not reflect the dedicated voluntary work which is done by so many purely voluntary, unpaid, branch officials, shop stewards and so on. There is a big gulf of difference between the attitudes and approaches of these groups.

As may not be surprising, I welcome the Government's proposals on industrial relations. I consider them to be sensible, fair, moderate and relevant. However, I question some of their details. For example, would it not be wise to seek to insulate the C.I.R. from the implementation of the procedure agreement point and to have some other body involved, so that it is not the C.I.R. which must go, as a party, to get procedure agreements imposed?

I share with all hon. Members regret that we are not able to have the code of practice before us today, though I appreciate the reason for this. However, I wish to examine some of the main arguments which are deployed against these proposals. First, the argument seems to be that the proposals were made some years ago, were published as a political pamphlet—some consider this to be the ultimate insult—were included in our manifesto and formed the basis of our approach at the election. Those being the facts, these proposals are clearly entirely unsuited for implementation, is the way the argument goes.

Those who argue that way present a curious case. Presumably they would prefer nothing to be said before the election—no detailed plans announced—and one would say, "This will not be done", whereupon a measure of great importance is sprung on the House after the election. Perhaps hon. Members who were here in 1966 have an indication of the sort of measure of which I speak in these terms. I believe that the method we have adopted is a much better approach.

Secondly, it is argued that there is no need for Government action since the strike record is not particularly bad. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to this, and I merely underline it by quoting from paragraph 500 of the Donovan Report, which said: It is imperative that the number of unofficial and especially of unconstitutional strikes should be reduced and should be reduced speedily. That was the view of the Donovan Commission, which had at that time available to it the 1967 figures, because it reported in June, 1968.

But if we look at the 1967 figures and compare them with what we now know about the 1970 figures, we find that the situation has not just deteriorated by a percentage point or two but that it now seems almost certain that there will be double the number of strikes. That also means double the number of unofficial and unconstitutional strikes, because the figures for both are almost the same. So if in the view of the Donovan Commission action was imperative, where do we get the superlative to cover a situation twice as bad?

Again, it is argued that as things are not as bad here as in other countries we need not do anything. Presumably the same argument could be made about drugs—that the drug problem here is not as severe as it is elsewhere—but we all would agree that that would not be a sensible argument for not dealing with our drug problem.

There is a variant, in the argument that days lost through strikes are insignificant compared with days lost through sickness. It is true that in numerical terms the difference is very substantial, but who ever heard of flu victims peacefully picketing the gates of their factory to persuade people to get flu? Or who ever heard of 112 sick people stopping the employment of 11,000 healthy workers? Yet 112 strikers stopped the employment of 11,000 employees in March in the dispute at Ellesmere Port, the effects of which spread widely across the country. There is not much substance in that argument.

There is the argument, and the right hon. Lady herself produced it, that the trade unions are reforming themselves and that we should let them get on with it. One welcomes the progress they are making—and there has been some substantial progress in the last few years—but I remember the resolution, and perhaps the right hon. Lady does, that George Woodcock either moved or replied to at the 1962 Trades Union Congress. That resolution was to be the launching-off pad for great reforms, but nothing came of it at all. Looking at the situation, we find that it is only under the pressure of legislation that the Trades Union Congress seems willing to take action.

Here I should like to quote what has been said by Cyril Gunfield, an academic certainly not very favourable to my party, who wrote of this in an article in the June issue of the Scottish Journal of Political Economy. He there looked at what happened when the T.U.C. had asked for a change in rule books. He discovered that after 14 years hardly any of the affiliated unions had made the change. He wrote: This abysmal response to a request to amend rule books to incorporate a relatively simple rule is unlikely to be bettered in response to a new request … to adopt a far more complex set of model rules; and a poor response would be virtually guaranteed once the threat of amending legislation disappeared. So he believes that it is the threat of legislation that has generated activity by the T.U.C.

Again, Will Paynter, former General Secretary of the N.U.M., writing in the current Political Quarterly has said: There are plenty of instances where the decisions of the T.U.C. on inter-union disputes are ignored by the big battalions. He was general secretary of one of the big battalions, so no doubt he knows. It therefore seems that one cannot leave reform to the trade unions themselves, so it is important that we should proceed with legislation.

The right hon. Lady also mentioned the problem of enforceability. This is the argument that even if one puts the necessary provisions into a Bill no employer will sue his employees. The argument is always put that way, though we know from experience elsewhere that employees have sued employers whom they consider to be in breach of agreement.

I was amused at the concern shown by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) about selectivity of quotation, but his former master, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, quoted from selectively "Greener Grass" by Lowry when speaking to the Scottish T.U.C. The passage he then quoted was: … Not a single company I have met has ever sued a union for damages incurred as a result of wildcat strike action. The whole argument was taken to be that the whole thing was phoney; that there was no need for such provision. That apparent argument, coming from one who was then Director of the Engineering Employers' Federation, was taken as the last word on that subject. But nobody ever bothered to quote the next 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 in the event of such action by their members. Surely that is the case for having an element of enforceability in agreements, and a framework of civil law. It is the pressure that operates, not whether or not people are taken to court.

It is suggested that what is proposed is a charter for irresponsible militants: why then, are these irresponsible militants in the vanguard of the opposition to the legislation? I express concern at the present rash of politically-motivated strikes. I welcome very much the stand made by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the T.U.C. against these strikes, and I am waiting with great interest to see whether their rhetoric and passion can be topped later this evening by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer).

The truth of the matter is, is it not, that the green light was given to the irresponsible militants last June? The economic significance and consequences of that climb-down are already plain to see. What was then done was really lighting the fires of inflation, and getting the pressures going. All of it we can trace back to that watershed; to the famous meetings in June and the climb-down by the then Government. The political effect was that it probably cost the Labour Party the election. I suspect, although one cannot be sure, that if the Government had not climbed down the election might not have gone as it did.

The political effects will continue. The balance of power, interest and authority within the Labour movement has changed, and dramatically. Predominantly now, the trade union voice is the powerful voice. It remains to be seen what this will mean in terms of the Labour Party's future, but I think that those concerned would be wise to appreciate the significance and importance of this change in the structure, and in the relationship between politicians and the T.U.C.

I welcome the Government's proposals. I think that when all the hoohah has died down they will be seen to be a useful, constructive and helpful contribution to the improvement of industrial relations.

6.9 p.m.

Mr. Walter Johnson (Derby, South)

In this, my maiden speech, may I first offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) on his maiden speech. The House will agree that it was a very competent, well-delivered and thoughtful speech. The hon. Member will not be surprised to hear that I disagree with practically everything that he said.

Before embarking upon my main theme I want to pay a brief but sincere tribute to my illustrious predecessor, Philip Noel-Baker. He first entered the House in 1929 as the Member for Coventry and stayed here in that capacity until 1931. In 1936 he was elected as the Member for Derby and in 1950 he became the Member for Derby, South and represented the people of Derby until the General Election this year, a remarkable record.

Philip Noel-Baker served the House with distinction both as a Minister and as a back bencher. He will probably be remembered best for his sterling work for disarmament and world peace. This was recognised in 1959 by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, again a remarkable achievement. The House will wish to know that Philip Noel-Baker celebrated his 81st birthday recently and still continues his travels.

Perhaps I should declare an interest and tell the House that I am a national officer of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association and the treasurer of the National Federation of Professional Workers.

This so-called Consultative Document came into being in early October. Within days the Secretary of State told the Tory Party conference that the Government were quite prepared to talk to people about the document but that the main pillars of it would remain and that there would be no change to them.

I suggest that this was a mockery of consultation. I have always understood that management—in this case the Government—prepares a document and then circularises it to all concerned. It is considered. The parties sit down together, discuss it, and hammer out a policy. Obviously, that is not the Tory concept of consultation.

The trade union movement—I speak with some experience—is already angered and embittered because of this lack of consultation. Trade unions feel that they have been brushed to one side. These proposals affect the lives of millions of people. Unions want the opportunity to discuss all the aspects of this, because the proposals have not been carefully worked out. The document bears a close relationship to "Fair Deal at Work", the Tory pamphlet which was prepared in advance of the Report of the Donovan Commission. In other words, the Government are unwilling to take any notice of the findings of a Royal Commission which sat for three years and took evidence from over 400 organisations.

It has become clear to the trade union movement that the Government are seeking a head-on clash with the trade unions. In my 30 years' experience I have never known the trade union movement to be so united as it is in its opposition to these proposals. It is not too late for the Government to think again. Let sanity prevail. Let the Government take back this ill-conceived document and put it in the think tank—I was going to say, let them stuff it in the think tank, but I suppose that that would be a little unparliamentary. However, the document needs looking at again if there is to be full and adequate consultation and proper consideration of all these matters. This is what the Government will do if they have the interests of the nation at heart.

If these proposals are put into a Bill and then enacted, the number of strikes will be increased. One of the essential pillars here is the right to join a trade union or not to do so. I will ask the House to consider the consequences in one or two instances. Someone wishing to become a London bus driver goes to a recruiting centre and on an application form he must indicate that he is prepared to join a trade union. When he goes to start work he is invited to join the trade union and he does so. Under these proposals presumably London Transport would have to take out that section of the application form, because it is not a condition of employment and it is one of the essential pillars of the policy.

When such a person reported for work he would probably be allowed to go into training, a costly exercise lasting more than three weeks. On his reporting to a garage, if he had not joined the union and if he said that he did not want to do so but would pay the money to a charity, without doubt the other busmen in the garage would refuse to work with him. Then there would be an unofficial strike. After a time, presumably the strikers would be reported to the Industrial Court and their leaders would be fined for taking this action. Busmen in other garages would strike in sympathy with the first garage. If the union leaders did not use their best endeavours, whatever that means, to settle the strike they, too, would be heavily fine. If they refused to pay the fine they would be imprisoned. If the Government behaved in that way to a trade union, the situation would escalate. One cannot imagine the dockers standing idly by whilst their general secretary was jailed for non-payment of a fine.

Let me now take the example of power stations, where there is virtually a closed shop. Let us assume that a man who is already a member of a union falls out with his shop steward and decides that he will drop out and pay money to a charity instead. The other workers will say that they will not work with him because he has no trade union card. There is an unofficial stoppage. The same situation will go right the way through. Workers at every power station will strike in sympathy and there will be a national emergency. These are but two examples of how the policy, far from being effective, will cause even more strikes.

Under this policy, would postmen who took sympathetic action because of somebody being unfairly sacked, as they thought, be referred to the Industrial Court?

The Government would presumably use the cooling off period for there to be some form of arbitration, but they have already shown that they do not like arbitration. What was their reaction to arbitration in the council dispute? In a petulant and boorish speech on "Panorama", the Prime Minister discredited men who have a lifetime of experience in industrial relations and know more about the subject than he ever will. He cast a slur on their integrity. It is time someone on the other side had the grace to say that this was unfair to people who could not speak for themselves.

This policy will cause disunity and all sorts of difficulties for the country as a whole. If they have the interests of the nation at heart the Government will take the document back and reconsider it in detail. The policy will not work. We will prove that. If the Government insist on these proposals being put into a Bill, we will show the Government—either on the Floor of the House or in Standing Committee—that the policy will not work.

The Donovan Report said: The problem"— it was referring to strikes generally— is peculiar to this country. It has been created by a number of factors … The most important among these is the inadequacy of our collective bargaining system, and especially the lack of clear, speedy, comprehensive and effective procedures for the settlement of grievances … the most important step to be taken in order to get rid of unconstitutional strikes is the reform of our collective bargaining system. This is our central recommendation. We cannot recommend anything that may jeopardise its success. The Government are not prepared to take the advice of a Royal Commission that sat for three years and hammered out its policy. The Royal Commission took all the evidence to which I have referred, and yet the Government take no notice of it.

I ask the Government to think again, in the interest of the nation, otherwise they will experience the wrath, the bitterness and the dislike of millions of trade unionists.

I thank hon. Members for their courtesy in listening to me.

6.22 p.m.

Mr. John Spence (Sheffield, Heeley)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me to enable me to make my maiden speech in the House on this historic occasion. It may sound a little incongruous to hon. Members if I refer to my long connection with it. They would be forgiven if they said, "If you have a long connection with it, why on earth are you making your maiden speech now?". I am, of course, referring to my industrial connection with the House. It was my privilege to play a small part in the reconstruction of this great Chamber when it was damaged in the war. Through the 1940s, as hon. Members know only too well, we had a devastated Chamber. There was great difficulty in those days in finding the craftsmen with the skills the results of which adorn the Chamber now.

Many hon. Members who come here daily will forget, so may I remind them, that the skills which they see represented in hardwood in the Chamber are now probably lost. We probably no longer have the craftsmen capable of performing those skills.

I should like to mention another part of this great palace with which it was my privilege also to be connected. I refer to the construction of the boiler house under the grass surface in the Victoria Tower gardens. Not many people know that in the early 1950s there was there constructed a Chamber which was the first of the "car parks", and therein was put the central heating system, and probably the air-conditioning system now. Some may feel that it is very good and that it adds to our heated comfort, but I regret to say that in the past two weeks I have found it adding to my heated discomfort more than once.

Whatever the result, both departments are a matter of engineering skill of which we should be justly proud. We should not forget, and I will not allow hon. Members to forget, the skills involved in the work to which I have referred.

Hon. Members will gather that I have been connected with the construction industry for some time. In fact, I have been connected with it throughout my working life. The record of the construction industry is not perfect. No human institution is perfect, but we compare tolerably well with most other industries.

I should like to direct hon. Members' attention to the features of the construction industry which make relationships between workpeople and management and between men and their jobs extremely difficult. We all know, but very often we forget, that the weather is a most important factor in the industry's performance. The location of work is very important. Hon. Members should be aware of the multiplicity of wage rates, plus rates, extras for skill, extras for conditions, and the complicated wage structure throughout that great industry.

I mention these points because some hon. Members opposite have said that we should declare our interest, and my interest, which I now declare, is a lifetime spent working from the bottom up in the building industry. I am all for experience, but if declaring our interest means that we can only experience something if we have done it, then I point out to hon. Members that one does not have to lay an egg in order to know that it probably hurts the hen.

My predecessor, Mr. Hooley, was proud, as indeed I am, to represent part of the great City of Sheffield, one of our great industrial cities. Though we are diametrically opposed in politics, we take great pride in the craftsmanship and skill of the citizens of that great city which have made Sheffield known throughout the world. One way in which we can always recognise a person with some connection with Sheffield is that if he comes into our house as a guest, or into a restaurant, he will always look at the knives and forks to see where they are made. I can assure hon. Members that the Catering Department of the Palace of Westminster knows a good thing, for it has Sheffield cutlery on the tables.

After the General Election, knowing that our industrial relations proposals would probably cause some difficulty—if I may understate the position—and controversy, I went to the trouble of trying to establish relations with the trade union leaders in Sheffield who had written to me during the election campaign. I believe that there is no better way of understanding the other man's point of view or of enabling him to understand one's own than by getting a conversation or dialogue going. I was reinforced in this view when I read that our industrial relations proposals were being described as "a major attack on the rights of workpeople." I assure hon. Members that I would be no party to legislation that constituted a major attack on the workpeople of this country.

I therefore wrote to the trade unions—and I took this positive action entirely on my own account—asking whether they would meet me. I wrote as follows: I would like to suggest to you that at as early a date as possible, if you can arrange it, I have the opportunity of meeting a small, representative group of your members in order to exchange views with regard to the Conservative Government's proposals on industrial relations. I would suggest that any such meeting be private, and I would hope that it would lead on to other meetings, perhaps embracing wider trade union representation. I very much regret that I did not receive a reply.

One month later I wrote again, and to this letter I received the following reply: Dear Mr. Spence, Thank you for your letter and your previous letter of 21st July, 1970. It is receiving the attention of the Sheffield District Committee, and I will be communicating with you further in this matter. I have not received any further information. No one has been in touch with me, nor has my positive, constructive approach to the trade unions had any positive response on their side. I very much regret this, purely from the point of view of wanting to exchange information. I do not think that it is right for a person responsible for the affairs of other people not to want to meet the person with whom he may have a disagreement, and to be unwilling to allow himself to be educated by the facts. That was my sole purpose, and still is. All I asked for was an opportunity for timely discussion.

I now turn to the Consultative Document itself. It contains points and provisions which I, in all conscience, cannot possibly square with the charge that it is a major attack on the rights of our work-people. I cannot see that making it compulsory in law for employers to give recognition to trade unions constitutes such an attack. Nor can I see the stronger provisions against unfair dismissal constituting such an attack, nor the disclosure of more information by companies, nor the agency shop system. Nor do I see that causing management to take a good look at itself and accept its responsibiliteis—and there is management in trade unions too—is an attack on our workpeople. We all admit that there is some bad management in this country. I cannot see that this document is acting contrary to the best interests of the work-people.

This does not mean that there are not some points in the document in relation to which I have certain reservations. There are, and I would like to refer to one of them. My right hon. Friend has very kindly remained here while I am speaking and I draw his attention to this matter. Prompt decision making in the industrial relations process is of vital importance. I believe that a long-drawn-out hearing or delay only adds to the frustration and, worst of all, unless delay is avoided the inevitable consequence is that the workpeople involved will lose their faith in the industrial process itself. Therefore, the hallmark of the functions of the industrial tribunals must be prompt and speedy decision making, and that will go a long way, irrespective and regardless of the decisions themselves. My experience tells me that speed and promptness are even more important than the decision which comes out of the machine at the end of the day.

I deeply regret the necessity for legislation in this matter but I believe that the proposals cointained in the document create an opportunity for both management and trade unions to lead from the front and not, as has disgusted many of us in the past, and as we are experiencing at this, to attempt to lead from behind.

6.33 p.m.

Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

I am most grateful to you Mr. Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech in this important debate. I suppose that, because it is my maiden speech, I am not obliged to say overmuch about the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Spence), except that I enjoyed it immensely, especially the first part, and I look forward to hearing from him, as do other hon. Members I am sure, in the future.

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), I would like to say that my interests are quite clear. I have been a trade unionist for 20 years and for the past 10 years I have been an official of the National Union of Public Employees, until my election to this House. Therefore, I am keenly interested, as some of my hon. Friends are, in the contents of this document.

Before I turn to the document, I hope that the House will allow me to say something about my predecessor. I suppose that for some maiden speakers talking about their predecessors, whom they have defeated in a keenly fought election, can be something of an embarrassment. In my case, I have no such impediment because I succeeded Mr. Fred Blackburn, who represented Stalybridge and Hyde for the best part of 20 years. He was a very popular Member of Parliament, and I think that all hon. Members must know of his knowledge of procedure and the Rules of the House. He was held in great respect by hon. Members on both sides.

Mr. Blackburn was also respected in another way. It is not generally known in the House, perhaps, that he was a greatly loved man in his constituency. In the boroughs of Dukinfield, Stalybridge and Hyde and the urban districts of Longdendale and Tintwistle he was greatly loved because he cared about the problems of his constituents, and they regret very much that he had to retire. I hope they do not regret too much that I am here in his place.

I want to turn now to one or two aspects of the document, which is called a Consultative Document and which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) said, is no such thing. The Government have repeatedly stated that they have no intention of altering the major tenets of the Bill. Therefore, it must be seen by the way they have gone about their so-called consultations that they are stubbornly refusing to do anything about the major pillars of the Bill and that their aim is to rush it through as quickly as possible.

If the Government think that they have a mandate on this, then that really is wishful thinking. In June not one in a thousand electors knew the likely contents of the Bill, and since this document has been published I am sure that the percentage has not altered in any way. If the Government are really concerned about carrying out their mandate, they should look closely at the one issue which did get them into power—that is, they should act directly on costs and prices. If they were to enact that mandate, I am sure that all of us on this side and everyone in the country generally would be very much relieved.

The tragedy of this document is that it is a lawyer's document, written by lawyers, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said, for lawyers and without even a small element of practical application within it. To compare, as the Solicitor-General did—I heard him on Saturday—this document with the Donovan Report is absolute nonsense. The main proposals in Donovan are clearly in opposition to this document. The House knows it, and I am sure that the Solicitor-General knows it in his heart.

The Donovan Commission made a penetrating analysis of our industrial relations system, and its Report, issued after three exhaustive years of study and probing and sifting evidence, must be upheld as one worthy of consideration, and not the document before us now. The forerunner of the document was are discussing was not even "Fair Deal at Work" but a document written 10 years earlier by the Inns of Court Conservative Association. Those gentlemen, strangely enough, argued then, as now, that the unions had become too powerful for comfort. This crude and bigotted assessment, which cannot match the thoughtful and realistic evidence of Donovan, would make funny reading if it were not a serious issue.

The remedies suggested by the document's authors are clearly seen to be inappropriate to the problem. If the problem is strikes, why are the majority of workers, certainly the public service workers, who have, even by Tory Central Office standards, gone about their business almost strike free, to be subjected to this rigid framework? There is no answer. The dogma has bitten deep. The Tory Party was committed to this course of action long before Donovan's findings became known.

My one hope today is that it is not too late. Unfortunately, listening to hon. Members opposite one gets the impression that it is. It is curious, if not a little sad, that it is the Conservative Party that is prepared to wipe away 150 years of history by a few strokes of the lawyer's pen. It is true that we have not got our trade union structure right. This is one of the inevitable consequences of being first in the industrial revolution. I hope that hon. Members opposite and the House generally will recognise that the T.U.C. over the past few years has taken giant strides to put the position right.

The problem of horizontal structures in industry and the trade union movement will not be solved by the passing of a Bill of this kind. All the evidence suggests that we shall have not less but more unions and quasi unions if the Bill is passed. Therefore, by opening the floodgates of law the Government will undo the progress that has been made to verticalise and rationalise our union structures.

The basic premise from which the Government are operating is that, somehow or other, we are riddled with strikes. Again, the evidence is to the contrary. Professor Turner, of Cambridge University, says in his analysis that the United Kingdom has a lower strike incidence than any other major non-Communist country except Western Germany.

He concludes—and I agree— What is at issue is often not the effectiveness of the British system of industrial relations in general but that of the individual management's approach to labour relations, and the obsolete structures of collective organisation, industrial conciliation, and pay—in certain industries. If the Government are concerned about the weak parts of our industrial relations system, they should concentrate on getting both sides of industry talking about the real issues involved, those which really matter. Instead we are promised a legal Bill of mainly imported laws from North America. That would not be so bad, I suppose, if they worked over there. I shall try the patience of the House possibly by quoting the eminent American labour relations expert, Theodore Kheel: The Government's model for an industrial relations Bill as described in its Consultative Document, relies heavily on three American laws on labour relations. We Americans should be flattered even though significant parts of our system have been omitted. Perhaps we would if we were not in the middle of a strike at General Motors likely to break all records for time lost: if 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. Happily, the trade union movement has behaved throughout these difficult months for it with dignity and restraint, and even at the eleventh hour offers constructive and meaningful talks with the Government. It is not seeking a showdown. But I should warn the Government that if a show-down comes, the Conservative Party will find not the trade union movement it found when last in power but a trade union movement which is stronger numerically and certainly with more capable leadership, and more united—blue and white collar unions alike—than ever before in history.

Finally, as an ex-A.B.A. boxing champion, I say to the Solicitor-General, who spoke on Saturday of injecting Queensberry Rules into our industrial relations, that even under Queensberry if one leads with one's chin one will get knocked out.

6.44 p.m.

Mr. William Clark (Surrey, East)

It is a great honour to be back in the House after an absence of three or four years. I appreciate that I cannot ask the indulgence of the House to call myself a maiden, but while speaking about maidens, I must congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) on a forthright speech, if not a fighting one. It was a speech he had given a lot of thought to, and I am sure both sides of the House look forward to hearing him in the future.

I succeeded someone who was well known in the House, Charles Doughty, who will be sadly missed. But it is a great honour to represent East Surrey.

Let us put the whole question of industrial relations in its proper perspective. In the past six years we have lacked growth. That is why our standard of living, and so on, has not risen as fast as we all would like. There are various reasons for this, and one's view depends, I suppose, on which side of the political spectrum one happens to be. I think that the reason we have lacked growth is lack of investment, low investment, caused by penal taxation and a lack of confidence in the country.

When the Conservatives came to power in June of this year, they faced a grim economy, to say the least, with debts, high prices and the rest. Obviously the only way we can do anything is to get back to growth. Those who ask, "What are the Tories going to do about their promises, what about 'at a stroke', and the rest of it?" do not understand the full extent of the problem or the true nature of our policy. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not realise that the mandate which the Conservative Party put to the public before 18th June was a package deal. There is no one easy answer to killing inflation or controlling inflation. A variety of measures is needed. We must have more investment and tax incentives.

A major plank in our election manifesto was a commitment to reform industrial relations. With other measures, this will help to bring increased growth. To my mind, for too long the trade union movement has considered itself to be a sacred cow. When one talks of doing anything about industrial relations, people throw up their hands in horror and say, "You must not touch them." Yet everyone who knows anything about the subject realises that we must do something about industrial relations.

Let no one think that the Conservative Party, or the Government, are so to speak, "union-bashings". We are not union-bashing at all. The Statute Book holds more trade union legislation to the credit of this party than of any other. Hon. Members do not have to take my word for that. They can look up their Keir Hardie, because he admitted it.

We must all accept the necessity for reform in industrial relations. Even the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) accepts that, as, I am sure, do her hon. Friends on the Front Bench. I do not criticise the right hon. Lady for not carrying through her plan in "In Place of Strife". I do not necessarily agree with her hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman), who said that she would stand on her head, and that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) would be standing idly or tactfully by and not looking at her.

I criticise the last Cabinet—we need not mince words on this—who ran away from any industrial reform at all. I suppose that they did so for good reasons, in their view. But they ran away, and the consequence for the country has been the opening of the floodgates of wage demands, most of them precipitated by the militants within the trade union movement.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite may shake their heads, but they know as well as I do that, even since this Government returned to power, we have witnessed increased militancy within the trade union movement. Anyone who knows the trade union movement will know this to be true. The militants in the trade union movement realise that the Government are determined to bring some sort of order into the chaos. They know that, in the future, their militant unofficial activities will be restricted.

In this debate, one does not go into great detail. We shall do that when the forthcoming Bill goes into Committee, examining it line by line. But, taking the broad picture, the general tenor of the Consultative Document is to strengthen the authority of the official trade union leader. [Interruption.] It is no good baying and saying that it will strengthen somebody else. If hon. Gentleman read the document and understand it, they will see that this is what it will do.

In our country today, unfortunately, we are having to fight disruptive forces of one kind or another. [An HON. MEMBER: "Reds under the bed."] I am coming to that. One has only to look at Britain's strike record. In the first nine months of 1964, 1.3 million working days were lost. In the first nine months of this year, 7.4 million days were lost. I realise that, compared with the total number of days worked, that is not a large proportion, and I also know the argument about days lost through sickness—about 300 million days lost a year—but the essential difference, as all who have had anything to do with industry on the management side or the trade union side know, is that sickness does not halt production. Sickness may slow production but it does not halt it. The disruptive unofficial strike, on the other hand, halts production. Hon. Members opposite know this as well as I do, and we need not mince words about it.

There is in this country—I am coming to the talk about "Reds under the bed" now—a hooligan element, a disruptive element. If hon. Members opposite do not take my word for that, let them look at events in Northern Ireland. Let them take the last Home Secretary's word for it. There are hooliganism and disruptive forces in the universities. I believe that we have disruptive forces in industry too. No one will convince me or, I am sure, the general public, otherwise.

Last year, we saw the militants go through the docks. This year, they have already been through the motor car industry. It is not coincidental. Hon. Members opposite must recognise the facts as they are. We must be careful to ensure—this is a serious matter—that we do not allow the freedom which one has in a democracy to be used so that it can demolish democracy. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is a parliamentary way of debating.

Mr. Orme

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for being one of those who shouted across the Floor, but the hon. Gentleman is the sole provoker, putting his questions and remarks so directly to this side that we cannot resist making some response.

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is the place for provocation. The hon. Gentleman must contain himself.

Mr. Clark

I believe that the British working man—I say this in no airy-fairy way—is a decent chap. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] But he is lethargic, and one of the problems in the trade union movement today is that his lethargy permits others to take control. We must not allow intimidation and victimisation to take place, and I am glad that the Consultative Document shows that the Government intend to stop it. Many of us on this side know something about trade union matters. [HON. MEMBERS: "Really?"] We know something about the intimidation and victimisation which goes on, whether it be picketing people's homes, slashing a man's tyres, or the rest. This is where the secret ballot will be so valuable.

I am sure that most thinking people will welcome the secret ballot. At an open meeting, when the call is made for a vote on whether to strike, it is extremely difficult for the moderate to keep his hand down when all around him there are other chaps putting their hands up. The secret ballot will, I am sure, be a great advance.

The Consultative Document is geared entirely to what are termed unfair practices, unfair strike action, and the rest. [HON. MEMBERS: "What does it mean?"] It is no good asking what it means. If hon. Members opposite had read it, they would have seen a whole list of practices and procedures which are considered unfair. We must be certain, for example, that the so-called unfair strike pusher is penalised, not the victim. Unquestionably, no one reading the document with any understanding could imagine that lots of people will find themselves thrown into prison. That is absolute rubbish, and hon. Members know it.

The trade union movement is rather against change.

Mr. Torney

Change for the worse.

Mr. Clark

Not only that, it is out of touch with what ordinary trade unionists think. A recent Gallup Poll gave interesting evidence on this score: 75 per cent. of trade unionists asked were in favour of the implementation of an Industrial Relations Bill.

The new Bill, with its new courts and Code of Practice, protection for workers, and so on, can be considered in detail. The salient need is to have a different attitude of mind in industry. It is really a question of education. We cannot carry on stopping the means of production and then starting them up again. We are falling behind as a nation the whole time, and this is one of the reasons why we have not had the growth which we have so dearly needed in the last five years.

The trade union movement has an important part to play but, at the same time, it has a responsible rôle to fulfil. Trade unions must not be above the law. They must come within the framework of the law, and the Consultative Document foreshadows provision to that end which will put us on the right road.

One of the results of unofficial industrial action—I am sure that more and more trade union leaders are thinking this privately, whatever they say publicly—is that each time there is an unofficial strike led by unofficial leaders, it inevitably undermines the authority of the official trade union leader. The forthcoming Bill will put us on the right road in that respect, too.

As my right hon. Friend said, the Government's proposals will not solve all our problems overnight. The development of the right attitude of mind will take some time. But what I find so tiresome is that those who criticise the Government's suggestions have no alternative to offer. It is high time that we had some sort of organisation injected into the industrial chaos from which we are now suffering.

At the election, the Conservative Party put this issue fairly and squarely to the people along the lines of "Fair deal at work", and, on the basis of our manifesto, we were elected to carry through this part of our policy, never mind the rest for the moment. Let there be no mistake about it. Over 13 million people voted for the Conservative Party, and they were voting in favour of our manifesto. A very great many people—one has only to move among trade unionists to find this out—realise that the Bill is necessary. I am certain that my right hon. Friend will be determined, although we may change some of the detail in Committee, that the principle of the Bill will stand so that we may have order and put a stop to the present chaos.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Employment opened the debate, he made clear what would be the tactics of the Government during the next few months—to give the impression of being a reforming, pioneering Government trying to push us more into the second half of the twentieth century, with a dull and stubborn Opposition demanding that we stand still and make no progress. In order to do that, he said precious little about the contents of the document and implied that unless the Bill was passed, there would be no hope for industrial relations.

It is accepted that because trade unionism and its structure originated in this country there is scope for great improvement. I doubt whether my hon. Friends would suggest anything to the contrary. But we have seen substantial change. Tory Members always suggest that what they call the surrender at Downing Street in June, 1969, caused a huge increase in strikes. They should study a little more the efforts of those who want to reform the trade union movement, for they would then discover that what happened at Downing Street on that day, no matter what the intention was—I am not arguing that at the moment and I was not involved in the process then—was one of the finest advances which the trade union movement had made for many years.

Some of us who have been in the House for 25 years have been saying that until we have a trade union movement with a more powerful centre able to argue with the Government on equal terms, as it were—and as a Minister I met the Trade Unions Congress Economic Committee many times—and until that central body has the authority to argue and to make decisions, there will be little progress with the unions. That day at Downing Street the unions in conference with the Prime Minister agreed to give sovereignty to the T.U.C. to make major decisions on industrial disputes, and that was a great break-through, as the future will show. One hears silly piffle about surrenders, and yet what hon. Members opposite have been asking for—more structural change in the trade unions—has been occurring, and that does not match with what the Tories want us to believe they are interested in doing.

There is no future for a great representative movement which does not move with a fast-changing society. A political party which tries to turn the clock back beyond 1927 is also becoming a complete menace to the future of the nation. In the quarter of a century that I have been in the House, I have been a constant advocate of change in the structure of trade unions. I resent the implication that we are dedicated to standstill. That, I understand, is the only reason why Toryism is alive. It is because one desires to see change and progress in these vital matters that I deplore the contents of this document as about the most fraudulent prospectus since the South Seas Bubble.

One has to consider why the Government are persisting in this kind of thing. It is because during their days in opposition, actuated by party political motives, the present Prime Minister and his colleagues were constantly complaining about the dire consequences of inflation and attacking what they said were large increases in wages and salaries, while pledging themselves to reduce prices "at a stroke". Large sections of the community now believe that this document in some undefinable way is addressed to the solution of these problems. It is up to the Opposition to make it abundantly clear that from the beginning to the end of the document there is not one proposal which has the slightest relevance to any of the issues, including the size of increases in income agreed in negotiations, increases which the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State never tire of blaming on trade unions.

They must make up their minds what they are seeking to achieve. The activities of the Prime Minister when Leader of the Opposition are now producing an obvious schizophrenia in income matters, for a man who led his party into the Lobby on every trumped-up occasion he could devise against the limitation of increases in incomes is in a singularly weak position when trying to present logical arguments against large increases which are the alternative to the policies against which he voted and campaigned. He also has to face the consequences of his own contradictory policies when opposing the Labour Government's interference with incomes increases while blaming them for increased prices, and we are watching closely how the Government match up to the kind of criteria which they have laid down as the responsibility of Government.

This guilt complex has led the right hon. Gentleman into an astounding series of gyrations in which it seems that his only constraint is his refusal to be drawn into any constructive action while there is yet time to counter the inflation about which the whole nation is now concerned. Let us have a look at the gyrations. First, he rejects a statutory incomes policy on the ground that it is bound to contain an element of compulsion. He then refuses the T.U.C.'s offer of a voluntary incomes policy on the argument that without compulsion the T.U.C. cannot be trusted to make it work effectively.

He continues with his saga of laments about what he describes as the exorbitant size of wage and salary increases which flow from that free collective bargaining system of which he approves, while refusing to use conciliation when low-paid workers ask for their share of wage increases. This is the fantastic situation into which the right hon. Gentleman has manoeuvred himself.

No informed person would deny the need for constructive action to counter inflation, and my greatest indictment of the Government is that while the House is being forced to waste what will now be months of valuable time on the sheer irrelevances of what has been described as the major legislation of this Session, the real problems which the nation has to face are being utterly neglected by this weak and dithering Government.

The industrial issue upon which the Tory Party bemused the electorate was the number of working days lost in strikes. Its record to date is hardly an advertisement for its own effectiveness in that respect. If this type of legislation, which was paraded before us as the answer to the number of days lost to industry by strikes, is to be the answer to that kind of problem, when the Secretary of State in his document agrees that it can be effective only over a long period, it follows that the Tories have already given up hope of being able to do that which they implied at the General Election they could no: namely, to introduce legislation which would bring a speedy cure to industrial problems.

The contents of this document will not reduce the number of strikes. I do not believe that the Secretary of State thinks that they will. I should like to say what I think he is hoping they will do. He is hoping that as the unions take action to defend their members, they will turn unofficial strikes into official strikes and therefore find themselves in financial difficulties which will force them to call off strikes aimed at obtaining better conditions. My guess is that it will force the trade unions to do what they should have done, for other reasons, long ago; namely, increase contributions from members in line with the increases in income which they have received. I believe that we have been getting trade unionism on the cheap. If we are to have the kind of trade unionism I want, with large research facilities at our disposal and up-to-date knowledge on how to conduct ourselves in negotiations, this has to come about.

This Measure will bring about working to rule and working without enthusiasm. Any hon. Member who has had to deal with these matters will know that these are far more difficult to deal with than any strike action. The Solicitor-General's weekend speech has been mentioned. He gave as the Government's objective the creation of a set of Queensberry Rules for industrial relations. I am a keen spectator of the noble art of self-defence, although I do not get too near the ring, for obvious reasons. While I have a certain grudging admiration for the late Marquess of Queensberry, I have never thought him to be an obvious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am not a legal luminary, highly-paid for my efforts to preserve the peace. If we are creating a set of Queensberry Rules we must be presupposing a permanent and bloody battlefield. If we look at paragraph 13(c) we see that the objectives and the purpose of the Code would be to: encourage and promote the development and observance of orderly and peaceful procedures for resolving differences". Perhaps the Solicitor-General did not get beyond paragraph 7 of the introduction, which, in the light of the recent strike of local government employees, is a gem of revelation. It says: For its part, the Government will continue to encourage progress towards better industrial relations by the example it sets as an employer and by the help and encouragement it can give through its specialist services which provide advice and conciliate in disputes. I should think the right hon. Gentleman is wishing that he had not got that paragraph, since he refused to conciliate in the local government strike.

Paragraph 12(i) gives equal rights to join or not to join a trade union. That sounds wonderfully fair, but it is a direct negation of everything that the rest of the document purports to be about. This, within a document imposing legal penalties on trade unionists, is at best silly and at worst dangerous. A trade union officer's power to make an agreement whether he be full-time or a shop steward, lies in the fact that he speaks for the members of his union. He has no other power. His control over the implementation of that agreement is as strong or as weak as the number of people over whom he has control.

Deliberately to encourage the spread of non-unionism in factories where there is already a high proportion of trade unionists is to encourage the growth of that uncontrollable factor the presence of which will cause bitterness among trade unionists who have won agreements, threatening them with legal penalties if they try to remove that uncontrollable factor. To devise that kind of legislation is inimical to the best interests of not only the trade unions but the employers who will have to make arrangements with shop stewards or full-time officers.

If paragraph 12(ii) is read in conjunction with paragraph 138, in other words, when there is no bargaining agent—there appears to be a problem. I would like the Solicitor-General to tell me whether this would mean that non-unionists can negotiate with managements for their own conditions. We could then get to the situation—and I can conceive of nothing more inflammatory—in which there is no bargaining agent and non-unionists in a factory are negotiating conditions for themselves which may be inferior to the general conditions prevailing in that industry.

In paragraph 13 the word "encourage" is used, as though the proposals are voluntary. Paragraph 14 goes on to say: All those concerned with industrial relations would be expected to conform to the Code. It would not be directly enforceable". I am not a legal expert but I would like the Solicitor-General to tell me what this means. The word "encourage" is quite meaningless, without concrete proposals. My suspicion is that all the teeth would be provided for those who are trying to restrict the positions of the unions.

I have some questions on paragraph 21 and 22. As I read paragraph 21(a) it means that sympathy strikes are out, that those who are deemed to have organised an unofficial strike will find themselves before the court, as would an official who threatened a strike. Paragraph 22 refers to "unfair industrial actions". It would be an unfair industrial action to organise a strike or lock-out for that purpose or to organise or threaten any other concerted industrial action for that purpose, or to put pressure on an employer not a party to the dispute.

Those of us with experience in these matters know the way that these negotiations may finish up. I ask the House to take special notice of this question of a threat, for which people can go before the courts. If I have finished my negotiations with an employer and we have not managed to reach an agreement, the formula I can use is to register a failure to agree. It can mean the beginning of a strike. I am not only talking of agreements in being.

When hon. Members refer to shop stewards they do not seem to understand—perhaps they do not want to—that the shop steward has a day-to-day job to do interpreting the agreement. He would probably contest that he was trying to violate the agreement. I have made hundreds of agreements in which my interpretation was very different from that of the employer. Often I got to the point of saying, "Well, if you interpret it that way I am failing to agree." I would like the legal luminaries to tell me whether that could be interpreted as a threat of strike action. If it can, all hell will be let loose, certainly in the engineering industry, where this kind of negotiation has been developed to a fine art. I should be grateful if the Solicitor-General would give me an answer to these questions.

The main problem is that in the very nature of things the threat of a strike or lock-out is behind any negotiation. Over the years I have heard this House described as the alternative to civil war. If the Government were to construe every dispute as a declaration of civil war, discussion would not only become futile; it would become positively dangerous. Employers do not negotiate with shop stewards because they like the look of their bonny blue eyes. They do it mainly to keep industrial peace, and once the possibility of a strike is removed, and even the threat of it may be illegal, there is danger in discussion because a failure to agree may well be construed as a threat of strike action.

My assessment—and I have some experience of these matters—of the Government's document is that the Government are not interfering in the industrial battlefield to narrow the ground for differences; they are ensuring that the battleground becomes an even bloodier place to operate in than it is now. But perhaps they think that it is worth while in order to reduce the effectiveness of the tools which the trade unions dare to use in their efforts to win the battle. They throw in a couple of sweeteners to impress on the nation the illusion of sweet reasonableness and to show how they wish the trade unions well and then proceed to emasculate them. It is very like the sheik who displays his pleasure at the faithfulness of his eunuch by granting him the freedom of his harem.

There can be little doubt that a new era in the relationships between Government and trade unions is now opening. It will put back the clock as far as the infamous Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, which was conceived in viciousness following the General Strike. I earnestly hope that the trade unions and my party will use the period of this Parliament to work out a completely new relationship which can be implemented for the good of the nation. I know that in the Consultative Document it is suggested that trade union rules should be based on the good of the nation. I do not believe there is any lack of symmetry between that which is good for 50 million people and that which is good for 9 million trade unionists and their families. I believe that it is in harmony.

I do not wish to go into the question of prices and incomes: the House knows my opinion on that matter, and I still believe that we shall have a prices and incomes policy in a better form than before. But if we say in legislation that trade union rules must be based on the good of the nation we had better start looking in the board rooms of the employers as well. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Mr. Small)—and I give this as an illustration—has a Question down about a certain firm which sells crisps. It is coming up for its 27th prosecution for selling under weight. If we say that the rules of the unions must take the public well-being into account, why cannot we ensure that theft of that kind cannot go on? [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear what I said. I am talking about public representation in the board rooms of private enterprise. If there were such representation, cases of that kind could not arise. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are very tender when it comes to private enterprise. They do not mind savaging the trade unions, but when it comes to private enterprise it is a different kettle of fish.

I hope that the House will reject the Consultative Document. We on this side of the House have a task to show that we are not stopping a Government who are trying to deal with the great problem of inflation. From the beginning to the end of this document there is not one iota dealing with any of the major issues of the day. We have a cowardly Prime Minister who is cringing with his colleagues and waiting until there is no other course but to deflate so that they can create 1 or 2 million unemployed as their answer to the problem. For these reasons, my party and the trade union movement will fight for the rejection of the Consultative Document.

7.26 p.m.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

The right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) made a marvellous fighting finish to his speech, but he went completely wrong in seeking to show the difference between the way in which management is treated and the way in which trade unions will be treated. He said that some company—I do not know the company—was about to be prosecuted for the 27th time for selling under weight. The important point is that it will come before a court to be dealt with. There is no chance at the moment of certain practices of trade unionists ever being brought before the bar of justice or the bar of public opinion because trade unionists believe and insist that they are completely above the law and should remain so.

One of the main problems about this subject is that it is highly emotive. It arouses emotions such as those which have been displayed today. We shall not solve the major problems if we concentrate on the matters which separate us rather than on those about which we agree. The previous Government showed that there is common ground on this subject, and it would be much better if we were to start from the common ground between the two sides of the House.

Mr. Bob Brown

The hon. Member should make a short speech, then.

Mr. Mawby

The hon. Gentleman is a pessimist. I am an optimist.

The privilege of exemptions from the normal operation of the law was granted more than 60 years ago in entirely different circumstances. We in Parliament always consider that it is our job to try to keep the law in line with the demands of the moment. None of us would consider that an Act passed in the 1800s should be kept in its entirety no matter how things have since changed. We have to adapt ourselves to the present circumstances.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

The difficulty of the labour market has arisen, and still arises, from the fact that there are far more sellers than purchasers of labour. More than 100 years ago our forefathers were wise enough to see that it was necessary not to grant privileges but to grant rights which would bring the two parts of the labour market into balance. What the Government are now doing is introducing an imbalance which will cause anarchy in industry.

Mr. Mawby

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but he is leaving out an important factor. The hon. Gentleman talked about privileges and rights, but no privilege or right can stand on its own; it must be accompanied by responsibility. Once a group of people who enjoy a right or privilege are not prepared to carry out the responsibility that goes with it, that right or privilege becomes licence which may be used against the public interest. In this matter as in all other aspects of legislation, we have to ask ourselves whether there is need for amendment of a particular enactment, and I think this is common ground.

Economists put forward various reasons for our present difficulties. This year earnings have been between 8 per cent. and 10 per cent. higher than last year compared with a rise in productivity of between 3 per cent. and 4 per cent. We cannot accept this with equanimity.

Several hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have put forward solutions to this problem. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) had his own solution to the problem. I do not agree with that solution. It could result in widespread bankruptcies, particularly of smaller businessmen, and certainly in a considerably higher level of unemployment. We may talk glibly about free bargaining, but many wage increases have been obtained by nothing less than blackmail. A most disturbing feature is that over 90 per cent. of the strikes are unofficial. Can anyone say that the rises that have been granted have all been justified on a free collective bargaining basis? Have they not rather been obtained by a group of people being prepared to say, "Pay up or else"? Those who take unofficial strike action do so because they know that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The previous Government tried various ways—

Mr. David Stoddart

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the word "blackmail" is very provocative and is not justified if he thinks about the philosophy of himself and his hon Friends? Is not that philosophy one of a free market economy in which the seller charges what the market will pay? Is it not right, fair, and far from being a privilege, that the worker who has only his labour to sell should sell it at the highest possible price he can get bearing in mind the state of the market?

Mr. Mawby

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. The law of supply and demand is an unchanging factor and will continue to be so. Anyone who seeks to interfere with it does so at his peril. But what we are talking about is a group of people rigging the market and making it impossible for anyone else to supply the service which is required. This is why I say that we have lost the balance. We must keep a proper balance. When in the past there were instances of the market being rigged, why did we bring in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act? We did so to make certain that there would be no secret meeting of people involved in producing a particular product. There is no Restrictive Trade Practices Act applying to the trade unions, and I do not believe there should be. We are dealing with two entirely different things—materials and service, and human labour—and they must be treated differently.

It is no good anyone saying that the law of supply and demand is working properly; it is not. It is working in many cases on a rigged market basis, where the seller of the article—men's labour—is rigging the market and preventing the prospective purchaser from buying from any other shop. I do not say that it is wrong that the law of supply and demand should operate. It is the way in which industry has advanced. Management has tried to keep on its toes and move forward to meet the demands. The only result of a rigged market will be that the consumer will pay more money, because increases will be given which the industry knows full well cannot be absorbed. This is the main reason why the previous Government brought in their three Prices and Incomes Bills. They tried to build a dam to stem the tremendous demand, brought about mainly by the unofficial action of relatively small groups of people at key points, who demanded and got more than the market justified because they were in a position of tremendous strength. The dam had to be built higher and higher until finally the Government accepted that it was in ruins. All we have seen since then is even greater pressure.

The next step was the White Paper "In Place Of Strife". Although I did not agree with many of its provisions, I feel that it was at least an acceptance that there were problems and that steps had to be taken to make certain that the balance was right. However, the then Prime Minister, like the grand old Duke of York, marched his troops to the top of the hill, but no sooner had they got to the top then he marched them down again.

Mr. Ashton


Mr. Mawby

Before the hon. Gentleman intervenes, I might deal with the point he is about to raise by saying that the then Prime Minister marched them down because the T.U.C. gave a solemn and binding undertaking that it would operate a voluntary system which would be better than the provisions contained in "In Place Of Strife".

Mr. Ashton

Why then did neither the hon. Gentleman nor any of his hon. Friends vote for or against "In Place Of Strife"? If they thought so much of the proposals in that document, why did the Tory Party abstain when it came to a vote?

Mr. Mawby

Let me ask the hon. Gentleman a question. Why was there a Division on the White Paper "In Place Of Strife"? It was because the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) could not convince all her own right hon. Friends that it was the right thing to do. If that was the position, there is no reason for me to seek to interfere in that private battle.

I believe that that document was a contribution to the situation. The right hon. Lady and the then Prime Minister may have been right to say that the T.U.C. had given its solemn and binding word. I wish to pay a tribute to Vic Feather who, I believe, really desires to get something done. The fact that not much progress has been made is not for any want of trying on his part. I do not want anybody to get the idea in anything I say I am running down his tremendous efforts.

The only difficulty about the "solemn and binding undertaking" is that it has not worked. Minor changes may have been made following various discussions, but nobody would suggest that it is possible to operate a voluntary system when we recently saw on television an elected trade union leader leaving a meeting and being physically assaulted by his own members. I consider that there must be some change in the situation, and this is where we shall probably start going in different directions.

I thought the right hon. Lady did a disservice to a solution of the problem when she said that because the Consultative Document was produced by a Tory Government there was no point in even opening it, because she knew it must be bad. It is surely right to accept, first of all, that there is a problem, secondly that there are ways and means of solving it, and thirdly, that we should all seriously get down to tackling the problem. No doubt in the Committee stage of the Bill, which obviously will follow this document, there will be interesting, and probably acrimonious, discussions on various points, but it is going much too far to take the view that the House should not approve the Bill.

This is a matter that somebody must solve. If together we do not solve this problem, we are putting all our friends, neighbours and workmates into jeopardy in the future. I mentioned a little earlier the example of rises in incomes compared with rises in productivity, which situation must obviously lead to higher prices. A number of people are able to cushion themselves against such a rise, but the people who cannot protect themselves are the parents and grandparents living on fixed incomes and pensions.

Mr. Thomas Swain (Derbyshire, North-East)

Could the hon. Gentleman say which section of the Consultative Document deals with an increase in productivity arising from the introduction of this so-called Consultative Document or the Bill that will follow?

Mr. Mawby

The Consultative Document seeks to lay down a framework. The right hon. Lady made a strong point about productivity agreements when she said that such agreements, when genuine rather than "phoney", were the best way in which to make certain that the incomes in a particular industry could be increased without damaging any old person. But productivity agreements are not something to be written into the Consultative Document or a subsequent Bill, since they seek only to provide a framework and to bring back into balance a situation in which people will indulge in free collective bargaining and make certain that, as partners, they will get their fair share.

I believe the House has a duty that it cannot hand over to anybody else. In industry we talk all the time about the two partners, the employer and the employee; but if one allows the situation to continue one is damaging the third partner. The third partner, neglected by most of us, is the consumer. Not only is it us; it is also our parents and our grandparents, who are now living on fixed incomes and who, as I have said, cannot cushion themselves against inevitable rises in prices. Such rises will continue to be inevitable where wage increases are granted unjustifiably, and I believe that they are being granted unjustifiably because we have lost our sense of balance. We must create a situation in which people will be expected to carry on their normal activities. This does not take away the right of free collective bargaining, nor the right of the constitutional strike; but it makes it clear to everyone that they are expected to carry out the terms of their contract.

Although I do not agree with every word in the Consultative Document, I believe that it is a move forward in the direction in which we ought to be going for unless we are prepared to take this sort of action our nation will get deeper into greater problems.

7.48 p.m.

Mr. Edward Milne (Blyth)

The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) will not expect me to comment on his points too closely, but one point that needs to be taken up is the overall responsibility of those who produce the wealth of the nation for the wellbeing of the rest of us. In this debate it is useful to remember that never at any period in our history have the trade unions held in their hands the responsibility either for the economy or for the industrial wealth of the nation. The means of determining the type of Britain that exists has rested throughout history in hands other than our own.

When we talk about using this Consultative Document not only to produce good industrial relations and peace within industry, but to produce a balanced economy as well, as many hon. Gentlemen opposite have argued during the debate, we are failing to look at the logic of the situation. I say to the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in all fairness and in all seriousness that this debate and this document are not intended to assist the trade union movement at all. This document is intended to reduce the effectiveness, the efficiency and the authority of the trade union movement, and it will not produce the results that it is said it will.

There is nothing in this document that the employers could not get by putting their own house in order and producing the type of industrial relations within their industries that ought to be operating in the second half of the twentieth century. There is nothing which the right hon. Gentleman is trying to obtain by legally enforceable methods that could not be obtained by proper contact between both sides of industry. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is making a point at the moment, but I am not sure what it is.

Let us take one section of this document, and let the right hon. Gentleman answer this point. The right hon. Gentleman devotes four or five sections to trying to sort out the problem of unfair dismissals. Is he seriously arguing that an employer and trade union, working properly with each other, could not devise a system to prevent unfair dismissals? As the right hon. Gentleman must be aware, there are a considerable number of industries and firms in which procedures are in operation for dealing with the question of unfair dismissals.

If one looks at some of the suggestions that have been put forward as likely to lead to better industrial relations, one sees that the phrase that is bandied about a great deal is "plant bargaining". If we could only have plant bargaining and discussions at factory or workshop level, everything in the garden would be lovely. We do not want great national agreements. But what have right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite been doing in the industrial field in the whole of its historic process? They have been building up mergers and monopolies which have made the people at plant and factory level far too remote from the people who employ them. A great deal of the trouble in industry arises, not from the intransigence of people who have been described as militants, not from the intransigence of people who want to stop working on the slightest pretext, but from the fact that those who employ labour are far too remote from the people they employ and the processes used by them in the course of their daily activities.

We are faced with the situation in this debate, and in industry, that the Government are heading headlong for disaster because, having failed to take the people into their confidence, and, indeed, having failed even to attempt to do so, they have moved ahead on the basis of this document, and we have been promised by the Leader of the House that the Bill will be ready on 8th December and that then the battle on this issue will start.

At Question Time today the Prime Minister talked about the greater number of disputes that had taken place in the last year, and he went on to use a significant phrase which the right hon. Gentleman and other spokesmen on the benches opposite have used. He said that these had taken place "in spite of what the T.U.C. has done". Despite what some right hon. Gentlemen opposite have said, in reorganising itself to meet the challenge of the day and age in which we live the T.U.C. has done a magnificent job, and if one looks at the Donovan Report one sees that the strongest criticism levelled against anyone for the failure to deal with the problem of industrial relations is levelled at the employers' organisations and federations. In fact, Donovan said that one reason for the decline in industrial relations in the last 20 years was the manner in which employers' organisations and federations had ceased to make any recommendations for improving industrial relations.

On the basis of the Donovan Report I do not think it unfair to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the last Royal Commission on Industrial Relations was in 1906, and that until the return of the Labour Government in 1964 there was no thought of a Royal Commission to study the problem, and there was no thought of even asking trade unions to put their house in order, as people are so prone to shout at the moment. The Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Labour in a previous Conservative Government, had an opportunity to institute such an inquiry but he failed to do so, and when, later, he was reminded that the opportunity existed for such a step to be taken he failed to take the necessary action on that occasion, too. It therefore ill becomes the occupants of the Front Bench opposite to lecture the trade union movement about its responsibilities in the industrial field.

When we look at the question of lost opportunities, when we look at the question of the alternatives with which we are being provided, and when we look at the issue with which we are faced today, that of noting this document, the next stage of our thinking has to be based on the fact that when this document becomes a reality—which it will only after a bitter fight both inside and outside the House of Commons—when it is placed on the Statute Book, it will not work anyway. These provisions are not the way to get industrial peace in Britain.

Mr. Wellbeloved

My hon. Friend was kind enough to join me in putting down an Amendment calling for the repeal of any legislation based on this document. Would not he agree that the brilliant and devastating case presented by our right hon. Friend from the Front Bench this afternoon calls for a clear statement in the winding up tonight that a Labour Government will repeal any legislation based on this document?

Mr. Milne

I was coming to this point. If the Bill became law, it would not work, because this is not the way to deal with the complex procedures of industry and management, either from the trade union side or from the employers' side.

This also was strikingly illustrated in the Donovan Report by the evidence of the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour at the beginning of the war on the now famous, or infamous, Betteshanger decision, when long, complicated legal procedures had to be invoked to deal with people seeking economic and industrial justice, as the Secretary of State knows, because he is better versed in these matters than he sometimes sounds at that Box—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—after all, I am paying him some tribute.

One cannot dig coal or unload ships by passing legislation or taking legal action against the people who do the job. One can only get the productivity and industrial response which is desired by creating the type of society which gives the right climate. It is no use preaching the doctrine of one nation and then practising the opposite in the operation of the economy. So long as a small handful of people own and control the wealth of Britain so long will there be difficulties with industrial relations. This cannot be put into a compartment, and in the rapidly changing world of today, it will become increasingly difficult to do so.

While we take note of this document, we must underline that the document is an ineffective answer to the industrial problems of the second half of the twentieth century. But if the Conservative Party get their way—as I believe they will—and the Bill reaches the Statute Book, it will not solve our problems. We will still have to try to sort out these issues. I hope that we will hear from our Front Bench not only that we will have nothing to do with this document, but that any legislation springing from it will be repealed by a Labour Government.

8.4 p.m.

Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)

I was interested to hear the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) talking about the harmony of interests and needs of the 9 million trade unionists in this country with the 50 million voters in this country. He is quite right: there is a considerable harmony of interest. The 50 million voters have just shown what their opinion is about this with a very clear mandate to the Government to legislate.

The Daily Mirror, which is not a noted Conservative newspaper, conducted the biggest public opinion poll ever conducted among trade unionists. It found that 74 per cent. favoured legally binding contracts and 73 per cent. cooling-off periods. So one can agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is a substantial community of interest and much greater agreement in the country among ordinary people and trade unionists with what we propose than is apparent in this House.

But there is one thing on which I am certain all hon. Members will completely agree. That is that the forum for taking decisions like this is here. It is not elsewhere. Hon. Members opposite will agree that we must not allow Members of Parliament, the House or the Government to be pressurised and intimidated by industrial action elsewhere to take steps which the House of Commons has not chosen and endorsed.

I was therefore particularly pleased to see that Victor Feather the other day condemned the proposed one-day strike on 8th December. I hope that hon. Members opposite, particularly their Front Bench spokesmen, will endorse that responsible attitude. I also hope that they will dissociate themselves from those Labour Parties which have been distributing leaflets in factories and offices urging people to use industrial action on 8th December. This has been happening in Basingstoke. I invite the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who is to wind up for the Opposition, to dissociate his party from that action.

The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) referred to the Secretary of State as pushing on and ignoring what his friends in industry told him. I found that a fascinating remark. If my hon. Friend listens to what industry tells him, then he is kow-towing to the capitalists. If he does not, but pushes on and does what he believes is right and as he has a mandate from the country to do, that is not acceptable to the right hon. Lady either.

A fascinating situation is developing. Just as workers are being fed a twisted account of what these proposals will mean, so many members of the public are getting an exaggerated idea of their effect. I agree with those who have said that the number of working days lost may not fall, certainly not dramatically, but that is not the key. The key is how much production is lost.

In the car industry, three times as many working days are lost as the number of those on strike, and in September this year, no less than 30 per cent. of our total car production was lost as a result of industrial action—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about General Motors?"] In the United States, they do lose as many or more days, but they lose them at the end of a contract, and everybody knows when the contract will run out. The factory works overtime beforehand and the wholesalers stock up with a product. They may have a bigger and better strike, but it does far less damage to the company and its products. The sales and production managers can then plan ahead three years' uninterrupted production, knowing that they will not have a whole string of disruptive strikes on their hands.

Look at the difference between that and British Leyland, which, ever since it was formed as the biggest British car and lorry manufacturer, has had only 14 days without a strike somewhere in the outfit. One cannot go on with that sort of situation.

I received a letter from a constituent, a trade unionist, urging me to condemn and reject the whole Bill and everything in it. As an ex-T. and G.W.U. member, I cannot do that. Indeed, I welcome the Bill. I welcome the new right and remedy that a worker will have if he is unfairly dismissed. [Laughter.] Do not hon. Gentlemen opposite welcome that? It is certainly not a laughing matter.

I welcome the extended notice to long-service employees, as do many trade unionists in my constituency. I welcome the right to force an employer to disclose information necessary for bargaining purposes. I welcome the modern and civilised procedures to secure union recognition. We have had strikes in my constituency about this, and people in my area welcome this proposal. I welcome the protection that will be given to people against an employer who discriminates against a man for being a trade unionist. It is high time that such a law appeared on the Statute Book.

I welcome the giving of a statement of what he is to do when a worker has a grievance. There are many thousands of workers particularly in the motor industry who will welcome the prospect of receiving some relief from suddenly being thrown out of work because a factory does not have sufficient parts to carry on working.

Some people have suggested that these proposals will change the whole pattern of industrial relations. I do not believe this for a moment. I do not think that one can change overnight the way in which men and management, shop stewards and foremen, do business with each other. What we can do is to raise the standard of the small and disruptive minority to that of the majority.

I will give a few examples of how this legislation will operate with enormous advantage to the country as a whole. First, there is the question of rules, about which much has been said today, and I note N.A.L.G.O's helpful statement about this. The T.U.C. has carried out the most exhaustive study of union rules ever to have been made and has, as a result, decided to issue recommendations to member unions to modernise their rules.

But while recommendations can be issued, the T.U.C. does not have power to enforce them. We have a situation in which the T.U.C. has itself accepted that the Government's case is impeccable and that there should be a modernisation of trade union rules.

My second example arises from a remark made by the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), when he said that he had made many agreements about which his interpretation had been very different from that of the employer. This is one of the main difficulties. Here we have a responsible and respected trade union official making agreements which he admits will be given a totally different interpretation by employers from his. How can one possibly expect not to be faced with difficulties of interpretation if the two sides to an agreement are not agreed about what it means? To have a binding agreement, both sides must know what they mean, and for an agreement to be binding, both sides must enter it being careful that they are sure of its content.

My third example is the attitude of the trade unionist and shop steward. In the vast majority of cases, union officials and shop stewards are responsible; but, to a minority, an unofficial strike is a means of negotiating, and in many cases although officials may say publicly that they do not agree with unofficial action, privately and in reality they wholeheartedly approve of it [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]

I refer hon. Gentlemen opposite who shout "Rubbish" to what was said by their hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) in the deliberations of Standing Committee A on the Trade Union and Trade Dispute Act, 1965. The hon. Gentleman, who is a member of the Clerical and Administrative Workers' Union and of the N.U.T., admitted what I have said and what hon. Gentlemen opposite describe as "Rubbish". I trust that they now accept that my remark was not a total invention.

Unions often sit on the fence and frequently do not make pronouncements on what shop stewards and local officials do. Under these proposals unions will have to get off the fence and say whether or not they support certain actions. This will be of enormous advantage. Those who act without authority will be in trouble for inducing unofficial disputes and, in the case of a binding agreement, the union and its officials will have to do as Ernest Bevin used to do—[!nterruption.] He is one of my heroes, having been the general secretary of my union. If one made an agreement with Ernest Bevin one knew that it was a sound agreement and that he would use his best endeavours to see that it was kept. That is what the unions will have to do when they make binding agreements in future, and this, too, will be in the best interests of the nation and industry.

There are certain points which I hope the Minister will clarify. First, will the Bill provide that compensation given when an employer sues an individual or a registered trade unionist will be reduced if there was provocation? In other words, will the damages or compensation be reduced when there is provocation on the other side, from the employer? It is important that we have an answer to this question.

Secondly, will there be court fees for appearances before the court or industrial tribunal to ensure that frivolous litigation does not occur? In the United States it has been found that a substantial number of frivolous claims have been put to the Railway Mediation Adjustment Board with the result that there is a four-year delay in getting a judgment from that Board.

Thirdly, how will the agency shop proposals operate in practice? I wholeheartedly support the "Quaker" provision, but what about the non-trade unionist in a shop who pays his full subscription to the union under paragraph 155? What will he get? Either he will get union representation confined to collective bargain-making or he will have continuous representation as long as he works there. Which of these two will apply?

What flows from this will be of substantial importance. If he is paying to the union for collective bargaining on his behalf, then he will be paying subscriptions in full throughout his working time in a plant for the union once every three years working on his behalf in collective bargaining arrangements. This may not be attractive to people. Indeed, I believe that it will appear extremely unattractive to many of them.

On the other hand, if he will be entitled to the full representation of the union, a different and difficult situation will be created, because if he is paying the union to do something for him, he is entitled to expect to get what he is paying for. This may sound complicated, but I see the prospect of continuous litigation, if this latter alternative is the proposal, between the individual who is not a member of a union and the union concerned, about whether the individual has been equally treated and properly representted in, for example, promotion, seniority, or disciplinary actions concerning wrongful dismissal.

I can see a field day here for the barrack room lawyers. [Interruption.] I said that this was a complicated matter. I am sure that it is not the intention of my right hon. Friend to create the difficulties I have described, and I therefore urge him to clarify the position and explain precisely what his intentions are.

I would respectfully ask my right hon. Friend: having cleaned up some of the dustier corners of the trade union movement with his proposals for registration, would it be so very alarming if we were to accept the idea of a post-entry union shop which would enable these people to have an influence on the affairs of the union which would be conducting negotiations on their behalf?

I urge my right hon. Friend to make a public statement clarifying and re-clarifying the position on picketing. What are a picket's rights? What can pickets do? What are the police instructions? What are the penalties for breach? Hon. Members opposite may not be concerned about this but the public are very concerned. We had the case only last week of a responsible trade union leader who was kicked in the groin and suffered a hernia as a result. That sort of conduct is something about which there is widespread uneasiness, and I hope the opportunity will be taken before long to make a statement on this aspect of union activity.

I very much welcome the Consultative Document.

8.20 p.m.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

The Liberal approach to the debate is summarised in our Amendment, which has not been selected. I should, of course, have preferred to have spoken to that Amendment and voted on it, but as it has not been called it will be fairly obvious to most hon. Members that I, having to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea, will vote for the Government Motion and against the Opposition Amendment.

The Liberal approach to today's industrial problems has behind it an honourable history. It is as true today as it was in 1949, when Lord Beveridge wrote his foreword to the Scott-Cairns Report: The Liberal Party needs no testimony to its sympathy with the trade union movement. The party that looks back to the Trade Union Act, 1871, which has always been known in trade union history as the charter of trade unionism; the party that looks back to the Trade Union Act, 1913, which gave the trade unions the right to use their funds for political purposes, does not have to apologise to any hon. Members on this side for voting against an Amendment which is filled with cant.

My own interests can be found, as is the normal practice in the Liberal Party at least, in a roll kept in the Liberal Whips Office. But I declare an interest as an adviser, and I derive an income from it, to a national trade union affiliated to the T.U.C.; as a director of a firm involved most of the time in industrial psychology, and, perhaps, as a member of the London Metal Exchange, which has some cause for alarm over the General Motors strike and its effect on the price of copper.

What I find incredible is the extraordinary length of time that has elapsed before we have got down to the reform of industrial relations. Very shortly after the Second World War the Liberal Party set up the Scott-Cairns Committee, and in the 1950 assembly of the party we called for a Royal Commission on trade unions. The Scott-Cairns Report was largely the basis of our evidence to the Donovan Commission, and to a large extent the evidence we put to that Commission coincided with what came out at the end of the discussion process.

We are now debating a Consultative Document: we are not debating a Bill. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell) seemed to be in some doubt about what we were debating. I may well have reservations about the Bill when it is published, but we are now very largely debating the Consultative Document. Quite honestly, no one who reads the document with an open mind can accuse the Government of union bashing. Whatever may have been said in the election campaign by some Conservatives, and notably by the Prime Minister, the document as it is today—and I hope that I shall not make the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State blush by saying it—bears the hand not of the Prime Minister, not of the backwoods Tory, but of a reasonably civilised and rational human being. Frankly, the Labour Amendment which speaks of the document being motivated by hostility to the trade union movement strikes the reasonable man as utter nonsense.

The right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said that to give an individual the right not to be a member of a trade union meant that this document was to be called a blacklegs' charter. To say that seems to me to be utterly monstrous, and I hope that she will have the statesmanship—by which word she dignified a lady's privilege to change her mind—to change her mind. The need for law is the main issue of contention, and the central issue is whether there is a case for law in industrial relations.

In the very first page of the White Paper "In Place of Strife" we have: The role of Government in industrial relations. In the next two pages is a concise argument for the rôle of law in the trade union movement. We read: The need for State intervention and involvement in association with both sides of industry, is now admitted by almost everyone. It is absolute hypocrisy for anyone who has put his or her name to a document containing passages like that, as did the right hon. Lady in January, 1969, now to challenge the Government's right to involve themselves in the process of law.

One could compare the argument here with the argument about race relations, when some who are now on the Government side said that we should not bring the law into the sphere of race relations, whereas many now on this side argued that we had to put the law on the side of right in this matter even if it were not effectively used. The same argument can be used here.

I should like to question the Secretary of State about an item on page 3 of the Consultative Document, where it says that reference to the N.I.R.C. and also to the I.T.s should be easy. I hope that reference will be easy and cheap, and that we shall hear something from the Solicitor-General about legal aid. It will be extremely important to ensure that the process of law is not too expensive to be used by individual members of trade unions, individual employers, small firms and small trade unions to take advantage of.

My major reservation about the document relates to that part dealing with the enforceability of collective agreements. Here one can do no better than to quote from what Lord Donovan said in another place on 18th March, 1969. He stated: to go on representing to the nation that a solution to our problems in the industrial field lies in making collective agreements legally enforceable, while at the same time ignoring all the attendant difficulties and the lack of reason, is not merely misleading but has become tiresome."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, House of Lords, 18th March, 1969; Vol. 300, c. 850.] I will not complete the quotation. It is probably fairly familiar to the right hon. Gentleman, and it is a great stumbling-block in his document.

The Solicitor-General tonight and the Government in general will have to offer much stronger arguments in favour of making collective agreements enforceable, and, in particular, they will have to tell us exactly how they will get round the problem of what happens when someone refuses to pay up the compensation. Is there to be a procedure for contempt of court? If so, what kind of penalty will that carry?

My second reservation is about the cooling-off period. I hope that the Solicitor-General will be able to answer the argument that those of us who have any knowledge of the American situation have gleaned. It is that the cooling-off period all too often has become a hotting-up period, a period for planning the industrial action which is to be taken more effectively at the end of it as a result of planning. We need a clear answer on this, because I am by no means argued into agreeing with this proposal.

Perhaps the most important reservation that I have is about the effect of the document generally on strikes. Will it stop any strikes at all? I very much doubt whether there will be fewer strikes as a result of the document. In America, where a large part of this has already been brought into play, there are undoubtedly far too many strikes.

Some hon. Members opposite have pointed out that the General Motors strike—the typical American strike—happened at the end of a contract when everybody knew that it was happening. We cannot afford to accept strikes just because they happen every three years rather than every three months, every six months or every year. Strikes are bad for the economy and for our society whenever they occur. We cannot happily sit back and accept the kind of strike that General Motors has just had.

Making contracts without trust is useless. Efforts can be made to enforce them, but if trust is not created, unfortunately they will be unenforceable. We must create a unity of interest in industry.

Here again, I have some criticisms of the tenor of the document, but they are no greater than the criticisms that I had of "In Place of Strife", because both documents were conceived in terms of "us" and "them". They were conceived in terms of a battle, in terms of a conflict. It is the conflict that we in the Liberal Party wish to put an end to.

We shall solve this problem only if we go beyond to an industrial democratic partnership. We cannot get there by holding to the tenets of capitalism and socialism as they have been known in Britain for 100 years or more. To create a society in which the interests of capital and labour are one is an essential aim of the House and of the nation.

Profit-sharing must become a major part of industrial remuneration. Ownership of industry must be spread to make management as much responsible to employees as it is now to shareholders. Employees must have an equal right to elect the board of directors.

The Opposition Amendment mentions a "trend towards industrial democracy". Hurray!—but democracy needs institutions, and sound institutions as we at least have taught the world. If we do not have those institutions, democracy becomes anarchy. The Consultative Document talks on page 3 about "effective means of communication". Here again, where does this lead?

The claim for further industrial democracy and the claim for further means of communication lead inevitably to the establishment of statutory works councils in every company with at least 50 employees, because they would then become major institutions for the advance of democracy in industry and major institutions in plant productivity bargaining. We must ban national productivity agreements. There is no such thing as a national productivity agreement. Productivity cannot be negotiated for every engineer from John o'Groats to Land's End. Work councils could become a major channel of communication. That is why we must have them.

Is this all hopeless idealism? I do not believe that it is. Many European countries have already legislated this into their industrial practice. Both the Government and the Opposition, in looking for examples, have looked to the wrong countries. They tended to look towards America and towards Australia, where the strike record is bad. Germany, Sweden and the Scandinavian countries, where the strike record is magnificent, have already introduced these schemes into their industrial system, particularly in the German steel industry.

My most significant reservation is that the Government proposal does not go far enough. It builds on the existing system. It builds on conflict. It seeks to make the system work. The system is all "old hat". It has been passed by by time, and we must move on. Let us not wait another 20 years before these ideas of industrial democracy, these ideas that can set our industrial relations on the right road, are accepted, otherwise we shall have lost millions of work-days and thousands of millions of pounds of gross national product.

The document does not really start on that road. It falls short of what is needed. But if it will not do much good, it will not do much harm. It will not stop strikes. It will not—with apologies to many hon. Members opposite stop inflation. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has ever suggested that it will, but many of his hon. Friends seem to be under the illusion that it will. It will certainly not stop inflation. But it has less cant and less hypocrisy in 27 pages than the Opposition Amendment has in six lines. That is why I shall vote against the Amendment and for the document, as a start.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Philip Holland (Carlton)

I never imagined that if I were fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair this evening I should be able to follow an hon. Member opposite with whom I could be in so much agreement. At least, I agreed with the first part of what the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) said, and with his final sentence.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether there should be legal aid for those going to the Industrial Tribunals or to the National Industrial Relations Court, and whether those bodies should be cheap to go to. I, too, hope that they will be so, I hope that the Industrial Tribunal, to which the individual would tend to go, will be so informal that he could put his own case and have it understood, because there were people on the tribunal who understood the nuances of industrial relations and what it was about better than a purely legalistic body. I hope that individuals or their trade union representatives could plead with them without having to bring in the lawyers. I hold no brief for the lawyers, who are capable of pleading their own case. I would rather see at least the Industrial Tribunal remaining clear of the lawyers and not providing a field-day for them.

Because the Government propose a package deal designed to bring a little order out of the growing industrial chaos, which is apparent from the Press, they face in the House and outside a barrage of synthetic wrath based on the shifting sands of fantasy, with just a few crystalline grains to make it plausible. There is always a tendency for both the promoters and the opponents of a policy to make at least mildly exaggerated claims for it or against. We have heard both from both sides of the House during this debate. Let us beware that in following our little fantasies we do not lift both feet off the ground at the same time.

What are the terrifying proposals that will force managements and unions alike into policies that they do not want to pursue? The one most frequently mentioned tonight is the proposal for legal machinery to be used as a measure of last resort. Let us not forget what is meant by "last resort". Surely it means "when all else has failed", when the parties have failed to reach agreement, when normal voluntary procedures have failed, when the conciliation officers of the Department of Employment have failed, when in some cases, like the recognition disputes, the new expanded statutory Commission on Industrial Relations has failed. There is a case for saying that in those circumstances there should be a measure of last resort available as a long-stop to intervene only in those cases where there is complete deadlock.

How serious a threat to the voluntary system is the proposal to enable the Secretary of State to seek an injunction from the N.I.R.C. for a cooling-off period, and to hold a secret ballot in circumstances of a national emergency? I have been assailed at meetings by members of managements who ask why there should not be a secret ballot before any industrial dispute begins. On the other hand, I have been assailed by trade unionists who say that a compulsory secret ballot could mean that in, for example, the National Union of Mineworkers the rules might be changed so that a simple majority would operate instead of the two-thirds majority now required when a secret ballot is held before a national strike.

As the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) knows, I have coal mines and branches of the N.U.M. in my constituency. I hope that no union with a good, well-tried constitution, with rules that have been evolved for good and adequate reasons, would be foolish enough to change them just out of pique. I do not think it would.

I have also bluntly told management that unless industrial action is likely to create a national emergency there is no case for the Secretary of State to intervene or for compulsion in the conduct of a secret ballot. In many of the smaller disputes such a procedure would be totally inappropriate. In others, a ballot conducted because it is an agreed union procedure, as it was in the case of the N.U.M., is infinitely more effective, because it is the voluntary wish of the union, than it would be if it were imposed by a Secretary of State.

To the managements who say that the package deal proposed in the document will interfere with their rights to manage—as some of them are saying—the answer is that it cannot if they pursue enlightened personnel policies. This was a point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), when he spoke of the remoteness of management from employees. This is partly due to the rapid growth of the complexity and size of modern industrial undertakings. But what industry must try to do, because the workshop manager does not have the opportunity now to keep in close touch with the employees as he could in the industrial revolution, is to interpose the new science of personnel management. This practice is uneven at the moment. We have to make it more even and encourage managements to pursue much more enlightened policies and in some cases to take the worst to the level of the best.

To trade unionists who think that the package deal will restrict their activities, the answer is that it will not if they conduct their affairs constitutionally and responsibly. Indeed, the truth is that those on both sides of industry who behave responsibly, who pursue good industrial relations policies, will hardly know that there is any change in the law at all. The whole purpose of the package deal is to raise the lowest standards to the average and the average standards as near as possible into line with the best practice.

I cannot see that such an objective can be evil. For me, the major instrument in achieving this objective must be the code of good industrial relations practices, and I was naturally somewhat disappointed when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, replying to a Question from me on 12th November, indicated that it would not be possible to draft such a code in time to feature as a Schedule to the Bill when it is published before Christmas. I am glad to know that he places a fairly high degree of priority on this task and that he promises that its publication will not be unduly delayed thereafter. The sooner we get it published the better, although I hope that it will be after full consultation. I do not know what consultations are going ahead. Perhaps we can be told about that in the reply tonight.

As I understand the proposals in the document taken as a whole, I believe that they seek to protect the individual employee from bad employers or from vindictive fellow workers. They seek to take the unpredictability factor out of business planning. They seek to enshrine in the law a man's inherent right to work in the employment for which he is qualified and where there are vacancies. They seek to strengthen trade union organisations and improve the quality of collective agreements. They seek to raise standards of personnel policies. They seek to encourage the growth of procedural agreements at plant level, and as a procedural man myself in industrial relations, I see that as being all to the good, and I welcome it.

So I believe, despite the loud and rather synthetic noises being made now, that when these proposals reach the Statute Book individual employees and trade unionists will quickly find many ways of using the new framework of the law to their real advantage. I have no doubt that today, in spite of the opposition aroused, organised labour is already planning usages which will be greatly to its benefit.

Of course the Labour Party objects to the Government introducing such a sensible measure for the benefit of all who work in industry and the improvement of the machinery of industrial relations. But hon. Members opposite must not fool themselves into believing that their objections amount to anything more than that.

It seems to be assumed by some hon. Members opposite and by some trade union leaders that legally enforceable collective agreements will be wholly good for employers and wholly bad for the trade unions and employees. I know from my personal experience how often legally enforceable grievance procedures would have been to the great advantage of the trade unions and the employees.

Within the last year I have attended a local conference in the engineering industry as an adviser. That conference would never have happened if a redundancy procedure agreement had been legally enforceable, simply because greater care would have been taken by the plant management not to put the company's funds or reputation publicly at risk in the courts. But the management was careless. If the agreement had been legally enforceable, it would not have been so careless.

I believe that the greatest benefits will accrue from the machinery of the courts, not because it is used but because, like Mount Everest, it is there as a long-stop. I see the proposals in the Consultative Document in the light of opinion formers. As such, they can do a lot of good.

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw raised on a point of order, good or bad, at the beginning of the debate that he hoped that all hon. Members declare their financial interests, which a number have. I have no financial interest but a sincere working interest, in that I have worked full time in industrial relations in the personnel field, and I now work part time in the same field. It is in my interest to try to ensure that we have better industrial relations and personnel policies in industry today, because it makes my job easier. I am anxious to see a general improvement in standards of personnel management. I am also anxious to see industrial relations conducted through a formalised system of fair and agreed procedures.

Mr. Kinnock

Since I accept, and I think that the House accepts, the hon. Gentleman's genuine desire to improve industrial relations and speed procedures, would he not agree that clause 1 of the engineering procedures is a major cause of strikes in engineering, and that he and his party could do more to improve industrial relations, especially in that specific industry, by getting rid of a clause which asserts that management has the right to manage?

Mr. Holland

I would have thought that management, since it employs, has the right to manage. But I should like to see clearly the rights of management in every plant procedural agreement, and not only the rights of management but the rights of unions and shop stewards clearly defined in the plant agreement. I would tell the hon. Gentleman that I have drafted plant agreements on behalf of companies putting those rights into agreements which have been accepted as fair by both sides.

I am trying to speak fairly quickly because many hon. Members wish to speak. We can become sidetracked if we go into details.

I want to see a vast improvement in the methods of communication between managements and employees. I want to see a willingness on both sides of industry to consult. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Cornwall, North insist on having proper works councils. A lot can be done to develop consultation through the works council system as well as negotiating bodies with organised labour.

That is what the Consultative Document is all about. I believe that it will be effective, and I support it.

8.47 p.m.

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I am happy to follow the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) because, having sat through the whole of the debate, I found his speech a good deal more thoughtful than those of some of his hon. Friends who preceded him. As I listened to them, I finally understood why his right hon. Friend had found it necessary to introduce a document of this kind to the House. The right hon. Gentleman's argument was narrowly based, like that of the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell), who could only cite, in reply to questions from this side, one industry, which we all know has a built-in vulnerability. Anyone who is remotely aware of the complex wage structures of the car industry would have expected him to cite that industry, but it is one that deserves sympathy, not indictment. It is certainly not an industry which ought to be identified with the whole British economy.

Most of my hon. Friends could not recognise at all the picture that the right hon. Gentleman painted for us earlier this afternoon.

The Secretary of State's whole general treatment of strikes had no regard to the nature of our economy, to its changing structure, its changing scale, its changing quality and temper. There was no attempt at an index, no attempt at measurement, no attempt at international comparison. I suppose that this explains why the right hon. Gentleman has eagerly seized on a punitive rather than a constructive approach, and why he has gone to the United States for his model, not basing his Bill upon the findings of a Royal Commission which spent three years analysing our own economy.

The principal findings of the Royal Commission was that we should prize our heritage of industrial relations, its voluntary character, and the present framework of industrial relations. It is one of the great glories of this country. It has been copied throughout the world. Where it has been copied and then replaced by legalism, we find a much greater incidence of strikes, and where compulsory arbitration is in force there is no comparison between the strike records of such economies and ours.

The Donovan Commission reminded us of our voluntary heritage and felt that we could prolong it. Naturally, Donovan recommended changes, but these related to the detail of our industrial relations, not their framework, and certainly not their basic power relationship.

The crucial question, therefore, is how far there is a need, apart from political expediency, to extend the law of contract into our industrial affairs. The Trades Union Congress and Donovan say that the law is inappropriate and, indeed, can be dangerous because it can be enforced, if at all, only by smashing the industrial relations which it is supposed to safeguard. The C.B.I. and the Government say that the law is essential, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, to provide the climate of opinion with in which good industrial relations can grow. Yet the Consultative Document suggests that the Government are preoccupied with symptoms rather than with causes.

The right hon. Gentleman had nothing to say about the complexity of wage systems, nothing to say about a lack of procedural arrangements, nothing to say about an absence of grievance machinery, and nothing to say about inadequate facilities for shop stewards. We had to wait until my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) intervened before we heard anything about requirements of that kind.

The Government would have been well advised to draw on American experience, certainly, but to look at America's more comprehensive procedural arrangements and its grievance machinery rather than its legal framework. This is why I say that the document, its underlying intention, and, presumably, the Bill which is to follow, are misconceived, partial, and likely to introduce only a marginal improvement factor. Any real change can, at best be only long term.

The Minister warned his own party at its conference recently at Blackpool not to expect immediate results. He told us today of his hope that he could, through his document, exert such pressures as would create situations in which frictions could be resolved without strikes and make for early settlements. But is he certain that even such modest conditions can be brought about by the Bill?

In this context, one can properly raise the question not merely of the purpose of the document but its practicality. The right hon. Gentleman is trying, in the first place, to push in a quite different direction the whole development of industrial relations in this country over the last hundred years. Second, he is not merely going to the United States for one model, not merely trying to borrow from the Taft-Hartley Act, but trying to borrow also from the Wagner Act of 1935 and also the Landum-Griffin Act of 1959. He is trying to compress these great measures into one single enactment.

How can the right hon. Gentleman avoid the charge that he is exploiting the public's general ignorance—no matter what the public opinion polls may say—of the complexity of industrial relations. He cannot be unaware of the general expectation, particularly within his own party, that among other things his Bill will stop strikes.

Thus one can properly raise not merely the purpose of this measure and not merely its practicality, but the credibility of the Secretary of State, of the Government and their motivation. Far from strikes coming to an end in the United States, they have become bigger, indeed, they have become institutionalised. They now remind me, especially recalling the recent General Motors dispute, which lasted nine weeks and cost 7 billion dollars and which was the biggest and most costly dispute for a decade, of nothing so much as those long-drawn-out Hollywood epics, the Cecil B. de Mille productions.

It is not that the American arrangements have contained militancy, because, as those of us who are aware of the American scene know, there is a new militancy on the shop floor and in the mines in the United States, and there is every prospect that the United States will get the worst of both worlds. This must raise serious doubts about how far America's industrial relations system can be applied to our own country.

On the other hand, at least the Donovan Report was based on British experience. Moreover, it had the support of all the people in this country who have distinguished themselves in literature on the subject. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who, for instance?"] I will gladly invite the Secretary of State to cite one person who has distinguished himself in this respect and who supports the Secretary of State's view.

Mr. Hayhoe

What about the Minority Reports?

Mr. Duffy

Distinguished though the authors of those Minority Reports are in their own fields, they are not distinguished in industrial relations. Can the Minister cite even one employer who has indicated a willingness, let alone an eagerness, to invoke the law on his own workers about the enforceability of contracts?

These are the questions which are being asked in the important industrial district from which I have the privilege of coming and part of which I have the honour to represent, the Attercliffe Division of Sheffield, and not merely Sheffield but South Yorkshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire where these Conservative proposals are genuinely believed to promise more harm than good. Industry in the West Riding is remarkably well served by trade union officers who have been silently implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission through improved procedures, the revision of wage systems and through union mergers.

The position in the trade union world is not as static as some hon. Members would have us believe. The General Secretary of the T.U.C. has been tireless on behalf of conciliation since the Donovan Report. How often has the Minister called on his services since taking office? It is extremely difficult for the trade union movement not to suspect the Government's motives. Trade unionists recall only too well that the recommendation of the Royal Commission, that reform should start in the board room, has been overlooked by the government, who prefer that reform should start on the shop floor.

From the rapture with which the Minister's proposals were received at the Blackpool conference, it seems that many Conservatives who resisted race relations legislation now ardently favour industrial relations legislation. Yet the T.U.C. is expected to subscribe to the fiction of consultation on penal arrangements with no guarantee that they will work. Without that consultation, how can the Government expect consent? Without the consent of especially the shop stewards, how can these proposals work; or are Conservatives hell-bent on penalising and ultimately imprisoning shop stewards? The Minister was notably vague about the implications of registration, especially about paragraph 110.

While there is still time, is it not desirable to find an alternative, not only to the traditional voluntarism on which industrial relations have hitherto been based but also to the legal approach now envisaged? There is a potential mechanism to hand in the form of the C.I.R. Given representative staffing, the necessary standing and the right terms of reference it can promote vital reforms in industrial relations. Without those vital reforms, we cannot begin to take those positive initiatives on behalf of an industrial democracy without which an improved climate of opinion is impossible in industry. The Minister argued at Blackpool that the improved climate can be promoted only by his law. Is he sure that his intentions can be enforced, if at all, without making worse the industrial relations they are supposed to promote?

9.1 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I have something in common this evening with four hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches in this debate in the sense that I am making a maiden speech from the Front Bench. I might say to those four hon. Gentlemen that if they felt as nervous as I do at this moment then they felt very nervous indeed. That is despite the fact that I was described this morning by one newspaper as a veteran Parliamentarian.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

You will be, after tonight.

Mr. Heffer

May I comment on those maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) made an extremely thoughtful speech which showed a great deal of knowledge of the subject. Unfortunately, I naturally disagreed with some of the points he made. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) spoke with great fluency and knowledge, with great understanding of the problems and the trade union movement. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Spence) has something in common with me in that we are both from the construction and building industry. I was interested to hear some of his comments about the industry, about which he spoke with great knowledge. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) also spoke with immense knowledge. He told us that he had been an amateur boxing champion and I can understand that his opponents often got the right upper-cut, just as he gave it to hon. Gentlemen opposite today.

What interests me is that all of those speeches were totally non-controversial! I can only hope that we will have the tradition of that sort of non-controversial maiden speech in future. It will be a great step forward if people say honestly what they mean, even in a maiden speech, because it is important to their constituents that from the word "go" they nail their colours to the mast. I am pleased that each of those hon. Members has done that today.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

What about the hon. Member's maiden speech?

Mr. Heffer

My maiden speech, if I remember rightly, was a very mild, even-tempered speech, the sort of speech I will obviously make this evening.

I should like to comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), who spoke for the Liberal Party. He is not present. That is typical of the Liberal Party: it does not know where it is. It was very sad to listen to a Liberal Member making a speech which could well have come from an hon. Member opposite. His speech was a bit better Conservatism than some of the speeches made by Government members. As it was the Liberal Party which, in 1906, introduced the Bill which assisted the trade union movement out of a great difficulty, it is a very sad day for the Liberal Party that we should have heard the sort of speech which the hon. Member for Cornwall, North made. It is also sad to hear that the Liberal Party will vote with the Government tonight. [An HON. MEMBER: "Both of them. Perhaps there will be only two; I am not sure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde said that the Government did not have a mandate for their proposals. Hon. Members opposite said that they had a mandate. It is very interesting to look at the Consultative Document. It is said in paragraph 153 that it is possible to have an agency shop—that is, a trade union shop—only if the majority of people in it eligible to vote do so. At the last General Election the Government received 46 per cent. of the votes. They did not have a majority among the people eligible to vote. It is therefore a very strange argument to say in the Consultative Document that the trade unions must have a majority among those eligible to vote.

We heard an amazing speech from the Secretary of State. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear.'] It was not until my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) made what I thought was her quite brilliant Tech and explained the details that the House knew what the document was about. We had an extremely vague, rather soggy speech from the right hon. Gentleman. But no doubt he was leaving the Solicitor-General to deal with the details of the proposals, because it is really his Bill. No doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman will spell out the things which should have been spelled out by the Secretary of State.

The Trade Disputes Act, 1906, illustrates how politics go full circle. F. E. Smith, a very distinguished Member of the House and one of my predecessors, spoke on behalf of the Conservative Party against the 1906 Bill. He said that he came from a great working-class constituency. That is absolutely true. I am pleased to say that the working-class of Walton, Liverpool, have learned that their interests are much better served by the Labour Party than by the Conservative Party.

The proposals raise a series of constitutional issues, and it is important that those constitutional issues should be debated on the Floor of the House. There are precedents for this. The Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927, was discussed in Committee of the whole House, and in 1949 the Bill which repealed that Act was also debated here. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept that the fundamental and important constitutional nature of the Bill requires that it should be discussed on the Floor of the House.

The proposals are important to the trade union movement, to the employers and to the whole future of industrial relations and the British Parliamentary system. The right hon. Gentleman at the Tory Party conference said that this was a new framework of industrial relations: This is no crisis measure hastily thrown together to meet some sudden need. That is very interesting. We were told this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman that the proposals were necessary because of the increasing number of strikes during the past few years; yet earlier he had said that they were not hastily thrown together. He further said: The main principles are firm and there is no going back. It is quite clear that, irrespective of what was said by the Trades Union Congress, the employers and the industrial relations experts, the Conservative Party was determined to introduce these proposals regardless of all informed opinion. The right hon. Gentleman's statement contradicts his previous attitude and that of his party.

I will quote a passage from HANSARD: In the final resort, and, indeed, all the time, it is upon voluntary agreement in industry that we must depend for good industrial relations. Our own experience and that of other countries all goes to show that good relations cannot be enforced by law and pains and penalties. Like everything best in this country, they must grow and become a tradition, and that takes time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1957; Vol. 568, c. 2128.] I think the whole House, apart from some of the backwoodsmen on the Government side, will agree that this is an excellent statement, and it was made by the right hon. Gentleman on 18th April, 1957.

Let us look at the industrial situation at that time. What was happening then? In 1957 the total number of working days lost through all stoppages was 8,412,000. In the meantime the number of stoppages had gone down, but prior to that they had gradually gone up. The total number of stoppages today is 10,182,000. On that footing the right hon. Gentleman could still make this point which is in line with the best interests of Britain's industrial relations. Between February, 1969, and January, 1970, the figures for working days lost was 6,843,000, 1,569,000 fewer than in 1957. It is about time the matter was put into proper perspective. Therefore what do we find? We find that hon. Members opposite wish to introduce these proposals on the basis of political dogma and nothing else.

The point has been made on a number of occasions in this debate by many of my hon. Friends that before the Donovan Report was published there had been three years' hard and serious work by the Commission. Then "A Fair Deal at Work" was published, on which this document is based. But it did not matter about all that work put in by the Commission: the T.U.C.'s views, the views of the employers' associations, the views of industrial relations experts did not matter. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are determined to bring in laws of this kind on the basis of political dogma.

Where are the Government going? This is a very important question. It was said at the Tory Party conference that the Conservative Party could not go back on the principles outlined in the document. That is why the T.U.C. felt that it was impossible to discuss merely the details if the Government were not prepared to discuss the principles. Certainly the details behind "In Place of Strife" were discussed by my right hon. Friend. It did not matter to hon. Members opposite what representations were made. The principles were sacrosanct. The Conservative Party is going back into history in this matter. The Act of 1825—

Mr. Crouch

The hon. Gentleman has mentioned for the first time in his speech "In Place of Strife". Could he advise the House, before he completes his speech, whether there is the same unanimity in the Labour Party about the proposals the Government are now putting forward as existed, or were thought to exist, in the hon. Gentleman's party over "In Place of Strife"?

Mr. Heffer

The answer is quite clear. There is complete unanimity in our party over this document. I was about to mention that Conservative Members went back to the 1825 Act. I do not want to go back into history, but that was the last of the Combination Acts.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)

Even the hon. Gentleman was not alive then.

Mr. Heffer

The proposals in this document are extremely similar to those in the 1825 Act. Let us look at some—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have had a quiet debate so far. We are debating the issue of consultations.

Mr. Heffer

Let us look at some of the language and so-called crimes outlined in that Act. The 1825 Act clearly said that workers could be operated or acted against on the basis of threats, intimidations, molestation and obstruction. How is that different from paragraph 22 of this document, which says that where there is unfair industrial action, to organise a strike or lock-out for a particular purpose would also be an unfair action, and to threaten a strike or lock-out, to organise or threaten any other concerted industrial action for that purpose, or to put pressure for that purpose by industrial action or the threat of it, would also be unfair. How is that different from the 1825 Act?

The right hon. Gentleman said at the Tory Party conference that in 1875—

Hon. Members


Mr. Heffer

The right hon. Gentleman said it. I am only repeating it. He said that in 1875 Disraeli received a message of congratulations from the Eighth Congress of the T.U.C., and that Mr. Cross, the Home Secretary at the time, was invited to a celebration of the T.U.C. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he doubted very much whether he would get an invitation to the present T.U.C.—and to a celebration. Believe me, on the basis of the proposals contained in this document the right hon. Gentleman is never likely to get anywhere near the T.U.C., because this is a piece of class legislation of the worst kind since the Combination Acts.

The right hon. Gentleman, in breaking away from the basic traditions of the law relating to industrial relations—

An Hon. Member

There is no law.

Mr. Heffer

That is the whole point. There is none, in the sense that the law has acted largely in an abstentionist sense. It has played a negative rôle, and if one looks at the difference between this situation and that where the law plays a positive rôle in countries such as Australia, the Republic of Eire, the U.S.A.—

An Hon. Member

And Russia.

Mr. Heffer

I am interested only in the democracies of this world and not in the Communist countries. I am a democrat, and I believe passionately in democracy. I am concerned with what is being done in democratic countries, and when working people are under threat of having those rights taken away from them, then I as a democrat, am concerned basically with that problem, and I intend to do my best to stop those rights from being taken away.

As my hon. Friend said, the document is obviously based on American models. What we have here is not the Wagner Act, 1935, which was required in the United States because it was almost impossible for the trade unions to organise in the steel, the motor car, and the semiskilled and unskilled industries. They had to have the Wagner Act to assist them to do that. We have never needed a Wagner Act. We got our people organised without that—unless one would describe the 1875 Act as a sort of Wagner Act. But it is not of the kind which existed in the United States. What we are being offered is the Taft-Hartley Act, the Landum-Griffin Amendment, and, much more serious, the right to work laws which operate under Section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Act in about 19 of the American States.

The right to work laws mean the very opposite of the right to work. What they mean is the right to be a non-unionist, the right to be a blackleg, the right to undermine the organised trade union movement—and that is what hon. Gentlemen are offering us tonight. That is why we call this in our Amendment an attempt to deprive trade unionists of basic rights.

In 1947 the number of work stoppages in the United States was 3,693. That was when the Taft-Hartley Act, a similar proposal to that which we are being offered tonight, came into operation. The number of strikes in 1948 rose to 3,419; in 1950 it went up to 4,843. In 1967—in the meantime, it had risen to 5,000-odd—it was again at the level of 4,505. So at the time the Taft-Hartley Act was brought in, the number of strikes was practically the same as it is today. So it did not work.

What is happening in the United States at the moment? Because it does not work, voices are being raised to say, "We now have to extend the period for cooling-off permanently." In other words, the right to strike should be outlawed altogether. Of course, when hon. Gentlemen have had this in operation for a period and they discover that, instead of bringing down the number of strikes, the strikes will continue, and possibly industrial relations will worsen, more of them will be coming forward demanding further action and, ultimately, that the right to strike be outlawed altogether.

This philosophy of hon. Members opposite is very strange. In a speech at the Guildhall the other day the Prime Minister [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] We are probably better off without him. In that speech he said that the cry was, "We should set the people free." Now he says that the people are free, but they have to learn how to use their freedom. Therefore, apparently, everybody is free except trade union members. We can have freedom for the profiteers, freedom for the employers, freedom for just about everyone in this society, but not the responsible trade union movement. They are not to have Tory freedom because that freedom is so important to the basic democracy of that country that it undermines the philosophy on which the Tory Party is based. I ask my hon. Friends to vote against this document.

I was asked by one of my hon. Friends whether we would repeal the Bill if—and the word is most certainly "if"—it comes into operation. There is a long way to go before this piece of legislation is on the Statute Book. 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. That is the answer to my hon. Friend. We will eliminate this piece of class legislation—if hon. Gentlemen opposite are silly enough to go forward with their proposals.

9.31 p.m.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

Like the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I begin by congratulating the four hon. Members who have made maiden speeches today. They all spoke with experience and knowledge of the subject.

My hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) made the important point that good industrial relations must be based on good human relations. He asked me to say something about the Code of Industrial Practice, and I wish to make it clear that the intention of my right hon. Friend is that the Code should be prepared and ready well before the conclusion of the 12-month period set out in the Consultative Document.

Mrs. Castle


The Solicitor-General

Not yet.

Mrs. Castle


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not give way, the right hon. Lady must resume her seat.

The Solicitor-General


Mrs. Castle


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)

Windy! [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman is clearly not giving way to the right hon. Lady.

The Solicitor-General

The right hon. Lady has invited me to give way and I have refused. On the first occasion she endeavoured to persuade me by her charming smile. On the second occasion she asked me if I was afraid. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) must contain himself.

The Solicitor-General

I was about to refer to the speech—

Mrs. Castle

Give the House the courtesy of the facts.

The Solicitor-General

Perhaps the right hon. Lady will do me the courtesy of at least allowing me to acknowledge the speeches that were made by the maiden speakers. Then we can come to the arguments.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Spence) made the additionally important point that the decisions of the National Industrial Relations Court and the Industrial Tribunal should be prompt and speedy. That is our intention. The same point was made by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), to whom I apologise for not being in my place when he spoke. He asked if access to these new judicial bodies would be cheap and easy. He also asked me to deal with the aspect of legal aid. My only reply on that aspect at the moment is that it must obviously be considered in respect of the National Industrial Relations Court.

I come to the maiden speeches made by the two hon. Gentlemen opposite, both of whom made equally valuable contributions. The hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) stressed—and the whole House agreed with him—the importance of improving the collective bargaining procedure. That is the object of this legislation. Additionally, I can assure the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) that there is no question, as he suggested, of subjecting all sectors of industry to a rigid framework.

The hon. Member for Walton was also making what was, in a manner of speaking, a maiden speech—certainly his first speech from the Opposition Front Bench—and, if I may be allowed to do so at this stage, I welcome him in that capacity, and congratulate him on his performance there.

I turn now to some of the questions that have been raised and, first of all, with those dealing with precisely the underlying philosophy foreshadowed in the Consultative Document. The object of the exercise is to achieve exactly what was suggested by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) when he referred to the way in which in some other countries voluntary procedure agreements for the resolution of grievances are effective and in widespread operation.

It is the intention that our new framework of law will create just that kind of orderly system so that people will know where they stand, and will promote prompt and fair settlement of grievances. The intention is to uphold the machinery of free collective bargaining by impartial procedure, and the Consultative Document makes it clear that in the new framework—and the right hon. Lady will see it in paragraph 4—the remedies are primarily the responsibility of management, in whose hands rest the initiative for any improvement that circumstances may permit. The framework is designed to achieve that.

It is for that reason that the proposals include specific obligations on managements, for example, to disclose information to individual employees and to disclose information, necessary for the purpose of collective bargaining, to trade unions and to trade union representatives. There is a specific obligation upon managements to recognise trade unions, and there is a specific obligation upon managements to register and improve their procedure agreements. The House may be confident that the whole of these proposals, supported by the Code itself, will strengthen both managements and unions by defining and underpinning their responsibilities as well as their rights.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) mentioned one point on this which was not without interest when he foresaw that the new framework of law outlined in the document will quite probably lead to an increase in contributions by trade union members to their trade unions, and raise the amounts which unions spend on research and servicing their members in the course of collective bargaining. It is impressive to have his support in that as being one of the many effects which these proposals will have.

One of the first points made by the right hon. Lady, and it has been done by others, was a complaint about the lack of consultation on these proposals; a suggestion, in some way, that this is a hastily drawn together Consultative Document. I was grateful to the hon. Member for Walton for underlining what my right hon. Friend said at Blackpool, which was that this is no crisis Measure hastily thrown together but a long-term fundamental reform—

Mrs. Castle


The Solicitor-General

The right hon. Lady says, "pre-Donovan"—[An HON. MEMBER: "Prehistoric."]—but it is important to realise how exactly it has developed. We on this side have realised that we face here a long-term chronic and growing problem and for five years now we have been working on the proposals, laying them before the country and inviting consultation on them.

Mr. Heffer

Did not the same problem face the country and the Tory Party in 1957, when there was almost the same level of unofficial strikes as there is at present? Yet the right hon. Gentleman said at that time that it was not necessary to have a framework of law.

The Solicitor-General

It is precisely the point which the hon. Gentleman makes which misleads him and the House. The problem in 1957 was entirely different. The hon. Gentleman quoted figures of days lost in 1957 which were inflated by 4 million days because of one national engineering strike in that year. The number of stoppages in that year—characteristic of the 1950s—was 635, one-fifth of the number of stoppages in the last year.

It makes no very great impression for the hon. Gentleman to feel that things said in an entirely different context 13 years ago on that subject should now regulate us for the future. The hon. Gentleman appears to think that what was good enough for Campbell-Bannerman is good enough for him. Legislation which has been on the Statute Book for that length of time has rightly been recognised by the hon. Member representing the Liberal Party as being ripe for review. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] The hon. Gentleman might well ask his right hon. Friend sitting beside him that question.

The reasons that have impelled my right hon. and hon. Friends to advance over the years a coherent framework of reform are those which the right hon. Gentleman regarded as insufficient to move him and his party towards any kind of reform in 1964. Reluctantly, the right hon. Gentleman appointed a Royal Commission to study the subject. Why? It was because the facts were compelling a change of attitude. Within 12 months of the Royal Commission reporting, the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends advanced proposals to meet these problems which went beyond those advanced by the Royal Commission.

Why? The reasons which impelled right hon. and hon. Members opposite when they had the responsibility for these matters to advance proposals which had something in common with those which we now advance were the facts of the situation changing dramatically and progresssively. It is these reasons which justify our bringing these measures before the House tonight.

It is absolute nonsense to suggest that there has been insufficient time for consultation about these matters. The proposals have been laid before the country. They were endorsed at the last General Election. For years, months and weeks the doors have been open for consultation, and many organisations have been taking advantage of that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which are they?"] Some 200 organisations, including a number of trade unions, several divisional associations of the Labour Party, and a wide range of organisations, have taken the opportunity of making their representations.

One of the other suggestions which have been made, specifically with reference to something I said at the weekend, is that our proposals can in no sense be regarded as being founded upon or related to proposals made by the Donovan Commission. It has been said by the Trades Union Congress in its document "Reason" that we have casually cast aside an agreed report.

The House will no doubt recollect that the report itself was very far from agreed. There were one note of reservation, two supplementary notes, one addendum by the Chairman, and several very important dissents on some of the matters about which debate has raged hereafter. So far from having cast that aside, the major part of our proposals is founded upon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—indeed, yes, specifically—the heartland of the Report of the Donovan Commission itself.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the heartland of the Government's current proposals their provisions for compulsory registration and dictation of the content of the rules of trade unions? Will the Solicitor-General invite Lord Donovan in another place to say that these proposals are in keeping with the Donovan Commission's Report?

The Solicitor-General

The proposals for registration and compulsory registration are entirely in line—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Indeed, they are. The Donovan Commission's Report proposed that in order for a trade union to enjoy the status of a trade union it should have to register. Not only did the Donovan Commission propose that, but "In Place of Strife" adopted the same proposal.

Mr. Rose


Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not give way the hon. Gentleman will sit down.

Mr. Rose


The Solicitor-General

I am halfway through answering an intervention by the right hon. Lady. I will come to the other point she put to me.

I have already made plain to the House that the proposal for registration was a central feature of the Donovan Report. The right hon. Lady in her speech earlier today—

Mr. Rose


Hon. Members

Give way!

Hon. Members

Sit down!

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mere noise does not make an hon. Member give way.

The Solicitor-General

If I may deal now with the other point—

Mr. Rose


Hon. Members

Sit down!

Mr. Speaker

Order. Noise contributes nothing at all to the debate.

The Solicitor-General

The right hon. Lady also said—and she misquoted the Donovan Report—that there were no requirements in that report with relation to—[Interruption]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)

On a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am on a point of order myself. The House listened to one side with comparative, if not absolute, silence. It must be equally fair.

Mr. Davis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Solicitor-General is an officer of the Supreme Court and owes a duty to the House and the country—

Hon. Members

What is the point of order?

Mr. Davis

I am trying to develop it. The hon. and learned Gentleman owes a duty to the House and the country not to misrepresent facts or the law. Is it in order for him deliberately to mislead the House?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a matter of political argument, not of order.

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)

On a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The first basis of order is that when Mr. Sneaker is standing an hon. Member sits down.

Mr. Biffen

My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General was accused within the hearing of the House of deliberately misleading the House. I suggest that that is something which should be required to be withdrawn.

Mr. Speaker

I ruled that it was not a point of order but a point of political comment.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, and to your Ruling upon it. I humbly submit to you that I think that you must have misheard the point which was put to you. Surely it is not consistent with the title of being an hon. Member of this House when an hon. Member is accused of having deliberately misled it. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Much of this is not doing Parliament any good.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

The words I am taking exception to—and I believe that if you had heard them you would have done also—are the words "deliberately misleading the House". To suggest that any hon. Member misleads is impugning his honour, and to do it to the Solicitor-General is surely making it worse.

Mr. Speaker

I assure the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) that I did hear the point of order. I ruled that it was not a point of order, with the comment that, as a point of order, it was not one but a political comment.

Mr. Walter Johnson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The National Federation of Professional Workers asked to give verbal evidence on this document, and was refused. I suggest that the Solicitor-General should withdraw his remarks about this.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is not a point of order at all.

The Solicitor-General

The second point I want to make is that the right hon. Lady read two paragraphs from the Donovan Report—she read from paragraphs 649 and 650—suggesting that the unions would retain complete freedom as to the style and content of their rules. But she omitted the second sentence of paragraph 650, which makes it plain that Donovan recommended, and we so propose, that the rules should be framed … in such a way as to avoid discriminating arbitrarily against any type of applicant … Then it went on as the right hon. Lady quoted it. So, both as to the fact and principle of registration, as to the manner of registration and as to the intention of doing that, the intention is to make trade unions responsible organisations and with freedom upon that foundation of responsibility to conduct their activities in the ordinary way as responsible representative bodies.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton closed by suggesting that the Consultative Document was motivated by hostility to the trade union movement. That is the very reverse of the truth.

Mr. Heffer


The Solicitor-General

The Consultative Document makes it absolutely plain that the object is to promote the development of trade unions and employers' associations as responsible, representative and effective bodies for the conduct of industrial relations. It has also been suggested—and the hon. Gentleman returned to this point also—that the Consultative Document contains proposals that will deprive trade unionists of their basic rights. Again, that is the very reverse of the truth.

The document makes plain that there will be established beyond doubt and without any kind of reversion to antique Statutes to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the right of every individual to join a trade union of his choice and participate in its activities [An HON. MEMBER: "Or not."]—or not. [Interruption.] Is that such a shameful thing? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Heffer


Mr. Speaker

Order. Again I say that Parliament is not doing itself much good at the moment.

The Solicitor-General

I ask—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


The Solicitor-General

I ask what basic right—[Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. If hon. Members cannot conduct themselves properly, I may have to ask one to leave the Chamber.

The Solicitor-General

For example, is it suggested that the document proposes to infringe some so-called—

Mr. Wellbeloved

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am having great difficulty in hearing the Solicitor-General because of the insults which the Prime Minister is hurling across the Floor. May we be protected from the Prime Minister, who will not answer questions but just sits and hurls insults across the Chamber?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I was of opinion that the difficulty which the Solicitor-General had in being heard was from another cause entirely.

The Solicitor-General

Is it suggested, for example, that there is a basic right to strike without a ballot? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Indeed? On that very point, the right hon. Lady—[Interruption.]—told the House that she found it difficult to accept, as some of her hon. Friends argue, that strike ballots are in themselves an infringement of fundamental trade union rights.

Mr. David Stoddart

One law for the boss and one for the workers.

The Solicitor-General

Is there an absolute right to strike in recognition disputes?

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

The lawyers have a closed shop.

The Solicitor-General

Once again, the right hon. Lady made clear in the House, on 16th April last year—

Several Hon. Members


The Solicitor-General

—that she does not believe that it is any part of fundamental trade union rights that groups of unions should be able to conduct a war to the death … on

such an issue, particularly when the victim is the nation's economic strength."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1969; Vol. 781, c. 1182–3.]

The truth—the House knows it—is that the arguments which were advanced by the right hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend in support of their proposals in "In Place of Strife", when they were striving to achieve conclusions which were responsible in the interests of the nation, destroy the arguments which she and her hon. Friends have advanced today for their Amendment. For our proposals, on the other hand, we have a clear mandate, clearer than any other Government have had, and I commend the Motion to the House.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 269. Noes 310.

Division No. 36.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Dalyell, Tam Grant, John D. (Islington, East)
Albu, Austen Darling, Rt. Hn. George Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Davidson, Arthur Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Alldritt, Walter Davies, Denzil (Lianelly) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Allen, Scholefied Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hamling, William
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Armstrong, Ernest Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil) Hardy, Peter
Ashley, Jack Davis, Clinton (Hackney, Central) Harper, Joseph
Ashton, Joe Deakins, Eric Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Atkinson, Norman de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Delargy, H. J. Hattersley, Roy
Barnes, Michael Dell, nt. Hn. Edmund Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Barnett, Joel Dempsey, James Heffer, Eric S.
Baxter, William Devlin, Miss Bernadette Hilton, W. S.
Beaney, Alan Doig, Peter Horam, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Dormand, J. D. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeten) Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Bidwell, Sydney Douglas-Mann, Bruce Huckfield, Leslie
Bishop, E. S. Driberg, Tom Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Duffy, A. E. P. Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Dunn, James A. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Booth, Albert Dunnett, Jack Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Eadie, Alex Hunter, Adam
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Edelman, Maurice Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Janner, Greville
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Ellis, Tom Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Buchan, Norman English, Michael Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Evans, Fred John, Brynmor
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Faulds, Andrew Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn, James Fernyhough, E. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, West) Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Cant, R. B. Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Carmichael, Neil Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Foley, Maurice Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Foot, Michael Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Ford, Ben Kaufman, Gerald
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Forrester, John Kelley, Richard
Cohen, Stanley Fraser, John (Norwood) Kerr, Russell
Concannon, J. D. Freeson, Reginald Kinnock, Neil
Conlan, Bernard Galpern, Sir Myer Lambie, David
Corbet, Mrs, Freda Garrett, W. E. Lamond, James
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, Central) Gilbert, Dr. John Latham, Arthur
Crawshaw, Richard Ginsburg, David Lawson, George
Cronin, John Golding, John Leadbitter, Ted
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.) Gourlay, Harry Lestor, Miss Joan
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Grant, George (Morpeth) Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.) Orme, Stanley Smith, John (Lanarkshire, North)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Oswald, Thomas Spearing, Nigel
Lipton, Marcus Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Spriggs, Leslie
Lomas, Kenneth Padley, Walter Stallard, A. W.
Loughlin, Charles Paget, R. T. Stewart, Donald (Western Isle)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Palmer, Arthur Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Parker, John (Dagenham) Stonehoue, Rt. Hn. John
McBride, Neil Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Strang, Gavin
McCann, John Pavitt, Laurie Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
McCartney, Hugh Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
MacColl, James Pendry, Tom Swain, Thomas
McElhone, Frank Pentland, Norman Taverne, Dick
McGuire, Michael Perry, Ernest G. Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Mackie, John Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Mackintosh, John P. Prescott, John Thomson, Rt. Hn, G. (Dundee, E.)
Maclennan, Robert Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Tomney, Frank
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Price, William (Rugby) Torney, Tom
Tuck, Raphael
McNamara, J. Kevin Probert, Arthur Urwin, T. W.
MacPherson, Malcolm Rankin, John Varley, Eric G.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Wainwright, Edwin
Marsh, Rt. Hn, Richard RC'ES, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rhodes, Geoffrey Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Meacher, Michael Richard, Ivor Wallace, George
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Watkins, David
Mendelson, John Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Weitzman, David
Mikardo, Ian Robertson, John (Paisley) Wellbeloved, James
Millan, Bruce Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Roper, John Whitehead, Phillip
Molloy, William Rose, Paul B. Whitlock, William
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Moyle, Roland Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Murray, Ronald King Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Woof, Robert
Ogden, Eric Sillars, James
O'Halloran, Michael Silverman, Julius TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
O'Malley, Brian Skinner, Dennis Mr. Kenneth Marks and
Oram, Bert Small, William Mr. Donald Coleman.
Orbach, Maurice
Adley, Robert Bullus, Sir Eric Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Burden, F. A. du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Dykes, Hugh
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Eden, Sir John
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Carlisle, Mark Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Astor, John Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Atkins, Humphrey Cary, Sir Robert Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Awdry, Daniel Channon, Paul Emery, Peter
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Chapman, Sydney Farr, John
Baker,. H. K. (Banff) Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fell, Anthony
Balniel, Lord Chichester-Clark, R. Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Churchill, W. S. Fidler, Michael
Batsford, Brian Clark, William (Surrey, East) Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Bell, Ronald Clegg, Walter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Cockeram, Eric Fookes, Miss Janet
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Cooke, Robert Fortescue, Tim
Benyon, W. Coombs, Derek Foster, Sir John
Berry, Hon. Anthony Cooper, A. E. Fowler, Norman
Biffen, John Cordle, John Fox, Marcus
Biggs-Davison, John Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Fry, Peter
Blaker, Peter Cormack, Patrick Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Costain, A. P.
Body, Richard Critchley, Julian Gardner, Edward
Boscawen, R. T. Crouch, David Gibson-Watt, David
Bossom, Sir Clive Crowder, F. P. Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Bowden, Andrew Curran, Charles Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Dalkeith, Earl of Glyn, Dr. Alan
Braine, Bernard Dance, James Goodhart, Philip
Bray, Ronald Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Goodhew, Victor
Brewis, John d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Gorst, John
Brinton, Sir Tatton d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack Gower, Raymond
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Dean, Paul Gray, Hamish
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Green, Alan
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Digby, Simon Wingfield Grieve, Percy
Bryan, Paul Dixon, Piers Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Buchanan-Smith, A lick (Angus, N & M) Dodds-Parker, Douglas Grylls, Michael
Gummer, Selwyn McMaster, Stanley Royle, Anthony
Gurden, Harold Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Russell, Sir Ronald
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) McNair-Wilson, Michael St. John-Stevas, Norman
Hall, John (Wycombe) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maddan, Martin Scott, Nicholas
Hannam, John (Exeter) Madel, David Scott-Hopkins, James
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Sharples, Richard
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Marten, Neil Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Mather, Carol Shelton, William (Clapham)
Haselhurst, Alan Maude, Angus Simeons, Charles
Hastings, Stephen Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Sinclair, Sir George
Havers, Michael Mawby, Ray Skeet, T. H. H.
Hawkins, Paul Maxwell-Hyslop, R. P. Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Hay, John Meyer, Sir Anthony Soref, Harold
Hayhoe, Barney Mills, Peter (Torrington) Speed, Keith
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Spence, John
Heseltine, Michael Miscampbell, Norman Sproat, lain
Hicks, Robert Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Higgins, Terence L. Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W) Stanbrook, Ivor
Hiley, Joseph Moate, Roger Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)
Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Molyroeaux, James Stoddart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Money, Ernle Stokes, John
Holland, Philip Monks, Mrs. Connie Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Holt, Miss Mary Monro, Hector Sutcliffe, John
Hordern, Peter Montgomery, Fergus Tapsell, Peter
Hornby, Richard Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
Howell, David (Guildford) Mudd, David Tebbit, Norman
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Murton, Oscar Temple, John M.
Hunt, John Nabarro, Sir Gerald Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Hutchison, Michael Clark Neave, Airey Thomas, John Strading (Monmouth)
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Hn. Michael Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Nott, John Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
James, David Onslow, Cranley Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Tilney, John
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Jessel, Toby Osborn, John Trew, Peter
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Owen, Idris (Stockport, North) Tugendhat, Christopher
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Page, Graham (Crosby) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Jopling, Michael Pardoe, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Kaberry, Sir Donald Peel, John Vickers, Dame Joan
Kellett, Mrs. Elaine Percival, Ian Waddington, David
Kerby, Capt. Henry Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Kershaw, Anthony Pike, Miss Mervyn Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Kilfedder, James Pink, R. Bonner Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Kimball, Marcus Pounder, Rafton Wall, Patrick
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Walters, Dennis
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Price, David (Eastleigh) Ward, Dame Irene
Kinsey, J. R. Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Warren, Kenneth
Kirk, Peter Proudfoot, Wilfred Weatherill, Bernard
Kitson, Timothy Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Wells, John (Maidstone)
Knight, Mrs. Jill Quennell, Miss J. M. White, Roger (Gravesend)
Knox, David Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Lambton, Antony Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Lane, David Redmond, Robert Wilkinson, John
Langford-Holt, Sir John Reed, Laurence (Bolton, East) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Rees, Hn. Peter (Dover) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Le Marchant, Spencer Rees-Davies, W. R. Woodnutt, Mark
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Renton, Rt. Hn, Sir David Worsley, Marcus
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Ridsdale, Julian Younger, Hon. George
Longden, Gilbert Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, North)
Loveridge, John Roberts, Wyn (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
MacArtnur, Ian Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Mr. Jasper More and
McCrindle, R. A. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Mr. Reginald Eyre.
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rost, Peter
Main Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the Consultative Document on the Industrial Relations Bill.
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