§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I beg to move Amendment No. 658, in page 22, line 40, leave out from' (a) to end of subsection and insert:'is made in writing after the commencement of this Act shall be conclusively presumed not to be intended by the parties to be a legally enforceable contract unless the agreement contains a provision which states that it is the intention of the parties that the agreement should be a legally enforceable contract'.
§ The Chairman
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we also discuss the following Amendments:
No. 705, in page 23, line 3, at end insert:'and (c) contains a provision that the agreement is of specified duration'.No. 661, in page 23, line 6, leave out subsection (2).
The Opposition Amendment is the opposite of the Government's proposal. The Government propose that all agreements are to be presumed to be legally binding unless otherwise specified. We would make it clear that all agreements should not be legally enforceable unless the parties concerned clearly specify otherwise.
On this, as on most other issues in the Bill, there is a fundamental difference between the Government and the Opposition. The Donovan Commission devoted the whole of Chapter 8 of its Report to the subject of the enforcement of collective agreements. In paragraph 506 it said:We thus reject the proposal to make collective agreements—whether substantive or 1257 procedural—enforceable at the present time. We do so, not because we think the law could not in any circumstances assist in the reduction of the number of unofficial strikes. It cannot do so in this country today—this is the point. To take steps in this direction today would be not only useless but harmful, and they would undo a great deal of the good we hope to see done through the reform of the collective bargaining system which we recommend.I stress that the words in the Donovan Report are "useless" and "harmful". Yet the Government, particularly the Solicitor-General, in a speech to, I think, the Industrial Society at the weekend, and the Secretary of State, have often said that their proposals are based on the Donovan Report. On this, as on most other issues, in fact it says the opposite. The Government have ignored the Donovan Report on this as on the subject of the closed shop.
The Government may argue that legal enforceability has helped to stop unofficial strikes in other countries, but in the United States, for example, where the enforceability of contracts and agreements was introduced in 1947 by the Taft-Hartley Act, there has been no change in the number of unofficial strikes. The Clause is a great leap in the dark, and it will cause only unpleasantness and confusion for employers, trade unions and work people. It is a guarantee that from now on we shall not have any substantive agreements in British industry.
We all know that industry is undergoing a major social change. Everybody accepts that and it has been discussed in the House frequently. I put it to Government supporters: how can a trade union official in the circumstances of a major social change in industry commit his members and his union not to allowing a breach of procedure? It is not realistic and the fact is that it is most unlikely in any case that employers will wish their hands tied on such issues as the status quo.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The hon. Gentleman used the expression "breach of procedure". Did he mean "breach of agreement"?
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Heffer
The point is that I am talking about substantive agreements at this time. The next Clause will deal with procedure agreements and if I did use tae word "procedure" I was meaning the collective agreements at present under 1258 discussion. I cannot think that I did use the word "procedure", but in any case there is a very close connection and when we are talking about collective agreements we are talking about agreements which are both substantive and procedural agreements. In British agreements it will be discovered that there is no distinction between the two.
The hon. Gentleman obviously does not understand that when agreements are drawn up in British industry there is usually no great distinction between the substantive and procedural agreement. At this stage we are in basic terms talking about the substantive agreement.
If trade union officials and employers are not likely to allow their hands to be tied, what can the results be? Instead of promoting authoritative, comprehensive and written agreements at the level where power lies, that is at plant and factory floor level—and the making of such agreements has been developing fast since Donovan—such agreements will come to a grinding halt. It is true that the employers could make a mockery of the law and they may well do so. They could say that in every agreement there should be written into it a provision that it shall not be legally enforceable. This is what the trade unions will insist upon.
What an absurd situation. By their policy the Government are ensuring that any employer who really wants an agreement in industry has to be a party to a statement which in practice detracts from the commitment to the agreement. At the same time the Government say that they are concerned about unofficial strikes. I do not know how they can say that and yet put forward a proposal which virtually means that we are not likely to get agreements in industry. It is clear that the Government's proposals are not designed to get up-to-date agreements but to ensure that we continue with agreements which are in some cases totally out of date.
We have a situation developing in the engineering industry and no doubt some of my hon. Friends who are acquainted with that industry will wish to develop this point. At the moment, discussion is going on within that industry and trade unions are saying that they are not prepared to accept an agreement unless there is a Clause saying that it shall not be legally binding. Let us look at the York 1259 Agreement of 1922, which the unions have consistently tried to change. That agreement is out of date. It is an agreement whereby works conferences take up to four weeks, central conferences take from ten to 23 weeks and often there is a complete failure to agree and the whole issue is referred back to plant or local level.
We all accept that such an agreement requires to be drastically revised. The Government's proposals will not help in any way to bring about such a revision. One of the serious side-effects of making agreements legally enforceable will be that the trade unions will be turned into policemen and will be policing their own members. They will become disciplinary bodies over their rank and file and if the unions wish to avoid that then obviously they can ensure that there shall be no legally binding agreements.
Imagine what would happen inside the trade union movement if the policing regulations were brought into operation. We could have the ridiculous situation which developed in the Swedish mining industry in 1969. Miners were on unofficial strike and so that the unions could avoid being affected by the action of their members the local trade union official was the only man working at the mine. We could have that sort of ridiculous situation here.
We ought to get away from these absurdities because they make no contribution whatever towards solving our industrial relations problem. I recognise that this Clause will be welcomed by the lawyers. As the Conservative pamphlet "A Giant's Strength", issued by the Conservative Lawyers' Association in 1959, said:As lawyers we are very conscious that the unions have little cause for gratitude to our profession.If this Clause goes through they will certainly have less cause than they have had in the past and they certainly have not had much in the past.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)
Will my hon. Friend take note of the fact that this will not be welcomed by the lawyers because it is the very contrary to what judges have declared to be the law today?
§ Mr. Heffer
I must tell my hon. and learned Friend that I was not referring 1260 to all lawyers. As has been said on this side of the Committee, many lawyers are opposed to this, but it is interesting to note that the basis for these current proposals arose from the Tory Lawyers' Association. They were developed later by "Fair Deal at Work" and ultimately embodied in the Bill.
What the right hon. Gentleman and some of his Friends have been doing is nipping across to America and coming back with some pretty ill-digested snippets from United States law and then urging them on the Tory Party which ultimately brings them here to embody into British law. Again I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that conditions are not the same in the United States and it is about time he understood this. There are other people who have had very real experience in the United States and whose voice should be heard on this.
Professor Harry Wellington, a leading American professor concerned with industrial relations problems, in giving oral evidence to the Donovan Commission, Day 41, pages 1757–8, said:What is accomplished by making the collective agreement an enforceable contract? … The answer, it seems to me, is that little if anything positive comes out of this, while a great deal detrimental to the system of private ordering results. Accordingly, on balance, I would favour not making the agreements enforceable. — When we bring the law to bear there is pressure towards uniformity and it tends to undermine the benefit that comes from diversity.Our basic objections to enforceability are these. First, agreements would become inflexible and rigid. There could be a build-up of resentment. Secondly, enforceability could lead to longer strikes. Hon. Members opposite accept that it will not settle strikes. There could be more unofficial strikes and longer strikes. They would be more difficult to settle and there would be the involvement of the whole legal apparatus.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
The hon. Gentleman is making categorical statements about what would flow from enforceability. But the authority he quoted said that only "on balance" did he favour not making agreements enforceable. It seems that the hon. Gentleman is out of balance in drawing conclusions from the quotation.
§ Mr. Heffer
If somebody seriously considers a particular question and then, on balance, comes down against it, it is clear that he thinks that the balance is on that side. That is all that I am saying. On the basis of an understanding of the law as it operates in the United States, Professor Wellington comes out against it, on balance. I should have thought that that should have been taken into consideration by the Minister as well as all the evidence which has been built up that enforcing agreements is not the way to achieve happy industrial relations.
Our third basic objection to the enforceability of agreements is this. The unions could be transformed into policemen and disciplinary bodies. Enforceability could lead to internal conflict in the unions, creating tensions, and ultimately to break-away unofficial bodies.
Fourthly, enforceability would involve a whole series of legal problems if the contracts were made enforceable. Let me give an example of the legal problems. Who would be "the parties" to the agreement? A party to a legal contract must be either a human person or a legal person. It is clear that a great deal of argument and confusion could arise on this point.
We believe that the Government's proposals add absolutely nothing to solving the problem of improving agreements either procedural or substantial. This is a further example of the Government making dogmatic proposals which will in no way help to solve the real difficulties of industrial relations. Therefore, I urge my hon. Friends to give the fullest support to the Amendment.
We are not saying that there should not be any legally enforceable contracts at any time. We are saying that that is a matter for the parties concerned. If they so desired, obviously they could decide that a contract should be legally enforceable, although the general feeling in the trade union movement is against any type of legally enforceable contract. There may be a feeling that certain specific agreements should be legally enforceable. We are saying the opposite of what the Government are saying. They are saying that all agreements should be legally enforceable unless there is contracting out. We say that if one believes in the principle of voluntary agreements 1262 and agrees with the principle of the voluntary establishment of industrial relations the Amendment is sensible and the Clause should be rejected.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) started by saying frankly and fairly that the intention of the Amendment was to reverse the basic provision in the Bill. One could understand that if the content of the Bill was an irrebuttable presumption that all collective agreements should be enforceable in law. But that is not what is said in Clause 32. What is said there is that there will be only a presumption which is not only rebuttable but rebuttable at the will of the parties stated in the simplest form. A presumption in such a limited and rebuttable form is in harmony with the normal pattern and working of our national life and with the evolution of our law and practice; and it will not prove injurious to collective bargaining in general or the trade union movement in particular.
It does not follow that all actions in human life which are ultimately regulated by the law are therefore conducted with close regard to the legal consequences at every point. They are in no way overshadowed and oppressed by the legal provisions which are there as a card of last resort and have been found to be the prerequisite of a free and ordered society. With the vast majority of agreements in this country, apart from agreements of a purely social character, there is an irrebuttable presumption that they should be enforceable at law. But no question of enforceability ever arises in the vast majority of cases. The agreements are made, they are intended to be honoured at the time of their making and they are in fact honoured. Legal enforceability is there only in reserve, necessary in the case of the defaulter and promise-breaker but innocuous and unnoticed in the vast majority of cases.
We must ask ourselves whether there is anything so inherently different in a collective agreement of this sort as to make it an exception to that normal practice. If it were so, it could be found only in the nature of the matters the subject of the agreement or in the fact that they are collective. The normal subject 1263 matter of a collective agreement is in regard to the rewards to be paid for work done—one of the most ordinary subject matters of contract.
The law, rightly, never compels anybody to work for an employer if he does not want to do so. No action for specific performance of a contract of personal service lies in English law, and that is reflected in the Bill, at Clause 114, which, quite properly, specifically enacts that safeguarding provision in the Bill. Clause 114 says:No court shall, whether by way of—
So that fundamental and wise safeguard of principle is enshrined in the Bill. Does the hon. Gentleman wish to put a point to me about action for specific performance of contracts of personal service?
- (a) an order for specific performance or specific implement of a contract of unployment, or
- (b) an injunction or interdict restraining a breach or threatened breach of such a contract, compel an employee to do any work or to attend at any place for the purpose of doing any work."
§ Mr. Heffer
Everyone accepts that no one is going to be forced to return to work, but what will happen is this: if the workers have broken an agreement by taking unofficial action in one or another they can then be brought before the courts to pay compensation. While they cannot be forced back to work they can be made to pay compensation, and if they refuse to pay compensation they can be put in gaol.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I am coming to the pattern of the Bill in the context of the provisions for legal enforceability. I am coming to that in a moment. It does mirror to this extent the general pattern of the law. The law, as I said, does not in any event provide for specific performance of contract for personal services; there is no obligation, no requirement, to return to work; and quite properly so. What the law does is to provide machinery for the interpretation of agreements, damages for proved loss—and proved loss only—and injunctions to restrain a breach where monetary compensation is an insufficient remedy. That is the background of the law against which the provisions of the Bill are to be judged, and that pattern, that remedy, has been 1264 found necessary for the small minority of cases where the intervention of the law is required. It has been found over the years to be the minimum requirement for sanctity of contract in any free society less simple than the Garden of Eden and less perfect than Paradise.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as a lawyer, not recognise, when he talks about the sanctity of contract, that by later Clauses directly relating to this issue it will be possible for the Industrial Court, following a C.I.R. recommendation, to enforce a contract on both sides, making it legally binding? That is a complete reversal of the basic British common law.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am coming to that. I am dealing at the moment with the provisions of this Clause 32, and the presumption there which, clearly, can be negatived at the will, however informally expressed, of the parties; we are dealing here only with the cases where the parties have not seen fit to make use of that easy and informal procedure.
Against that background we have to ask ourselves whether there is anything to make it inappropriate that that should be the procedure in regard to collective agreements, when it is the universal experience that it is necessary for individual agreements. I would submit that in logic and principle, the answer must be, No. The requirement of legal enforceability as a card of last resort can hardly be less in a case of collective agreement where the danger of breach is aggravated by the possibility of minority or irresponsible action.
I want to take up the hon. Gentleman's reference to the Donovan Report. He cited paragraph 506, and read out extracts, quite fairly—there is no complaint about that—including the wordsenforceable at the present time".You read it very well. "At the present time" is not, of course, 1st February, 1971.
§ Mr. Loughlin
What I said, Sir Robert, was that the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to "you" and he should have said my hon. Friend.
§ The Chairman
It is immaterial what the hon. Member said. What is material is where he said it from.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The hon. Gentleman's intervention was unconventionally done, as is not unexpected, but he was also right, and that, perhaps, is a little more unexpected.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Walton read quite correctly, but my point is that, quite clearly, "at the present time" is not 1st February, 1971. It is some date earlier than June 1968, and as a good deal has happened in those three years, the Committee has to ask itself whether the basic premise on which the Donovan Commission proceded holds good today or not.
At paragraph 462 it said:Unofficial strikes in breach of a collective agreement are very rare, and offer no urgent problem of legislation or otherwise.The whole basis of the thinking of Donovan was that we were concerned only with very short-term procedural unofficial disputes.
In 1971 there is a good deal of concern in regard to much larger matters than that, and it is in the context of 1971 that we must look at these matters. The hon. Gentleman did not quote paragraph 502 of the Donovan Report:We are not in principle opposed to the use of legal sanctions for the enforcement of agreed procedures.So it was at that date that the Commission rejected it, without prejudice, therefore, to the general position. In any event the Committee does not regard the Donovan Report as Holy Writ. We accept some of it on both sides, and on both sides we differ from some of it.
§ Mr. Heffer
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has done me the courtesy to state that I read the whole paragraph in full and that I was very fair.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will go on with paragraph 502 he will see: 1266At the present time legislation making procedure agreements legally enforceable would not in fact be enforced, and like all legislation that is not enforced would bring the law into disrepute.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. That does not derogate from the point I was making. The sentence he has read is governed by the opening words "At the present time". The point I am concerned about is that the Commission did not necessarily find the general principle obnoxious.
I have a great respect for the members of the Donovan Commission and in particular great respect and personal regard for its Chairman, but, as I was saying, we do not necessarily, in any event, take everything they say as Holy Writ, and on this particular point there is a stronger case, in my view, for legal enforceability than appears from Donovan.
It is a case which is reinforced by the general experience of group agreements. After all, in the ordinary way, if people group together to make an agreement or to take action, so far from narrowing responsibility they widen it. This is the basis of partnership law, the joint and several responsibility, responsibility not only for one's own deeds but those of one's fellows. It was the original basis of company law in the days of unlimited liability, and when it was changed it was not by way of excluding the collective entity from legal liability, but the reverse; it was by way of concentrating responsibility on the collective entity in order to safeguard and immunise the individual member. That is the general pattern, and it is difficult, against that, to see how there can be any objection in principle, whatever may be said as to convenience, to making collective agreements enforceable.
The general principle of concentration on the collective entity is again followed in the Bill. There is to be no action against individual members. The Bill goes even further: officials are expressly exempt from action under Clause 90(5), provided that what they are doing is in the scope of their duty.
If we have regard to what is proposed to be done, we see that nothing can happen if the parties make use of their right to take the agreement out of the presumption as to legal enforceability. 1267 If the parties at the time of making the agreement decide not to take it out of the presumption of legal enforceability—in other words, at the time of signing the agreement they mean it to be kept and expect to be kept—and if, in spite of that expectation, there is a breach of the agreement, what is the position in that small minority of cases? A complainant can take the matter to the Industrial Court under Clause 90—a court with a judicial presidency and a balanced composition.
§ Sir Walker-Smith
I ask the hon. Gentleman to be objective about this. There is no reason in principle why the Industrial Court should not act as fairly, objectively and effectively as the similar Restrictive Practices Court with a similar basis.
The jurisdiction the Court will have is analagous to the ordinary pattern. It is set out in Clause 90(3)—a declaration as to interpretation of the rights of the parties, an order for compensation, or an order in the nature of an injunction. Before any order is made, the court must first find that the complaint is justified; in other words, the onus is on the complainant to show an unfair industrial practice. Even when that onus is satisfied, the remedy is still discretionary, as the Committee will see from Clause 90(2): if the application iswell-founded, the Court may, if it considers that it would be just and equitable to do so…So even when the onus is discharged there is still a discretion in the Court.
Then, if and only if after all that, it comes to an award of compensation, compensation is doubly limited. It is limited, first, to the loss actually sustained after the duty of mitigating loss has been performed, and again only to the extent that isjust and equitable in all the circumstances".That is Clause 102(1). It is limited, second, by the monetary limits set out in Clause 103.
I believe that legal enforceability, so limited, so qualified and so circumscribed, is appropriate and will be beneficial in the context of collective agreements. After 1268 all, history shows us that there is always a tendency for large institutions to wish to opt out of the normal forms and processes of the law. The nation has not gone along with that. In most cases, with the passage of time the institutions have come to agree that it is right that they should be brought within the law. The general view—not only the lawyers' view—of the British people is that no organisation is so mighty as to be outside the law.
The hon. Member for Walton referred to lawyers in this context. I assure him that I have no wish to see the activities of the law increased as such. I believe that legal enforceability operates at its best when it is not used, when it is no more than a background to help the parties define and honour the intentions that they hold and the agreement that they have expressed. But if the law is expelled altogether, there is then the inevitable danger of private courts, unsatisfactory processes, and the like.
The older Members of the House may remember that in my shared ministerial responsibility for the Restrictive Trade Practices Act I made speeches at the Dispatch Box on this very theme of getting rid of those private courts in the context of restrictive practices. Therefore, my approach owes nothing to the desire to expand the activities of the law.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the disciplinary processes of the Bar, he will know that they have undergone a radical improvement and alteration in recent years. If he does not believe that, he should ask his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin), who knows.
Still less is my approach to the Bill due to any desire to injure trade unions or employers' organisations. On the contrary, I am a friend of collective bargaining and both parties to it, and wish it well. I was brought up in the atmosphere of collective bargaining. My father was engaged in it for many years, as one hon. Member opposite at any rate knows very 1269 Well from his hereditary connection with the same industry. I therefore had an early opportunity to know of the personal friendly relations and the mutual esteem and regard that existed between people sitting on opposite sides of the table. In my own case it had the very happy result that when I entered the House of Commons I was privileged to enjoy the friendship of some of the great veterans of the trade union movement who were still Members of the House in those days.
It is in no spirit of hostility but quite the reverse, because I believe that what is sought to be done will strengthen and increase the stature of collective bargaining and trade unions alike, that I support the proposals of my right hon. Friend and the retention of this basic provision in the Bill.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) proved too much. If indeed these provisions are so easily rebutted, why are the Government going to all this trouble to put them into the Bill? I have the greatest respect for the right hon. and learned Gentleman's advice. He and I have been in this place for a quarter of a century, and I fully accept from him that it is not done with any malice. However, it puts a very different complexion on the Clause if eminent lawyers are of the opinion that there are no teeth whatever in this provision. If it is so fantastically easy to rebut that to which someone has put his signature, the whole thing is a waste of time from beginning to end.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I did not suggest that anybody would go against what he had put his signature to. I said that the Bill makes it very easy in a very informal way for the parties to agree that there should not be any collective enforceability.
§ Mr. Lee
I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I think it comes down to what I was arguing.
We are now in a difficult period in which parties have undertaken bargaining at national level and there is the strongest opposition by the T.U.C. and executives of trade unions to making a contract legally binding. As a matter of national bargaining, I imagine that there new activity is to take place against a will be very few agreements in which the 1270 trade union side will not insist on a provision that it should not be legally binding. Indeed, it would appear from what one reads that, as discussions on this Bill go on and on, employers' associations are becoming less enamoured of its contents. Indeed, it is by no means clear that opposition to making contracts legally binding is to be found only on the trade union side.
Factory agreements are of far greater consequence and are more widely indulged in than once was the case. The vast majority of trade unions do not permit of factory agreements to come into operation until they have been ratified by the trade unions themselves. In large measure the national executives for many years have not insisted on vetting all factory agreements. I suppose that I have concluded more agreements at factory level than has any other Member of this House. None of these agreements was ever vetted at district or national level. We in the factories had a great reputation for being able to look after ourselves in the matter of agreements. However, if there is now to be an onus of legal responsibility on trade unions then most of the unions will insist on the letter of the law as comprised in their rules books and will not allow shop stewards' organisations to finalise arrangements until the union itself has had the opportunity, not only to vet the arrangement, but also to seek legal advice upon it. This will mean a fantastic delay.
What will happen in the meantime? In many instances the men on the shop floor will know that an arrangement has been made. If many weeks are allowed to past before ratification of those arrangements there will be sheer chaos in a number of the larger firms in industry. The general strategy of both the Labour Party and the present Government is aimed at trying to obtain factory arrangements and create negotiating machinery where there at present is none, and to improve machinery which is defective. I am sure we all hope that where there has been no satisfactory negotiating machinery in a factory or an industry before such machinery will now begin to spring up. It follows that as a result many managements and shop stewards will be new to the difficult problems of industrial negotiation. If all this background of possible legal action, this will surely retard progress. 1271 I had the task of dealing with large numbers of inexperienced people both in management and on the shop floor during a period of crisis in the last war. They had to be supervised much more stringently than would be the case with more experienced negotiators. We then had certain legal obligations because of essential work orders and that sort of thing, but we did not have the lawyers breathing down our necks, as I suggest will happen when and if this Bill becomes law. This legislation will retard rather than advance the quality of negotiation and will delay the rapidity with which such agreements can be made.
My hon. Friend for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) mentioned the great changes which are taking place in the engineering industry involving three or four million people because of the fact that the York Memorandum of 1922 is now obsolete. Indeed, a great many organisations which were brought into being in 1922 are obsolete both politically and industrially.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Lee
When arrangements made nearly 50 years ago are now in the melting pot—arrangements in which the trade unions have pressed for a change for a great many years—it would seem that employers are now agreeable to certain changes taking place. If the parties now have to conclude a new set of arrangements, bath nationally and locally, at a time where there is fear and uncertainty—and there will certainly be uncertainty as a result of the speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East—on the part of the trade unions, I consider that this kind of legislation will retard and possibly make the situation even worse.
§ Mr. Lee
My hon. Friend says that it has already done so. I am not referring so much to uncertainties in the sense of this legislation. I am on the point whether the law can bite on arrangements made in factories and can retard and obstruct deliberately arrangements which in many cases involve the difference between men carrying on with their work and going 1272 on strike. I prophesy that, if this is to be the way in which this kind of legislation is to be enacted, then because of its very existence we shall probably see more unofficial strikes taking place. I ask the Secretary of State to think again and to agree to our Amendments.
§ [Mr. GODMAN IRVINE in the Chair]
§ Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
I hope that my hon. and learned Friend in his reply will take up the point made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) as to what is a legal entity. I regard this as an important matter. As I understand the situation, once the Bill is enacted and trade unions are registered they will then become legal entities. It would be helpful if we could have that confirmed.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)
I confirm that now. The Committee will see that matter set out in Clause 70.
§ Mr. Cooper
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend. In listening to speeches made from the Labour benches, it seems to me that Donovan is regarded as a sort of latter-day god. But not everything in that Report could be accepted on all sides of the Committee. There was much that was obviously good, and obviously some which was at least debatable in terms of modern industry.
I thought that the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Walton were reprehensible in the extreme. Why should all other sections of the community be liable in law for their actions and agreements while the trade unions can choose such conditions and situations as they like but remain outside the law?
§ Mr. Cooper
Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite have not read the Amendment which they are putting down this afternoon. I commend it to their attention.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
Surely, as the Opposition have Donovan on their side in this debate, there is something to be said for their case.
§ Mr. Cooper
Throughout the whole of the industrial life of this country, an 1273 Englishman's word has been his bond. One can go to the Baltic, Lloyds, or the Stock Exchange, and one will find that agreements are entered into by word of mouth, with no paper exchanges. Throughout the world a level of integrity in British business men and professions has been built up which has been the envy of the world.
We make these agreements and we expect to honour them. We do not make agreements and at some stage unilaterally say that they are not something with which we can go on any longer. But that is what is happening in industry today.
§ Mr. Cooper
The right hon. Gentleman should not say "rubbish". He should look at what is happening now in the Ford Motor Company. An agreement was entered into between the Ford Motor Company and the shop stewards and trade unions which was to carry on until 1st March of this year, and the men have gone out on strike on Thursday, Friday and again today. That is an absolute outrage and a breach of an agreement entered into by the unions and the management.
§ Mr. Heffer
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that workers in the motor car industry work on a belt system? Who decides the speed of a belt? Has the hon. Gentleman never considered that the speeding up of a belt can cause an unofficial dispute or a walk-out, or that under those circumstances a legally enforceable contract would have no relevance to the reality of the shop floor situation.
§ Mr. Cooper
That is a preposterous argument. What was thought to be a firm agreement was entered into by the Ford management and the trade union concerned. The agreement was to run until 1st March. The unions have gone on strike now, on 1st February, in breach of that agreement. Business in this or any other country cannot proceed on this basis. We expect contracts to be honoured. We expect managements to be sued if they are in breach of their contract. In management we enter into agreements freely after long negotiations and we expect to keep them. Equally we expect workers to do the same.
§ Mr. Cooper
The basic trouble is that the trade unions at top level do not want to accept responsibility for their members. They have allowed the shop stewards movement to get completely out of hand. We have reached a situation where the tail is wagging the dog. This has been brought about because at the top level of trade unions we have had for years weak and vacillating men who are quite unable to control the militants within their movement. It is not in the interests of the shop stewards -movement to see this sort of legislation become law. Once it does, the responsibility Will revert td the management of the trade unions, where it should be. They will then become a legal entity and will be responsible for agreements which they enter into. That is vital for the well-being of our industry.
In every industry management has to make promises to its customers, whether at home or overseas. If unofficial strikes or unofficial action such as we are having today, especially at Fords, is carried on and perpetuated, then there will be no more confidence in British industry and industrial management.
I spend a lot of my life travelling abroad trying to get orders for this country. I am continually faced with the question from industrialists all over, "Can you keep your promises?" In the present industrial climate it is always very difficult to keep the promises that one makes, with a strike here, a strike there, and so on, and with the great majority of strikes unofficial.
Agreements must be freely negotiated, and when they are reached they should be as binding as any other agreement entered into by other sections of the community.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
My right hon. and hon. Friends have dealt with the industrial relations aspect of these Clauses and the Amendment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) dealt with the legal side, and it is right that a lawyer from these benches should answer what he has had to say. It seems that the points which he made were fundamentally unsound. The arguments which he put forward were based upon 1275 two principles. The first principle is that agreements freely entered into should be enforceable, and the second principle is that under the Bill these agreements are not so enforceable anyhow. I deal particularly with the first one, because that seems to be the more serious.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
If the hon. and learned Gentleman is purporting to paraphrase my argument, he may wish to do so briefly but he should not do so unfairly. I did not put it like that. I said that legal enforceability as a last resort was a normal minimum requirement in life, and that there was no reason why in principle it should not be operated in the case of collective agreements. But under the Bill if the parties do not like it they have merely informally to express that view.
§ Mr. Silkin
The right hon. and learned Gentleman drew attention to certain Clauses of the Bill, the effect of which is that these arrangements are not wholly enforceable but enforceable only by way of actions for damages. I was referring to that. But I leave that aside because I am more concerned with the first of these principles, that agreements freely entered into should be enforceable at law.
As a legal principle that is absolutely accurate. But the question is whether agreements of this kind are intended by the parties to be enforceable at law, because it is only agreements which are so intended which are enforceable according to our comon law. The courts have held that agreements of this kind are not intended by the parties to be enforceable at law. That is what has been decided by the courts.
If that were in any way in doubt, I should pray in aid the views of the Donovan Commission, which was chaired by a distinguished lawyer. It said that agreements of this kind ought not to be regarded as being enforceable at law, and that can only be on the basis, and indeed was on the basis, apart from any industrial questions, that the parties do not so intend unless they specifically say so. Indeed, if the position were that an agreement of this kind was intended by the parties to be enforceable at law there would be no point in having this Clause 1276 at all, because it would be enforceable without a statutory provision to that effect.
But it goes much further than that, because when one looks at the definition of "collective agreement" in subsection (b) one finds that a collective agreement is not only an agreement but also an arrangement, and necessarily an arangement must be something, if it is to mean anything at all, which is even less intended by the parties to have binding force than an agreement would be intended. Thus, we have not only agreements which are not intended by the parties to have binding force being made enforceable at law by the Clause but something less than that, being by way of an arrangement.
But even that is not the end, because when one looks at what these collective agreements are deemed to consist of one is drawn to the provisions of Clause 34. One finds that by virtue of that Clause a collective agreement, which is, by virtue of the Bill, to be a legally enforceable contract, is to be so construed thatit shall be an unfair industrial practice for any party to the agreement not to take all such steps as are reasonably practicable for the purposes … of preventing persons acting or purporting to act on behalf of that party from taking action in breach of the collective agreement or … where the party in question is an organisation, of preventing members of the organisation from taking any such action.Thus, for example, a group of employers, or organisations of employers, will, if they enter into an agreement of this kind, find written into the agreement by law a provision which requires them to take action in order to prevent a member of their organisation from acting in breach of it. That is the further provision which is written into these agreements when they are legally enforceable.
The effect of that is that in deciding whether the parties intend such agreements to be legally enforceable, one has to look not only at what they say but also at what is written into them by virtue of the provisions of Clause 34 imposing on the parties a duty, in addition to what is written into the agreements, to take all such steps as are reasonably practical in order to exercise some form of compulsion on their members, whether they are members of a group of trade unions or of a group of employers' organisations. 1277 Can one really feel that the parties to such an agreement or arrangement with that sort of term written into it would intend that such an arrangement or agreement shall be enforceable at law when they do not expressly say so, when it is already held by the courts that any procedural agreement or agreement between groups of trade unions or employers' organisations is not normally intended to be enforceable at law at all?
It follows from all that that the principle which the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East has advanced in favour of his suggestion that all we are doing is following the ordinary principles of common law is wholly contrary to the principles of the common law, and to the law as we now understand it.
§ Mr. Dan Jones
I am obliged for the legal contributions that we have heard and, not being a lawyer, I am listening with great interest to the arguments from both sides. May I ask my hon. and learned Friend whether, when the Bill becomes an Act, many of the agreements made in industry, and particularly in the engineering industry, will have to be drawn up in the presence of lawyers on both sides?
§ Mr. Silkin
If such an agreement is to be regarded as legally enforceable, if the consequences provided for by Clause 34 are to be written into it, and if the further penal consequences provided by later provisions of this Measure where there is a breach of contract and an unfair industrial practice are to follow, it will certainly be highly desirable for there to be advice available on both sides. I say "both sides" advisedly, because employers' organisations will equally be affected. In my view, it will be advisable for both sides to get advice from people who are legally qualified to give it. [Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will have regard to the effect of industrial relations of that sort of situation.
I do not wish to take up any more of the Committee's time. I felt it right to deal with the legal side of the matter, because the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East, with all the authority that he commands on these matters, presented the case as though all that we were doing was sanctifying an already legal principle. The fact of the 1278 matter is that we are doing precisely the contrary, and I hope that when the Committee deals with the Amendment it will bear that strongly in mind.
§ Mr. R. Carr
I think it may help to speed the progress of the Committee if I intervene now, and if further points arise I or one of my hon. Friends will be prepared, if it is the wish of the Committee, to intervene again later.
It seems to me that on this subject the Opposition want to have their cake and eat it. On the one hand they say that this proposal will have no effect, that it is meaningless, that it is without influence, but in the next breath they say that it will have the most dire results. They cannot have it both ways. It either is effective or is not effective, and if it is to be effective, then we want to consider rather carefully what its effects will be, and I shall try to do that later.
§ Mr. Heffer
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has got me mixed up with one of his hon. Friends.
§ Mr. R. Carr
In moving the Amendment the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) called in aid the Donovan Report. I think that we had better get ourselves a bit straight about this Report. It sometimes amuses me to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite parading as disciples of Donovan. Are they in favour of the registration of unions? Are they in favour of appeal to an independent board or tribunal which has agreed union members? I could go on with many important proposals with which the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) once agreed in "In Place of Strife" and which hon. Gentlemen opposite have disowned. It is true that they, too, can point at some of my hon. Friends and say the same. The truth is that both sides of the Committee accept some of the Donovan proposals and reject others. Neither of us is really in a white sheet about this.
I think that what we can agree about is the basic analysis of the Donovan Report of the nature of the disease in British industrial relations which we ought to be attempting to cure. What Donovan drew attention to three years ago and said was peculiar to Britain and very serious is about twice as bad now as it was then. What I am referring to 1279 is the number of unofficial strikes, usually in breach of procedure agreements. That is what the Donovan Report unanimously drew attention to as being peculiar to the British situation, and particularly serious and urgently in need of being tackled.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
I often hear the right hon. Gentleman talking about strikes. He is seeking to import segments of American law into our legislation. I draw to his attention the fact that General Motors, with 400,000 workers at 4,000 plants, was on strike for eight weeks last year, and during that period lost more days than we have lost in the past two years.
§ Mr. Carr
I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the point that that was the first serious strike which General Motors had had for 24 years. I suspect that not only Lord Stokes but everybody who works for British Leyland, as well as the country as a whole, would be a lot better off if the same could be said of the British Leyland organisation. However, that is an issue apart from the one which we are discussing in the Amendment.
The hon. Member for Walton is entitled to say that the Donovan Report, at the time of publication in June, 1968, in paragraph 506 came down against making collective agreements legally binding. However, we are just as entitled to say that from the moment of publication we disagreed with Donovan and made out disagreement absolutely plain. We believe that events over the last three years have tended to strengthen our case.
§ Mr. Heffer
Will the right hon. Gentleman go further and admit that the Conservative Party had already made up its mind in "Fair Deal at Work", irrespective of whatever Donovan came out with afterwards?
§ Mr. Carr
We had studied the problem long, carefully and fully. We felt fairly firm about our recommendation, and we saw nothing in Donovan to shake us on this point. We have had three years to consider Donovan. We saw nothing in the Donovan Report—we made this clear from the beginning— 1280 which persuaded us that Donovan was right and we were wrong. We believe that the events of the last three years have confirmed our view rather than the opposite.
It is fair to point out, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) pointed out in an outstandingly important speech laying down the principles which we are seeking to enact and the reasons for them, that in paragraph 502 the Donovan Commission made clear:We are not in principle opposed to the use of legal sanctions for the enforcement of agreed procedures.Donovan was not opposed to that in principle, but stated, in 1968, that it thought it inappropriate in practice.
The Donovan Report makes a number of references to this point; for example, paragraph 484, in which Sweden was being discussed. I will not take up time by quoting the whole paragraph. I paraphrase it, I think fairly, by saying that Donovan said, in effect, "If we in Britain could have written agreements as precise as in Sweden it might be that legal enforceability would be helpful, as it is already in Sweden." Donovan made clear that although it came down against that principle at the time, it was not opposed to legal enforceability in principle.
§ Mr. Carr
That may be, but they are very much better than here. We should recollect that before the introduction of the present pattern of law, Sweden was affected by unofficial strikes just as much as we are, anyhow, for 30 to 40 years. The effect of a similar law in Sweden has almost completely cured this problem. The evidence from Sweden tends to be more on our side than on the side of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
Although Donovan recommended against legal enforceability in practice, it made clear that it was not opposed to it in principle. It was a practical judgment, not a judgment of principle. The practical judgment was made at times 1281 which, I believe, were very different from those in which we live today.
I should now like to deal with some of the specific points raised by the hon. Member for Walton. The hon. Gentleman asked: how can union officials commit themselves not to allow their members to break agreements? Union officials cannot. Nor are they being asked to do this.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East pointed out, one cannot have a commitment to specific performance. The Bill makes clear that no individual worker can be compelled by a court to return to work or to suffer a penalty for not doing so. Even if the Bill did not make that clear, I understand that no court would find against a union official for failing to achieve specific performance by all the members on whose behalf he negotiated. Obviously, it would be grossly unfair. All that a union official can and is being asked to commit himself to is to use his best endeavours to see that an agreement which he makes on behalf of his members is honoured. We believe that if there were a more regular attempt to use best endeavours to achieve the honouring of agreements far more agreements would be kept and fewer broken than at present. We would not move from an imperfect world into a perfect one. We are talking about shifts in degree. We are in no doubt that if unions and officials right down the line feel themselves committed, when they have made an agreement, to take some positive, reasonable steps—they cannot be asked to do more—to see that agreements are kept, the position would be improved. It would not be perfect, but the position would be better than it is now.
§ Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)
Who will decide whether a trade union official has used his best endeavours? This is a debatable point. Somebody will have to decide whether he has or has not used his best endeavours. Who will decide that?
§ Mr. Carr
This is one of the rôles of the court in a disputed case. This is also one reason for these matters coming before new special courts—not old traditional courts—comprised of people with 1282 industrially sophisticated experience and knowledge. Not simply a judge or a lawyer, but a judge flanked by people with real knowledge and experience of industrial affairs. We have little doubt that in those circumstances reasonable opinions can be formed.
I must repeat what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East said; namely, that the effect of law is not only, or even mainly, in the use of the law, but the influence which its existence has on the way that people behave and carry on their business. That is always the major effect of the law for good or ill—we believe in this instance very much for good.
The hon. Member for Walton said that one objection to our proposal was that it would turn trade union officials into policemen and that they would be expected to discipline their members. I think that the hon. Gentleman should have exercised a little caution when he said that. I remind the hon. Gentleman of some words of his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister. [Interruption.] Is not the present Leader of the Opposition the same person as the former Prime Minister? Or do hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that one changes when one changes sides in this House, so entitling one to stand on one's head?
§ Mr. Carr
At least I know I am standing on the same two feet and putting forward the same proposals from this side of the Committee as I did from the benches opposite. When Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition said:…it will place an obligation on the union or unions concerned to get them back to work.He went on later:In the cases I have mentioned, the T.U.C. will place an obligation on the unions concerned to get their members back to work. It will then be the duty of the unions concerned to do this, including, where appropriate, the use of their rule books"—Is not that the unions acting as policemen? The right hon. Gentleman went on:In this case there is an obligation, where it is needed, to use the rule book, including fines, suspensions and expulsion—which is a 1283 very serious punishment in a closed shop industry—where this is not carried out and the unions are not taking effective action."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1969; Vol. 785, c. 701–3.]That was the present Leader of the Opposition speaking in this House not 10 years ago but less than two years ago.
§ Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friend was there referring to occasions when trade unions took action voluntarily and were responsible for deciding their own rules at their own conferences? Under the Bill, on the other hand, the rules will be drawn up and approved not merely by the unions but by the industrial relations commissioner and, if necessary, the registrar?
§ Mr. Carr
The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong about that. The then Prime Minister was speaking about the situation in the absence of a change in the law. He was saying that the unions should act as policemen, which is to what the hon. Member for Walton as objecting. The registrar will not write a union's rules, any more than he would have done under the proposals of the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn or the recommendations of the Donovan Commission. He will only be satisfied that the unions' rules say what it is wished they should say about certain specified subjects. Hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot argue that it is wrong for the unions to act as policemen when their Leader said that that is precisely what they should do.
§ Mr. Heffer
Instead of getting involved in arguments about what was said in the past—[Interruption.]—we can all do that; there is nothing clever in that sort of argument—will the right hon. Gentleman now deal with the specific charge that we have made about the Bill? I am sick and tired of the nit-picking in which hon. Gentlemen opposite indulge about what was said by various people at various times. I have always stood on my own two feet in this House and said what I believe. I said that the Bill would mean trade unions being expected to act as policemen against their members. Will the right hon. Gentleman now answer that charge and say "Yes" or "No" and not dodge the question?
§ Mr. Carr
My answer is "No". I thought I had made that clear. It is a reasonable defence for me to go on to say, considering that the charge has come from the Opposition Front Bench, that the advocacy that the trade unions should act as policemen came from the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister. Considering that the hon. Member for Walton and his right hon. Friend both speak from the same Dispatch Box, they had better get themselves sorted out before making the sort of remarks that the hon. Member for Walton has been making on this issue.
This is the difference between us. We are not seeking to make trade union officials policemen over their members. It was hon. Gentlemen opposite who did that, not only in what the then Prime Minister said but in the right hon. Lady's proposals in "In Place of Strife", by which if a striker refused to obey a conciliation arrangement, he was liable to be penalised under our criminal law. This Bill lays it down that no individual worker shall be able to be ordered back to work by any court or suffer any penalty for failing to do so.
There is, therefore, this major difference. We are proposing the exact opposite to what the hon. Member for Walton fears. We are merely saying that unless there is a contracting-out clause, both sides shall be bound to use their best endeavours to try to get the members on behalf of whom they have signed to keep to the agreement, and we believe that if that position is achieved, much good will follow.
§ Mr. Dan Jones
Is it proposed that the legal enforceability provisions should apply to all agreements in industry and not just to those which relate to wage agreements and so on and which are decided annually or at intervals of several years? In other words, will the provisions apply to agreements covering piece rates and similar matters which are negotiated almost daily?
§ Mr. Carr
We refer in the Bill to written agreements. Thus, the sort of agreements about which we are talking in the Clause are only those which are put in writing, and that is an important exclusion. There are, of course, many informal agreements, and I urge the hon. 1285 Gentleman to consult his trade union colleagues about those which exist in other countries and about which no difficulty arises.
We are the only industrial country which does not have the situation which we are now proposing. This is common form in other countries and they do not and the terrible effects, difficulties and fears which hon. Gentlemen opposite have mentioned. This is common form in countries like the United States, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Holland. I urge hon. Gentlemen opposite to ask their trade union colleagues in other countries about this, and they will find out the exact position.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
On several occasions we have tried to get this point cleared up. We have never received a clear answer and we ask for one now. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he is importing, by this Clause, into Britain parallel provisions from United States law? [Interruption.] He said that all the other countries had this provision and he wanted to know what we were kicking up a fuss about. We are kicking up a fuss because we fear that this will be both useless and harmful—[Interruption.] It could be harmful because it is useless.
Is it not a fact that under American law a collective agreement becomes legally binding at the wish of either party? Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that if either party does not want it to be legally binding it will not be so? Can we have a clear answer?
§ Mr. Carr
I am not clear about the exact position in the United States, but I am clear of the exact position we wish to achieve in this country. We are saying that a written collective agreement shall be legally binding on the parties who signed it, unless they have made the contrary clear. To some extent, we are playing with words in the sense that, unless both parties agree, they cannot sign the agreement. Either both have to agree not to have a clause in, in which case the agreement is legally binding, or both have to agree to an opting-out clause, in which case it is not legally binding. If one cannot do either of those, one cannot have an agreement. In that 1286 sense, therefore, the right hon. Lady is right in saying that either side has the power of veto over the other.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mrs. Castle
But is this not entirely different from the United States system? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We are a little tired of the Government's sloppy talk and sloppy thinking. The right hon. Gentleman said a few moments ago that other countries have what he proposes, and he asked why we should object to it. Then, when I ask whether he is importing the American system, he says that he does not know what the American system is. Will he, therefore, stop saying that all countries have what he is proposing in his Bill?
§ Mr. Carr
With respect, I did not say that—or, if I failed to make it abundantly clear, let me put it right now. What I meant was that in one form or other—I agree that the form varies from country to country—it is common practice that collective agreements are regarded as legally binding and legally enforceable on the parties entering into them, and we are exceptional in this country in having an assumption that they are not. They can be so regarded in this country, but so much has the assumption been to the opposite effect that it needed the Donovan Commission to point out the obvious: that, except between one union and another, it has been possible all along to have legally binding agreements in this country. However, as I say, so much has it become the habit not to do so that even the power to do so has become forgotten.
§ Mr. Dan Jones
I do not wish to interrupt the Minister too frequently—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I mean that sincerely—but the responsible national Press has accused us of not discussing the Bill in detail, and—
The Temporary Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that that is an unpromising start.
The Temporary Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman is well aware that a point which he, wishes to put to the Minister must not be prefaced by the phrase "On a point of order", so that he has unfair advantage over other hon. Members.
§ Mr. Carr
I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman take that view of the length of time ahead of us. I was about to say that so often in our debates I am criticised for making over-long speeches, but so often they are over-long because I give way to interruptions. If, on the other hand, I do not give way, I am criticised on that score instead, For the moment, therefore—
§ Mr. Carr
No. The hon. Gentleman is nowhere near the top of the list.
In an intervention during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper), the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton spoke about the motor car industry and asked the Committee to realise that the pace of, a conveyor was set by the Management and that it controlled the pace of the work. If the pace of the conveyor was changed, he said, it should not be surprising if there was an unofficial strike, because of natural and understandable feelings on the part of the employees concerned. How the hon. Gentleman asked, could we have an enforceable agreement about that?
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to realise that an enforceable agreement properly drawn up has clauses which deal with all that sort of variation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, it does, and either the management would not be 1288 allowed to do that or, more probably, since any union or management entering into a contract cannot foresee exactly what may happen during the fixed term for which it is binding itself, there will be procedures for dealing with matters of that kind. This is one point coming from the United States on which, I believe, even many of the union leaders most opposed to other aspects of the American pattern agree; namely, that there are these procedures so that when a quarrel of that kind conies up in the course of a legally binding fixed agreement the parties commit themselves to abide by the procedures, which nearly always include arbitration, to settle questions of that kind instead of having to settle them by walking out on strike.
§ Mr. Heffer
May I press the right hon. Gentleman on precisely that question of flexibility? Experience in the United States teaches that where grievances build up and develop, even though the parties can get a national agreement at the end of the three-year contract it is often not possible to get agreement in local factories. Sometimes a strike continues in certain areas for longer than it does in others while the local grievances are solved. With the flexibility of our type of agreement, on the other hand, if we have the best procedures possible, which we say we ought to have, one can deal with that sort of thing through the medium of a flexible agreement.
§ Mr. Carr
Precisely. Up to now, I have largely been taking up points raised by the hon. Member for Walton, but he has now given me the cue which I was waffling to move on, to the positive purpose of our proposal. The difference between us is that we believe that the two sides should have to contract out of legal enforceability, and the Opposition say that should have the right to contract in. That is the difference between us, and it is important, therefore, to understand why we hold to our view.
We hold to our view because we accept fully the Donovan analysis of the informal 1289 system in company and plant bargaining in this country and the need to make it more formal and more precise. I forget for the moment which paragraph of the Donovan Report it is, but there is a paragraph which talks of the desirability at company and plant level of having precise and written agreements. How do we obtain such agreements? We have to admit that in the last three years since Donovan, alas, we have not made much progress towards them.
We believe that the laying down of this presumption of legal enforceability will be a powerful pressure or incentive to the parties to make more precise and more written agreements. We believe that, if the parties come to the bargaining table knowing that, then, although they may end up with a contracting-out clause and the whole thing not legally enforceable, there will none the less from the beginning be a new element injected into the thinking on which the agreement is being reached. It will help to engender more careful thinking about what ought to go into the agreement, about the effects of it, and about whether those who will have to live with it are likely to find it acceptable. We believe that this will engender a more precise and comprehensive approach to the making of an agreement, even though at the end of the day the parties finally decide to put in a contracting-out clause and it is not legally binding.
In our view, the importance of this provision is not so much in making an agreement legally enforceable at the end but, rather, in introducing into the bargaining situation a new consideration, a consideration tending towards greater care and greater precision in the thinking, the drafting, the making and the keeping of the agreement.
The arguments put forward by Mr. Andrew Shonfield in the last part of his note of dissent to the Donovan Commission are familiar to the House, and so I will not go through them, but we think that they are the best statement of why we believe in the beneficient efficacy of this proposal over a period of time. We believe that both employers and unions will find that where a union is prepared to make a promise and put its name on the line in support of that promise employers will give it more in return. This will gradually lead to a cumulative build- 1290 ing up of stability and confidence in collective bargaining, which is what the Donovan Committee said was most needed.
Therefore, we support the Clause as it stands, and ask the Committee to reject the Amendment. We believe that we have here a pressure for change in the direction which the Donovan Commission said was most vital of all.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
I should like to make two points in support of the Amendment. The first is somewhat technical, so it is perhaps unfortunate that the Solicitor-General is not present to hear it. My second point is a general one.
The intricacies of the Bill, about which there has already rightly been considerable comment, should not create a doubt about the effect of the Clause upon those industrial agreements between trade unions and employers' associations which are enforceable under the existing law. I am particularly concerned about those agreements and what their fate will be if the Clause goes through unamended.
I understand the position under the present law to be this. If terms of service are agreed between an employer and a trade union acting on the express authorisation of each of a number of workers to settle terms on their behalf, so that the union is acting as a duly authorised agent for the employees, and if the employers' organisation is authorised in precisely the same way to settle terms of agreement on behalf of the employers, then provided that both are acting properly as agents within the scope of their authority, the agreement they reach, whether oral or in writing, may be valid and enforceable in the ordinary courts as they are now.
I stress the question of oral agreements, because they could be called collective agreements in one sense, in so far as under the present law—certainly in Scotland; I would not presume to speak for England and Wales—they would be enforceable in law. Accordingly, the first doubt created is whether the effect of the early part of the Clause is perhaps to diminish that degree of enforceability.
My second doubt relates to the word "party" at the end of the Clause. It is not a definition but a gloss. It does not define "party" but simply says that 1291 certain things are comprised within the term. Had it defined "party" in such a way as to confine "trade unions" to trade unions, and not include individual trade unionists, it would be clear that my first point was not well founded. But with the gloss that the Bill gives, "party" is still open to be construed by the court as including an individual trade unionist who has authorised his trade union to act on his behalf in reaching an industrial agreement as to certain terms and conditions of employment.
It is not without interest that the Clause applies to organisations of workers as well as trade unions. Have the Government fully worked out the implications of that in law? Those implications seem to me to undermine quite seriously the provisions of Clause 5.
My general point is that there is a big difference between contracting in to enforceability and contracting out of enforceability. I do not propose to add to the arguments that have already been made on that point, but I should like to stress certain points arising from that distinction. Contracting out of enforceability, which is what the Bill contains, is obviously liable to lead to trouble when the agreement is being forged in a situation of stress. No hon. Member would be realistic if he did not face the fact that many industrial agreements, perhaps the most important ones, will be forged under precisely such circumstances. In situations of stress, due to anxiety, inadvertence, misunderstanding or pressure, whether financial because the union is running short of money if it is striking, or because of a particularly attractive additional percentage being offered to the workers, both the workers and the employers seeking agreement could be tempted to reach agreement at a somewhat earlier stage than might otherwise be the case. With contracting out, the scope for misunderstanding, anxiety and pressure is greater than with contracting in.
Associated with that important general point is this question. With contracting in to enforceability we are running along a well understood path of the law of contract. The Government are seeking not only to introduce enforceability into a 1292 type of agreement where it has not previously existed in the present form but are also seeking to introduce the principle of contracting out. In other words, they are taking two novel exploratory steps at one time, and that is unwise. I think that I am well founded on Donovan in saying that. The Government would be much better advised to take one step at a time, to introduce a degree of enforceability and see how that works, instead of taking two steps. If they take two steps, they are certain to trip.
Contracting in is in accordance with the ordinary rules of law, equity and justice as we understand them in this country, whereas contracting out is less so. Moreover, again realising that bargains and agreements will be made under the industrial stress of the workshop, we must face the fact that contracting in or contracting out will be used as another counter in the bargaining negotiations. If we have contracting in, it will be for the employers to make a slightly better offer at the end of the agreement so as to make it a binding, enforceable contract. When an agreement is reached the employers will say, "We want it made enforceable, and if you agree to that you will get a little bit extra". But if the principle is that of contracting out, the veto will be the other way. In practice the trade union or the organisation of workers—it need not be a trade union; it could be a splinter group — can say, "We will not agree to your offer of 10 per cent. unless we contract out". That will become part of the bargaining process, which would be to the detriment of the principle the Government wish to introduce in the Bill.
For those reasons the Amendment is not only very reasonable but is the only correct course.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
On a point of order, Mr. Godman Irvine. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) has brought out a very significant point, that the law of contract in Scotland is different from that in England. I know that we are always accused of being nationalistic when we try to make these points, but we have a Lord Advocate, and I think that you have the powers, Sir, as 1293 Temporary Chairman, to ask that he shall come here and explain the matter lo the Committee, particularly Scottish hon. Members, because it is very important for the people of Scotland.
The Temporary Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman is ascribing to the Chair powers it does not possess.
§ Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)
The interesting point about Clause 32 is that it has caused considerable anxiety amongst employers. This is partly because they will be required to alter a lot of their methods and partly because a collective agreement, when signed, could be turned against them. The first thing that they will have to do is give much more information to their employees before any agreement can be made legally binding. They will also have to start their negotiations much earlier. In many industries, particularly the smaller firms, negotiations are rather rushed through. If employers are to have any hope of making an agreement legally binding, they will have to start their negotiations much earlier.
Another thing that is absolutely essential is that the disputes procedure which the employers draw up will have to be greatly improved, and the unions will have to see that the disputes procedure in a factory is improved so that, before they get down to anywhere near signing a collective agreement, any dislikes they may have of bargaining methods can be dealt with much more quickly. Finally, employers will have to have more skilled personnel staff because the unions will employ their own highly skilled people in collective bargaining. Until the employers make these adjustments in the personnel side of their factories, I do not see agreements being considered legally binding.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) mentioned the motor industry and the speeding up of methods on the track. He did not think that this country could make agreements legally binding. If they are to make alterations on the track, managements in the motor industry will have to make known their intention much earlier than they do now if they are to bring the unions into a legal agreement. Until there is the emergence of one union for the motor industry, 1294 I do not see agreements being made legally binding. We look forward—the sooner it happens, the better—to the formation of a united automobile workers' union in this country. Until that happens, there will be great difficulty on legally binding contracts in the motor industry.
The boredom of work has been mentioned. It was pointed out that unless this was taken into account there was the danger of unofficial walk-outs. We need more social inventiveness in this country about the question of boredom at work, altering work methods and trying to understand why people walk out on unofficial strike so quickly in mass production industries like the motor industry. There will be nervousness and suspicion on both sides before one can make an agreement legally binding. As has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend and others, it will be some time before agreements are made legally binding, and wage agreements are no magic cure for industrial relations.
§ Mr. Moyle
The Secretary of State and I will agree at least on one thing—our admiration for the technical excellence of the speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). It was charming. He even remembered the close association between his father and my father in the building trades industry many years ago. The speech was fluent, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speeches always are. It showed a mastery of the law, although not sufficient to convince my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin). But it scared the pants off those of us who understand industrial relations on this side of the Committee in thinking of what might happen if diamond-hard legal minds of that sort are ever turned loose on industrial relations in workshop and factory.
The point I intended to make to the Secretary of State when I sought to intervene was that he would help the progress of the Committee substantially if, instead of trying to deal with the knotty legal points, he skirted them and brought the Solicitor-General in. He need not feel ashamed about it because this is what we shall all be doing if the Bill comes into operation. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich put an able case 1295 and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East put an equally able case, and one of the points I would make is that once we have the legal lumber out of the way, we can get down to discussing the industrial relations problems. This again is a reflection of what will happen in the country if the Bill becomes law.
We have been trying to find out from the Secretary of State whether he has the intention that Clause 32 shall actually apply in British industrial relations. There is still some doubt about that. If he does not intend it to apply, of course, Clause 32 becomes a lot of inconsequential legal waffle which it is a waste of time for the Committee to consider. Indeed, that may well apply to a large part of the Bill. If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman does intend the Clause to apply, then I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that it shows bias against the trade union movement in that it is applying a principle of law to industrial relations that is not generally applicable in the English law of contract. The general principle of the English law of contract is that legal relations will not be created unless it is intended that they shall be created, whereas the principle in Clause 32 is that there will be legal results even although one party to the contract does not really want them to apply.
The right hon. Gentleman is showing no comprehension of what he is doing. One of his arguments in the Consultative Document was that he wishes there to be legal enforceability of contract because he wants clear and unambiguous language to apply in British industrial relations. He spent a large part of his speech today explaining what he meant. In many circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman may well be right, but one can easily point out the trouble encountered in trying to deal with this sort of problem by applying the law.
I have a confession to make. From time to time I have been involved in the drafting of agreements affecting industrial relations and from time to time I have deliberately indulged in a certain soothing ambiguity of language. The reason is quite simple. People who draw up such agreements are not stupid. They are doing their job and one of the things one 1296 must face is that it may be better to fudge an issue slightly in order to get an agreement and keep the wheels of industrial relations turning than settle down and clearly define one's terms, at the same time clearly defining the areas of disagreement between the two parties, in the result getting industrial strife instead of settlement. Yet, by the pressure of the law, the right hon. Gentleman is trying to settle these matters in one particular direction when a whole variety of circumstances have to be taken into account.
The right hon. Gentleman wants language which makes it clear what the parties have agreed to. People who draw up industrial agreements are endeavouring to do just that. The phrases they use may be inelegant to lawyers from outside who try to interpret them in accordance with the canons of legal interpretation, and also to the layman who comes into the industry and looks at them. But they are very often phrases which are known and understood in the industry, however inelegant they may be, and are designed particularly to have meaning for the people who are sitting around the table and reaching agreement even if they mean very little to people outside the industry or the workshop, as the case may be.
One of the chief condemnations of Clause 32 is that there will be a fantastic spread of industrial agreements in language which the average man on the shop floor, or the average person in the office, does not comprehend because the parties around the table will be endeavouring to protect themselves from legal consequences which the right hon. Gentleman is importing by Clause 32 and will be putting their agreements into tightly drafted legal language which will mean nothing to a great many people.
We have to consider the problem of the shop steward. The right hon. Gentleman may be fortunate but I have not met many shop stewards who have had the advantage of a lengthy legal training. These people are very often appointed because no one else will do the job; in any case they are elected from among their work mates with no legal training; they are not professionals in many cases. Sometimes, however, the manager may give them time off with pay and sometimes they may even have an office of 1297 their own. Sometimes they spend a great deal of time on such work rather than pursuing their normal trade. But one must accept that they are not all like this. The fact is that the majority of them in most factories are ordinary men at the workbench endeavouring to do their job and help out their mates at one and the same time. From time to time, from the negotiating table at the factory, or from national level, there will descend, not like manna from heaven but with dull thuds, these complicated legal agreements, drafted because the people at national level are trying to protect themselves from possible legal consequences. It is a problem that we have to face.
If there are people who trust each other, particularly as well as the father of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East and my father did in the building industry, by all accounts it is possible that even if there is legal enforceability people will understand what they mean and will be able to interpret the position of each to the other. I carry this further because each will know that the person who would have to invoke legal relationships and take action under Clause 32 will be in agreement with himself. From this point of view, no protection is necessary.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind, however, that only once has that sort of relationship to break down and the employer to take the union to the National Industrial Relations Court or the union take the employer to the court, and all the simplicities of industrial relations though trust will be swept away and they will be back to the hard and fast drafting of industrial contracts in complicated legal language.
There is also the problem of the enforcement of these legal industrial contracts. Once a contract of this sort is reached between trade union and employer, not only is it applicable to them but it becomes part of the contract of employment of every individual within the industry. One of the great advantages of trade union recognition to a trade union is that it sets out negotiating machinery in the factory or industry concerned; one of the great advantages to the employer is that he knows that when he speaks to people who control that 1298 machinery, he speaks to people who can probably deliver the goods.
This afternoon there have been several references to the motor car industry, but the motor car industry is the great exception, or one of the great exceptions, in British industry. The general picture of British industry is of a systematised, organised bargaining structure, with people sitting round tables and trusting each other—the gas industry, the electricity industry, local authorities, the Health Service, textiles, baking, rubber, and so on. The trouble is that Conservatives are mesmerised by things like the motor car industry, which is a particular problem. What they are doing is providing a solution which may or may not work in the motor car industry, but which will certainly make things incredibly complicated in many other industries which until now have been working satisfactorily.
Once a legally enforceable industrial agreement has been reached between trade union and employer it will become part of the contract of employment of every individual within that industry. The right hon. Gentleman is setting up a system of courts parallel to the negotiating machinery which trade unions already maintain. What will be the consequences? He must seriously consider this possibility.
An individual employee, perhaps a Communist, perhaps a Trotskyite, perhaps a barrack-room lawyer, perhaps wanting the district secretary's job, perhaps just one of the awkward squad—
§ Mr. Moyle
He may be a Tory trade unionist. Having decided that he has a problem under the agreement, which is legally enforceable, he may put his case to the branch. The branch may consider it, but say that it does not propose to press it. Under the Bill, such an employee will no longer have to pay attention to the branch, because if he is sufficiently determined he will be able under Clause 90 to take his case to an industrial tribunal. There he will be able to fight it. If he does not win it there, he will be able, under Clause 100, to take it to the National Industrial Relations Court, and he may win it there. If he wins, he will undermine the agreement which the trade union has negotiated at national 1299 level. Therefore, once the Bill comes into operation every trade union agreement will be the sort of agreement which has to be drafted as tightly as possible to prevent that sort of thing.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
It must be borne in mind that the terms of a collective agreement, whether enforceable or not, are in fact incorporated into an individual's contract of employment which, as of now, is enforceable by an individual who disagrees with his colleagues in the branch. The only thing is that an individual would have to enforce it through the county court and then through the ordinary legal channels to the Court of Appeal.
The concept that an individual should be entitled to assert the terms of his collectively agreed contract of employment is not new, but from now on the machinery will be more informal machinery; namely, the industrial tribunals which will be established along the lines foreshadowed by the Bill to have been introduced by the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) which provided for any questions arising out of individual contracts of employment to be referred to industrial tribunals. We are achieving that object, making available to individuals a more informal means of enforcing their contracts of employment than was foreshadowed in the Labour Government's Bill.
§ Mr. Moyle
I am grateful for that intervention. The intervention of the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) and that of the Solicitor-General have clearly demonstrated what will be the difficulties of applying the Bill, if it ever becomes law. I have pointed out the lack of legal knowledge of the right hon. Member for Mitcham, and now we have had a clear indication that, although the Solicitor-General has a firm grasp of the law, he has no grasp of the industrial relations aspect of what he is saying.
The Government are introducing a Bill, which will be put on the Statute Book with a great fanfare of trumpets, to say that collective agreements may be legally enforceable. They will develop an alternative system of courts, again with a great fanfare of trumpets. The result will be that individual employees will be much more likely to exploit the new 1300 system of courts than they ever were the system of county courts. There is proof positive of this because the number of employees who make use of the county court to enforce their terms and conditions of service is practically nil. However, the Secretary of State knows better than anybody else in this Chamber of the number of ordinary employees who have made use of the tribunals set up under the Redundancy Payments Act. That is what will happen under the new system of courts to be created by the Bill.
I have little else to add to my case except to say that I am sure that many of these things have never occurred to the Secretary of State. Although I should have had difficulty in comprehending what he was at at the beginning of last week, when the right hon. Gentleman was in his capacity of bold bad capitalist, as from the middle of last week we have been aware of witnessing the right hon. Gentleman in his capacity as the leader of the Pilkington strikers. I can understand why he wants to have a parallel system of courts to undermine the union negotiating machinery, and that is what he is at throughout the whole of the Bill. The only amusing thing about it is that someone like the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) or the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) fought his election campaign, unbeknowing at that time, on behalf of the Pilkington strikers.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]
§ Mr. Awdry
This is proving to be an excellent debate. Practically no one on either side of the Committee has lost his temper, and that is fairly unusual, and we have had serious speeches on a fundamental matter. It is not the first time that we have had an excellent debate. For example, on Wednesday night we had a magnificent debate about the closed shop. In that, as in this debate, the issues have been evenly divided. In the end, it is a matter of judgment which way one votes, for there is not an overwhelming case one way or the other. None of us on either side can be absolutely certain that we are right. What is clear is that the Opposition and the trade unions have a genuine dislike of the Clause and on this side of the Committee we should respect that. They have been developing very 1301 respectable arguments for the last two or three hours to which we should listen. I put it to my hon. Friend the Member for Iford, South (Mr. Cooper) that they have Donovan on their side.
I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) says that Donovan is out of date because it came out two or three years ago, but I do not agree. The issue to which Donovan was paying attention was the question of unofficial strikes and that is still the issue today. I asked my right hon. Friend to consider meeting the objections of the Opposition.
This may sound an astonishing thing, but it is time that we had a little conciliation. I must admit that I have always felt strongly about enforcement agreements. I can remember talking about this during the General Election, saying that we must make agreements enforceable but the more I think about it, the more I listen to people with experience in these matters, the more I wonder whether I might be wrong. If I do not vote for this I will not be ashamed of changing my mind. We will make better progress in the Committee if we have a little give and take on such issues. That is surely the purpose of the debate. I do not think that the Clause is worth going to the stake for. I do not think that it is all that important.
If it goes through then every agreement, or most of them, will have a clause inserted saying that the agreement is not to be legally enforceable. The trade unions will take a great deal of care to see that this happens.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
I appreciate that my hon. Friend is being sincere in this. Is he saying that he prefers the Amendment to the Clause, or does he say that neither should appear?
§ Mr. Awdry
I am saying that there is not a great deal in it. Whichever way it goes, both sides accept that there will be agreements which will contain a clause saying that that agreement is not legally enforceable. We say that this is perfectly acceptable to us and the Opposition say that all agreements should be presumed to have such a condition unless the contrary is stated. What I say is that it is about time that we tried to meet each other's point of view and tried to understand that the Opposition have a 1302 genuine point here which we should meet if we can. In that way we might have a better Committee and we might improve the Bill instead of continually taking diametrically opposed views on every subject.
There will be many subjects in the future on which we shall no doubt lose our temper, but there seems to be a case here for trying to meet the point raised by the Opposition.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Would my hon. Friend consider that some industries are working in extraordinarily competitive markets overseas and are anxious to have some stability for a foreseeable period. It is only when they have some assurance that they will have an enforceable contract, one that can be sustained for a reasonable period, that they are likely to enter into any lasting agreement.
§ Mr. Awdry
Of course I agree that industrialists are worried about the situation and would like to see better stability and better agreements. I would point out that not all industrialists think that this Clause will necessarily produce that result. More important than the issue we are discussing now is whether we could not get a little better climate for the rest of the Bill because it really would help in dealing with this subject which is so vital, not only for Members, but for many millions of people in the country.
I will not say anything about the law because I am a solicitor not a lawyer. I have listened, fascinated, to the legal gentlemen arguing this and would not know which was right, but I believe that common sense is more important than legal niceties. If we do meet the Opposition on this Clause, which I do not think is worth going to the stake over, we might change the climate and make better progress on the rest of the Bill.
§ [Mr. E. L. MALLALIEU in the Chair]
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Orme
Listening to the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) gives some indication of the way in which the debate is going. I think the hon. Member will find, if he goes into this more deeply, that there are underlying reasons why the Government want this Clause as opposed to the superficial reasons advanced. I would 1303 like to put a point to the Solicitor-General which relates to something said by his right hon. Friend. The Secretary of State said that this Clause referred to written agreements. If we look at subsection (3) it says:In this Act 'collective agreement' means any agreement or arrangement (whether written or oral)…In other words, it refers to oral agreements while the Amendment deals specifically with written agreements.
Many agreements in industry are written but many are oral. If this is to apply to written agreements then the situation will arise when there will be pressure for more oral agreement as opposed to written agreements. In itself, since industry is more complicated and agreements are becoming increasingly difficult to arrive at, that will cause all sorts of problems. People who have negotiated such agreements know that a great deal of day-to-day agreements are made by management and become established as custom and practice agreements.
These are prevalent in the engineering industry, in the docks and many other places. They are subject to the binding agreement of management and trade unions. Allowing for the argument often used that certain agreements are broken, the fact is that there are tens of thousands of agreements in British industry, large and small, which are respected by both sides of industry year in and year out. This is the experience of many people and it is my own experience. I remember a new works manager who challenged some form of agreement in the factory where I worked. I said, "Sir, this has been accepted by your predecessor, it is custom and practice within the factory." This matter went to higher management which had no hesitation in endorsing the previous practice. If higher management had not done so it would have been putting in jeopardy its standing over a period of years. Higher management was not prepared to prejudice the situation because so much must depend on good will.
A barrack-room lawyer can create all sorts of mischief. There has built up within a factory or industry the feeling that when something is said it will be maintained. It is not always possible to 1304 do this. If the Government think that they can improve the situation by bringing in the law and making agreements legally enforceable then they are completely mistaken. In large measure this Bill is directed at the engineering industry. A large part of Donovan dealt with the multifarious procedures in that industry.
Take a national agreement made in the engineering industry. It is negotiated between the Engineering Employers Federation and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. The main points are set out in the agreement. But it may be very difficult to interpret and one must deal with a large number of shop stewards, not all of them as well versed in industrial affairs and practices as other shop stewards might be, as is often the case with managements. Notes for guidance are drawn up in a small booklet which is sent to the district committees and shop stewards throughout the engineering industry. The notes for guidance are not always easy to follow, but they are not written in legal language. Often there is a measure of disagreement about them between unions and management.
If agreements are written, not in the present form, but in legal language, it will be impossible for shop stewards and management to understand them. Although in many large factories there is a strong organisation and a great deal of experience among management and unions, the majority of employees work in medium and small firms, and it is these employees for whom collective agreements will have to be interpreted. Will these agreements be legally binding? Will we have the lawyers in at every stage? If so, it will be absolutely ridiculous.
I wish to point out why the Government, under pressure from certain sections of industry, want the Clause in the Bill. The reason is that they want a wage agreement to be arrived nationally and then no wage movement to take place for three years. In other words, the Clause is aimed at wage drift. If they think that they can stop wage drift by making agreements legally enforceable, they are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. I do not think that that is possible.
The type of long-term agreement which has been experimented with recently—and 1305 I use the word "experimented" advisedly—will not be countenanced by the trade unions if it means the restriction of wages for two or three years. They just will not accept it.
§ Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that in America, where two-year and three-year agreements operate, there is provision for paying increases, and making improvements in conditions, at the end of each year?
§ Mr. Orme
Anything can be negotiated into an agreement. It was said by one of the leaders in the engineering industry not long ago that the last package deal was probably the last national agreement of this type which would be negotiated in this country. We do not have an American situation here. There is still a great deal of individual piece work as opposed to measured day work in this country. With piece work and day-to-day negotiation with the ratefixer which leads to continual changes in price, there is often a measure of disagreement between management and trade unions.
I understand the point made by the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler), but I do not think that it is possible in Britain to make provisions of the kind to which he refers. The Government are bitterly opposed to cost-of-living increases, and so on, and people will not accept things which they agreed to in 1968 if conditions have radically altered by 1971.
Stress has been laid on the Donovan Report today. I wonder how long it will be before we canonise Lord Donovan. The Donovan Report has become almost a bible. There are contradictions in it and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) took a great deal of pleasure in trying to point out some of them to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). The Donovan Rep-port is the only report which has investigated British trade union movement in great depth and with thoroughness in the last 60 years.
The Secretary of State was rather silly to take us up about quoting the Donovan Report Many of, my hon. Friends and I are opposed to the points it makes about registration. we were critical of parts of 1306 the Donovan Report when we discussed it when the Labour Government were in office. Andrew Shonfield and other people have made very sharp points which must be contested about the Donovan Report. But the central point which the Report makes about collective bargaining and agreements is that it believes in free collective bargaining and that agreements should remain free from the law. If we deny this, we are missing the point which the Donovan Commission made. With all the evidence produced by the trade unions, employers and lawyers and all the expert advice tendered to it, Donovan came out firmly in favour of free collective bargaining without legal enforceability. That is the central point.
By opposing the legal enforceability of agreements we are not saying that the trade union movement should be beyond or above the law. The trade union movement is not outside the law. A great deal of nonsense is talked about the trade union movement being the fourth estate. The law is applicable to the trade union movement as it is to anybody else, and the proof of this is that the trade unions use the law. They have taken people to court, and they have been taken to court themselves. Many matters have been challenged in the court, whether it be on the question of elections or the dismissal of people.
What we object to is bringing the law directly into collective bargaining and wage negotiation. I believe that the method of bargaining in British industry is based fundamentally on mutual trust. It is the exception that takes the headlines in the Daily Express, not the proven rule. It is the exception that is highlighted. Nothing is said about the tremendous work that 185,000 shop stewards do in British industry. They oil the wheels of industry. If, for instance, the York agreement as it now exists—on which the unions are more near to agreement with the employers but, unfortunately, they are bedevilled by the Bill from getting agreement; if the current agreement, with all its weaknesses and its anti-union bias as we see it, were to be withdrawn and everybody in the engineering industry left to his own devices, the strikes that we now have would be nothing to what would happen, 1307 because there is a measure of responsibility in industry. To deny that is completely out of line with what the trade union movement stands for.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East dealt with the legalistic argument and talked about making agreements legally binding. All sorts of words are used which are not necessarily legally binding. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is often quite an authority on foreign affairs. Agreements between statesmen are not legally binding, because it would be impossible to make them so, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognises. He and I, as candidates, gave pledges to the electorate in the best of faith in June. Perhaps it is a pity that the electorate could not take some of his hon. Friends to court to make them answer for the words which, I am sure, they said in all good faith prior to 18th June.
To equate agreements in industry with the law of contract in regard to normal British practice is wrong. They are not the same thing. There is a very great distinction. If hon. Members opposite cannot see that distinction, that is what divides the two sides.
An hon. Member on the Government side recently made a short but telling speech in which he spoke about the other problems in industry, such as boredom, repetition, sickness and illness. We recognise all these problems that exist. We say that the law will not resolve them. To make contracts legally binding will resolve these problems but will aggravate them.
If we left the situation as it is today, one could make contracts legally binding if one so desired. It is not necessary to put it in legalistic language or write it into the Bill. By their Amendment, my hon. Friends have shown the alternative. I hope that we oppose and defeat the Government on this point, because in discussing collective bargaining this is the next stage from our debate last week. It is another kernel to the whole discussion. The basis of our argument is that legal enforceability will not improve industrial relations but will make them worse.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
I have always listened with respect to the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) when he 1308 speaks about this problem, and I have had sympathy with him on what seems to be the general message that he has tried to convey. I have been wondering where we differ. The hon. Member has made it clear in the speech which he has just made.
The hon. Member seemed to think that the Government's proposals in the Bill will lead to longer term agreements, and he said that we could not have that. If the country is to be able to compete successfully in this highly competitive world, we really must have longer term agreements.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
The reason why we must have this provision in the Bill, and why I should have to come to a different judgment from my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry), is that I believe that it is more likely to result in longer-term agreements.
I believe that it will give an extra bargaining point to the trade unions and that the normal process of negotiation will continue. I believe that management and employee will get to a point at which they can come to agreement which will be in the best interests of industry. I believe that the unions will be in a position to say, "We will refuse to use our veto, we will not bring this out of the legal requirement. If you give us this extra point, we can come to agreement." This extra weapon in the hands of the negotiators on the trade union side is more likely to result in the stage being reached that they can arrive at a longer-term agreement than is the case in the present situation.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle), who charged my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) with being charming and fluent—the hon. Member was both, and I congratulate him—gave the other difference between himself and myself on this matter. He cited occasions when he had been a party to negotiations in which, he said, in order to reach a point of agreement, he had deliberately used words in a hazy way; 1309 he had secured agreement by not being absolutely clear. As a result, he had been able to come to an agreement whereby production in his department had been able to continue, whereas to have been more precise and legalistic might have prevented this.
That is a little old-fashioned. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) said exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, we have moved away from the former practice, and those of us in the management side of business have found it a sad situation. I remember when, a few years ago, one could go into the market place and strike a bargain merely by slapping the hand. One did not need to have it in writing and circulate it in triplicate signed with the company's seal. Nowadays, the whole atmosphere is different, with all the legal advice, guidance and cynicism which has grown up. I am sad that this is the situation; I wish it were not.
If one is buying a house, renting a garage or making the normal contracts which in the old days could have been done by friendly agreement, today it must be committed to writing so that people know where they are. I believe that my right hon. Friends are right in providing that the next step shall be that people who are party to these agreements accept them as legally binding unless at the beginning of their discussions they opt out of that decision.
I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have the support of all those who have an understanding of this problem and that, on consideration, hon. Members opposite who are battling for the official trade unions will see the strength that this gives to the official trade unions. It gives no strength to the militants or to the breakaways. Those who support official collective bargaining should go into the Lobby with us on this issue, and I hope that they will do so when the vote is taken.
§ Mr. McBride
The right hon. Gentleman said that in the trade union movement and in other fields and in other nations there were agreements which were tightly drawn, and he spoke of the British people, but he forgot that the British people, and the British people in the trade union movement, like a good settle- 1310 ment, and prefer giving a little and taking a little.
The right hon. Gentleman, to whom I listened very carefully, did not say anything about these words in the Clause, that a collective agreementshall be conclusively presumed to be intended by the parties to it to be a legally enforceable contract.He did not say whether these words would apply to agreements from national to workshop level, but I think we are entitled to be told whether they do.
The Clause provides that any collective agreement is legally enforceable if such agreement does not contain a provision to the contrary, but I submit that the present system of collective bargaining, not legally enforceable, has worked very well, is the essence of flexibility, has great virtue, and has served the nation well. If agreements are made legally rigid and stay fixed, prices, profits and jobs do not, as we have had ample opportunity since 18th June to see—in the classic phrase, "at a stroke".
Therefore I wonder why the Secretary of State seeks to wreck this system which has proved, in my view at least, of great benefit to the nation. If legal enforceability is to be extended to every arrangement or agreement then, according to subsection (3), the definitive subsection, which says that "collective agreement" is any agreement whether written or oral, it will apply to every shop agreement or arrangement and to every works agreement or arrangement, and it will result in the whole field of industrial relations in British industry being encased in a cocoon of case law. Flexibility will go.
The conclusion is that if an employer wishes an agreement to be legally enforceable he will not seek to write into that agreement that the agreement is not legally enforceable. This provision, as do many other provisions in the Bill, shows that the Bill is biased against the workers and biased towards the employers. Subsection (3) says:In this Act 'collective agreement' means an agreement or arrangement (whether written or oral) …My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) dealt with that, but certainly it means that any agreement, written or oral, made when the Bill becomes an Act will be legally binding, although these agreements are made quite 1311 freely in British industry by trade unionsts and employers. I have been a party to many of them myself.
The Solicitor-General must be unworldly if he believes that the workers will secure justice if they attempt to substantiate an oral agreement, because I believe the employer will always be able to secure witnesses—with reliable memories, shall I say?—should there be any dispute concerning the position of trade unionsits alleged to be partners to an oral agreement, who have secured other situations, and who have been laid off by their former firm. What can be the position under an agreement which is an oral agreement and which is termed legally binding?
This Clause means that the dice are being loaded against my fellow trade unionists, and it militates against the system in which industry-wide agreements have been possible, and it means that industry-wide agreements, which have raised wage rates, will have no place at all. They will have no place under the conditions which will be created by this Bill. As has been said, it is impractical to superimpose on the existing British trade union system a set of legal presumptions which do not fit the British scene. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) dealt with that very well. It has been conclusively demonstrated that if collective bargaining agreements were to be legally enforceable a complete restructuring of collective bargaining would be necessary. It would mean that the informal, inflexible shop floor arrangements based on common sense and common interests, and now widespread in British industry, would have to give way to tightly drawn and probably incomprehensible contracts at plant and company level and covering every inconceivable eventuality.
Everyone who has been party to an agreement of this flexible type made between trade unionsits and employers knows that the informal, flexible arrangements and agreements so made are made because of personal knowledge, and that, in my submission, is infinitely superior to the legal straitjacket method of this Bill which, I frankly tell the right hon. Gentleman, is anti-trade union. The "conclusive legal presumption" is a 1312 fallacy, as the Government will find out, since trade unionists are loyal to the things they create themselves, the things they maintain themselves, and the things they defend them selves —not things imposed by judges and employers, and maintained by lawyers—and defended by nobody.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
This Clause is certainly one of the more puzzling Clauses in the Bill, and having heard it expounded by several lawyers on either side of the Committee I am not surprised that many laymen have been misled by it. It has been widely believed among many trade unionists, certainly in my own constituency, that the effect of this Clause would be to make it possible for legally binding agreements to be imposed on them against their will, and I am glad to have my right hon. Friend's assurance that that is not the case, but I am inclined to agree rather with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) that the probability is that, as a result of this Clause, the number of written agreements which will be entered into will be substantially reduced. In this I think it is more likely that the hon. Member is right than that my right lion. Friend is right in believing that there will be no change.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, because it is more important that agreements should be kept than that they should be numerous and frequent, but I think it is still incumbent on the Committee to try to remove any avoidable disincentives to the signature of written agreements, and one of the strongest disincentives is the fear of being bound indefinitely by such an agreement. That fear was voiced by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) just now. It is inherent in the objections to the York Memorandum of 1922. As time goes on it can certainly be the case that, where a written agreement is signed, experience will show that one party gets a greater advantage from it and the other party less advantage from it than either of them originally anticipated, and that there will be found a strong inducement in the one who has gained advantage to resist any desire on the part of the other party to revise the agreement.
This, it seems to me, can be avoided by making it clear that no agreement will be legally binding unless it contains an 1313 express provision for a time limit, and that is the reason why I put down my Amendment No. 705, which would have the effect of adding a third condition qualifying the provision that written agreements shall be deemed to be legally enforceable. I believe that Amendment would be welcomed by trade unionists, and I have no reason to think that employers would find it objectionable.
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not wish to intervene at any great length, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave an undertaking that certain of the points raised would be answered at about this stage.
In reply to the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry), my right hon. Friend, and indeed all of us on this side, believe that we are here trying to arrive at what is the right balance on this as on every other part of the Bill. We believe that here, too, we meet a posture which should commend itself to my hon. Friend. It may be that the arguments my hon. Friend advanced over-state the case as he puts it because of a misunderstanding of how far we are trying to go. My hon. Friend said that during the Election he argued that we should make all collective agreements enforceable. If he did that, he was arguing a case other than that which I lay before the Committee tonight. The divide is not as great as that.
§ The Solicitor-General
That may be fair. The function of debating in this kind of Committee is that we distil the meaning of the difference between us. We have been urged to do that, but that it not the effect of what we are doing.
The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) asked whether the presumption would apply to national, allover agreements. It will, but in each case it is a presumption which the parties are free to set on one side. The presumption about enforceability applies only where the parties are agreed upon it and it is not an attempt to make all agreements enforceable.
§ Mr. McBride
What legal position would arise about enforceability if an employer said, "I wish to make the 1314 agreement legally enforceable" and the trade union said, "We oppose it"?
§ The Solicitor-General
There would not be an agreement arrived at and the employer would have to face the fact that the other party with whom he was negotiating was not negotiating with a view to arriving at a legally binding agreement and they would have to arrive at an agreement which was not legally binding. A legally binding agreement can be made only when both parties, even in negotiations in this context, agree that that is what they want.
The effect of this presumption is a limited one. It is to tilt the balance so that people start believing that they intend to make a legally binding agreement. If they go further and say, "We do not want to do that", it is no longer a legally binding agreement.
I emphasise that we have not gone down the draconian road which some people have urged upon us. I do not believe, as has been suggested, that every agreement will be accompanied by an exclusion clause of a kind which would be implied in that situation. It is perfectly possible—indeed, probable—that many of them will be. The habit of making enforceable collective agreements will spread at a pace which people on both sides of industry determine for themselves. All that we are suggesting is that there should be a leaning in that direction.
We do this substantially for the reasons set out by my right hon. Friend in quoting paragraph 36 of the Note of Reservation by Mr. Andrew Shonfield; this is the limit of it:The proposal in essence is that the bias of English law, as it has been hitherto, should be changed. Instead of making it complicated and difficult for unions to enter into contractual obligations which are enforceable at law, so that it has become an eccentric thing for a union to do, unions and employers should be encouraged to treat it as the normal thing to do.However, it is up to them to decide and we merely suggest that they should move in that direction.
Several hon. Members have suggested that a move in that direction will lead to such a change in the wording and style of collective agreements that it will be undesirable. This anxiety was given voice to by the hon. Member for Salford, 1315 West (Mr. Orme), in particular. If it be the case—I do not want to parody the case—that many existing agreements are badly drawn and unintelligible, they are not alone in that. Many other agreements that people make with each other in ordinary and commercial life are not drawn with crystal lucidity, but they are abided by and honoured and, in the last resort, given effect to in the courts when and if a dispute arises about them. That in itself is not an insuperable difficulty.
If it be the case that they are all made in that style, is it in the long run desirable that they should remain so? Donovan said, as I think my right hon. Friend quoted, that one of the objectives which the C.I.R. should set itself is that agreements should be precise and in writing. If the pressures arising from the formulation in the Clause encourage people to try to define more clearly what they need so much the better. There must be many situations in which strife in industry arises because of badly drawn and unintelligible agreements. So if the law impels people towards greater clarity and the enunciation of clearer agreement procedures which give rise to less doubt, surely it can be only to the advantage of both sides.
§ Mr. Orme
Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman is not telling the Committee that something is precise merely because it is in legal language and in writing? Half the time of the courts is taken up in interpreting Acts and legal jargon. This will make it increasingly difficult for British industry.
§ The Solicitor-General
That point again illustrates an apparent difference between us which I think is not a true difference. If when Donovan said that collective agreements should be precise and in writing he thereby meant that they should be drawn in legal jargon, and if when we say that it would be advantageous for agreements to be clear and in writing and for people to be prepared to accept them as legally binding we meant legal jargon, the hon. Member would have a point. We do not accept, any more than Donovan accepted, that an agreement which is precise must be in legal jargon. All that we are suggesting is that an agreement can be arrived at—this is one of the pressures for which Donovan argued—that is compact, clear 1316 and precise and which sets out what the parties intend to agree. It need not be in legal jargon—far from it. If it is precise so much the better.
§ Mr. Dan Jones
With due respect to precision, would not good will be of greater value? I am certain from my own experience in engineering that the type of precision the hon. and learned Gentleman is now talking about will drive some of our managers, who are essentially practical men, potty.
§ The Solicitor-General
That point has been made by others, and I will come to it. I do not want to give way to too many interventions, because I wish others to join in the concluding stages of this debate.
I have endeavoured to deal with the point about the interpretation of collective agreements in individual contracts. I will not return to that. There may be an opportunity to deal with it later.
The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) raised a point about the meaning of "party" in subsection (4). The words are:'party' …includes each trade union or other organisation of workers, each employer and each organisation of employers on whose behalf the collective agreement is so made.The intention of that is that an agreement made by or on behalf of an employer should make him a party to it, but there is no matching provision applying it to a trade union member and a trade union would be contracting only on account of itself. The member would become involved only if and in so far as it became part of his ordinary contract of employment, as is the case today.
I turn, almost finally, to the general set of arguments advanced—again without in any way wishing to appear to be patronising—sincerely and cogently, and illustrating the differences lying between us, by the hon. Member for Salford, West. Right hon. and hon. Members on this side recognise the importance of unwritten respected agreements. This was a point made by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Dan Jones). We must acknowledge that in many other fields agreements are made, written or unwritten, which the parties do not intend to be binding but which they have as a part of the backdrop of their lives. In some cases that is what they normally 1317 assume them to be and that is the kind of assumption we suggest here, unless they agree to the contrary. Therefore, I endorse everything he said about the importance of that kind of agreement. It is not jeopardised by this provision. Clause 32(1)(a) does not apply retrospectively. It applies only to written agreements made hereafter.
I agree that the essential thing is the underlying goodwill. We must carry the minds of men if we are to keep any kind of continuing harmony. We must remember that disputes can arise on both sides of industry. At present if a collective agreement or procedure agreement exists that is not enforceable in the last resort, the only remedy on the shop floor or on the part of the union on behalf of the shop floor is industrial action. We believe that the availability of a clear, enforceable procedure agreement with the remedies laid down will be as useful to them as the agreement will be to management. This has been the experience in other countries. This will not be to their disadvantage.
Several hon. Members suggested that we are putting forward a proposal that is aimed directly or indirectly at providing a means of checking the wage drift and as a shackle to be imposed for an indefinite time in regard to industrial agreements. This was at the heart of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). But it is not so. It is up to the parties, if they make a binding agreement, first to specify how long it will last, if it is to be binding at all; and, second, to write into it, if they wish to have them, escalator or variation clauses of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler). If they agree on those terms and are prepared to do so, they may well find themselves getting a better wage bargain from the employer. I will not quote him again, but this is the point made by Mr. Andrew Shonfield in paragraph 40 of his memorandum. Once employers see that they are dealing with unions who are prepared to enter into long-term agreements, with whatever escalator clauses they like to include, those employers may pay more to get it. But it is up to the parties to decide on the range and content of that agreement or on whether it is to be binding. Therefore, 1318 we are not going down the fearful road which some hon. Members seem to envisage. We have been urged by some people to include a minimum fixed term presumption in the agreement, but we have rejected it. It is up to the parties themselves.
In answer to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, I sympathise in many ways with his objective. Obviously, it is sensible that people should know the limits of what they are bargaining for and the period for which they are to be bound, but we do not feel that by accepting the Amendment we should help or clarify the purpose of the legislation. If an additional paragraph were to be added to Clause 32(1) it would substantially limit the area over which the new presumption of enforceability would operate. We feel that this is something which should be left to the parties themselves to bargain about. The parties themselves may agree on how long they are to be bound for. Therefore, I believe that the fear that my hon. Friend had in mind, although one understands it, is not one to which the Committee should succumb. I hope that on this basis my hon. Friends and the Committee as a whole will acknowledge this as an attempt to move in the right direction and not as an attempt to shackle retrospectively, the trade union movement, or anybody else, but to incline us towards a pattern of greater order in British industry.
§ Mrs. Castle
This is an important debate. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), and I know that there are a number of hon. Members still wishing to take part in this discussion on both sides of the House. We have spent a considerable time on this one Amendment and it is imperative under the guillotine that we make progress, otherwise by the end of the three days we shall still be on the earlier matters rather than those which we are supposed to be discussing in the time allotted.
When the Solicitor-General told me he wanted to intervene as well as his right 1319 hon. Friend, I hoped that he would say that he had been so moved by the excellent speech of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) that he was anxious to build the bridge for which the hon. Member had asked. But instead he merely wished to try to pluck the hon. Member back into the fold. I can only hope he has not succeeded in doing so.
As the Secretary of State went through his ritual dance of quoting from "In Place of Strife", it is important that we get on record as a starting point what we have always argued on this side of the Committee about the making of collective agreements legally enforceable. This is part of what we said in "In Place of Strife".There are those who argue that one of the main causes of unofficial strikes is the fact that collective agreements in this country are not legally enforceable contracts. Faced with the fact that individual employers and unions who can already enter into legal contracts do not do so, they maintain that the answer is to change the bias of the law so that collective agreements become legally binding unless the parties specifically state their intention to the contrary. This would not only be ineffectual; it could prove a deterrent… The most urgent need is to press ahead with the reform of procedure agreements; but unions are not likely to co-operate with enthusiasm in this if they feel it is merely a first step to coerce them into making commitments they do not want.If I may so with all the modesty of authorship, I think that that passage summarises the case against the Government's position and gives a succinct answer to the rather limited argument of the Solicitor-General.
The right hon. Gentleman said when he intervened that we on this side wanted both to have our cake and to eat it. He suggested that on the one hand we were saying what an iniquitous proposition this was and on the other that it would have no effect. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has made this cardboard cake the centrepiece of his window display, even though he knows it is uneatable. We have no objection—I make this clear and we have made it clear all along—to the negotiating parties making collective agreements legally enforceable if they want to do so but, as "In Place of Strife" pointed out, we now have the situation that it is now open to the parties under the law, except in the case of an employers' association, for an indivi- 1320 dual company and unions to conclude legally enforceable collective agreements if they wish to do so.
We must ask ourselves two questions. Why have they not chosen to exercise that freedom of action? What kind of difference do the Government think this Clause will make to the situation? I do not think we have had an answer to those questions today. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) has his theories why the Conservatives put this Clause in the Bill. I will tell him my theory. I think they put it in because they could not get away from doing so, for the simple reason that over the past two or three years, and certainly during the time that I was at the Department of Employment and Productivity, the Conservative Party made this matter one of the central planks of its industrial relations creed.
Time after time we were told how all our troubles would be solved if we made collective agreements legally enforceable. The poor dear gullible Press picked it up and trotted it out in leading articles in illiterate newspapers, such as the Daily Telegraph. Time and again, when those newspapers were attacking Donovan and saying that we on this side of the House were not dealing with this serious problem with guts and courage, and so forth, I had to point out to them that this so-called Tory panacea was a total red herring if the Tory Party really meant what it said: namely, that collective agreements should be made legally binding if the parties so desired. Therefore, we have all been chasing a mirage for years.
"Fair Deal at Work" referred to the repeal of Section 4 of the Trade Union Act, 1871, and went on to say:This would put collective agreements on a par with any other type of contract—no more and no less.If that is what is said, it is, in effect, giving total freedom to the parties concerned.
It has been a courageous ploy that the Tories have made un and down the country. The Tories say that collective agreements should be like any other contract, no more and no less. If they are like any other contracts, they are voluntary agreements. The characteristic of a contract is that one enters into it as a free agent. 1321 "Fair Deal at Work" went further. In a very purple passage, it says:We believe it would be wrong to accord to collective agreements the quite exceptional status of a contract which must be enforceable — regardless of the wishes of the parties.That was the pure and noble sentiment of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite when they produced "Fair Deal at Work", for which they say that they have a mandate. They eat their words in Clause 35, as we shall see when we come to it. They will have some explaining to do whether those fine principles of "Fair Deal at Work" are now being abandoned.
On Clause 32 we are faced with a situation in which the right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench assure us that the legal effect of the Clause is that if either party does not wish the agreement to be legally binding he can veto it, and therefore he cannot be coerced into signing legally binding agreements against his will under the Clause. If that is so and those contracts are really like any other contracts, and, therefore, are voluntary, legal enforceability will not happen.
I was interested to see the rather pathetic paragraph 118 in the Consultative Document admitting this. It had been dealing with the legal status of collective agreements and what we have in Clause 32. It went on to say:Despite these provisions, there may still be no legally enforceable procedure agreements, or indeed no satisfactory procedure agreements a t all in some sectors of industry for some time to come.But what do the Government go on to say? It is not that they have been approaching the whole problem in the wrong way but, following the pattern of the legislative approach to industrial relations, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) has warned us more than once, when the Government find that they have one policy which is fairly liberal but does not work, they do not go back on that policy but move forward to a more restrictive one, moving forward from Clause 32 to Clause 35.
The simple fact is that in Clause 35 we shall be doing the very things which "Fair Deal at Work" said would be wrong. The Tory Party raised high hopes among the electorate as to how marvel- 1322 lous it would be when collective agreements had been made legally enforceable, and it has given us the assumption that if only we had put the presumption into the law— the original argument— that they are legally enforceable unless the parties visibly and expressly contract out, that would change the atmosphere. They do not believe a word of it. They were fooling the electorate. But the electorate was expecting something and, therefore, the Government give us Clause 35, for which they never had a mandate, and which contradicts "Fair Deal at Work" and all their arguments so far.
These legally enforceable collective agreements will not happen because the trade unions at least do not want their collective agreements drawn up by lawyers, and I am sure that that view is shared by a number of employers. The Solicitor-General did not convince any of us on this side of the House when he said that lawyers would be drawing up those agreements and that, therefore, they would be written in simple and precise language, the most lucid English that anybody could hope to read. Everyone in the House knows that that is nonsense.
What is extremely interesting is the anxiety which practical people express when they contemplate the effect of moving the lawyers massively into industrial relations, which would be the effects of this Clause. There was a very telling phrase in Mr. Pat Lowry's famous little booklet "Greener Grass?", which we all know that he wrote following intensive studies of the industrial relations system in America. On page 44 he says:I certainly did not appreciate quite how intrusive the law is in the industrial relations field.He is talking of America.Lest anybody should think that the American legal framework could or should be imported into the British system it must be pointed out that American law was first introduced in order to protect and encourage the growth of weak trade unions. Latterly the process of law was invoked to curb their strength or to control the irregularities that had developed. British trade unions have developed their strength in a voluntary environment and whatever assistance the law should now give them, in for example, the field of recognition, they certainly do not need the assistance of any such legal concept as a requirement to bargain in good faith.Yet the requirement to bargain in good faith is an integral part of the American 1323 system of the legal enforceability of collective agreements. We have the introduction of pendantry and theory into what should be a practical policy for the practical problems which we face. Therefore, what the Committee has to decide is not only whether this Clause is meaningless —for reasons which I have given, in practical terms it will have no effect — but also whether it could be positively harmful.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he thought that his method of making people contract out of legal enforceability would have the effect of making it more likely. He said that agreements would be drawn up more precisely in case— and they are significant words— the unions do not succeed in persuading their employers to contract out. He gives us a picture of the unions saying "We must have precise agreements because when we get to the negotiating table the employer may say, 'No, I insist that this is legally enforceable' and we shall be too weak to contract out."
Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that? It may be true of a few industrial backwaters, but does he really think that the tough and experienced representatives of unions such as the A.E.F. and the T. & G.W.U. will throw in the sponge because an employer says, "Unless you make this legally enforceable we shall have no agreement"? What does the right hon. Gentleman think the A.E.F. and other unions are saying about the new engineering procedure agreement to replace the York Memorandum?
I shall tell the Committee what will happen if the Government insist on going ahead with this Clause and this form of contracting out. They will polarise collective bargaining on political lines, because it is happening already over the replacement of the York Memorandum. A new procedure agreement has been drawn up, but it is not being introduced because the unions say, on the one hand, that it will be introduced only with a contracting-out clause, and on the other hand the Engineering Employers' Federation, for political reasons, is afraid to agree to this for fear of embarrassing the Government.
I suggest to the Committee that the contracting-out principle will have the 1324 very opposite effect of what the Government have claimed, and I refer once again to the agreement that was reached through the voluntary method of the C.I.R. between the A.E.F. and International Harvesters, about which my hon. Friend spoke earlier. This process will have the opposite effect. We believe that agreements freely negotiated should, in normal circumstances, be kept, but we oppose the Government's way of doing things because we believe that it will impede the voluntary reforms on which we should all be concentrating.
How can we expect to encourage local officials or shop stewards to enter into more precise agreements giving them more specific and wider responsibilities if we then say that they will become legally answerable for any breach of those more precise and more extensive agreements?
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]
§ The Solicitor-General
But only if and in so far as those shop stewards who, by the right hon. Lady's own admission, have been making more precise agreements for themselves then agree on behalf of their unions to be bound by the agreement. Is there anything so wrong about that?
§ Mrs. Castle
There is no quarrel between us on that. I say only that if there is legal enforceability in the background they will not agree— this is my whole point— and, therefore, the process of committing themselves to more precise agreements and greater responsibility will be reversed because they will be unwilling to accept the legal implications. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that this part of the Bill is not binding against their will but, as I have already said, because it is not binding against their will the Government are now following it up with Clause 35, which is binding against their will.
The Government are asking us to get written into collective agreements a kind of public negative. Under our method, if the employer succeeded in persuading a union that it was in the union's interest to make the agreement legally binding, there would have to be an express statement of that intention in the agreement. If the employer failed to persuade the 1325 union of that, we would be no worse off psychologically. Under the Government's proposals, if the union refuses to make the agreement legally binding it has to be written into the agreement, in terms, that it is not legally binding. I do not know of any better way of encouraging people not to keep their agreements, because the emphasis is on the negative, on the contracting out. This is the psychological effect of doing it the Government's way.
§ For all those reasons, if the Government will not accept, a the hon. Member for Chippenham urged them to do, our much more sensible way of expressing this provision, I must ask my hon. Friends to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 267, Noes 305.1329
|Division No. 110.]||AYES||[7.25 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)|
|Albu, Austen||Driberg, Tom||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Duffy, A. E. P.||Jones,Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dunn, James A.||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Dunnett, Jack||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)|
|Ashley, Jack||Eadie, Alex||Judd, Frank|
|Ashton, Joe||Edelman, Maurice||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Atkinson, Norman||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Kelley, Richard|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Kinnock, Neil|
|Barnes, Michael||Ellis, Tom||Lambie, David|
|Barnett, Joel||English, Michael||Lamond, James|
|Beaney, Alan||Evans, Fred||Latham, Arthur|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Fernyhough, E.||Lawson, George|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Fisher, Mrs.Doris(B'ham,Ladywood)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Bishop, E. S.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Leonard, Dick|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Foley, Maurice||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold|
|Booth, Albert||Foot, Michael||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Ford, Ben||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Forrester, John||Lipton, Marcus|
|Bradley, Tom||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Freeson, Reginald||Loughlin, Charles|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch&F'bury)||Garrett, W. E.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Buchan Norman||Gilbert, Dr, John||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Ginsburg, David||McBride, Neil|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Golding, John||McCartney, Hugh|
|Gordon, Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McElhone, Frank|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Gourlay, Harry||McGuire, Michael|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mackenzie, Gregor|
|Cant, R. B.||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mackle, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Hamling, William||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Coleman, Donald||Hardy, Peter||Marks, Kenneth|
|Concannon, J. D.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Marquand, David|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hart, Rt, Hn. Judith||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Corbett, Mrs. Freda||Hattersley, Roy||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Healey, Rt, Hn. Denis||Meacher, Michael|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Heffer, Eric S.||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Cronin, John||Hilton, W. S.||Mendelson, John|
|Cunningham, Rt.Hn. Richard||Hooson, Emlyn||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Horam, John||Millan, Bruce|
|Cunningham, Dr, J. A. (Whitehaven)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Molloy, William|
|Davidson, Arthur||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hunter, Adam||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Janner, Greville||Moyle, Roland|
|Deakins, Eric||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ogden, Eric|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Dempsey, James||John, Brynmor||Oram, Bert|
|Doig, Peter||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Dormand, J. D,||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Orme, Stanley|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Rose, Paul B.||Tinn, James|
|Padley, Walter||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Tomney, Frank|
|Paget, R. T.||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Torney, Tom|
|Palmer, Arthur||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Pardoe, John||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N 'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Silkin, Rt. Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Pendry, Tom||Sillars, James||Wallace, George|
|Pentland, Norman||Silverman, Julius||Watkins, David|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Skinner, Dennis||Weitzman, David|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Small, William||Wellbeloved, James|
|Prescott, John||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Spearing, Nigel||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Spriggs, Leslie||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Probert, Arthur||Stallard, A. W.||Whitlock, William|
|Rankin, John||Steel, David||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Reed, D. (Sedgefield)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Roes, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Strang, Gavin||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Richard, Ivor||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)||Swain, Thomas||Woof, Robert|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Taverne, Dick|
|Roderick,Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George(Cardiff,W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Roper, John||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong.|
|Adley, Robert||Cooper, A. E.||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Cormack, Patrick||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Costain, A. P.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Critchley, Julian||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Crouch, David||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Astor, John||Crowder, F. P.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Curran, Charles||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Balniel, Lord||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hastings, Stephen|
|Batsford, Brian||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Havers, Michael|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Dean, Paul||Hawkins, Paul|
|Bell, Ronald||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hay, John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Benyon, W.||Dixon, Piers||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Heseltine, Michael|
|Biffen, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hicks, Robert|
|Biggs-Davison, John||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Dykes, Hugh||Hiley, Joseph|
|Blaker, Peter||Eden, Sir John||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)|
|Body, Richard||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Holland, Philip|
|Boscawen, Robert||Elliot, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Holt, Miss Mary|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Emery, Peter||Hordern, Peter|
|Bowden, Andrew||Eyre, Reginald||Hornby, Richard|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Farr, John||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia|
|Braine, Bernard||Fell, Anthony||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)|
|Bray, Ronald||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Brewis, John||Fidler, Michael||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Hunt, John|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J,||Fookes, Miss Janet||James, David|
|Bryan, Paul||Foster, Sir John||Jessel, Toby|
|Buchanan-Smith, Aleck (Angus,N & M)||Fowler, Norman||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Buck, Antony||Fox, Marcus||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Jopling, Michael|
|Burden, F. A.||Fry, Peter||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Gardner, Edward||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine|
|Carlisle, Mark||Gibson-Watt, David||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Kilfedder, James|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Channon, Paul||Glyn, Dr. Alan||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Goodhart, Philip||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Goodhew, Victor||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Gorst, John||Kitson, Timothy|
|Churchill, W. S.||Gower, Raymond||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Gray, Hamish||Knox, David|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Green, Alan||Lane, David|
|Clegg, Walter||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Cockeram, Eric||Grylls, Michael||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Cooke, Robert||Gummer, Selwyn||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Coombs, Derek||Gurden, Harold||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Loveridge, John||Peel, John||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|MacArthur, Ian||Percival, Ian||Stokes, John|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|McLaren, Martin||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Sutcliffe, John|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Pink, R. Bonner||Tapsell, Peter|
|McMaster, Stanley||Pounder, Rafton||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Maddan, Martin||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Tebbit, Norman|
|Madel, David||Pym, Rt Hn. Francis||Temple, John M.|
|Maginnis, John E.||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Raison, Timothy||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Marten, Neil||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Mather, Carol||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Maude, Angus||Redmond, Robert||Tilney, John|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Mawby, Ray||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Trew, Peter|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Ridsdale, Julian||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Waddington, David|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Moate, Roger||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Molyneaux, James||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Money, Ernle||Rost, Peter||Wall, Patrick|
|Monks, Mrs. Connie||Royle, Anthony||Walters, Dennis|
|Monro, Hector||Russell, Sir Ronald||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Montgomery, Fergus||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Warren, Kenneth|
|More, Jasper||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Scott, Nicholas||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Scott-Hopkins, James||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Sharples, Richard||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Mudd, David||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Wilkinson, John|
|Murton, Oscar||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Simeons, Charles||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Neave, Airey||Sinclair, Sir George||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Skeet, T. H. H.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Normanton, Tom||Soref, Harold||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Nott, John||Speed, Keith||Younger, Hn. George|
|Onslow, Cranley||Spence, John|
|Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Sproat, Iain||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Osborn, John||Stainton, Keith||Mr. Tim Fortescue and|
|Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Stanbrook, Ivor||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)|
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
I beg to move Amendment No. 709, in page 23, line 13, after 'any', insert 'written'.
§ The Chairman
I remind the Committee that with this Amendment we are taking Amendment No. 662, in page 23, line 14, leave out '(whether written or oral)'.
I am prepared, if requested, to allow a Division on both Amendments. However, I ask hon. Members to realise that if a Division is required on Amendment No. 662, it will come after we have disposed of Amendment No. 659, in page 23, line 13, at end, insert:'(made after the commencement of this Act)'.
§ [MISS HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]
§ Written into the subsection is a suggestion that any collective agreement may be written or oral. The Amendment seeks to take out "oral" and to concentrate on written agreements. I am not a lawyer, so my right hon. and learned Friend may convince me that it is necessary to have "oral agreements" or an "oral" definition included. However, it seems to me that if we are to bring the law into industrial relations an oral agreement cannot claim to be covered by the Bill. In the final analysis such an agreement could not be taken to court. If one sought to do so there would be more trouble in the works as there would be disputation between the parties concerned about what was agreed in any oral agreement. If there is to be a collective agreement which is to be oral then for it to 1331 be legal in this Bill it has to be written and if it is written it has to be signed.
§ I do not know to what extent, if at all, all agreements entered into in this way would be legally binding. If there were any question of oral agreements being brought before the courts, we could finish up with a bonanza for the lawyers, but headaches all round for managements and unions.
§ The Solicitor-General
I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) that we have looked carefully at the terms of the Amendment, which appears to march alongside that tabled by the Opposition, but we do not feel it necessary to make the change he suggests.
The definition of "collective agreement" of course applies outside the Clause. My hon. Friend will appreciate that. However, the presumption in subsection (1)(a) applies only directly to a written agreement. The only purpose of this definition is to include a procedure agreement, which may be oral or written; a procedure agreement is separately defined in this provision.
The practical area where this may be relevant is in Clause 34, in which it is identified as being an unfair industrial practice for any party to a collective agreement to break that agreement. One recognises the case which my hon. Friend put in relation to an obligation to keep a collective agreement in writing. The practical point here is that there are already a number of collective agreements in existence which may have been intended to have legal force— others may be entered into hereafter— and which, though not in writing, may be intended to be legally binding by all the parties. It would, therefore, seem wrong to restrict the definition of a collective agreement, the breach of which is unfair, only to such agreements in writing.
It might, in some areas, be a retrograde step to assert affirmatively that an oral agreement which was intended by everybody concerned to be binding should, nevertheless, be regarded as immune and free to be broken by anybody at any time. For this reason we do not feel that it would be right to accept the Amendment, although we appreciate the reasoning that lies behind it.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
There may at present be certain oral agreements which are binding but which are not legally binding. If there is a wish to continue with those agreements, will they, under the Bill, become automatically legally binding? Is it not possible that all such agreements, which are at present considered to be binding, might disappear and will never happen again because under the Bill they will have to become legally binding?
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I think my hon. Friend has misunderstood the use of the phrase "have to become". If there are oral agreements now which are "binding" in honour only but are not legally so, the mere passage of this Bill will not affect them. On the other hand, there are now some oral agreements which are legally as well as morally binding, and they will survive the passage of the Bill and be protected by the inclusion of this definition.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
I am rather puzzled about the effect that the Clause may have. Suppose two sides to an agreement, without reducing that agreement to a single piece of writing, each records in writing the terms of that agreement. Presumably that would be regarded as an oral agreement. What would happen if their was an exchange of pieces of paper? Would that oral agreement then become a written agreement, and thereby come within the scope of the Clause?
§ The Solicitor-General
In this context the hon. and learned Gentleman asks two questions. First, he wonders what would happen if two people, in the context of the Clause, agreed with each other and entered into a binding agreement orally. That could be binding, just as any other agreement could be. For example, if the hon. and learned Gentleman and I agreed on some contractual matter, it does not have to be reduced to writing for it to be binding. If it is reduced to writing and it becomes an agreement in writing, then it is presumed to be binding, unless we assert to the contrary.
The example which he gave was, as it were, the half-way house point at which both reached an agreement orally and both made private notes about it so that it was in writing both ways, but not in agreed writing. The position that would 1333 arise there would be the same as the position in any other field. It would be art oral agreement with each asserting its own evidence of what had been orally agreed. It would not carry with it the presumption that it was intended to be binding.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned two questions. I wondered what the position would be if there were an exchange of documents.
§ The Solicitor-General
If we exchanged those documents and we were both agreed on them as being a true record of our agreement, it would probably become an agreement in writing, in the same way as in any other field.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
I hesitate to take part in this discussion, which has been largely monopolised by those with a direct interest in industry on either side. However, it seems that we are in a legal quagmire, with the Solicitor-General's every word placing us deeper in the mud.
The hon. and learned Gentleman admitted that an agreement which is made orally and which is reduced to writing on both sides, and where the pieces of waiting are exchanged, may perhaps then be a written agreement. When one recognises the enormous effects that a written agreement could have in our industrial relations, if the Bill is ever to be made effective, then to leave a point like this in doubt in relation to a Clause which deals with such minutae indicates scandalously bad drafting. We must be grateful to the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) for, perhaps inadvertently, raising a major point.
In debating an earlier Clause the Solicitor-General said, when referring to oral agreements, that if a union said that it did not wish an agreement to be legally binding but an employer said that it wished it to be so, there would be no agreement and therefore the matter would not concern the Clause. My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Dan Jones) asked that question and the Solicitor-General was clear in his reply.
If the two sides are unmindful of this provision and make an agreement and reduce it to writing— even if it is only a scrap of paper— so that they both have 1334 a note of it, then they are legally bound by the terms of that piece of paper; and the mere fact that the union says, "I never intended that it should be legally binding" would be overruled by the industrial court. Will that in fact be the result of this provision?
Since there will be so much resentment caused in industry when agreements of this kind are brought before the Industrial Court, we ought to have a good deal more certainty about the drafting of the Clause and about the way in which written agreements are to be interpreted. A written agreement, if this is to be necessary in future, ought to have some legal form. There ought to be some sort of indication upon it that it will be legally enforceable. It ought to give an indication to those who are making the agreement that it might bring them before the Industrial Court. It may be that one can imply certain matters as a result of Clause 1(1,b), but there ought to be a warning to the people engaged in it, who may just be shop stewards and managers coming to an agreement about a dispute which has broken out on the shop floor, that they are taking a step which, in the new circumstances, is quite unusual and may lead them into consequences which they do not envisage. It seems to me that the whole matter has been left very much in the air.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Does the hon. Gentleman know of an example going into minutiae of that kind, an oral agreement having been made, with separate notes taken of it, the separate notes then being exchanged, but neither signed by the other side? I should have thought that a most unusual circumstance if it were then to be thought that it was a written agreement. Surely, something which is agreed has to have the word "agreed" somewhere.
§ Mr. Lyon
With respect, no. The hon. Gentleman emphasises the point which I was making. The Committee is talking about an agreement as though it understood what the term "agreement" meant, it being some sort of document like a deed or conveyance— "This conveyance herewith says", and so on. It is no such thing. A legal agreement is any agreement between two parties, and a written agreement is any agreement between two parties which is in writing. 1335 The writing can be of any nature whatever.
§ Mr. Lyon
It has to be agreed, but that is by no means the end of the matter. If the hon. Gentleman and I make an agreement that he will pay me £50 tomorrow if I am right, and we put that down on a bit of paper, that is a written agreement. That is all that is required, and we do not need any formal document. But the Committee is here asked to say that we shall import into our industrial relations. in which most people are completely oblivious to the legal realities, and will be after the Bill is enacted, a concept which will cause a great deal of trouble. People are making agreements day in and day out, perhaps reducing them to writing for convenience, but they will hereafter be caught by these provisions and may be brought before the Industrial Court.
§ Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)
If I understand aright, my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General is saying that the words "whether written or oral" in subsection (3) are put in here only because it is a definition of "collective agreement" as one finds it elsewhere in the Bill, but that definition does not really apply to Clause 32 inasmuch that Clause opens with the words,Every collective agreement… made in writing".I suggest that, on Report, my hon. and learned Friend should take that definition away from Clause 32 and put it in Clause 148 with the other definitions, and leave it at that. It is most confusing to find in a Clause which does not apply to oral agreements a statement about oral agreements. It would make the understanding of the Bill for both trade unionists and Members of Parliament much easier if the definitions were put in the definition Clause and not in the middle of the text.
§ Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Black-ley)
It was not our intention to prolong the proceedings on what appeared to be a technical point, but it is clear from what has been said so far that this question needs clarification before the Report stage. As I understand it, the reference to an oral agreement is supposedly a reference to an oral agreement made be- 1336 fore the Bill comes into force with the intention that it should be legally binding. I think that that is rather academic after the A.E.F. and Ford case, because it is unlikely even that a written agreement would be binding, let alone an oral agreement. But what has concerned some of my hon. Friends is the Solicitor-General's statement that written matter which is evidence of an agreement might be used to turn what otherwise would be an oral agreement into a written agreement.
After the coming into force of the Bill, an oral agreement made and evidenced in writing, perhaps in the minutes of a trade union or an employers' organisation, or in some way reduced to writing, could be adduced in evidence so that what appeared to be an oral agreement was eventually regarded as a written agreement. I think that the Solicitor-General may have made a slip of the tongue in speaking of the matter in that way. I have no wish to divide the Committee unnecessarily, and I had no intention of moving Amendment No. 662 in due course, but, unless the Solicitor-General gives an undertaking that he will clarify the matter on Report, I should be obliged to advise my hon. Friends to show their concern by voting in the Lobby. I hope that we may have the hon. and learned Gentleman's undertaking.
§ The Solicitor-General
It may well be that, in answering the intervention by the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin), I misled the Committee. What I was answering was a question about the extent to which an exchange of documents could be evidence of an oral agreement, and I was not considering whether such an exchange of documents would amount to a written agreement for the purposes of Clause 32(1)(a). As I see it, one can distinguish an oral agreement, an agreement evidenced in writing, which could be in any document recording it, an agreement evidenced in writing and signed by the parties to the agreement, and simply what we have here, that is, a written agreement. In the effective part of the Clause that is, subsection (1)(a), we are concerned with a written agreement. I do not suggest that it goes further than that. I hope that that meets the point made by the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose). 1337 In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell), I hesitate to give any commitment about the structure of the Bill, but it seems to me at first sight that the point which he raised about the location of this definition should be looked at again. We shall do that, and we shall at the same time satisfy ourselves that there is no unnecessary lack of clarity here, in the light of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) and the hon. Member for Blackley.
In the light of the observations made both as to the structure and as to the text, we shall look at the matter before Report. In the circumstances, I hope that my hon. Friend will not wish to press his Amendment.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
I have no intention of pressing it to a vote, but I am still not happy about the form of the Clause. It appears that an oral agreement could be taken as a legally binding agreement. This could cause tremendous complications in industry if my reading of it be right. However, although I am not happy about that, and I hope that ray hon. and learned Friend will look at the question again before Report, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 8.0 p.m.
The Deputy Chairman
I suggest that it may be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time the following four further Amendments:
No. 660, in page 23, line 22, after 'agreement', insert:'made after the commencement of this Act'.No. 666, in Clause 34, page 24, line 20, after 'agreement', insert:'made after the commencement of this Act'.No. 667, in Clause 34, page 24, line 26, after 'of', insert 'such'.
No. 668, in Clause 34, page 24, line 27, after 'agreement', insert:'made after the commencement of this Act'.
§ Mr. Rose
In our last major debate concerning the enforceability of collec- 1338 tive agreements, we on this side, and I think some hon. Members opposite, emphasised that we are at one with the Donovan Commission in opposing enforceability.
Although we support the Donovan Report, and therefore reject these Clauses in their entirety, because they divert attention from the main problems facing industry on to merely a symptom of one of those problems, it is incumbent upon us to deal with the problem of extension of the rule to cover matters that may have been provided for before the passing of the Measure. That is why we have put down a series of Amendments to insert the words:made after the commencement of this Act".Although another Clause restricts the presumption of enforceability to contracts made in writing after the commencement of the Act, failure to insert those words in Clauses 32 and 34 would give rise to serious and legitimate fears on this side about the retroactive effect of these Clauses.
We accept that Clause 32(3) is purely a definition Clause in relation to agreements and arrangements and parties to collective agreements, but certain consequences follow from the failure of the Solicitor-General to restrict the application of the new law concerning collective agreements to those made after the passing of the Bill, and more particularly with regard to Clause 4. The effect will be that voluntarily agreed, binding agreements made before the Measure is passed — which we understand could even include oral agreements, although I regard that as rather academic— where parties have stated their intentions that the agreement should be binding and made enforceable under Clause 33, will now be subject to the provisions of Clause 34. This is so in the case of agreements made under Clause 33 irrespective of when the procedure agreement was made.
The provision may also lead, therefore, to new litigation to decide whether, because of these rules, agreements made before the commencement of the Measure are legally binding.
We should have thought that in making these provisions that at least was something that the Solicitor-General would wish to avoid. As a result, we might still be subjected to the kind of litigation 1339 we saw in the A.E.F. and Ford case about legal enforceability, because the agreements to which I have referred are subject to the policing provisions of Clause 34.
Let me put the matter more clearly in everyday terms, and take the position of a joint negotiating body which comes to an agreement that is made enforceable under Clause 33. When the procedure agreement was made setting up that form of procedure in industry there could have been no foreknowledge of the policing under Clause 34, because such agreements were made to negotiate terms and conditions and procedures at a time when they were not enforceable. But Clause 33 agreements are now not only enforceable but subject to the new concept of unfair industrial practice which is brought into Clause 34 and to the policing arrangements which are also in that Clause.
We on this side of the Committee do not accept Clause 34, and shall speak against it later. The Amendment to the Clause at least stresses that we are trying to cover agreements made after the Act and not the original procedure agreement. It is to demonstrate the iniquity of imposing on voluntarily constituted bodies a presumption of enforceability that they could never have foreseen when they were constituted, because they were constituted before the Act in entirely different circumstances, before enforceability was imposed upon them, and before the policing arrangements and the unfair practices concept were imposed upon them in relation to those concepts which were agreed before the Act as binding. There may still be a few such contracts. I think that there will be very few, although there may be more that are alleged to be binding, notwithstanding the Ford and A.E.F. decision and the generally held acceptance that collective agreements were not enforceable. There could have been no possibility at the time that those agreements were entered into that the Government would impose upon the parties to them, particularly the trade union side, the duty to police those agreements, and would impose upon them the unfair industrial practices concept, which is what subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 34 lead to.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) will deal with 1340 the implications of Clause 34 in full. It suffices here to quote the evidence given by the Inns of Court Conservative and Unionist Society to the Donovan Commission to see what is being imposed upon agreements made before the Act voluntarily and by bodies constituted before the Act voluntarily in relation to agreements made before the Act. When asked what a union should do in the case of a breach, the hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends in their evidence to the Commission said with regard to trade union officials, perhaps paraphrasing the wordsreasonably practicablein the Bill, that in the event of a breach by members they would have to sue their members. They said that the union funds would become liable, and that in turn the union would sue its members for those funds. So the trade union will be under an obligation to recover damages from its own members, which, presumably, it is to do by suing them. In paragraph 5779, the hon. and learned Gentleman went rather further, saying:I would think one of the things the union would have to show was that it was intended to suspend or expel them.Therefore, we have here a duty imposed post facto upon unions to police agreements made before the Act and agreements under Clause 33, even if that requires the expulsion of their members, suing their members, or imposing fines upon them. We can think of few ways of causing more industrial chaos.
The provision goes far beyond anything in any other country. In Great Britain unions achieved collective bargaining and voluntary enforceability, where this occurs, without legislation. This differentiates us from other countries, such as the United States, where the situation led to the Taft-Hartley Act, and from the corporate state of Mussolini. I say that advisedly, because the hon. and learned Gentleman should understand, if he does not already, that in the minds of many of us on this side, and certainly of many trade unionists, these provisions are associated with the concept of the corporate state and are regarded accordingly. The Solicitor-General would do well to try to understand that, as we go on discussing the enforceability both of collective bargaining and procedure agreements. 1341 The position was expressed very well by one United States authority who wrote that the entire policy of the Wagner Act… must depend for its success on the uncoerced action of each party through its own representatives to the end that agreements satisfactory to both may be reached.But since Taft-Hartley there has been a rapid growth of the law pertaining to the interpretation of labour contracts. Perhaps the best remark about this was made by Professor Kahn Freund, who summed up the situation as follows:There seems to be no country in which highly doctrinal distinctions between various types of strikes and picketing have been more minutely elaborated than in the United States, but it may be said that the number of days lost in strikes is much higher in the United States than in other comparable countries.What we have here basically is the post-facto imposition of enforceability. That is repugnant to all the ideas the House of Commons has held on the subject of retroactive legislation and it comes on top of a departure from our traditional concept of the freedom of contract. If we add to this the very strange concept of policing by the trade unions, and the injection of the other concept of unfair practices resulting from an action in breach of something that was never envisaged as unlawful when the agreement was entered into, or when the procedural machinery was entered into, in the case of Clause 33, it is understandable why there is so much concern on this side of the Committee.
The nature of collective bargains is not as many hon. Members opposite appear to think it is. It has not been quoted so much in the debate we have had today, but I refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to Professor Wellington's evidence to the Donovan Commission, dealing with the American experience. It is on page 1739. Professor Wellington said:A collective bargaining agreement, however, is one episode in a continuing, joint history of a firm and union. It is temporary calm in a restless, shifting relationship. Accordingly, to attempt to compel the employer or the union during contract time peacefully to yield on a deeply felt issue, particularly if it believes it never consented to yield, often will not resolve that issue. Rather it merely will delay ultimate resolution to a time when the parties are freed from governmental restraints. At that time— the time on contract negotiation— economic combat may be the means of decision.1342 That is the risk in allowing such a situation here. To compel compliance by means never envisaged by the parties entering into the agreement before the passing of the Act, never envisaged by bodies constituted by the parties before this Bill was dreamed of, is to throw a sizeable spanner into the delicate machinery of collective bargaining. It is not a spanner which the hon. and learned Gentleman need throw. Appeals have been made from both sides concerning the general question of enforceability. Perhaps we might yet see him give way over this. Even if he is not prepared to give way over it, surely in all logic and justice agreements entered into before these provisions were envisaged, agreements arrived at by bodies set up before these matters were envisaged, cannot be brought within the ambit of the Act and put into the context of these policing provisions.
I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, therefore, at least, in making some concession to the Committee, to reconsider the effect of the present wording of these Clauses, and to consider, if not now then on Report, ensuring that they will apply only to those matters which are dealt with after the commencement of the Act and only to those bodies set up after the commencement of the Act. To do otherwise is to impose upon them something they could never have envisaged at the time of the agreement.
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) has mounted a formidable speech in support of what is said to be a gently probing Amendment. I shall not match professor with professor across the Committee to answer questions because that does not seem to me to be called for at this stage.
The intention of Clauses 32, 33 and 34 is that there should be no attempt at any retrospective legal enforceability to anything. The only intention is that agreements which the parties, either in the past or in the future, intended to be legally binding should remain so or be so regarded. There is no reason for the hon. Gentleman's fears there. But I will look at the wording to ensure that we have it in line with that intention.
The effective parts of Clause 32, as now acknowledged, are subsection (1) and (2), and in each of these cases it is plain 1343 that the presumption applies only to collective agreements made after the commencement of the Act and no problem arises there. Two of the Amendments relate to the definition of collective agreements in subsection (3). That in itself imposes no obligation and makes no change.
On Clause 33, the hon. Gentleman argued that we were imposing legal enforceability on decisions made by voluntary bodies when those voluntary bodies did not visualise those decisions being made enforceable. That is not the case. Clause 33 identifies the bodies to which it refers as being those… established … (whether … before or after the commencement of this Act) …".In other words, the body may have been set up before the Act but there is no question of enforceability attaching to it simply for that reason.
Subsection (2) reads:For the purposes of any proceedings of any such body after the commencement of this Act, it shall be conclusively presumed that the parties to the procedure agreement by which it was established… intended to authorise that body, in relation to matters falling within the scope of the purposes for which it was established, to make awards or decisions having effect as legally enforceable contracts made on behalf of the constituent parties.
§ Mr. Murray
The rubric to Clause 33 reads:Presumptions relating to proceedings of voluntary negotiating bodies.Our complaint is that if the Government impose retrospective enforceability in the sense that one is making bodies which were originally voluntary bodies into something different, that is a mistake.
§ The Solicitor-General
I see the point and I hope to meet it. Under subsection (3), it is only a decision or award made after the commencement of the Act, and which is recorded in writing and does not contain a provision designed to be enforeable, that is presumed to be binding. All that one is saying is that a body of this kind, set up whenever it was set up— I accept that— once the Act is in effect will prima facie be doing something with the intention that both sides shall be bound after the commencement of the Act. We are not attaching enforceability to any decision made by that body in the past, and the body will itself be 1344 able, when recording in writing a decision by or on behalf of that body, to say whether or not it intends it to be binding. So the effect is prospective and not retrospective.
I accept that there is no provision in Clause 34 saying that the unimpeachability of a legally questionable contract shall only apply to such a contract made after the commencement of the Act. The intention is simple. We want to protect a legally enforceable contract from being broken, whether or not it was made after the Act, because one starts from the fact that it has to be intended to be legally enforceable in the first place, and we do not want to make of no value, and immune from being disrupted, an agreement entered into before the Act with the full intention of both sides that it should be legally binding, simply by applying Clause 34 for the future and not to any pre-existing agreements.
I hope that that explanation makes plain what we are trying to do. Of course it is a different purport from Clause 35, about which we shall have different debates, but the intention is to make it plain, that it is only agreements now existing which were intended by the parties that made them to be binding, or agreements or decisions given after the commencement of the Act which are intended to be binding that will be affected in this way.
I see no reason in the light of what has been said in the debate to think that we have got it wrong. Of course we will look at the wording again to make sure. I hope that it is correct as I have explained— the intention being only to attach enforceability to future decisions or to agreements now intended to be binding. On that basis, and consistent with that policy, I hope that the Committee will resist the Amendments.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee
I was happy with the Solicitor-General's interpretation except when he mentioned agreements, now in existence, which were intended to be legally binding. I suggest that existing agreements cannot very well have been intended to be legally binding and that the advent of the Bill will be the first occasion from which agreements will become legally binding. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give a little more detail about existing agreements which, 1345 he says, were intended to be legally binding?
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not want to go too far into detail, but at one point in the course of the last debate bat one the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) asserted that it was possible for binding agreements between unions and individual employers to be made now, and there is certainly room for reaching that conclusion, although it is much debated.
The Ford case illustrated that for the most part that is not the intention of the parties, but there are at least three collective agreements which I can think of in which the parties believe that they have secured enforceability before the passing of the Bill. The point is that if they believe that they have enforceable agreements and they are right in that belief, we do not want to disturb them.
There is one industry-wide agreement believed to be legally enforceable, and I can think of at least two others which are not industry wide. We want to leave these with their pre-existing character of legal respectability, or disrespectability according to one's point of view. For that reason, we should be reluctant to insert the suggested words. We do not want to make a dishonest woman of an honest agreement already at large and enforceable.
§ Mr. Murray
What the Solicitor-General has said does not go far enough. In an earlier debate I mentioned the difficulty which subsection (4) put on the word "party". One of the difficulties about this gloss is that it does not define "party", but simply says what is included and it does not include individual members of trade unions. As the Solicitor-General rightly pointed out in answer to my intervention it includes individual employers.
The effect of putting this gloss on "party" instead of defining in such a way as to make it clear whether or not it includes individual trade unions raises a difficulty with collective agreements which may be legally enforceable under the existing law. There may be two categories of contract which may be binding in that way. On the one hand, there is the contract, which may be called a collective agreement, when each indi- 1346 vidual member of the trade union has authorised the trade union to negotiate certain terms on his behalf, and the employer has gone through the same exercise with an association of employers. In such a case there would be no doubt that, provided that the two agents— the trade union on the one hand and the employers' association on the other— had acted within the scope of their authority they could reach an agreement which would be binding under the present law. The other category is when an indvidual contract of employment takes in and incorporates in the contract the terms of a collective agreement. In each case the key is whether the individual member of the trade union is or is not a party to such a contract.
This is where the ambiguity comes into it, and unless one is clear whether under Clause 32 such contracts should be comprised within the heading of collective agreements, one cannot make sure about Clause 34 and that the guarantee which the Solicitor-General has given about a review will be sufficient. If one is looking at this criterion objectively, the only protection one can give to ensure that previous contracts which may be binding agreements are not affected by Clause 34 is to put in the words suggested. This is a very important point which I strongly urge on the Solicitor-General, and not a debating point. I urge it strongly upon him even if he does not accept any of the other Amendments.
§ The Solicitor-General
Of course I acknowledge that points are being put forward in the anxious concern to ensure that the Clauses are right within the philosophy, odious or magnificent, according to view, of the Bill, we shall consider the issue which the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) raised in the last debate and this about the scope of the word "party". For the reasons I have explained we think it right when we consider Clause 34(2) and the possible implications of its effect on pre-existing agreements, to consider it in the light of Amendment No. 668.
We do not wish to give effect to any retrospective legislation, to attach intentions other than those which the parties intended when they made the agreements either before or subsequent to the passing 1347 of the Bill. I hope that that meets the point, but we will consider the matter again and, if necessary, return to it on Report.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
Will the Solicitor-General deal with the enforceability of agreements which have already been accepted as legally binding? Does not "enforceability" in subsection (4) constitute something different from and above that of "enforceability"? I understand that enforceable agreements are agreements enforceable as a matter of contract between firm or company and individual employee. These agreements, which were enforceable before the coming into operation of the Bill, are enforceable only in that sense and are not enforceable against the trade union as such.
These Clauses constitute a new form of enforceability, because action in the industrial courts may be taken. It is not merely a question of claiming compensation for breach of contract against an individual employee, but proceedings may be taken against a union by virtue of industrial action. As there is a new situation, surely this is a retroactive legislation introducing a new aspect and a new situation for existing agreements.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
Existing agreements are enforceable, in so far as they imply terms in an individual's contract of employment, by the individual against the employer and vice versa. One view is that there are no existing collective agreements which may be enforced against a trade union. A union may be able to enforce an existing collective agreement against an employer.
The view has also been expressed, and it is one I mentioned en passant, that there are some existing collective agreements which can even now be enforced against a trade union. There is one which is industry-wide and at least two others I know of where people believe they are enforceable against a union as distinct from being enforcable against individual employees.
This is the area of uncertainty, and all that we are saying is that if and insofar as an existing agreement is enforceable in that way against a union or by a union against an employer, then it ought to be 1348 enforceable hereafter by means of an unfair practice. Beyond that there is a change embodied in the principles of Clause 34 which makes it presumptively possible for many more agreements to be made by a union. The whole structure of the Bill means that a union can be made, in limited circumstances, to comply with an order. The point raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman) is almost as narrow as he puts it but not quite.
I hope that the Committee will feel that I have shown our willingness to look at these Clauses in the light of the Amendments so as to ensure that we fulfil our original intention; namely, legally binding effectiveness to those agreements intended to be binding before the Act and those intended to be binding after the Act but not beyond that. I hope that the Amendments will not be pressed but if they are I must ask my hon. Friends to reject them.
§ Mr. Rose
While I certainly do not understand the hon. and learned Gentleman refusing the other morning to exchange fig leaves with my right hon. Friend, I can certainly understand his reluctance today to refuse to match professor for professor. He would have to dredge very deeply in this country and across the Atlantic to find any professor to support his contention.
§ Mr. Rose
I have yet to meet the professors to whom the Solicitor-General refers. What he has not succeeded in doing is calming the fears on this side of the Committee about policing. Although it would be churlish not to appreciate his willingness to meet the point about the retroactive nature of the legislation, he really has failed to deal with the new context in which previously agreed enforceable agreements are to be dealt with. That context includes the new courts and the new concepts of fair practice and of policing agreements, making trade unions responsible for taking action against their own members in the disastrous way to which I have referred.
What we have come down to is that in those few agreements which may exist 1349 now—and the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to one covering a whole industry—it would be wrong to allow these new provisions to apply when they could not have envisaged at the time the agreement was entred into. We accept his willingness to look into that.
With regard to the other part of the Amendment, it is agreed and accepted on this side that it will apply only to those agreements made after the commencement of the Act. But it is made by procedural bodies set up not with the knowledge that the trade unions would have to police these agreements, that they might have to sue their members, fine them or suspend them, but at a time when that was not the case and could not have been foreseen. It is for that reason that the retroactive element comes in again, although it is conceded to the hon. and learned Gentleman that the new agreements as such will not be affected in that way.
Because the Solicitor-General is prepared to look at this again and because there will be a debate on Clause 34 which establishes this new concept, I will advise my hon. Friends not to vote on this Amendment but to await Clause 34 and, if necessary, to vote then to show our feeling that that Clause will inject a new bitterness and chaos into industrial relations, particularly in what I call intra-union relationships. For that reason I do not propose to press this matter to a vote at this stage, although it will certainly be dealt with by Amendments on report if the hon. and learned Gentleman has not by then taken whatever action is necessary to remove what is clearly retroactive legislation with regard to these two types of agreement.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Can my hon. Friend help me? I am thinking of a firm which is perhaps 95 per cent. organised but 5 per cent. of the employees are not with any trade union. Some of that 5 per cent. are in vital positions and they decide to strike. They are not parties to the union agreement. What happens in such a case?
§ Mr. Rose
This is a matter for Clause 34, but it should be mentioned in this context. One of the iniquities of Clause 34, which is to be made applicable to two types of agreement which could never have envisaged this situation, is that the agreement may well be broken by people who are not members of the union which negotiated the agreement. They may even be non-union members. It has been known for non-union members to be more militant than union members. Therefore, imposed upon the trade union will be the obligation to police, not its members, but the agreement encompassing people who are not perhaps members of the union in question or of any union.
My right hon. and hon. Friends will show, within the context of Clause 34, the rather dim view that they take of this new obligation being forced on trade unions which are doing their best, as was acknowledged in the research pamphlet published for the Donovan Commission, to ensure that procedures are complied with and which all the evidence shows are doing their best to achieve peace in industry.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 303, Noes 260.1355
|Division No. 111.]||AYES||[8.38 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Blaker, Peter||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray&Nairn)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Carlisle, Mark|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Body, Richard||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Boscawen, Robert||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Bossom, Sir Clive||Channon, Paul|
|Astor, John||Bowden, Andrew||Chapman, Sydney|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Braine, Bernard||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bray, Ronald||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Brewis, John||Churchill, W. S.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Batsford, Brian||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Clegg, Walter|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Cockeram, Eric|
|Bell, Ronald||Bryan, Paul||Cooke, Robert|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Coombs, Derek|
|Benyon, W.||Buck, Antony||Cooper, A. E.|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Bullus, Sir Eric||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Biffen, John||Burden, F. A.||Cormack, Patrick|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Costain, A. P.|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Crouch, David||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jopling, Michael||Redmond, Robert|
|Curran, Charles||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kilfedder, James||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|d'Avigdor-Gotdsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Kimball, Marcus||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Dean, Paul||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kinsey, J. R.||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Dixon, Piers||Kitson, Timothy||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Lane, David||Rost, Peter|
|Dykes, Hugh||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Royle, Anthony|
|Eden, Sir John||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Le Marchant, Spencer||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Longden, Gilbert||Scott, Nicholas|
|Emery, Peter||Loveridge, John||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Eyre, Reginald||MacArthur, Ian||Sharples, Richard|
|Farr, John||McCrindle, R. A.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Fell, Anthony||McLaren, Martin||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Simeons, Charles|
|Fidler, Michael||McMaster, Stanley||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Soref, Harold|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Maddan, Martin||Speed, Keith|
|Foster, Sir John||Madel, David||Spence, John|
|Fowler, Norman||Maginnis, John E.||Sproat, Iain|
|Fox, Marcus||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Stainton, Keith|
|Fraser,Rt.Hn,Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Marten, Neil||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Fry, Peter||Mather, Carol||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Maude, Angus||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Gardner, Edward||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Mawby, Ray||Stokes, John|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Sutcliffe, John|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mills, Stratton, (Belfast, N.)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Miscampbell, Norman||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Gorst, John||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Gower, Raymond||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Gray, Hamish||Moate, Roger||Tebbit, Norman|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Molyneaux, James||Temple, John M.|
|Grylls, Michael||Money, Ernle||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Gurden, Harold||Monro, Hector||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Montgomery, Fergus||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||More, Jasper||Tilney, John|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Trew, Peter|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mudd, David||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Murton, Oscar||Van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Neave, Airey||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Hastings, Stephen||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Waddington, David|
|Havers, Michael||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Normanton, Tom||Walker, Rt. Hn. peter (Worcester)|
|Hay, John||Nott, John||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Onslow, Cranley||Wall, Patrick|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Walters, Dennis|
|Heseltine, Michael||Osborn, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hicks, Robert||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Peel, John||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Holland, Philip||Percival, Ian||Wilkinson, John|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Hamby, Richard||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Pink, R. Bonner||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Pounder, Rafton||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Worsley, Marcus|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Hunt, John||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|James, David||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Mr. Bernard Weatherill and|
|Jessel, Toby||Raison, Timothy||Mr. Tim Fortescue.|
|Abse, Leo||Freeson, Reginald||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Albu, Austen||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Garrett, W. E.||Meacher, Michael|
|Allen, Scholefield||Gilbert, Dr. John||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Ginsburg, David||Mendelson, John|
|Ashley, Jack||Golding, John||Mikardo, Ian|
|Ashton, Joe||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Millan, Bruce|
|Atkinson, Norman||Gourlay, Harry||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Barnes, Michael||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Molloy, William|
|Barnett, Joel||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Beaney, Alan||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hamling, William||Moyle, Roland|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hardy, Peter||Murray, Ronald King|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Ogden, Eric|
|Booth, Albert||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hattersley, Roy||Oram, Bert|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Orbach, Maurice|
|Bradley, Tom||Heffer, Eric S.||Orme, Stanley|
|Brown, Bob (N'ctle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Hilton, W. S.||Oswald, Thomas|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hooson, Emlyn||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Horam, John||Padley, Walter|
|Buchan, Norman||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Paget, R. T.|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Pardoe, John|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hunter, Adam||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Cant, R. B.||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Carmichael, Neil||Janner, Greville||Pearl, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Northfield)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pendry, Tom|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||John, Brynmor||Prescott, John|
|Cohen, Stanley||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Coleman, Donald||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Rankin, John|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Richard, Ivor|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Judd, Frank||Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Kaufman, Gerald||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Kelley, Richard||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kinnock, Neil||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lambie, David||Roper, John|
|Davies, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Lamond, James||Rose, Paul B.|
|Deakins, Eric||Latham, Arthur||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lawson, George||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Leadbitter, Ted||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Dempsey, James||Leonard, Dick||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Doig, Peter||Lestor, Miss Joan||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Sillars, James|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silverman, Julius|
|Driberg, Tom||Lipton, Marcus||Skinner, Dennis|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lomas, Kenneth||Small, William|
|Dunn, James A.||Loughlin, Charles||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stallard, A. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McBride, Neil||Steel, David|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||McCartney, Hugh||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Ellis, Tom||McElhone, Frank||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|English, Michael||McGuire, Michael||Strang, Gavin|
|Evans, Fred||Mackenzie, Gregor||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mackie, John||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood)||Mackintosh, John P.||Swain, Thomas|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Maclennan, Robert||Tavern, Dick|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Foley, Maurice||MacPherson, Malcolm||Thompson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Foot, Michael||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Tinn, James|
|Ford, Ben||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Tomney, Frank|
|Forrester, John||Marks, Kenneth||Torney, Tom|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Marquand, David||Varley, Eric G.|
|Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Whitehead, Phillip||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Wallace, George||Whitlock, William||Woof, Robert|
|Watkins, David||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Weitzman, David||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wellbeloved, James||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
§ Clause 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.