Amendment No. 873 [23rd February], in page 83, line 37, to leave out the words
'not being a place where he resides '.—[Mr. Harold Walker.]
§ Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)
I rise to speak simply because, I was on my feet when the Guillotine fell last night. I want to put a question or two about peaceful picketing in the sense of peacefully communicating information to or obtaining it from someone.
On television the other night the cameras followed a blackleg postman strikebreaking who passed the local headquarters of the Union of Post Office Workers. The strikers came out and hurled at him what some people might consider abusive language. It was on the lines that the strike-breaker was nothing better than a quisling. Some might think this abusive language, while other might regard it as fair comment. I will not comment, having been called a quisling by Scottish Nationalists.
In the context of this Clause, would the shouting of that slogan, which is certainly communicating information or opinions about the strike-breaker from the strikers be construed as peacefully communicating it to him, or would the branch secretary who shouted the slogan be in breach of the law under the Clause?
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)
This Clause restricts, in the narrowest sense, the place where peaceful picketing may lawfully take place, but also implies, although it does not express, recognition of a distinction between peaceful picket- 576 ing at the place where a person works and other places and peaceful picketing at or near his home.
This is a real and fundamental distinction. The nature and character of peaceful picketing when done at or near a person's work and the nature and character of it at or near his home are very different. A person who refuses to follow the decisions of his union, however right they may be, is entitled to look upon his home as a place of refuge. If he cannot do that, there is no other hiding-place.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
The hon. and learned Member is continuing the argument expounded on his side last night. Would he now give some conclusive evidence in relation to this type of picketing which is in favour of changing the law in this way?
§ Mr. Gardner
I shall come to this point, which was raised by the hon. Member last night. I find it a difficult line of argument to follow.
If one thinks that some action is so offensive that it should be prohibited by law, it seems to me, as I hope it will seem to the majority of the Committee, that it is quite irrelevant to consider statistics to decide how many times, if at all, that offensive action has happened in the past or the present. We are legislating for the future. What we want to ensure is that this kind of action, which we regard as offensive—on the immaculate principle that a person is entitled to protection within the confines of his own home—should not be allowed by law. This proposition is neither strengthened nor weakened by the production of statistics.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
Although the undefinable nature of whether or not something was taking place near a person's home has been demonstrated in the discussions so far, and although, therefore, the law is rendered unenforceable—we wait with bated breath to hear the Solicitor-General answer this point—would the hon. and learned Gentleman still uphold this obscurity in the light of the absence of evidence to show that the law should go so far?
§ Mr. Gardner
This is not an unrealistic or obscure point or one which anyone considering the reality of the situation 577 should have the slightest difficulty in following.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
Is the hon. and learned Member aware that having to listen to that sort of claptrap nauseates me`? Some of us, like myself, were born in mining villages and can cast our minds back to 1926. None of us, in our working-class homes in long terrace housing, knew any incidents of this nature. I have not heard or seen this. I have spent my life among the working class and this hypothetical legislation nauseates people like me.
§ Mr. Gardner
If this is hypothetical then where is the harm in making such behaviour unlawful? What is wrong in saying that this should not be done if it is the sincere view of hon. Members opposite that such behaviour is not likely to happen?
§ Mr. Gardner
It is not Wonderland. It is today and it may be tomorrow. These are difficult points, some of them points of law but all of them with an application to our everyday life. Hon. Members cannot close their minds to the realities of the industrial scene. I do not close my mind to what is happening outside daily, and to what appears to be a situation which could drift towards disaster, a situation in which extremists may take over, although I hope that they never will.
If, as is suggested by the Opposition, the precautions we are seeking to import into this Bill are likely to be unnecessary and unreal, let me put it to the test in this way. If I were to stand here and say to this Committee that pickets who were trying to persuade Post Office workers or any other workers in an industrial dispute had been going to the homes of those workers there would, I suppose and I would expect, be an outcry.
§ Mr. Gardner
There is no evidence. I am not suggesting that there is. What I suggest to the Committee is that there is a real distinction between peaceful picketing outside a man's place of work 578 and peaceful picketing outside his home. The Committee cannot overlook the fact that "peaceful picketing" is a misnomer. Peaceful picketing is quite different from friendly picketing. The peaceful picket trying to persuade someone whom he regards as a blackleg to return to work is more likely to be hostile than friendly, more likely to incite fear than respect.
It takes a strong mind and a courageous conviction to enable a person to defy his union's decision and to continue working. Neither trade union leaders nor members of the Opposition must be surprised at the admiration which has been accorded to trade union workers, including the young women, who have stood up to the picket lines recently. This is no more than an elementary precaution that we are introducing into the Bill, one that is needed and which I ask the Committee to support.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Like the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner), I want to see the protection of people who are are in their own homes. It is only a short time ago that a Tory councillor in one of the rural districts in my constituency suggested that there should be a demonstration outside my home because of something which the Minister had failed to do. I resented it and I would resent anyone interfering with a person in their own home.
I want to place before the Committee certain circumstances in which peaceful pickets might be put at risk as a result of talking to people near their homes and might be caught by the provisions of the Bill. To some extent participation in industrial organisation and my working-class background enables me to see the difficulties of this part of the Clause. I was engaged in distribution and we often had disputes, although not as often as some other unions.
A considerable number of people such as shop managers live on the premises, either at the back of or over a shop. It would be very difficult for peaceful pickets to keep within the law if they attempted to picket such people near their own homes. The caretaker of a school is in a similar position. There would be a difficulty in someone peacefully picketing such a person. This is legislation which will not apply to lawyers but to ordinary 579 people who will not make the sophisticated distinctions that we sometimes make.
What is likely to create a greater incidence of breaches of the regulations is the situation which can arise in areas where there is an enormous number of terraced houses. We live in a close community. I know hon. Gentlemen opposite, like myself, live in a small community and perhaps in detached houses. But when people live in an area where there are a number of terraced houses—
§ Mr. Loughlin
I am coming to that because I have a number in my constituency. Take the example of colliery houses and let us suppose that the men coming off the night shift decide upon strike action and want to stop the next shift going in. The relationship between miners and their workmates is not perhaps so formalised as it might be in other sections of the community. There would be nothing unusual in Tom Jones knocking on the door of Harry Brown and saying, "Don't go in Harry, we're on strike."
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that he is arguing against the proposition that the Englishman's home is his castle and that he is arguing instead in favour of the proposition that the Englishman's home is Barbara Castle?
§ Mr. Loughlin
Sir Robert, we all consider ourselves comedians, but this is not the type of comment to make during this debate. terruption.] If the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) has a giggling fit, will he kindly leave the Chamber?
§ Mr. Loughlin
Because Tom Jones has told his colleague to strike, it is possible that he will be in jeopardy, not because of the intention of the Government but because of the way in which the Bill will operate. I do not believe that the Government wish to stop peaceful picketing. The trouble with this legislation is that 580 if one is not caught under one provision, one is caught under another. For example, peaceful picketing will be allowed, but once blacking comes into it, it will be illegal.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
The hon. Gentleman is quoting an example of one man telling another not to go to work. How could that be an offence under the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act, 1875? We are referring to two or three people using violence.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Perhaps Tom Jones is not giving this advice. Maybe two or three men are telling a colleague not to go to work.
§ Mr. Loughlin
The trouble with hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they do not know the first thing about the habits of working-class people. The Clause says:The provisions of this section shall have effect where one or more persons … 'pickets' … in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute".I am not sure that I was wrong when I was referring to one man giving certain advice or taking action. The wording of the Bill is so vague that the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) may be reading more into the word "one" than I am.
The Government are trying to stop people conducting effective picketing, because the most effective picketing that I have known is not when employees have been stopped from going to work but when supplies on their way to a factory have been stopped. The Government have, perhaps inadvertently, drafted the Bill in such a way that people may find themselves in breach of the Measure when the Government do not wish that to happen. In view of the way in which people not only work but also live, I hope that the Amendment will be accepted.
§ Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)
I well understand that the right to carry out peaceful picketing is something which the trade unions value very much. It has been made clear in the earlier discussions on this issue that there has been no intention on the part of the Government to remove this general right. That should be clearly on the record. 581 The only point in dispute between the two sides of the Committee is whether it is wise for the Government to approve, and endorse in the Bill, the picketing of a man's home. Hon. Members will agree that there is a certain sacredness about one's home and family life and that these should be left undisturbed. While certain forms of peaceful picketing would obviously not necessarily disturb one's private life, as Donovan made clear, such disturbances could happen. That was clear from the quotation which the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker) gave yesterday, after I asked him to read a passage from the Report.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) said yesterday, it is up to hon. Gentlemen opposite to prove that there is an absolute need to allow and authorise the picketing of a person's home. Unless they can prove this need, the Government are right to take the view that is taken by the Bill. In other words, hon. Gentlemen opposite have not proved that it is absolutely necessary and, in the absence of that proof, it would be irresponsible of the Government, in the comprehensive reform and modernisation of the trade unions on which we are embarked, to condone the picketing of a person's home.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
I remind the hon. Gentleman that when I quoted that passage from Donovan, at his invitation, I stressed the fact that the Royal Commission had pointed out that there were existing remedies under the law for other than peaceful picketing and that people were protected against violence by the law as it stood.
§ Mr. Grylls
I appreciate that, but paragraph 855 of Donovan took away the importance of wanting to picket a person's home by stating:From a striker's point of view, the most effective means for this purpose is the placing of pickets outside the place of work.It should not, therefore, be necessary to picket a person's home.
In industrial disputes feelings can, and almost always do, run high on both sides. It is possible to imagine circumstances when two or three members of a strike committee might visit the home of a worker who, for one reason or another, 582 good or bad, disapproves of the strike that is in progress. It needs little imagination to believe that an incident could flare up in which the wife and small children in the home of such a person could become involved.
If the family of a Member of Parliament becomes involved in such an affair, then tiresome and upsetting though it may be, it is something which we accept when we enter politics. However, it is not the sort of thing which the ordinary worker should be forced to accept by having to tolerate the picketing of his home. I hope, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen opposite will appreciate that this is in no way trying to restrict liberty. It is the reverse. It is trying to preserve the liberty and sanctity of the home.
The factory can, of course, be picketed and, as Donovan said, picketing a factory is probably the most effective way of doing it. Perhaps the public house and shops can be picketed. However, picketing should be restricted to places other than the home. I cannot believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite will claim that, in this context, the preservation and protection of home life can be considered an illiberal act.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
I was amazed to hear the general legislative doctrine which the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) advanced when he said that one did not need evidence or statistics in this sphere but only legislation. It so happens, happily, that there are many practised and experienced Parliamentarians present on his side, and they must be as appalled as I am at this suggestion. We could legislate on anything on that basis.
For example, the Association of Paper Manufacturers has various regional bodies. I believe that one meets in Leeds once a month. It sometimes takes certain stringent decisions as to how each paper manufacturer should behave on matters of pricing, conditions and general policy. Discussions take place, and a nod is as good as a wink. It frequently occurs that they sometimes call upon each other at home because Mr. So-and-so might have missed the monthly meeting. As a matter of courtesy, a colleague calls at his home, perhaps on a Saturday afternoon, and informs him of what passed at the meeting and indicates to 583 him the decisions. There is never anything untoward, any threat or intimidation, as far as I know. But somebody might say, "Let us now legislate. Although there is no evidence or statistics", as the hon. Gentleman was saying, "that anything untoward ever happens, just the same we want to legislate and make it unfair industrial practice or an offence for a member of the association who has not been attending the monthly meeting in Leeds to be called upon by a colleague or by another entrepreneur in the same trade."
That is only a preliminary remark. I am not dealing with the substance of the matter yet. Surely there has to be a reason for legislation. In the absence of a reason it is absurd to argue that there should be legislation.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Before the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) finishes the exercise of testing the water before taking his more definitive plunge, would not he agree that if it be right that there is this good situation amongst manufacturers and that there is no apprehension of abuses, it is because a Conservative Government in 1956 legislated, under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, to ensure that there would be no unfair commercial practices, just as a Conservative Governernment are now legislating to ensure that there will be no unfair industrial practice?
§ Mr. Mendelson
I thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would bring up that point. That is why I put in three kinds of activity which passed at that meeting. We have not the time to go into the accuracy of the point the right hon. and learned Gentleman made. Even if it were true, the other two stand.
§ Mr. Gardner
The example given by the hon. Member for Penistone was one of an approach to a man's house for a perfectly legitimate and unobjectionable purpose, and he says that this is the sort of behaviour which, if the Committee so wished, could be legislated against. It could be. But the kind of behaviour which I was predicating and which we are now considering is offensive behaviour and becomes more offensive the nearer it gets to a man's home. That is the sort of behaviour against which we on this 584 side of the Committee feel that we ought to legislate.
§ Mr. Mendelson
The hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) can get as much into harness as he wants, but it is obvious that I have talked past him. I have not yet reached the substance of the argument. I am merely trying to puncture his general case that we do not need any evidence for the legislation before going ahead with it. If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not want to follow me into the logic of it, I leave the matter there because we are under the Guillotine.
In another part of his speech the hon. and learned Gentleman said, "Anybody will see that we can legislate although there is no evidence". Who does he mean by "anybody"? The Donovan Commission—not just "anybody", but the appointed experts on this matter, drawn from industry, the law and the employers' side—in its Report at paragraph 877 states:A majority of members consider that the Commission has had no evidence of abuse of the right to picket sufficient to justify such a restriction.Surely it cannot be maintained in the face of that that anybody—which means "everybody" in this connection—will see the wisdom of that approach.
On the substance of the matter, the Clause is widely drawn, because in lines 39, 40 and 41 on page 83 it states:… and do so only for the purpose of peacefully obtaining information from him or peacefully communicating information to him or peacefully persuading him to work or not to work.That means that only one part of the Clause deals with persuading a colleague either to work or not to work." Of capital importance for the Committee is that the first two lines do not deal with persuading a colleague to work or not to work but deal with either obtaining information from him or imparting information to him. This is a very serious departure from the ordinary rights of Englishmen to call upon a colleague and ask him a question or impart information to him. In the face of that, the remarks of the hon. Gentleman appear particularly ridiculous.
The onus of proof is on the Government. It is not on the Opposition or anybody else. It is the Government's 585 legislation. Surely nobody can contradict me on that point. That at least ought to be common ground. If the Government want to interfere with such long-established traditional rights, what is the reason?
I want to separate the two propositions to which the Amendment is linked. The first proposition—that of obtaining information and imparting information—could be an ordinary discussion. How will right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite defend the first part of these three lines to their constituents? How will they defend the interference with this right unless there have been so many hundreds of thousands of cases where the right of merely calling upon each other has been abused and the evidence is overwhelming? That is how we proceed in legislation. We do not suddenly say, "We shall have a law for this, that and the other", if there is no reason for it.
I deeply object to those two lines especially, and to any of the legislation being introduced. Hon. Members opposite have not dealt with that so far. It will restrict the rights in future, in whatever way, of people, be they paper manufacturers, miners—as some of my constituents are—or steel workers, to call upon each other to impart or receive information.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I do not wish to give way, because we are under the Guillotine. Some of my constituents work in the steel industry. Let us suppose that something occurs at work at 2 o'clock in the morning—as it recently did—and there is a dispute between the manager and two men, and the manager decides, wrongly in the view of the trade unionists, to send the men home without further ado, and the workers adopt a certain attitude. As the Committee knows, each piece of machinery is run by three shifts and there are teams of people who take over at 6 a.m. Surely it must be the right of ordinary citizens, on the way home between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., to call upon one of their colleagues and to tell him what has happened. This would become an offence—an unfair industrial practice—under the Bill. The words arefor the purpose of peacefully obtaining information from him or peacefully communicating information".586 We are not dealing with the case of somebody saying, "Please do not go to work".
Let us assume that two workers do not wish to call upon somebody else but wish to wait outside the house of one of their colleagues until he comes home from work. Instead of calling on him at an unearthly hour, they decide to wait outside his house until he comes out or comes home so that they can inform him of something that took place at two o'clock in the morning. This would then begin to be the process of persuasion, because what is the purpose of imparting such information? It is an implied appeal to the sense of solidarity of those about to go to work. [Interruption.] I am putting a logical case to the Committee. I know that hon. Members opposite do not like a logical case because they cannot disprove it.
§ The Chairman
Order. I must ask hon. Gentlemen to be a little more orderly. If the hon. Member for Penistone does not give way, there is nothing they can do about it.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I have no intention of giving way. At the point when these two colleagues who are outside the door of the house with the intention of imparting information to seek a show of solidarity for those who have stopped work express a point of view and start discussing the question with their colleague, it changes into the matter dealt with in the last two lines—persuading him to work or not to work".If we allow these words to go through, the action I have described could be interpreted as picketing outside a home. The Clause is widely drawn and is a dangerous invasion into the ordinary rights of people, never mind about the rights of trade unionists.
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde was present when examples were given yesterday which showed the need to retain a residual right for trade unionists to call upon people or to wait for them outside their homes and to speak to them. 587 I will recall one of those examples. Strike breakers were hired by shipping employers and driven towards the place of work into the port, no chance being given or offered at any time for their striking colleagues to have any conversation with them. It can be said that a form of force was used to avoid any possible contact between the men who were on strike and those who were going to break the strike.
§ Mr. Mendelson
Hon. Members will be able to quote other examples. In such a case, how are the members of a work group or of a trade union who happen to be on strike to contact the strike breakers? For all we know, it may be the most official and legitimate kind of strike that anybody can think of. In circumstances where the strike breaking force is driven in by the employers, who deliberately prevent any physical contact or conversation between those who normally work on the job and those who are driven in from outside, the people who normally work at the workplace are prevented even from saying to the strike breakers, "We think that in all conscience you should not do this".
It is absurd to deprive people on strike in such circumstances of the opportunity of being able to go somewhere else. They might say, "Let us try to meet these men in the pub "or" on the market square". It is absurd to say that in no circumstances in such a situation should those who are on strike be able to say, "We know that so-and-so is involved in this strike breaking activity. Let us wait for him until he goes home and then we will have a word with him".
Evidence is decisive. It is a proud claim of the trade union movement that it behaves peacefully even when involved in an industrial dispute. This is the factor which led the majority of the Donovan Commission to reach the conclusion that there is no need for legislation. It is important to weigh the evidence, to keep the situation that way, and not to introduce legislation that will make men feel bitter about their being prevented from even talking to people who are trying to break a strike.
588 This provision will not merely leave the situation where it is. It will do untold harm. This is why the Donovan Commission, after more than two years' work, rejected the idea of legislation.
It must be remembered that these things are matters of psychological judgment. A sense of fair play is absolutely essential for our industrial relations. It is precisely in those circumstances that, if there is an exemption or an exception to the normal course according to Donovan, which is the absence of violence and only peaceful discussion, there is the criminal law.
It has always been known that, in a situation of normal picketing at a factory gate, if anybody behaves in a way in which he should not behave and if peaceful picketing changes into something else, it immediately falls under the criminal law. Obviously, if anybody stood outside somebody else's home and did anything similar, it would immediately fall under the criminal law. The protection is there. There is no need to introduce this provision.
Therefore, the onus of proof is on the Government. I can hardly think that the Solicitor-General is very pleased with his so-called support he has received from the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde and other Members behind him. They just want to hit at picketing; that is what they are after. They want to discredit the general idea of workpeople having the right to persuade their colleagues. [Interruption.] This is where the cloven hoof shows, as it shows itself in so many other Clauses.
I repeat that that is what hon. Members opposite are after. The self-controlled Solicitor-General knows that he has to make a case for this. I do not believe that he can make a case for it. I therefore hope that we shall support the Amendment in the Lobby.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) will forgive me—
§ Mr. Fell
I should have thought that it was unnecessary to protest so much; for indeed I would have thought that it 589 would have required a learned Gentleman to adduce such a speech in defence of such a case as the hon. Gentleman has just adduced. It was the most monstrous thing to say to the Committee that hon. Members on this side are out to destroy peaceful picketing. It is rubbish.
The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), alone amongst hon. Members opposite, at least made a concession when he said, "I do not believe that a person's house should be disturbed in any way by pickets or anybody else, but …". Then the hon. Gentleman went on to make his case.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I did not say that I did not believe that a person's house should he disturbed by pickets. I said that I thought that a person's house was his castle. I thought that I said that it was to some extent a place that was private to the person concerned.
§ Mr. Fell
It is either a person's castle or it is not. Either it is his private home and his private property or it is not.
It is very difficult for right hon. and hon. Members opposite to defend their case on the Amendment. There is no defence for it, and they must know it. What is enormously surprising to the Committee is the amount of time that hon. Members have spent on this issue. Throughout our debates, I have on many occasions avoided speaking because! have felt, as we have all felt, that sensible and strong arguments were being put from the Opposition which, one understood, came from men who have lived their lives close to the matters we are discussing. But, on this question, I am astonished that hon. Members opposite should wish to fight against the Clause.
It was astonishing yesterday to see the way my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) was constantly interrupted by the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), jumping up and down and yelling at my hon. Friend, telling her to "Shut up" and "Sit down", because we were working under a guillotine. For heaven's sake, why?—so that we could have two, three or four hours of debate on this subject? It is absolutely ludicrous. Many of us thought that the right hon. Lady must have been behaving in that way because she wanted to get through this subject and 590 pass to something really important. But not a bit of it.
§ Mr. Walker
The hon. Gentleman challenges me to attack him from a standing position. Who the devil is he to judge the priorities in these matters?
§ Mr. Loughlin
On a point of order, Sir Robert. You will appreciate that we are working under a guillotine. The hon. Gentlemen has not yet referred to the Amendment, and he has been speaking for a few minutes already. Can you do something about it?
§ The Chairman
There is some substance in that complaint. The hon. Gentleman ought now to come closer to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Fell
With the greatest respect, it is utterly untrue for the hon. Gentleman, whom I have attempted to praise—the only one I did attempt to praise—to say that I have not referred to the Amendment. I referred to it at the beginning, and on several occasions since. So let us at least have some truth in this Committee, if nothing else.
I am trying to make an appeal to the Opposition to be sensible for once and to support that part of the Clause which they now wish to delete. It will do them nothing but harm throughout the nation if it becomes known, as they seem to want it to become known, that they do not want the ordinary private individual's house to be protected against picketing.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
I shall not take up what was said by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). Throughout this debate, both today and last night, different views have been put 591 from each side of the Committee, and I have regarded it so far as a meaningful debate expressing the concern felt by both sides. If hon. Members opposite are irritated by what we say, they must, surely, accept that we are irritated by what some of them say.
§ Mr. Eadie
The hon. Gentleman may give a cheer at that, but, obviously, he does not know how people live. He just made debating points.
One hon. Member opposite talked about general violence, and we have been told that, in order to make the case for our Amendment, we are required to justify the exclusion of these words. That is a queer concept to apply to the preparation of legislation. The onus lies on those who maintain that these words should stand.
It must be acknowledged—some hon. Members have conceded it—that there is a greater wealth of experience on the subject of picketing and the circumstances arising from picketing among Members on this side than among hon. Members opposite. It is no good making demagogic speeches on this subject. It is a vital issue. We are conscious that in the circumstances associated with picketing people may be hurt. It is sometimes the tragedy of strikes that people are hurt. There never has been a strike or picketing in which someone, somewhere along the lines, has not been hurt in certain circumstances. We recognise that, and we agree that it is deplorable.
The word "peaceful" seems to be thoroughly devalued by the Government in this debate. There are plenty of learned Members on his side, and I am sure that the Solicitor-General will have been appalled at the way in which they, and others, have sought to devalue the word "peaceful" in this Clause. It is a meaningful word to us, and anything which is unpeaceful comes under the criminal law.
I have said that strikes are hurtful to people. I understand the argument when hon. Members opposite say that they do not want women and children hurt. Neither do we. Incidentally, on the question of the word "peaceful", the great demonstration which took place on Sun- 592 day was a good example of how the trade union movement tries to conduct its business in a peaceful manner.
Sometimes, on the picket line—I have been there many times in my working life—there is provocation. One thing which pickets will not stand for is the chastising of women and children. We utterly reject the argument that our Amendment would mean that women and children would be penalised. Sometimes, there are hurts, but those who try to legislate for these things will find great difficulty. I understand what some hon. Members tried to say, but I want them to understand that in the aftermath of a strike there will sometimes be hurts.
I have lived in a mining area all my life. After a strike is over, what happens? Women and children are hurt, because at school others will say, for instance, "That is John Macdonald, the son of blackleg Macdonald", or "That is Mary Macdonald, the son of blackleg Macdonald", and so on. [Laughter.] This carries on throughout the whole of their lives. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but it is a very serious matter in a mining area.
§ Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)
The hon. Gentleman saw some of our faces, but he could not have seen the faces of his hon. Friends. I entirely understand the force of his argument, but by an unconscious slip of the tongue—this is what amused some hon. Members—he spoke of, "Mary Macdonald, the son of a blackleg".
§ Mr. Eadie
I understand. In trying to rush my argument forward, I must have made a slip, but it was, surely, obvious what I meant. I am trying to put a serious argument.
People will be hurt. I have known lads who have blacklegged. Sometimes, when they were old, after they had retired, perhaps, they have said to me, "Alec, it was a great mistake. I was selfish, and I inflicted hurt on the whole of my family". That sort of thing is the result of strikes. If hon. Members 593 opposite want to avoid hurts, they must try to solve that problem, not aggravate it.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The hon. Gentleman has spoken of the effect on a man's child at school. Is there not also a risk that hurt might come to his wife and family if his house were picketed?
§ Mr. Eadie
It does not apply in that way at all. I am trying to show how illogical the Government are in trying to put a provision such as this in the Bill. This debate illustrates once again how important it is to recognise that, in dealing with industrial relations, one is dealing with human factors. I felt sorry for the chap who told me that he wished he had never blacklegged because it affected his whole family. In close communities this can have appalling effects. I am sorry that sometimes man's inhumanity to man occurs, but it is a factor. Even the most eminent Conservative lawyers could never legislate to prevent it. It illustrates, as it has throughout the Bill, that industrial relations is a very human question, which the law cannot solve.
I wish that the Government had listened more to what my hon. Friends and I have said about industrial relations. They are building up tremendous problems for themselves in believing that the law can solve the question of industrial relations. We shall have to deal with it in a human way. We shall always be imperfect, but let us try to deal with it like that. That is the way to solve industrial relations, not by bringing in the law.
§ Mr. Awdry
I intervene only because the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) would not give way to me, though I rose several times and was rightly rebuked by the Chair for doing so. The hon. Gentleman built up a great argument on a fallacy. He and his hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) said that if Tom Jones, or anyone else, went with two or three other men to see a fellow worker at his house with some information he would commit an offence. But that cannot be the position. Subsection (2) says:In the circumstances specified in the preceding subsection, the attendance of the pickets at that place for that purpose—594(a) shall not of itself constitute an offence under section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875 —We must see what that Act says.
§ Mr. Awdry
The hon. Gentleman took the example of going with information and waiting outside the house for the answer, but he cannot indicate any Act of Parliament that makes such an action an offence. It is necessary to look at the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act to find out whether there is conduct amounting to intimidation. That is why his argument is based on a fallacy. Surely, no one thinks that it could possibly be an offence for a man to go to see a colleague at his house. That would be absurd, and no one suggests that it could be an offence. It becomes an offence if there is an element of intimidation. That is what worries us.
§ Mr. Loughlin
The hon. Gentleman must look at subsection (2) in relation to subsection (1). He has the thing all mixed up.
§ Mr. Awdry
I do not approach this as a lawyer, but I think that I have got it right. Subsection (1) sets out the type of circumstances, and the offence referred to must be an offence under the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, or another Act. I believe that I am right, but we will let my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General sort this out when he replies.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
The final paragraph of Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act provided protection for exactly the groups of people who are now being exposed by the Bill. That paragraph was subsequently repealed by the 1902 Act. If those people are not to be exposed by the Bill, why was it necessary to write that paragraph into the 1875 Act?
§ Mr. Awdry
It would be better if I did not try to be an amateur Solicitor-General on this point, and allowed my hon. and learned Friend to give us the answer. I understand that for an offence to be committed under the Clause there must be an element of intimidation. The discussion is all about whether that element of intimidation, that pressure, should be brought to a person's home. 595 I hope that the Opposition will accept the explanation to be given by my hon. and learned Friend. Perhaps it is a futile hope, but it would be much batter if occasionally we could see each other's point of view, and if the Opposition did not press on with an Amendment when a proper explanation was given. They do not have a strong case. I cannot believe that it is worth their while pressing the Amendment to the limit.
Picketing is not a very pleasant practice, and it is bound to lead to a certain amount of argument and strife. I imagine that we all agree about that. If the argument and strife are brought to a person's home, it is rather odious.
§ Mr. Skinner
The question of a person's home has been mentioned several times. The Bill speaks ofa place where he resides".In my constituency the place where the miner resides happens to be the place where he works; it is within the precincts of the pit, and the picket line is arranged around the back gardens of the houses. What I want an assurance on is whethera place where he residesis in conflict with the person's place of work.
§ Mr. Awdry
That is a rather narrower point. What we are talking about is whether the argument and strife should be brought to the home of an individual worker. Several hon. Members asked yesterday for examples of violence, and I admit that I can give none. As far as I know, there has been no violence of this kind in my constituency. But we are talking not just about violence but about pressure. Picketing involves some pressure, which is applied to persuade a man not to work. Let me give an example. Two or three workers go to a man's house and call at the door or stand outside with armbands on with the intention of persuading that worker not to work. If he chooses to ignore them and go to work, there is bound to be unpleasantness and a row. The wife and children of that worker will be involved. Many wives are naturally very sensitive and do not want to be in the public gaze. They do not want to be involved in a public row and they hate it if unpleasantness comes into their homes. Many wives 596 would suffer in health if that happened. They would be distressed and there would be serious consequences for them.
All that we on this side of the Committee are trying to do is to protect families from that situation. We are not trying to weaken the trade unions in any way. In our view, picketing can take place anywhere else in the world, in the factory or the street, but not in the home. That is what the debate is all about.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
I am convinced after listening to two or three of the speeches by Conservative hon. Members that those who drafted the Bill lived in suburbia. A Clause like this could never have been drawn up by anyone who knew old industrial England. There must be many places in my constituency and elsewhere, particularly in Lancashire and the mining areas, where the houses abut the factories or mines. Some of the biggest works in my constituency have terraced houses right opposite their entrances. If any of the fellows who live in those houses work at the factory, where can the pickets peacefully picket without falling foul of the Clause? If they stand with their placards on the footpath opposite the works entrance, they will probably be standing outside the front door of people working at the factory. There is nowhere else where they can picket that factory. There are mills where houses abut on either side of the main entrance. This means that a picket outside that mill would, presumably, fall foul of the law even though he was not trying to picket a home but merely picketing the works. The closeness of the home to the factory gate would put the pickets in a peculiar position. We should have clarification of that.
There is a far more modern form of intimidation than picketing. The telephone can be a very abusive and intimidating instrument. Yet there is no suggestion that anyone using a telephone to abuse or to persuade someone engaged in blacklegging to desist from doing so should fall foul of the Bill. I am not suggesting that, on Report, we should have an Amendment to make that possible, but we all know that the telephone can be a far greater intimidator and far more irritating than a knock on the door.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
Is not the right hon. Gentleman using a dangerous double-edged weapon and accepting that picketing is itself intimidating and equated with intimidation?
§ Mr. Fernyhough
No. Temporarily, I am accepting the argument of those who want the Clause. They are saying that if I stand outside the home of a blackleg and that home is opposite the factory in which he works, if I have a placard or try to speak to him I fall foul of the law. That is something which has not been illegal in this country in the lifetime of any hon. Member here. It has not caused any difficulty or hardship except in so far as what my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) had to say about the 1926 strike. I remember that strike and I know that some of the bitterness lives on to this day. Hon. Members should remember how that bitterness arose. These men were engaged in a bitter struggle to protect their hard won rights and they felt that those who were not with them were against them.
Surely this was a natural reaction. Hon. Members opposite who were captains and air marshals and what have you in the forces must have felt the same about men who deserted. They had no time for them. They thought that they were unworthy of the cause. Men engaged in an industrial struggle rightly or wrongly take the same line about colleagues as hon. Members opposite do about those who desert from the Armed Forces.
The Solicitor-General should reconsider this matter. I do not believe that the industrial experience of Britain justifies a change in the law of this magnitude. Millions of days have been lost in strikes during the last 12 months, but not one hon. Member opposite has been able to give a single example in which a constituent has complained that picketing has in any way influenced or intimidated him. After all these years of practical experience in the House of Commons—some hon. Members have been here for many years—they are unable to call upon one example of a constituent saying that the law should be changed because he has had a bitter and formidable experience of picketing.
In introducing a Clause of this kind, the Government are doing a great disservice to millions of ordinary men and 598 women in the trade union movement because they are pretending that those men and women are a lot of brutes who will force other people to comply with their views even if they do not agree with them. I do not accept that valuation of the average British worker. I think that the average British worker is a decent, law-abiding peaceable citizen. Hon. Members opposite have even tried to bring in the women and the children, but there is not a body of men whose whole existence has been so devoted to making the lives of their women and children happier as that of the men who belong to the trade union movement, because those men wanted to improve the standard for their children and to free their women folk. In view of our industrial history, there is no justification for the Clause and the hon. and learned Gentleman should willingly and gladly be guided by us and accept the Amendment.
§ [Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
The indiscriminate incomprehension and intemperance of the way that the Clause has been opposed and the Amendment proposed by hon. Members opposite gives one an insight into the frailty of the foundation of their argument. It is really an alarming and astonishing insight. There is no other Clause and no other Amendment in respect of which I have felt less doubt the longer the debate has proceeded. I see no reason to make any change in the Clause. In order to explain why, I need to explain just what we are on about and how slender is the change being proposed.
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) says, "Why bother?". I should like at the outset to explain the dilemma in which hon. Members opposite find themselves. On the one hand, they say that the possibility of anything happening at a person's home that could be complained of in the slighest way is so remote, so hypothetical, that there is no need to consider it in legislation. Very well. Let us accept the Clause as it stands and proceed upon that basis. Alternatively, they say that what we are doing is striking at the heart of the organisation of 599 trade unions, attacking their basic philosophy. Which is it? If it is part of the basic philosophy of organised labour to preserve the law as it stands and resist the Clause unamended, I am astonished and the country will be astonished as well.
The Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, is the foundation of this provision and is the only foundation upon which an offence in respect of picketing can be founded, unless it be the obstruction of the highway or assault or some other matter of that kind. Section 7 of the 1875 Act says:Every person who, with a view to compel any other person to abstain from doing …something he is entitled to do,Uses violence to or intimidates such other person or his wife or children, or injures his property: or … Watches or besets the house or other place where such other person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place…is guilty of an offence. In order to show an offence under that provision, it would have to be shown that the person or persons were acting with a view to compelling another person to abstain from what he was entitled to do. They would be doing so if they were watching or besetting the place, the house or place where the person works or happens to be or happens to live.
§ The Solicitor-General
I must continue the explanation. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker)—
§ The Solicitor-General
I am half way through a section of the story and the right hon. Member must restrain himself. The hon. Member for Doncaster pointed out that there was an original proviso added to that Section in the 1875 Act and replaced by the proviso to Section 2 of the 1906 Act. The essence of those provisos was really to make it plain that attending at or near—a variety of places, but basically a place where somebody lives or works or happens to be—for the purpose of, in the words which appear in this Clause,peacefully obtaining information … or peacefully communicating information"—600 and this is in the 1906 Act—or peacefully persuading him to work or not to workis all right. The effect of those provisos in the 1875 and 1906 Acts and here is that in order to be found guilty of an offence it must be shown that one is watching or besetting with a view to prevailing upon a person in an intimidatory fashion; and they made it plain that there is a licence that people may attend upon a person outside his place of work or his home or any other place. It is in that context that we should look at this provision. All that we are opposing is a licence saying it is perfectly lawful for a group of people to post themselves outside somebody's home. It does not expose anyone—
§ The Solicitor-General
I will come to why in a moment. I want to make plain what we are doing. It does not in itself expose anyone to risk of prosecution, as hon. Members opposite have said. To qualify for that one must be acting with a view to compelling—watching, besetting. So that we say it is unnecessary and unattractive—and I will explain why in a moment—to give a clear licence for people to post themselves in this fashion, besetting the home—basically the home—or the place where somebody happens to live.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
That is precisely what I was afraid of. This does not justify the Solicitor-General's first arrogant introductory remarks. If two people decide to go into the home or to stay outside, but in order to talk to the man to persuade him, that might be interpreted as besetting, and then they would fall under the Solicitor-General's Clause.
§ The Solicitor-General
No. They would only begin to fall under the Clause—I will develop the argument—if in fact they were to post themselves and were there with a view to compel, watching or besetting the house.
§ The Solicitor-General
There is something astonishing in a proposition for an express licence for posting outside somebody's home and conducting—[Interruption.] I will develop the argument and explain the points which were put to me. 601 The hon. Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) asked what happens if the home is over a shop—if I may put it so simply—and other hon. Members put the same kind of example. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), I think, gave a similar example, where the home is intermingled with a pithead or colliery workings. The answer is that if pickets attend at the place, that is, a shop or pithead, where the person works or carries on business, then under this Clause 121(1,a) they are expressly and plainly protected as they were under the 1875 Act or the 1906 Act.
The only variation which is made by this Clause has been rightly identified by the hon. Members opposite who drafted this Amendment. That is the only position at which this blanket presumption in favour of posting no longer prevails—that is, the place where he resides.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Loughlin
The hon. and learned Gentleman really must be as honest as he possibly can be. What this Amendment is seeking to do is to delete the wordsnot being a place where he residesbecause one must read paragraphs (a) and (b) together, and the picket is caught on both legs here. I gave illustrations time and time again. That man is caught under this Bill; he comes under it.
§ The Solicitor-General
No. If I may answer the point directly, without acknowledging the suggestion that I may be dealing with the Committee dishonestly—because I am certainly not—the provisions of this Clause are clear, and concern persons whoattend at or near a place where a person works or carries on business".If people attend at such a place, where a man works or carries on business, and do so only for the purposes set out under the previous Sections and this Bill that does not of itself constitute an offence.
One comes to subsection (1,a) and (b) and the word is "or", and they may attend at any other place where a person happens to be, and the only restriction or qualification is that correctly identified by the hon. Member who drafted this Amendment, that isnot being a place where he resides".602 The only place where the law is being altered is, if persons are outside that place where somebody resides but where he does not work. [Interruption.] It is clear if one looks at the wording. There is no possible room for doubt, and the wording of the Amendment is precisely directed to this.
If one were to remove the words which this Amendment wants to remove we would be back to the 1906 Act, and this, and no more, is the narrow area of our discussion, whether there should be a presumption in favour of the legality of posting pickets at a place where a person lives.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
The hon. and learned Gentleman keeps using the word "posting". That is in his imagination. Nowhere does he really define what a picket is. If the picket takes his armband off and goes along to a fellow striker or fellow worker, is he or is he not a picket? I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will answer, because I do not want to intervene again, and will deal with the situation where, as I said last night, even a strike committee might go along to try to persuade somebody to come back to work, perhaps to help with an emergency service. They might do that as well as seek to persuade him not to work. They might be outside the house saying, "Come to work". How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain that?
§ The Solicitor-General
There is no change in the basic law save in just one respect. For, in order to qualify for consideration for the possibility of prosecution under the 1875 Act, one has to be shown to be watching or besetting with a view to compelling somebody—[Interruption.] And the offence arises only where one is watching or besetting with a view to compelling. There is no possibility of it in any of the circumstances which hon. Members have put to me. If somebody comes to my home, or to the home of any one of them, knocks at the door and says, "I would like to have a talk with you about what is going on at the works"—the pithead, or whatever it may be—" and explain that this is what was happening", he is not within a thousand miles of an offence under the 1875 Act. It is only if persons are assembled watching or besetting with a view to compel that the offence begins 603 to arise. This is so with the proviso in the 1875 Act and the proviso in the 1906 Act and the re-enacted proviso here. All we are saying is that this proviso should not prevail in respect of the home.
§ The Solicitor-General
I have been given a very large number of examples by hon. Members and I am trying to deal with them.
It is now said that the provisions of the the 1906 Act had remained unchanged and nobody had seen any need of change at all. It is not so. The 1927 Act removed the home from the area of presumed legitimate picketing. The 1929–31 Labour Government introduced legislation to amend the 1927 Act—and one can look at that to see the areas which they thought it necessary to put right—and did not do so. That wlel-known, hardfaced, punitive Tory, Sir Stafford Cripps, who was then holding the office of Solicitor-General, introduced that Bill. One of the areas of the 1927 Act which the 1930 Bill not seek to change was the provision saying that the presumption of legitimacy in respect of picketing at the home should be removed. The situation was tolerated by that strange predecessor of mine in 1930. So we come back to the argument of principle.
Are hon. Gentlemen opposite standing by some of the phrases used by them in support of the proposition that picketing at a person's home should have this blanket blessing conferred upon it?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am wondering about that. Let us be clear, we are dealing with the presumed legitimacy of picketing at home. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker) said that we are "attacking the only weapon of trade unionism", we are placing "an onerous restriction upon it". We are attacking, so the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) said, "the basic philosophy of trade unionism". 604 The hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) referred to "the foundation of good trade unionism". Is this really so? Is it to be said to the country that the proposition that the right to picket a person's home is at the heart of trade unionism?
§ The Solicitor-General
I will answer the hon. Gentleman in this way. As the nation and hon. Members will have seen with their own eyes on television on more than one occasion in recent months, there is something in the nature of picketing that is capable so easily of spilling over into abuse, intimidation and violence. I will quote to the Committee something which was written some time ago but which is still valid:The truth is that picketing—however conducted—when it consists of watching or besetting the house, and it is to be observed that the statute places no limit to the number of persons attending for the purpose only of obtaining or communicating information or to the length of time during which such attendance may be maintained—is always and of necessity in the nature of an annoyance to the person picketed. As such, it must savour of compulsion. … It is obvious how easy it must be to pass from the language of persuasion into that of abuse, and from words of abuse to threats and acts of violence.All that is self-evident from what we have seen in incidents away from people's homes in recent months. The quotation comes, not from some stiff-backed hard-faced Tory but from the unanimous report of the Royal Commission which reported in 1905, one of the members of which, and one of the signatories of that paragraph, was that astonishing dragon of the trade union movement, Sidney Webb.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
I do not want the Solicitor-General to misrepresent my speech of last evening by picking out selected quotations from it. Nothing in my speech either condoned or supported abuse, intimidation or violence in picketing. I was saying that the main weapon available to trade unionists was strike action and that picketing was one of the ancillaries which the trade union had 605 to support it. Anything which diminishes, in the way in which the Solicitor-General admits that this Clause diminishes, that right to picket must inevitably blunt the strike weapon.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making the point with such clarity. The strike weapon is a weapon of trade unionism —certainly, clear. Picketing is a weapon of the organisation of a strike—certainly, clear. Many people outside the House could argue that the way in which the law at present operates to restrain that which people on all sides deplore, namely, the spill-over into violence represents that it is already inadequate. Many people have argued that we should go further than we are proposing and restrict in some way the right to picket. We are not doing so. We are not blunting in any respect the existing provisions of the law about picketing at the work place or at any other place. The only area in which by this Clause we are blunting the strike weapon is by asserting that the home of the man who dissents from the majority view shall not be a place which can presumptively be beset. That is all.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
If the Solicitor-General is now arguing that many people have said that the existing provisions of the criminal law are not sufficient, he must produce evidence why the change is necessary. Donovan examined the evidence and said it was not.
§ The Solicitor-General
One comes back to the simple point. I think it was the hon. Member for Salford, West who said that it requires great courage to participate in strike action. I have no doubt that in many circumstances it does, but equally it cannot be gainsaid that it requires great courage to dissent from that, whatever one's view about it. I think it was the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) who said that the philosophy is that those who are not for us are against us. Be that so; be that the argument which could be addressed to the non-conformist when he tries to go to and from his work; be that the argument that could be addressed to him in the street or in the supermarket, without restraint, but surely he too is entitled to cherish his little shred of courage in his own home, and it is 606 only about that that we are concerned here.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have repeatedly come back to this phrase. Either the trade union movement needs not this protection in respect of picketing a person's home, in which case there can be no possible objection to the Clause as it stands, or the trade union movement regards it as an illegitimate blunting of the strike weapon, which I suggest is an inadmissible argument.
The provision legitimising picketing at a person's home is an unnecessary and unwarranted licence for intrusion into private domestic life, and I go along with the minority of the Donovan Commission, and so do my hon. Friends, in considering in such places it is quite unnecessary. The liberty to picket a person's home involves the risk of threats to his family which are quite unjustifiable and may cause much distress.
When a clock strikes 13 times it casts grave doubt on the accuracy or adequacy of everything it has previously said. On this Amendment the Opposition have struck 13 times and have exposed the inadequacy of their arguments.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
The Solicitor-General was quite right to say that everyone in the Committee would wish to see respected the privacy of a person in his own home and that such a right should continue without hindrance or interference by anyone. It goes almost without saying. The idea that the Englishman's home is his castle applies equally to the working class as to the aristocracy. The right to privacy and protection in our own home is something we all hold extremely dear. Trade unionists accept this as much as anyone else.
The hon. Gentleman suggested that the Opposition were making a great deal of this point and that in putting forward the Amendment they had made the clock strike 13 times. The hon and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends must explain to the Committee why it is considered to be essential that the law should be changed and to tell us what proof they have. We have had many emotive speeches, with talk of violence, and so on, but nobody in this Committee has given any concrete evidence why this 607 Clause is necessary and why the Amendment ought not to be agreed.
§ Mr. Heffer
I will deal with Pilkington on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Section 7.4 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875 deals with any person who, with a view to compelling any other person from doing any act,Watches or besets the house or other place where such other person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place".Therefore, anybody who indulges in that sort of conduct and tries to intimidate a person or his wife or children, or injures his property, can be caught by the Act, and indeed has always been caught since 1875. No doubt in order to protect the right of peaceful picketing the provision says thatAttending at or near the house or place where a person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place, in order merely to obtain or communicate information shall not be deemed a watching or besetting within the meaning of this section.In other words, it was essential to put in those words so that anyone who was carrying out peaceful communication could not be caught by those provisions, it was necessary to make that absolutely clear.
Those words were deleted in 1906 and were replaced by Section 2 of the 1906 Act which reads as follows:It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be…Those words were clearly included so that there should be no doubt about picketing.
The Solicitor-General asks why we are now suspicious and why we are making a great thing of this matter. He says, since there have been no abuses, why do we want these words to be eliminated. But the hon. and learned Gentleman has either deliberately not understood the position or has misinformed the Committee. We want the words in, because if taken out this will not only diminish 608 the right of picketing, but will also not take account of the practical realities of the situation. Certain realities were pointed out by my hon. Friends involving houses which are inside the confines of pit or dock premises. For example, if insurance agents go on strike, since they operate from their own homes how will the other insurance agents communicate with the workers who might decide to scab? How are they to do it except by peaceful communication with them at their homes?
Another point hon. Gentlemen do not understand is that work in certain industries is farmed out to people's homes. How is communication to be carried out with those workers working in their own homes?
§ Mr. Heffer
I do not mean only the cottage industries, but that is an example. There are other industries, in the Potteries and elsewhere, which are in the same situation. These are practical questions involving the situation where the place of work is also the place of residence. If because of this provision it is not possible to approach those workers at their place of residence, there is an argument as to whether it would be wrong to approach them.
§ Mr. Tom King
I appreciate that the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West, (Mr. Loughlin) did not get the point, but I thought that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) had got it.
§ Mr. Heffer
If I had the hon. Gentleman's absolute confidence that there would then be no legal argument in a court of law on this matter, I would cheerfully accept his point. But when the Solicitor-General, in a previous debate, was asked by one of his hon. Friends whether he could give an assurance that the words used by the Solicitor-General would be the same words uttered 609 by the judge concerned—I am paraphrasing but that was basically the point—the reply was that the Solicitor-General could not give that assurance; in other words, the judges and courts would decide. All sorts of judgments have arisen on the basis of law and have sought to interpret the law. We are worried when the provisions of a Measure are not clear and there can be argument about the interpretation of words. Why do hon. Members opposite wish these words to be taken out?
I refer to the bible of apparently everybody in this debate—the Donovan Report. Everybody seems keen to quote the Donovan Report for his text. Paragraph 876 of the Report says:The following members of the Commission, namely. Lord Donovan, Lord Robens, Dame Mary Green and Sir George Pollock consider however that picketing should not be allowed at a person's home where this is not also his place of work.They say that pickets "may cause … distress". They do not say that they would cause distress or that they have caused distress. Paragraph 887, which has been quoted from this side of the Committee but not from the benches opposite, states:A majority of members consider that the Commission has had no evidence of abuse of the right to picket sufficient to justify such a restriction.If there has been no abuse and no evidence of abuse, why should the Solicitor-General wish to delete these words if it is not to restrict the right of workers to picket? It is the thin end of the wedge.
We must be distrustful because of what the Solicitor-General said earlier. He said that the provision was removed from the Act in 1927 and that it was not put back by the minority Labour Government. There are arguments about whether there should ever have been a minority Labour Government. I have strong views about minority Labour Governments. They work even less well than some majority Labour Governments. When there was a majority Labour Government in 1946, this provision was reinstated because the trade union movement recognised it as essential and accepted that there was no abuse.
I hope that we shall have a brief debate on the Question, That the Clause stand 610 part of the Bill, so that we can deal with other points about violence and picketing and the extravagant language used by many hon. Members opposite which was totally unjustified. I urge the Committee to accept this sensible and important Amendment. If the Government are not prepared to accept it, we shall divide on it.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hooson
This debate illustrates better than any of the other debates on the Bill the very revealing approach which the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden) adopted in the remarkable speech which he made in the early stages of our deliberations.
Although I entirely agree with the Solicitor-General about the Amendment and the justification for the Clause. I do not share his difficulty in appreciating the view expressed from this side of the Committee. As I understand it, the view of the Opposition is that the picketing of a man's home is distressing. Obviously it is to anybody who does not share the view of those taking part in the strike whose home is approached by a number of men. It is bound to be distressing. Because of it, a man often forsakes his own view and accepts the view of the group.
The hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), in a moving speech, described the hardship which inevitably results from a strike. The Opposition's view is that essentially this is a matter of group freedom and that, although distress may be caused to an individual if his home is picketed, he must bear it in the interests of the freedom of the group. That is basically the view put forward by this side of the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon Members are like a picketing line at the moment, but they will not intimidate me.
§ Mr. Hooson
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said that the ability to picket a man's home was very much part of the freedom to picket. Many hon. Members on this side of the Committee have made that point. They say that this is a right or privilege which those concerned with the trade union movement are reluctant to give up.
§ Mr. Hooson
I realise that. The other side of the coin is that in all these arguments there is a balance between the rights of the group and the rights of the individual. We have reached the stage in our civilisation when the rights of the individual should be paramount.
§ Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)
Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that in the circumstances which we are discussing a blackleg may be committing injury to the community?
§ Mr. Hooson
I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman, but I do not agree with him.
On this point the trade union movement reminds me of the Church of England in the eighteenth century. One could not enter a university or take a degree at Oxford or Cambridge or hold any of the higher offices of the land unless one was a communicant of the Church of England. This was a highly conservative approach and it is now rife throughout the trade union movement. As the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) said just now, as it has been a right for 65 years it must not be changed. What is that but excessive conservatism? The Opposition's approach is that whatever happens the trade union is the sacred cow of the realm: it must not be touched and its rights must not be infringed. Apparently, the individual can go to blazes and the rights of the group must be reflected in the trade union movement.
§ Mr. Hooson
I have not the slightest doubt about the Amendment. I have had doubts on some matters, and sometimes I have shared the view of this side of the Committee.
§ Mr. Hooson
It is no use right hon. and hon. Members sitting round me trying to intimidate me. I intend to stick to my viewpoint.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
The hon. and learned Gentleman has contended that, because we on this side of the Committee have taken this line, we are being very conservative. However, does he know the history of the trade union movement? Does he know the kind of Government who were responsible for the Tolpuddle Martyrs?
§ Mr. Hooson
Yes, and that was a disgraceful episode. However, when Conservative Members in years gone by relied on history, they were rightly criticised by Liberals for doing so. By saying that the trade union movement has developed as it has because of past history and nothing should change, the Labour movement seems to be adopting the same approach as that which has been attacked so much in the past by those who share my creed.
Whatever the value of picketing to a trade union involved in a strike, if one accepts that innocent people are bound to be hurt, as the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) had the guts to admit, clearly a civilised society can do without situations where men's liberty is infringed and their wives and children are forced to share their distress.
§ Mr. Hooson
I was not complaining. I was merely commenting. This happens to be not the place where I reside, and my wife and children are not here to appreciate the peaceful attempts by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen sitting round me.
Another point which appeared on the face of it to have some substance was where a man's place of work and where he resides are so close together that it is impossible to disengage them. However, I remind the Committee that the word "or" separates paragraphs (a) and 613 (b). If one examines a given case and reaches the conclusion that it falls within paragraph (a), there is no need to consider paragraph (b) at all.
I think that the Solicitor-General is right in his interpretation, and that the only substantive argument advanced in favour of the Amendment does not stand investigation. For that reason, I have no doubt the way in which I will vote on this matter. I am entirely against the Amendment.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
The hon. and learned Gentleman has talked about the arguments which have been adduced. I hope that I do not do him any injustice, but I do not think that he was present to hear my speech last night when I moved the Amendment. It is as though he has come into court half way through a case. He has criticised the arguments which he has heard. However, none of them was advanced by me when I moved the Amendment. I wish that the hon. and learned Gentleman had read my speech before making his rather disparaging remarks.
§ Mr. Hooson
I agree that I did not hear the hon. Gentleman's speech last night. I shall read it with interest. However, I have heard many of the speeches from this side of the Committee and, unless the hon. Gentleman disowns all of them, I have answered the arguments that I have heard.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
It had been my intention to speak before we came to the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. If it had not been for the arrogance of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who came bowling into the Chamber and was fortunate enough to be called without having heard all the debate, I would not have delayed the Committee. But I was present during the whole of the debate last night and again today, hoping to be called.
The hon. and learned Gentleman made some disparaging remarks about the arguments advanced by my hon. Friends, and he concluded his speech by supporting the interpretation of the Solicitor-General. Let me remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that, while the individual has a right in this kind of case, so has the individual striker. He has the right to 614 see that what he is protecting with his colleagues is individually as well as collectively protected.
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke as though the family of the non-striker, the scab or the blackleg—this mythical heroic figure going against the wishes of his fellow workers, I admit, with courage—needs protection. However, it should not be forgotten that the family of a non-striker is getting the full benefit of his wages. What about the families of the strikers?
During the fish dock strike last year, men who scabbed got higher wages because of the inflated value of fish on the market. That is why they scabbed. It was greed, not courage, that made people go to work. That is what very often happens, and the hon. and learned Gentleman should realise it.
I come then to the interpretation put on the Clause by the Solicitor-General, with which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery agrees. The Solicitor-General did not deal with the case that I put forward last night, and we are entitled to an answer. The Clause refers to… where a person works or carries on business …".How is that provision to be applied to the case where scabs are invited to a meeting place before they go to work? Often it is the only place where it is possible to get at scabs. A person is neither working nor carrying on business at such a place. It is merely where the group of scabs congregates before going to work. During the recent strike to which I referred just now, scabs came off vessels, immediately climbed aboard lorries and closed vans and disappeared in different directions all over the East Riding. The strikers had to follow them in order to find out who they were and to explain the position to them. The scabs could only be found at their homes. Employers told them to leave their homes and not go to their normal place of work but, instead, to go to, say, Scarborough or Bridlington and join a ship there. Where would strikers have been able to picket in those circumstances?
Clearly the arguments put forward by the Solicitor-General and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery are not good enough. They do not know what it is all about.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—616
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 251, Noes 298.619
|Division No. 196.||AYES||[5.59 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Forrester, John||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Albu, Austen||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Freeson, Reginald||Marks, Kenneth|
|Allen, Scholefield||Galpern, Sir Myer||Marquand, David|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Garrett, W. E.||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Gilbert, Dr. John||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Ashley, Jack||Ginsburg, David||Meacher, Michael|
|Ashton, Joe||Gourlay, Harry||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Atkinson, Norman||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mendelson, John|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Barnes, Michael||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Millan, Bruce|
|Barnett, Joel||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Beaney, Alan||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hamling, William||Molloy, William|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hardy, Peter||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Harper, Joseph||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Moyle, Roland|
|Booth, Albert||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hattersley, Roy||Murray, Ronald King|
|Bradley, Tom||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Ogden, Eric|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Heffer, Eric S.||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hilton, W. S.||O'Malley, Brian|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Horam, John||Oram, Bert|
|Buchan, Norman||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orme, Stanley|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Huckfield, Leslie||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Cant, R. B.||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Hunter, Adam||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)||Pendry, Tom|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Janner, Greville||Pentland, Norman|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Coleman, Donald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Prescott, John|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Conlan, Bernard||John, Brynmor||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rankin, John|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Cronin, John||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Judd, Frank||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kelley, Richard||Roper, John|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Kerr, Russell||Rose, Paul B.|
|Davis, Clinton, (Hackney, C.)||Kinnock, Neil||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Deakins, Eric||Lambie, David||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyre)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Latham, Arthur||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lawson, George||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Leadbitter, Ted||Sillars, James|
|Dempsey, James||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Silverman, Julius|
|Doig, Peter||Leonard, Dick||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lestor, Miss Joan||Small, William|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Driberg, Tom||Lipton, Marcus||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lomas, Kenneth||Stallard, A. W.|
|Dunn, James A.||Loughlin, Charles||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Eadle, Alex||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||McBride, Neil||Strang, Gavin|
|Ellis, Tom||McCartney, Hugh||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|English, Michael||McElhone, Frank||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Evans, Fred||McGuire, Michael||Swain, Thomas|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Mackenzie, Gregor||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Fisher, Mrs.Doris(B'ham,Ladywood)||Mackie, John||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mackintosh, John P.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Maclennan, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Tomney, Frank|
|Foley, Maurice||McNamara, J. Kevin||Torney, Tom|
|Foot, Michael||MacPherson, Malcolm||Tuck, Raphael|
|Ford, Ben||Urwin, T. W.|
|Varley, Eric G.||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Wainwright, Edwin||Whitehead, Phillip||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Whitlock, William||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Wallace, George||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Watkins, David||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Weitzman, David||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Wellbeloved, James||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Mr. John Golding.|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Emery, Peter||Kilfedder, James|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Eyre, Reginald||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Farr, John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Astor, John||Fell, Anthony||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fidler, Michael||Kirk, Peter|
|Awdry, Daniel||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Kitson, Timothy|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Knox, David|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fookes, Miss Janet||Lambton, Antony|
|Balniel, Lord||Fortescue, Tim||Lane, David|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fowler, Norman||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Batsford, Brian||Fox, Marcus||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Bell, Ronald||Fry, Peter||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Gailbraith, Hn. T. G.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Gardner, Edward||Longden, Gilbert|
|Benyon, W.||Gibson-Watt, David||Loveridge, John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Biffen, John||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Glyn, Dr. Alan||McLaren, Martin|
|Blaker, Peter||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley|
|Body, Richard||Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Gorst, John||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Gower, Raymond||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Gray, Hamish||Madel, David|
|Braine, Bernard||Green, Alan||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bray, Ronald||Grieve, Percy||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Brewis, John||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Marten, Neil|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mather, Carol|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Grylls, Michael||Maude, Angus|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gummer, Selwyn||Mawby, Ray|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Gurden, Harold||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bryan, Paul||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Buck, Antony||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Bullus, Sir Erie||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Burden, F. A.||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vera||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Haselhurst, Alan||Moate, Roger|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hastings, Stephen||Molyneaux, James|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Havers, Michael||Money, Ernie|
|Channon, Paul||Hay, John||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hayhoe, Barney||Monro, Hector|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Heseltine, Michael||More, Jasper|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hicks, Robert||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Higgins, Terence L.||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hiley, Joseph||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Mudd, David|
|Cooke, Robert||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Murton, Oscar|
|Coombs, Derek||Holland, Philip||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Cooper, A. E.||Holt, Miss Mary||Neave, Airey|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hooson, Emlyn||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Costain, A. P.||Hordern, Peter||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Critchley, Julian||Hornby, Richard||Onslow, Cranley|
|Crouch, David||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Curran, Charles||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Osborn, John|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howell, David (Guildford)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hunt, John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pardoe, John|
|Dean, Paul||Iremonger, T. L.||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||James, David||Percival, Ian|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jerkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Dixon, Piers||Jessel, Toby||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Jopling, Michael||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Eden, Sir John||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Elliot. Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Raison, Timothy||Skeet, T. H. H.||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Soref, Harold||van. Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Redmond, Robert||Speed, Keith||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Spence, John||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Rees, Peter (Dover)||Stainton, Keith||Waddington, David|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Stanbrook, Ivor||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Steel, David||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)||Wall, Patrick|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Walters, Dennis|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Shoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Stokes, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Sutcliffe, John||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Tapsell, Peter||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Rost, Peter||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Royle, Anthony||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wilkinson, John|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Tebbit, Norman||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Temple, John M.||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Scott, Nicholas||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Sharples, Richard||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Shelton, William (Clapham)||Tilney, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Simeons, Charles||Trafford, Dr. Anthony||Mr. Paul Hawkins and|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Trew, Peter||Mr. Walter Clegg.|
§ Mr. John Fraser: I beg to move Amendment No. 874, in page 84, line 3, leave out 'of itself'.
The Deputy Chairman
It would beconvenient if we also discussed Amendment No. 875, in line 8, leave out 'of itself'.
§ Mr. Fraser
In replying to the last Amendment the Solicitor-General said that there was nothing in the Bill, apart from the picketing of a person's home, which blunted the strike weapon or the right to picket. This Amendment seeks to explore what we on this side of the Committee suspect will be a considerable blunting of the right to picket. To understand the significance of the Amendment and the wording of the Clause we have to examine the history of the words "picketing" and "persuasion", starting with Section 2(1) of the 1906 Act. The wording there is:It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works …".The wording "it shall be lawful" gives an imprimatur of legality to the act of picketing. The 1906 Act, including Section 2(1), would be repealed by this Bill, and, therefore, we do not have the words "it shall be lawful". There is there a clear and unequivocal statement of legality which has been taken out.
We then have to go back to Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, which says: 620Every person who, with a view to compel any other person to abstain from doing or to do any act which such other person has a legal right to do or abstain from doing, wrongfully and without legal authority,—4. watches or besets the house or other place where such other person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place …shall, on conviction … by a court of summary jurisdiction or on indictment … be liable to pay a penalty not exceeding twenty pounds, or to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months, with or without hard labour.The reason why the declaration of legality was put in the 1906 Act was it could be construed, if one were construing only Section 7 of the 1875 Act, that the act of persuasion was also with a view to compelling someone. The wordswith a view to compelare wide and difficult to interpret, and the act of persuasion in itself could be construed by a court as an act of compulsion.
We are thrown back, having got rid of the 1906 wording, on the 1875 Act, as varied by the Bill. What is significant about the wording of Clause 121(2) is that it does not reproduce these words "it shall be lawful". It plays about with the wording. Why is this other word used when instances are given in which picketing can take place? Then, it says that itshall not of itself constitute an offenceand:shall not of itself constitute a tort.621 6.15 p.m.
The words "of itself" can have only one interpretation. What they mean is that, while it shall not of itself constitute an offence or a tort if there is something else present, then it could constitute an offence and a tort. How else can we interpret it? Clause 121 talks about peaceful persuasion, peaceful communicating. How else can something which is peaceful become a tort or an offence? There must be some other ingredient which can be added to the act of picketing and peaceful persuasion making it in some way or other unlawful. There must be some circumstances where the trade union application of peaceful persuasion can constitute an offence.
We have to try to find the catalyst, the hidden ingredient, which turns the act of peaceful persuasion into a tort or an offence. I suggest that that catalyst is the strike which is an unfair industrial practice. There is no doubt that any unfair industrial practice is an unlawful act in the civil sense of the word. It is not criminal but it is certainly unlawful. If the Bill becomes law it is something which is against the law and which gives rise to a claim for damages or compensation and to an injunction.
It could be the element of illegality which, added to the act of picketing, could make the matter into an offence. I suggested yesterday that someone who conspires to organise a strike which is an unfair industrial practice could be committing a tort. That might seem a farfetched proposition but in suggesting that I have the support of the Solicitor-General, who, in winding up the debate on Clause 117 yesterday, said:The provisions of Clause 117 are designed for two purposes. They are designed to meet the point the hon. Gentleman has in mind, namely the possibility of new torts being invented in an Industrial relations situation.I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepted there the possibility of a new tort being created. He went on:If a new tort begins to be invented in relation to an industrial relations matter, we are not in favour of encouraging that kind of invention or growth when it can be dealt with in the context of the National Industrial Relations Court …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1971; Vol. 812, c. 432.]The point that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepted is that new kinds of illegal act can be created and there could be, in the context of this Amendment, a 622 new tort of conspiracy to incite or induce an unfair industrial practice which takes place when someone persuades another person to stay away from work when the strike in which he is being persuaded to take part is of itself an unfair industrial practice. Otherwise, I do not see why he should change the wording in the 1906 Act and use this particularly limited form of words and say that only in certain circumstances shall it not of itself constitute an offence or a tort.
If the Committee accepts this, then it must support the Amendment. There is a whole serious of unfair industrial practices which might constitute a form of illegality which would then make picketing unlawful. The Committee must understand how far this goes. For instance, in some circumstances it is an unfair industrial practice in support of an unfair industrial dispute to persuade someone to come out on strike. When we look at the definition of "strike" in Clause 148, it is a concerted stoppage of work. There could be a situation when people are acting unlawfully, when they come out on strike and generally break their contracts of employment. If all give notice to end their contracts of employment, up to now that has not been considered unlawful. It has not even been considered to be in breach of agreement because the notice required under the terms of the agreement had been given.
Under the terms of the Bill that is still a strike which could be unlawful in certain circumstances, even though the people are doing something perfectly lawful in itself. We get to the stage when in the course of picketing to use persuasion which is of itself peaceful to do something which is of itself lawful could nevertheless be an offence or tort because of the wording and the inclusion of the words "of itself" in this subsection.
The Solicitor-General owes the Committee a thorough explanation of the reasons why these words appear in this form and why the words "it shall be lawful" are not reproduced from the 1906 Act. If he is not able to give us that explanation, the words "of itself" could be a detonator inside this legislation which could spark off a legal minefield. Secondly, the hon. and learned Gentleman must give a clear assertion 623 to the Committee that picketing in support of what he terms an unfair industrial practice will in future be completely lawful and will not be in any way impinged upon by the residual legislation from the 1875 Act which still remains in effect, in a slightly changed form, under the terms of the Clause.
§ The Solicitor-General
I will deal, first, with the form of words about which the Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser) spoke. The provisions of the 1906 Act are reproduced here, with the exception concerning the picketing of a person's home, with which the Committee has dealt. As the hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out, there is a variation from the earlier wording of "it shall be lawful" to "it shall not of itself".
The object of this change in relation to subsection (2)(a), which is concerned only with the 1875 Act, is to preserve the effect of the 1875 Act but over the smaller area; in other words, as under the 1875 Act the appearance of pickets under Clause 121(1) is in no way capable of amounting to an offence under that Act, there is no change whatever in that provision.
As for the reference to the law of tort, I take the example which was given by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) when we discussed the last Amendment. He cited the case of a picket who shouted the word "quisling" at somebody who was strike-breaking or leading a group of strike-breakers.
§ The Solicitor-General
To take the hon. Gentleman's example, a picket might shout "Conservative" at a strike-breaker—no doubt because, in the view of the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), there are some areas of the country where it might be considered defamatory so to describe a person. A person so described would be misguided to seek to bring an action and would be unlikely to have his claim sustained by a jury. However, the hon. Gentleman can advance that argument.
The mere presence of the people constituting a picket line for the purpose of peacefully persuading others would not of itself constitute a tort, but one cannot 624 exclude the possibility that a person so described might want to commence proceedings for slander. He would not get much damages if he won. He would certainly not get legal aid to proceed or be advised to bring such an action.
However, there might be a substantial situation when there has been, say, an assault and the person there involved might wish to bring civil proceedings for assault. All of those things would go beyond the presence of a picket under Clause 121(1) and would constitute a separate ground for bringing proceedings in tort. The words "of itself" in subsection (2)(b) are designed to make it plain that if somebody goes beyond what has been permitted, then he is back with the ordinary law of the land. The purpose of subsection (2) in its entirety is to reproduce in the ordinary courts the position as it prevailed up to the passing of this Measure.
The hon. Member for Norwood harked back to the debate which took place last night on Clause 117 and suggested that there might be here the grounds of some new formulation of a new tort of conspiracy. The subsection as it stands makes plain that the presence of pickets in the conventional way cannot of itself constitute a tort. It is, therefore, difficult to see how a conspiracy to post such pickets could be a conspiracy to fulfil a lawful purpose by an unlawful means, and so be a fresh tort.
However, even if it were sought to bring that complaint in the ordinary courts, by Clauses 117 or 118 it would not be possible to proceed with it in the ordinary courts. There are, therefore, double checks to the establishment of a new conspiratorial tort of picket-posting, if I may put it that way.
§ Mr. Eadie
The hon. and learned Gentleman refers to picket-posting and asks permission to describe it as such. Is he aware that the words he uses must be interpreted by people outside the Committee and that they may eventually mean something in a court of law? Does a picket cease to be a picket if he is not posted? Must he wear a distinguishing mark when he is posted? If not, will he be considered to be a fellow worker or trade union official?
What will happen if he seeks to persuade others to strike, not necessarily 625 at their place of work but perhaps on his way to work or elsewhere, remembering that his exclusion depends on a narrow form of words and that previous legislation has not defined what a picket is? One has visions of people being posted to do certain tasks in a regimental way, but things do not happen quite in that manner and we would like the hon. and learned Gentleman to explain when a picket is not a picket?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not using the word in a mystical sense as a term of art. The hon. Member for Norwood raised this point in this context and I borrowed the phrase from him.
Aside from the 1875 Act and the law of tort, in the context of this Measure we have a number of Clauses in which it is made plain that the organisation for or inducing of an unfair industrial action is something in respect of which a remedy will be available. If as part of the organisation for or inducing of an unfair strike or industrial action it can be shown that somebody has posted—and I use the word in that sense here—people with the intention that they should be his instrument for bringing about that unfair industrial practice or action, then that would be part of the evidence that could be brought against the person organising their presence.
This could arise in a variety of ways, and the provisons of the Bill apply right across the board in respect of the unfair practices which we have identified, but they do not change the ordinary law so far as it applies outside. That is the intention.
§ Mr. John Fraser
The hon. and learned Gentleman is explaining that there are circumstances in which picketing could be part of an unfair industrial practice—as part of the process of inducing a strike —and that it could, therefore, lead to the apprehension of people and their appearance before the National Industrial Relations Court because picketing would be
§ evidence of the fact that they had induced the strike.
§ If that is the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, then is he aware that he lets in the criminal sanctions contained in the 1875 Act, for it could be argued that they were acting wrongfully under the terms of the opening words of Section 7 of that Act? In those circumstances, they would be open to civil proceedings in the National Industrial Relations Court and to criminal proceedings as well because they would be acting wrongfully under the 1875 Act.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman asked that question because it takes us back to Section 7 of the 1875 Act, which refers to:Every person who, with a view to compel any other person to abstain from doing or to dosomething. In other words, he must do it with a view to compelling, and there is no question of any presence of a picket infringing the 1875 Act.
For the reasons I have explained, the provisions originally contained in Section 7, transferred to the 1906 Act and carried over to this Measure, mean that the presence of a picket everywhere except at somebody's home places that presence in exactly the same state, from the point of view of the 1875 Act, as it always would have been. In other words, that presence cannot of itself constitute an offence under that Act.
It would be necessary, as always, to show that the person was acting with a view to compel, in one or other of the prescribed ways, and here we have the question of using violence, intimidation and so on. There can, therefore, be no change in the provisions of the 1875 Act or in the ordinary law of tort, and I invite the Committee to conclude that the Amendment is not necessary and would not improve the Bill.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 250, Noes 299.631
|Division No. 197.]||AYES||[6.29 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Ashton, Joe||Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Albu, Austen||Atkinson, Norman||Bidwell, Sydney|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bishop, E. S.|
|Allen, Scholefield||Barnes, Michael||Blenkinsop, Arthur|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Barnett, Joel||Boardman, H. (Leigh)|
|Ashley, Jack||Beaney, Alan||Booth, Albert|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Bradley, Tom||Heffer, Eric S.||O'Malley, Brian|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Hilton, W. S.||Oram, Bert|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Horam, John||Orme, Stanley|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oswald, Thomas|
|Buchan, Norman||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Huckfield, Leslie||Paget, R. T.|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Cant, R. B.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hunter, Adam||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(EdgeHill)||Pendry, Tom|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Janner, Greville||Pentland, Norman|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Re[...]|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Prescott, John|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||John, Brynmor||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rankin, John|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Roderick,Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&Radnor)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Judd, Frank||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kaufman, Gerald||Roper, John|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Kelley, Richard||Rose, Paul B.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Kerr, Russell||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Deakins, Eric||Kinnock, Neil||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lambie, David||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Latham, Arthur||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lawson, George||Sillars, James|
|Dempsey,James||Leadbitter, Ted||Silverman, Julius|
|Doig, Peter||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dormand, J. D.||Leonard, Dick||Small, William|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Driberg, Tom||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lipton, Marcus||Stallard, A. W.|
|Dunn, James A.||Lomas, Kenneth||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Loughlin, Charles||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilton)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strang, Gavin|
|Ellis, Tom||McBride, Neil||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|English, Michael||McCartney, Hugh||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Evans, Fred||McElhone, Frank||Swain, Thomas|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||McGuire, Michael||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George(Cardiff,W.)|
|Fisher, Mrs.Doris(B'ham,LadyWood)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mackie, John||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Mackintosh, John P.||Tinn, James|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Maclennan, Robert||Tomney, Frank|
|Foley, Maurice||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Torney, Tom|
|Foot, Michael||McNamara, J. Kevin||Tuck, Raphael|
|Ford, Ben||MacPherson, Malcolm||Urwin, T. W.|
|Forrester, John||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Freeson, Reginald||Marks, Kenneth||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Marquand, David||Wallace, George|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Watkins, David|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Mayhew, Christopher||Weitzman, David|
|Ginsburg, David||Meacher, Michael||Wellbeloved, James|
|Golding, John||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mendelson, John||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mikardo, Ian||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Millan, Bruce||Whitlock, William|
|Griffiths, Eadie (Brightside)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Molloy, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Hamling, William||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Hardy, Peter||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Harper, Joseph||Moyle, Roland||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Mr Ernest Armstrong and|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Murray, Ronald King||Mr. Donald Coleman.|
|Hattersley, Roy||Ogden, Eric|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Astor, John||Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Atkins, Humphrey||Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Awdry, Daniel||Balniel, Lord|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Mather, Carol|
|Batsford, Brian||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Maude, Angus|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Mawby, Ray|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Goodhart, Philip||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Benyon, W.||Goodhew, Victor||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gorst, John||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Biffen, John||Gower, Raymond||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberd'nshire,W.)|
|Blaker, Peter||Gray, Hamish||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Green, Alan||Moate, Roger|
|Body, Richard||Grieve, Percy||Molyneaux, James|
|Boscawen, Robert||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Money, Ernie|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grylls, Michael||Monro, Hector|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Gummer, Selwyn||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Braine, Bernard||Gurden, Harold||More, Jasper|
|Bray, Ronald||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Morgan, Ceraint (Denbigh)|
|Brewis, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mudd, David|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Murton, Oscar|
|Bruce-Gardyne J.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Bryan, Paul||Haselhurst, Alan||Neave, Airey|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Hastings, Stephen||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Buck, Antony||Havers, Michael||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hay, John||Onslow, Cranley|
|Burden, F. A.||Hayhoe, Barney||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Osborn, John|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Heseltine, Michael||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hicks, Robert||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Higgins, Terence L.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Pardoe, John|
|Channon, Paul||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Percival, Ian|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Holland, Philip||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Holt, Miss Mary||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hooson, Emlyn||Pounder, Rafton|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Hordern, Peter||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hornby, Richard||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Cooke, Robert||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Coombs, Derek||Howell, David (Guildford)||pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Cooper, A. E.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Cordle, John||Hunt, John||Raison, Timothy|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Costain, A. P.||Iremonger, T. L.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Critchley, Julian||James, David||Redmond, Robert|
|Crouch, David||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jessel, Toby||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jopling, Michael||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Dean, Paul||Kilfedder, James||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Dixon, Piers||Kinsey, J. R.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kirk, Peter||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kitson, Timothy||Rost, Peter|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Knox, David||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Eden, Sir John||Lambton, Antony||St. John-Stevan, Norman|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lane, David||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Scott, Nicholas|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Emery, Peter||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sharples, Richard|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Farr, John||Longden, Gilbert||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Fell, Anthony||Loveridge, John||Simeons, Charles|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||MacArthur, Ian||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Fidler, Michael||McCrindle, R. A.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||McLaren, Martin||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Soref, Harold|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McMaster, Stanley||Speed, Keith|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Spence, John|
|Fortescue, Tim||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Stainton, Keith|
|Fowler, Norman||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Fox, Marcus||Maddan, Martin||Steel, David|
|Fraser,Rt.Hn.H ugh (St'fford & Stone)||Madel, David||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Fry, Peter||Maginnis, John E.||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Stoddart-Scott Col. Sir M.|
|Gardner, Edward||Marten, Neil||Stokes, John|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Tapsell, Peter||Tugendhat, Christopher||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard||Wilkinson, John|
|Tebbit, Norman||Vickers, Dame Joan||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Temple, John M.||Waddington, David||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Worsley, Marcus|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Wall, Patrick||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Walters, Dennis||Younger, Hn. George|
|Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Tilney, John||Warren, Kenneth||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Trafford, Dr. Anthony||Weatherill, Bernard||Mr. Paul Hawkins and|
|Trew, Peter||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Mr. Walter Clegg.|
§ [Mr. BRYANT GODMAN IRVINE in the Chair]
§ Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Heffer
We oppose the Clause because it will lead to a limitation of the right to picket. The Bill will take away certain rights which have been regarded as rights, at any rate by the trade union movement, and it will put us back into the pre-1875 position.
During the debates on the Amendments to the Clause one or two hon. Members opposite painted a picture of violence and intimidation which bore no relation to the facts. Violence has occurred in disputes and as a result of picketing. I quote from the report of Chief Superintendent A. E. Clark, of the Liverpool Police, who was delegated to inquire into the complaints regarding the ill-treatment of certain pickets by the Stockport police during the Roberts Arundel strike:I do not consider that the relative responsibilities of the three officers allegedly concerned in this assault can be separated and I would submit that they have a case to answer for 'assault occasioning actual bodily harm'.The position arising from that report was that the three victims of the police assault were paid damages by the police. Allen received £1,322 for a spinal injury and a broken nose. Heywood got £583 for a broken nose and a battered face. Cook got £375 for a broken nose, body injuries and subsequent mental anxiety.
I do not want to make a great point of this. I merely point out that violence emerges, and it has emerged, unfortunately, on both sides—or on three sides, if one can put it that way—in industrial disputes.
The Opposition are totally opposed to violence emerging from any quarter in picketing. We are opposed to the concept of violence. We have always be 632 lieved, as the trade union movement believes, that one must be able peacefully to picket to persuade one's fellow workers.
We have been told that there was a great deal of violence at Pilkingtons. I want to quote from the book "Strike at Pilkingtons" by two academics from Liverpool University—Tony Lane and Kenneth Roberts. They analysed the Press reports which arose from the Pilkington dispute and gave two or three examples:…the Financial Times gave a fuller report, but it could not have been said on this occasion that the Mirror was sober. Its story was not, strictly speaking, inaccurate for there were as a matter of fact several scuffles but the impression was nevertheless created that there was fighting on a large scale. Sentences such as 'Police reinforcements were rushed in as violence flared' suggested a sense of urgency and confrontations of some magnitude—a sense that the situation could not have justified.Hon. Members who speak about violence in disputes and violence as a result of picketing accept what a large body of the Press writes: a sober study of the evidence shows that there is little in the allegation.
The authors say on page 171 of "Strike at Pilkingtons":Relationships with the police and the Pilkington security men seemed to have been amicable when things were quiet; they talked and drank tea with the pickets. No doubt the odd bobby was grateful for the warmth of a brazier on a cold night and a bit of company to relieve the tedium of the night patrol.That puts the matter into perspective. Allegations of constant violence in disputes are not borne out by the facts. The facts are that the British working class and trade union movement is a very responsible and peacefully organised movement, and violence is alien to the concept of the movement. When, unfortunately, there has been trouble, it has usually arisen when scabs and blacklegs have been protected by the police. It is 633 at the stage when people are trying to go against the democratic decision of the workers that there have been inflamed actions on the part of some workers and then often on the part of the police as well.
We do not accept the contention that there is great violence in the trade union movement. We oppose the Clause because it is a limitation of the rights of picketing. It holds further dangers. Anyone distributing leaflets and issuing a call for attendance at a meeting could be held to be acting contrary to the Clause.
The evil thought creeps into my mind that there are people who would suggest that the scope of the Clause should be extended and that perhaps political canvassing should be covered at some stage. Hon. Members opposite always say that we exaggerate and that we see more in these Clauses than is there. I wish that I did not have the distrust of right hon. and hon. Members opposite that I have. Bitter experience of the activities of the Tory Party leads my right hon. Friends and myself to the conclusion that in order to preserve and extend our democracy we must be constantly vigilant. It is important that in our bid to extend our democratic rights we oppose Clauses of this nature which take away part of the democratic rights which have been with us since before 1875. Those rights are now being limited and we are being put back into the pre-1875 position.
§ Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) made a good case for retaining something which has been with us for a very long time, on the basis that if we have had it for long enough there is no reason to change it. That is a rather Luddite attitude because, look as I may at the Clause, I cannot tie it up with most of the hon. Gentleman's speech.
In the debates on the Amendments to the Clause it was suggested that the Clause would prevent the normal activities that have been carried on and that are still carried on by those who are in dispute with their employers. There has been a great deal of argument about this. Hon. Members opposite have challenged the allegation that violence has occurred. Hon. Members opposite have always stated that there is no 634 evidence that violence has occurred. All I can say is that in my constituency there has been sufficient evidence to show that violence has occurred and that cars have been wrecked and men's wives threatened with having acid thrown in their faces.
§ Mr. McNamara
The hon. Member has just said that he has evidence of a number of very serious crimes that have been threatened against individuals in his constituency. Can he produce the names of the people concerned, the occasions, the places—evidence of both threats and action that the police have taken, and of reports that have been made? It is important that the Committee should be able to evaluate what the hon. Member is saying.
§ Mr. Mawby
May I say six words in a row before there is an intervention? I am saying that neither I nor any other sensible person would have been prepared to say that all those cases provided definite evidence of the activities of 635 bona fide trade unionists pursuing their objectives. There will always be the person who commits violence acts or makes threats but who is not connected with the dispute. All I am saying is that there is the danger that violence will occur.
The Clause gives reasonable rights to the majority; it is, those who decide that there is a dispute and go on strike, and want to make certain that those who carry on working will be given the reasons for the dispute and be asked to join or rejoin their colleagues who have stopped work. Nothing in the Clause prevents the normal, orderly procedure of a group of people in dispute notifying their colleagues of the reason for that dispute, and trying to obtain their support.
Until now we have been talking as if all strikes were brought about by the officials of a union saying, "We are in difficulties. We are going out on strike. This is an official strike which has the majority of our members behind it." We are not talking about those strikes. The majority of strikes that take place are brought about by relatively small groups of people, often against the advice of their own trade unions. They come out on an unofficial basis. The men who are still at work are not scabs or blacklegs; they can legitimately say that they are following the advice of their trade union executive.
No hon. Member opposite can tell me that occasions do not arise when, although the union executive says, "There is no reason for this strike, because of this, that and the other. Therefore we are not recommending our members to come out on strike," a group of people come out on unofficial strike. Those who remain at work in those circumstances are probably better trade unionists than the men on strike, but hon. Members opposite suggest that we should perpetuate the system in which those on strike can intimidate the ones who remain at work following the advice of the trade union executive.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
The hon. Member referred to a dispute that occurred in his constituency. He would not mention the name of the company concerned, but I believe that he was referring to the 636 Centrax dispute. He made some hard and constructive efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to that strike. Am I right in thinking that that is the strike to which he referred?
§ Mr. Walker
Was not that dispute essentially concerned with the refusal of the employer to recognise the trade union?
§ Mr. Mawby
Several issues were involved, but when that dispute occurred the three main unions, the E.T.U., the Transport and General Workers' Union and the A.E.F.—now the A.E.U.—were all recognised for negotiating purposes by the local management. Basically it was not a strike to obtain recognition. The strikers did not think that the management was prepared to give them sufficient recognition, but the district officials of the unions concerned were recognised, and negotiated from time to time.
Apart from that fact, the important point is that a man who had no intention of being either a scab or a blackleg could be intimidated. A group of his fellow workers might have gone on strike contrary to the union's advice, and might be taking steps to make certain that their fellow workers also came out on strike.
If the whole future of the trade union movement relies on that sort of intimidation many people will ask whether the movement is worth saving anyway. We therefore come back to the fundamentals. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) put his finger right on the point when he referred to the need to preserve a balance—to make certain that the majority has its rights but that at no time shall it have such rights as to allow it to intimidate not only a man but also his wife and family.
Basically, the Clause is necessary. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite may say that under other parts of the Bill there will probably not be the same incidence of unofficial strikes and that as the problem grows less there is less need for this Clause. If that be so, all we are doing here is jamming the sandwich a little too much, but it will be none the worse for that. I regard the Clause as essential because it lays down that the ordinary individual in his home with his 637 family shall not be liable to intimidation by any body of people, whoever they may be.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. McNamara
The Clause does not say that. Even on the Solicitor-General's interpretation of it, with which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) agreed, if a worker resides at his work place or his usual place of business, and that is the place to be picketed, the protection which is so dear to the hon. Gentleman does not apply. So there is a lack of consistency there.
§ Mr. Mawby
The hon. Gentleman has done his usual hair-splitting act. If a person resides at his place of work, then, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery pointed out, it is a case of "either/or", and in such circumstances it would be regarded as a place of work rather than a place of residence. It would take a Solomon to draft a Clause to cover the case of a person living above the shop, which the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) suggested. But, in the nature of things, we cannot, unfortunately, cover absolutely everything. If it is a man's place of work, obviously the balance comes back again because one returns to the point that those who are in dispute with their employer ought to be able peacefully to picket at the place of work and so convey information to those who are not on strike and do whatever they can in a peaceful fashion.
The problem of the person who happens to live at his place of work is, I suggest, highly marginal. Those who choose not to do that but to live in their own homes, having their family around them, believe that they have a right, for example, if someone wants to call and sell them encyclopaedias, to show him the gate and say, "I shall set the dog on you if you do not leave. This is my home, and I will not be intimidated by anyone trying to flog me encyclopaedias, or, for that matter, someone trying to tell me what I ought to do in my place of work. This is my private residence, and I maintain that right."
Every British citizen whatever his walk of life, has the right to demand that he be free in his own home from the intimidation which he might encounter on the streets, in the supermarket or at 638 his place of work. Therefore, assuming that right hon. and hon. Members opposite mean what they say, this Clause, far from being a damaging one, is a valid and reasonable provision which will retain the sort of balance which any of us who talk about democracy should approve.
§ Mr. Ted Fletcher
The purpose of the Clause is stated clearly in the Explanatory Memorandum:Clause 121 removes the protection formerly given by section 2 of the Trade Disputes Act 1906 in respect of picketing a person's home —".So the purpose is to remove a protection which the trade union movement has had for 65 years.
One would have expected the Government to produce, or try to produce, a good argument to justify this change. But what is different in 1971 from 1961, 1951 or any year back to 1906? Have the Secretary of State and the Solicitor-General been inundated with letters from employees who have been intimidated in their homes by trade union pickets? What special circumstances have arisen in 1971 to make the Government believe that now is the time to take away a protection which has existed since 1906?
Incidentally, I remind the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) that it was a Liberal Government which passed the 1906 Act. He accuses me of being conservative and wanting to go back to the past. The Liberal politicians of 1906 would turn in their graves if they saw the present caricature of a Liberal Party supporting the Tories in trying to dismantle the 1906 Act, which for the first time gave protection to trade unionists for peaceful picketing.
We are told that there has been a deterioration in standards in recent years and that there is more violence about, though we have been given no evidence for this. I am sure that society was more violent in 1906 than it is in 1971. But, it is said, because society generally is deteriorating it is rational to introduce a restriction of this kind.
No one has pinpointed a single incident in which Section 2 of the 1906 Act has been abused. The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) could not give the names and addresses of people who have 639 been intimated. Why, then, is this provision being railroaded through now?
The real answer is that many hon. Members opposite are against the idea of any picketing and would like to abolish it altogether. As a sop to them, knowing that that would be impossible under any law, the Secretary of State has said, "Let us stop it in one particular instance and say that there shall be no picketing where an employee resides".
It is not always necessary for trade unions to picket at the residence of an employee, but there are circumstances which make it essential. A trade union official calls a strike. He has to be certain of 100 per cent. backing, or near-100 per cent. backing, for the strike. The first thing that people on strike do is to elect pickets. There may be a dozen or 20, or it may be a mass picket in which every individual striker is regarded as a picket. Incidentally, no definition is given in Clause 148 or anywhere else of what a picket really is.
If there are people who do not know of the decision to strike—perhaps they are on the night shift—the trade union official will say, "Let us have pickets outside the factory to advise these people that we are on strike and to explain the reasons". But there may well be others whom he cannot contact by this method; some may be at out-stations, some may be engaged on fitting a ship five miles down the river, and others may be engaged on construction work at a site 20 miles away from the factory. In order to tell and peacefully persuade these people, it is necessary to picket outside their homes and say, "This is the situation. We are in dispute with the management. The union has called a strike. and we want you to come out with us".
That has been permissible in the past. With his "smoothie-chops" approach, the Solicitor-General tells us that nobody will be intimidated under the Clause and that nobody will suffer. He tries to give the impression that this is a benevolent piece of legislation by which no one will be caught. Unfortunately, the people given authority under the Bill to interpret the law do not read Committee stage speeches. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman might say that this is a benevolent piece of legislation, that it is very tolerant, and that the Government intend 640 that a person merely conversing with a colleague in his house will get through the net, that will not be the interpretation of those given authority to impose penalties under the Bill.
The Clause says that anyonepeacefully communicating informationto an employee,or peacefully persuading him to work or not to workcan do that in certain places, but not where the employee resides. On any interpretation of that, a picket who goes to a person's home to communicate to him information about a strike is guilty of an offence. Whatever plausible explanation is given, we shall have a judges' law, with cases built on cases, and so on, until no one can approach the home of a would-be striker without being in defiance of the law.
That is one argument by the Government, the argument that we must stop people being intimidated by trade unions calling a strike, though no evidence has been given that they are intimidated.
The other argument called in aid is that four members of the Donovan Commission were in favour of a review of Section 2 of the 1906 Act. It is very strange that when it suits the purposes of the Solicitor-General he can quote the Donovan Report, but if it does not suit his purpose he can quote the minority. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) said that the report has been regarded in these debates as a bible. The Under-Secretary said that even Lord Donovan supported the minority, which seemed to me as though he was trying to make out a case that Lord Donovan is God Almighty, calling him in aid with the minority to substantiate his case. He seems to believe firmly in the proposition that all men are equal, but that some men are more equal than others. The majority, eight of the 12 members of the Commission, reviewed the matter very carefully and said that there are no grounds for amending the 1906 Act.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)
The hon. Gentleman's case would be far stronger if there had been a complete recommendation from Donovan. It was split on the issue.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Of course it was split. In every instance where there are a majority and a minority report a commission or committee is split. My point is that two-thirds of the Commission, after considering the matter very carefully, said that in their view the protection the unions have enjoyed for 65 years should be continued.
So the two arguments in support of the Clause—intimidation, which cannot be proved, and the minority Donovan Report—do not hold water. It is not we but the Government who are in the dock. They owe the Committee an explanation why a protection enjoyed for 65 years is now being taken away. We have listened intently but have not had that explanation. The best thing the Government can do is to withdraw the Clause.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) said that many Conservative hon. Members are against all forms of picketing. I have heard nothing in the Committee so far that gives the slightest justification for that assumption. I will perhaps now give the hon. Gentleman some slight justification. It is not that I shall oppose picketing, but I will say a word or two to the effect that the right to picket now requires a certain regulation.
§ Sir A. Meyer
I shall come to that shortly.
Both sides have accepted that, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) said, instances of violence in the use of picketing are almost unknown in our society. I do not think that what my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) said in any way disagreed with that, because he was at pains to point out that the case to which he referred could very well have been touched off by people who were not acting within the authority of their union. But between violence and the idyllic language of the Clause, where we talk aboutthe purpose of peacefully obtaining information from him or peacefully communicating information to him or peacefully persuading him to work or not to work.642 there is a whole gamut of possibilities. A large section of that gamut could be covered by the word "intimidation".
My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes let slip a very telling phrase which no one seemed to pick up at the time. He talked about the normal intimidation we meet in streets or supermarkets. It is a fact of life, recognised by most of us, that the kind of situation which results in a strike and pickets taking up positions is one in which there is a temptation to use intimidation. The intimidation can vary from threats of violence to merely the pushing of a face into the face of the person going to work.
§ Sir A. Meyer
My own daughter worked in the International Telephone Exchange, and, in the delicate language of hon. Members opposite, is no doubt to be called a blackleg or scab. She went to work not during the present postal strike, but during a strike two or three years ago. She says that she did not have to face any threats of violence but that it was extremely unpleasant having to walk through a line of pickets thrusting their faces into hers as she went past and calling her abusive names.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
That may he unpleasant, but does not the hon. Gentleman agree that many times so-called reputable employers have threatened to sack their workers and threatened that they will never take them back into employment? Is not that also rather reprehensible and worrying to the worker on strike? But I suppose that that is not intimidation.
§ Sir A. Meyer
It is very reprehensible, and it is one of the things that the Bill sets out to remedy. But discussion about that belongs elsewhere.
I am trying very hard not to adopt too partisan an attitude on the matter. Labour hon. Members feel passionately about the importance of enabling trade unions properly to defend the interests of their members. None of us who heard the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden) is likely to forget it. It was unforgettable for all of us who had the 643 privilege to hear it. He argued with extraordinary persuasion the importance of the unions having the ability to defend the interests of their members and the importance for the working class of solidarity. It was an extraordinarily moving performance, which gave a great many of my hon. Friends a fresher insight into the motivation of hon. Members opposite. But it was founded on a fallacy—not a discreditable fallacy but nevertheless a fallacy—based on what The Times today called,… a romantic view of the trade unions as the representatives of the downtrodden".The position of the trade unions today is not that of representatives of the downtrodden. It is much more accurately reflected in what the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) described when she spoke to the Institute of Directors some time ago. She said that power had now passed to the shop floor.
§ Sir A. Meyer
It is true in a sense. One of the objectives of the Bill is to strengthen the responsible trade union leadership. Some hon. Members may think—although so far no one on this side has said it—that this is the wrong Bill and that we should be bringing in a Bill to make any combinations either of employers or of workpeople—
The Temporary Chairman
Order. Will the hon. Gentleman now relate his remarks to Clause 121 and not to the whole Bill?
§ Sir A. Meyer
I apologise. I will come back to the Clause.
Strong trade unions—and we want strong trade unions—cannot be based either on intimidation or on anything that could conceivably be represented as intimidation. Therefore, we must lean over backwards to ensure that this opportunity to ensure that there can be no possibility of intimidation, which will probably be the last for a long time, is not allowed to slip by.
I fully acknowledge that 1 have allowed it to slip by myself because I should have put down an Amendment at this stage. On Report, some of my hon. Friends intend to put down an Amendment asking that the right of picketing 644 should be regulated. We freely accept that the trade unions have an absolute right to ensure that any persons going to work at the time of a strike should be made aware that there is a dispute, and that arrangements must be made to allow representations to be made to people, if necessary in their own homes, to ensure that they are aware of the strike and of the issues involved. But I do not believe that this need necessarily involve more than two or three persons making such representations. There is a strong case for replacing the reference in this Clause to "one or more persons" by some such wording as "not more than two persons", or "three persons"—wherever may be appropriate. If such an Amendment were made, it would remove for ever any threat of intimidation, and I give notice that on Report I shall move an Amendment to that effect.
§ Mr. Hooson
Reference has not been made so far to the fact that the Clause re-enacts the old legal position as it existed in the 1906 Act and as it has existed since. There has been one exception. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) has chided me and the Liberal Party for having been the authors of the 1906 Act and for having now committed an unforgivable sin by believing that we should change even a dot or comma of the Act. To him, apparently, that is a cardinal sin.
I do not know what motivates the Government, but I will say what motivates me in my approach. Picketing is a very important weapon in the hands of the trade unions and it is perfectly legitimate. We live in a real world and when there is a real dispute in industry leading to a strike, people naturally feel strongly. When picketing, therefore, they are bound to use robust language. We have to tolerate this. It is part of the legitimate weapon of argument. We have to accept it in the world in which we live.
The question facing us is what limits there should be to picketing. There has been gross exaggeration in the debate in relation to the question of intimidation. Violence is rarely used. The history of the British trade union movement is, considering what the unions had to bear, especially in the earlier days, one of remarkably peaceful progression. I do not think that anyone with any 645 knowledge will dispute that. Where there has been violence, it has usually occurred in very trying circumstances.
Nevertheless, we all know that picketing is a very distressing matter for the person picketed. We have to accept that that is so. It is a perfectly legitimate weapon—a weapon of persuasion just as much as mass propaganda in the Press is a weapon of persuasion. This is where I disagree with the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer). I think that we have to accept picketing, and I believe that the Secretary of State takes the same view.
But the one great difference is that it is not now going to be permissible to picket a man at his home unless—according to my legal interpretation—it also happens to be at his place of work. If I am wrong in my legal interpretation—I do not think that I am—I understand, from speeches made by the Government, that an Amendment would be acceptable on Report to put this right.
As I heard the debate, the one legitimate point concerned the example given by the hon. Member for Darlington of a mining village or a place where some of the houses are within the curtilage of the mine. One might in that case have a picket line at the place of work which is also near the residence. It is a perfectly valid point and one must ensure that picketing is allowed in such circumstances.
The hon. Member—whose contributions I greatly respect—also raised a valid but narrow point when, in effect, he said that the onus of proving the matter is on those who propose a change because they have brought forward no evidence of intimidation over the years to justify any change. I want to answer that point. I do so as a matter of judgment.
I think that we have reached a stage in society where we are aware, whatever is said here, that picketing is a very unpleasant thing for those who are picketing and for those who are picketed. I accept that. There are certain times in the evolution of our country when the group must be given greater power at the expense of the individual. This country owes a great deal to the way in which the groups have used that power. There is no doubt that all working people owe 646 a great deal to the fact that the trade union movement used its power and provided a means of emancipation of the workers from the conditions of the early industrial revolution.
But in our modern society, power has moved to the shop floor, as the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has said—and the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) would say that that is a good thing. We are at a stage, where we have to consider the balance. We have to ask ourselves, "Is it necessary and right?". The hon. Member for Darlington gave examples from the building industry, where it is awkward to picket a man at his place of work and easier to picket him at his place of residence. I accept his argument but I must ask whether it is necessary today to give a union a power which, from my inquiries among hon. Members on this side of the Committee, is comparatively rarely used—the power to picket at home.
I come to a value judgment on it. I do not need any evidence of frightening, intimidation, injury and so on. I think that in the state of society we have reached today, our present state of civilisation, this matter is no longer necessary, and despite the bewailing by the hon. Member for Darlington of the fact that there is a slight change from the 1906 position I say, taking my view of it as a Liberal, that although it was necessary in 1906 to strengthen the group, that is no longer necessary in 1971. When we consider the position of the wife and the children at home, and the fact that trade unionists very rarely use this action, and considering the sometimes exaggerated arguments used on the other side, I come to the value judgment that individual rights must be elevated above the group's. I ask the hon. Member for Darlington so say that it is not necessary to produce evidence, because we are all able, from our own knowledge, to come to a decision whether it is necessary in 1971 to give the trade unions the right to picket the individual's home.
§ Mr. McNamara
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way, particularly in view of what I said earlier, in order that I may ask him whether he would not agree that what we are criticising here is a blanket exclusion, whereas it is possible in a number of 647 cases, which we have instanced, and I gave one from a recent strike, to show that a home can be used as a congregating place for blacklegs. The Clause should take account of that.
§ Mr. Hooson
I entirely take the hon. Gentleman's point. I think it would be very difficult to draft a Clause for that. The hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) made a very good point, and, as I have said before he has made very good contributions to our debates on this matter. In a strike people are hurt. They are bound to be. However legitimate the strike, however legitimate the weapons, they are hurt, and if anyone is legislating for this kind of thing one cannot cover every eventuality.
I agree that there are certain examples which have been given of how this will be a handicap to unions in certain narrow circumstances where they are unable to picket a home, but I understand from my inquiries that normally picketing at home is not the method used by trade unionists if they can avoid it. I think that the generality of the procedure must dominate and I do not think it is possible to legislate in the way that the hon. Gentleman would like.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I am very glad that we have had this debate, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) referred to the legal interpretation of the first Amendment which we discussed, because it will be within the recollection of the Committee that I quoted a number of particular cases in which men could be caught under this Clause.
In his winding-up speech the Solicitor-General gave me, at least, to understand that the problem was not so much the cases I quoted but my inability to understand the Bill. In consequence of both his statement and the statement by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery I took legal advice, following upon discussion of that Amendment, and I find from my legal advice that there is a measure of dubiety about the legal interpretation of the Clause, and that it would be, in most of the cases which I quoted, and which other hon. Members on this side quoted, a matter for the courts to decide, and that the 648 interpretation given by the Solicitor-General—and I put it no higher than this—may have been wrong.
From what the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said a moment or two ago it appears that he goes a little further than I, after we had a little chat, and he had some discussion with the Government Front Bench. If the Solicitor-General would give us an assurance—I should like to catch his attention—that if in the light of any fresh looking at the Clause he were to find that there is a measure of dubiety, he would then table an Amendment for Report, I think that would satisfy the Committee.
The more I have listened to this debate and the contributions made from the other side the more I have despaired. I have given every benefit of doubt to those hon. Members on that side to whom I have listened and I agreed with them in many instances. But the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) was conveying the impression, prior to an intervention from this side, that trade unionists on strike had committed a considerable number of instances of intimidation, abuse and violence. I invite him to read in HANSARD tomorrow morning the statement which he made—not only that they had committed that kind of action but that one lady had had acid thrown in her face. He said that in his original remarks. It was only when he was challenged that he back-pedalled. I think that it is an abuse of the procedures of this Committee to make statements of that kind without being prepared to table for the Committee the evidence on which such statements are made.
There has been an argument whether there is something inequitable, or equitable, in the length of time trade unions have enjoyed this right. They have enjoyed it for over 60 years. I agree that there are times when we have to examine the rights which have been bestowed on sectional interests within society, and that there may be circumstances in which we can justifiably say that, in the interests of society as a whole, we have to withdraw a particular right which one section has enjoyed; but before we withdraw a right from any section of the community we have to advance chapter and verse as to abuse, if any, of that right on the part of that section. It is almost an inherent 649 principle of democracy that we should do so. Not one single jot or iota of evidence has been presented, either by the Tory Party or by my Liberal colleague, to suggest that trade unionists have abused the right about which hon. Members opposite are protesting at the moment.
Of course, one sees on the television instances not only of trade union disputes but of many kinds of dispute. There could be a mammoth demonstration such as the demonstration we had on Sunday, about which there have been estimates varying between 100,000 and 140,000 of the number having taken part, and I do not want to say which estimate is right. If one person had thrown a brick in that demonstration every camera would have pounced. It is now becoming customary for analyses to be made of the conduct of individuals on the basis of the misreporting one sees regularly on the television media.
I will not tolerate, without protest at least, any suggestion that the trade union movement acts as a mob in the greater proportion of its activities. I accept that there may be occasions when trade unionists go off the rails. Outside the Synod of the Church of England—I concede that they are saints and that we are only sinners who keep trying—if anyone can tell me where to find completely peaceful activity by everybody I shall be pleased to know. Let us not condemn the trade union movement, and only the trade union movement, just because a small proportion of its members may on occasion do something wrong. A substantial case must be made out for denying to the trade union movement a right that it has enjoyed for a long time.
When the Bill was introduced I tried to look at it with a degree of charity. Having attended the Second Reading debate and the debates in Committee, I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that every Clause we debate is just another link in the chain which is designed to bind the trade union movement. The Solicitor-General has done a mammoth task, but he must cease listening to the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), who is already beginning the pushing that will take place. If chains are put round the feet, the backwoodsmen will force the Solicitor-General to put chains round the legs. If the Solicitor-General will give an assurance that he 650 will look at this again on Report we might begin to believe in his innocence rather than his guilt.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]
§ Mr. Orme
The extraordinary case expounded by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and the Solicitor-General was that, whilst there was no concrete evidence that the law on picketing at a person's home should be changed, they nevertheless felt that the law should be changed. Neither the Solicitor-General nor the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery has explained to the House why the law defining picketing—which is difficult, and no one has tried to skate over the problem—should be changed from the 1906 Act in respect ofnot being a place where he resides".The answer was given by the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer). He wanted to see the issue of picketing narrowed further and said that on Report he would try to persuade the Government to define picketing much more clearly and restrictively. The Solicitor-General dismissed as absolute nonsense what I said about this being the thin edge of the wedge, and said that the speeches from the Opposition confirmed his belief that what the Government were doing was right. The Solicitor-General made one of his most impassioned speeches in replying to Amendment No. 873. He was convinced that the Opposition were being irrational, but we are not. The onus is on the Government to prove the point, but they have brought not one iota of proof to the Chamber. It is what lies behind this that worries us.
In an earlier debate the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said that he recognised that this was an emotional issue to trade unionists,although he could not understand it himself—he happens to be a member of one of the best trade unions in the world which never has to resort to industrial action to achieve its objectives. The Solicitor-General missed the point that, despite what we hear in the Chamber, trade unionists who take strike action do not do so lightly.
I do not run away from the picketing in the Post Office strike. What happened 651 was completely justifiable and I am prepared to say so publicly, but the Solicitor-General and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery fail to understand the feelings of trade unionists. Trade unionists who justifiably come out on strike, and their families, have to suffer and make sacrifices, just as the Post Office workers are doing. They feel that they have the right to express forcibly to the people who are going to work why they are on strike. They feel that if the other people had joined the strike they might have been more likely to achieve what they wanted. It is an emotional experience.
Only someone who has been on the picket lines, as I have on several occasions, outside factories and places of work, can understand this. It does not matter whether the strike is official or unofficial, or whether there are pickets or no pickets, if the law is broken people can be prosecuted for violating the common law. When I have been on the picket line some of the people who have been going to work have said to me afterwards that they had been wrong to do so, and had done so only because of difficulties and emotional troubles at home. People who are picketing peacefully have a right to express themselves forcefully. A person going in to work will express himself forcefully too. Pickets often operate in difficult disputes where there is conflict between management and workers and sometimes differences between workpeople.
Hon. Members will recognise immediately the disputes at Pilkingtons and Roberts Arundel, the dispute at B.M.C., in the 1950s, the trawlermen's dispute, the Barbican site dispute. There are not a great number of disputes in which forms of violence took place during picketing. The police were involved in the Roberts Arundel case and damages were paid.
§ Captain W. Elliot
I appreciate that emotions run high and, as the hon. Gentleman said, violence and intimidation take place.
§ Captain Elliot
The hon. Gentleman mentioned violence. Would he agree that exactly the same is likely to arise if a man's house is picketed?
§ Mr. Orme
I was saying that examples of violence are so few in this country that they prove my case, namely that violence does not take place in the vast majority of disputes. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to give me an example of intimidation or violence during picketing of a non-striker's home. He cannot. It is extraordinary that no instances have been given.
This is no small matter. It is obvious that some people are seeking to reduce the power of picketing. Picketing is an extension of the arm of the strike weapon. When workers on strike appear before the public they are not always trying to prevent people going to work. A few years ago during a big dispute at Fords a great deal of picketing and argument took place, though not intimidation. Today, the whole of Ford's plant are out and nobody needs to be on picket. Whole factories have stopped. It is only in certain instances that this sort of thing takes place.
One of the dangers of the Clause is that the police will become more and more involved in disputes, and this point must be carefully weighed. In recent years this tendency has increased. I have witnessed these things personally, and have not merely seen them on television or read about them in the newspapers. It is wrong for the police to be involved in industrial disputes since they should be seen to be independent. During one industrial dispute in Manchester in the early 1960s police turned up with police dogs and it was only after the matter was raised in the House that the police were instructed to withdraw.
§ Mr. Loughlin
May I ask my hon. Friend to make the clear distinction that, as a general rule, the police are impartial and that it is only in the odd case that difficulty arises?
§ Mr. Orme
I am not making an attack on the police. In fact, I am seeking to prevent the police being involved. The extension in the provision to somebody's home will bring in more police in industrial disputes. I ask the Solicitor-General to answer this point. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) wishes to interrupt?
§ Mr. Orme
This is not a narrow point and the question of picketing is aimed at the heart of industrial action and dispute. The right to picket has existed since 1906, and if the Bill comes into operation increasing pressure will be put on the Solicitor-General to narrow, define and reduce the picketing powers. I should like an assurance from him that this will not take place.
§ Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) should criticise hon. Members on this side of the Committee for not having said enough on the Clause. May I congratulate the lion. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) on his recent recordership, which all falls in with the union which has been referred to and to which we both have the honour to belong.
I ask the Government to look at this Clause again. The most important thing about this great Bill of 150 Clauses is that the ordinary person who is affected by it should understand it and not be frightened by it. We do not want a Bill that people do not understand or for them to feel that their rights are affected, when in fact they are not. I do not see how there can be a satisfactory relationship between workers and employers unless they can have complete understanding of what this legislation is all about.
The Committee will know that as a lawyer I am not directly concerned with industrial law, but I have a certain association with industry because my family own one of the few small ports in Cornwall, which I am happy to say was not to be nationalised by the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). That was the only part of the United Kingdom in the General Strike of 1926 in which the dockers did not go out on strike. The reason was the happy, friendly, family relationships that existed between employer and employed. When I was a boy I remember one of the dockers, who was wearing earrings and who was aged about 70, coming into the office and asking for a job to be given to his boy. The "boy", who was aged about 45, came in and my father, who was a member of this House, gave him a job immediately, 654 though he had not one to offer. That was the sort of happy relationship that existed at the time. It is the sort of relationship that is required in industry between the employer and the employee, but with the vast concerns of today it makes the task very difficult indeed.
§ Mr. Crowder
It is a reflection of the modern world, and it is happening not only in this country but all over Europe. When we seek to put down our ideas in the form of legislation, it should at least be in simple language which the ordinary workman and the man on the factory floor can understand. What do hon. Members think that somebody from a small, working-class cottage on the docks in South Cornwall, at the age of 15, would gather from reading the following:The provisions of this section shall have effect where one or more persons (in this section referred to as "pickets"), in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute, attend at or near
- (a) a place where a person works or carries on business, or
- (b) any other place where a person happens to be, not being a place where he resides,and do so only for the purpose of peacefully obtaining information from him or peacefully communicating information to him or peacefully persuading him to work or not to work.(2) In the circumstances specified in the preceding subsection, the attendance of the pickets at that place for that purpose—(a) shall not of itself constitute an offence under section 7 of the Conspiracy, and protection of Property Act 1875 …"?How many people living in cottages in South Cornwall will have that Act under the bed? How can we pass legislation of this sort without looking at it in a common sense way?
§ 8.0 p.m.
I could have drafted the Bill in 60 Clauses. The point of this loquacious Clause is to be found in the three words "where he resides" in subsection 1(b). All that the Government are trying to say in verbose, complicated lawyer's language is that they do not want pickets outside people's homes.
The Government should look at the Clause and redraft it on sensible lines 655 because picketing has been going on in this country for as long as 65 years. It was introduced by the Liberal Party to which the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery belongs. All that the ordinary person who will be subjected to this Clause wants to know is what it means, and all it means is that one cannot be beastly and behave disgracefully outside a person's home. In the 20 years that I have been at the criminal bar, I cannot think of an instance of a person having been attacked or assaulted by a picket. Will the Government have the kindness to look at this Clause again and simplify it?
§ The Solicitor-General
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder) has urged simplification of the Clause, but he cannot have recollected the way in which the law stands. It stands on a combination of the 1875 Act and the 1906 Act. I dare say that copies of the 1906 Act are as scarce under the bed of his friends in their cottages as are copies of the 1875 Act. My hon. and learned Friend has enough experience of the law to know that one must formulate Clauses with some precision and that if we were merely to attempt the random style of draftsmanship which he suggested it would not add to the intelligibility of the document. Even the last Government's Bill dealing with a much smaller area, like many other pieces of recent legislation, covered many pages and contained many Clauses.
I share my hon. and learned Friend's aspiration that the law should be drafted in the crisp simplicity of the law of Justinian or the Magna Carta, but those days are no longer with us. I assure him that a great deal of thought has been given to the formulation of this Clause to achieve precisely the object which he endorses. The object of the Clause is to remove the place where someone resides from the presumption in favour of the legitimacy of picketing.
§ The Solicitor-General
I fear not. We have spent many hours debating the Clause in the context of the two Amendments.
As the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) acknowledged, 656 the object of the Clause is to make clear that the presumption in favour of the legitimacy of watching and besetting a person's home should be withdrawn. Understanding of the legal position, whether on this or on any other matter, depends on that which is known and made plain throughout the country. I cannot believe that people have benevolent legislation like the Rent Act, 1965, posted around their dwelling houses.
The purpose and effect of this legislation is clear. The purpose and effect dates back to 1875 when the law first started—perhaps the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery will forgive me for mentioning it—in a Statute placed on the Statute Book by Disraeli, who at that time sat on this side of the Committee, and the principle continued in the 1906 Act. All that we are doing is to make a single change in respect of picketing of the home. Everyone is agreed about the effect and intention of the Clause.
The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) wondered whether there was room for doubt about the legitimacy as it has prevailed heretofore of picketing a place of work which was one and the same place as the home. I have looked at the matter again very closely and sought advice, and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery has done the same. The intention is plain: to vary the law only in respect of the pure home. I judge that the intention is plainly achieved by the Clause. I cannot see any way in which the object of the exercise can be made plainer. If there is anxiety about the matter we will look at it again, but it is difficult to see any way of changing it.
§ Mr. McNamara
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman deal with the question which I raised last night about which I feel very strongly? Will he undertake to look at the drafting of the Clause to deal with the situation in which a home is used as a place for gathering blacklegs together and taking them from one place to another?
§ The Solicitor-General
I cannot agree to look at that matter. The hon. Gentleman has repeatedly referred to the motorised strike situation in which people are chasing each other around the countryside of Yorkshire and arguing and 657 counter-arguing about the legitimacy of a strike. All forms of communication are perfectly legitimate as long as they do not overstep the bounds of the 1875 Act and do not amount to attempts to compel someone to act against his entitlement or to watching or besetting. There is nothing wrong in attending at a house, whether it is occupied by one or more strikers, would-be strikers or strike breakers. All that we are saying is that there is no longer an automatic presumption in favour of the right of picketing somebody's home. There is no case for altering the law in the way which would apply to the examples which the hon. Member has given.
The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) raised a similar point. Nothing in the Bill affects the right of people to visit each other's homes and to talk to each other and deliver notes. The hon. Member for Darlington asked how one could communicate with people who were not at home when one wanted to communicate with them. The 1875 Act provided that certain forms of attempted compulsion could amount to criminal offences. It wrote in a special licence and privilege for picketing in the course of industrial disputes. It was continued, with modifications, in 1906 and is now continued. But that special privilege and immunity is no longer judged to be necessary in respect of the home.
I return to the reasons given by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery for accepting that situation. No one is making a general charge of violence against trade unions, trade unionists or the trade union movement. I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) condemn, as we all condemn, violence in an industrial situation. But almost every hon. Member who has contributed to this and the previous debate has acknowledged that in the picketing situation, an extension of the strike weapon, violence may sometimes occur. The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) explained how that can happen. He referred to the very nature of the feelings on both sides, the emotional experience of both sides, the real conflict of view involved between the striker and the non-striker, and so on. It is because of this conflict of emotion, desire and will that 658 violence can occur from time to time in the picketing situation. We all know it.
From that, my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) argues that it would be right to change the law to limit the rights and privileges of pickets more generally. I do not accept that, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does not, and the Government do not accept it. We believe that the ordinary criminal law, to various aspects of which a number of hon. Members have referred, is sufficient in almost all areas. It is available and can be deployed to that end. We do not accept any suggestion for changing the general law on picketing.
The hon. Member for Walton introduced a curious thought into the discussion when he suggested that violence tends to occur in picketing only if the police attempt to protect the rights of scabs to go to work. That is a very odd proposition to advance in this Committee.
§ The Solicitor-General
I want to follow it through. The hon. Member for Salford, West said that it was wrong for the police to become involved in the resolution of industrial disputes.
§ The Solicitor-General
I accept that, and I am sure that every hon. Member will. But if it is the function of the police in this situation, as in so many others, to uphold the criminal law on which hon. Gentlemen say that it is sufficient to rely, it is their unenviable duty to check and identify, and proceed in cases which they judge right, where the criminal law has been infringed.
§ Mr. Concannon
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has read the history of the Nottinghamshire miners, but perhaps I might direct his attention to the case at Harworth, where the police were involved in taking what was termed the "Harworth chain gang" through the village to the pit. An incident resulted in 11 people in Har- 659 worth, including a female, being sent to prison.
§ The Solicitor-General
I think that it is common ground on both sides of the Committee that, so far as the occasions when picketing spills over into violence are concerned, one has the ordinary provisions of the criminal law to prevent the violence taking place and spreading. If that is common ground, it can only be done by the police. It is a difficult duty to discharge, but I suggest that it would be disastrous in such a situation if the police were seen to be discriminating in favour of one side or the other, be it in favour of the unanimously striking employees against the employer or vice versa, or be it against the strikers or against those whom hon. Gentlemen opposite have termed "scabs" or "blacklegs".
I do not accept the proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton that violence arises only when the police seek to protect scabs. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee do not accept the ligitimacy of this distinction. On their behalf, I put forward the proposition that people are entitled to make their way to their place of work without the threat of violence and with proper protection. But I do not accept that that involves any change in the general law on picketing.
I accept the point put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) that when one judges the balance for changing the law, there is a case for considering the extent to which the home no longer becomes a place to which it is presumed by law that the emotions, conflicts and passions of industrial dispute should wash. There is some point to which a man can retreat and feel that he is immune from pressures of this kind. That is the limit of what we want to achieve. It is on that point that the Committee has now spent some six or seven hours arguing for and against seeking to that very limited extent to protect the home of a person, on whatever side of an industrial dispute he may 660 be, from the presumption that it is a legitimate site for picketing.
I now commend the Clause to the Committee.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I have spoken on only one occasion before in a debate on this Bill. That was on Second Reading, when I detained the House for only four minutes. I shall be equally brief today.
I think that I am the only hon. Member in the Palace of Westminster to have had experience of both picketing and taking part in a strike not very far from this Palace—
§ Mr. Lewis
I repeat that I think that I am the only hon. Member to take part in a strike while an hon. Member within a stone's throw of the Palace of Westminster.
I wanted to intervene during the speech of the Solicitor-General. The hon. and learned Gentleman refused to give way. I also wanted to intervene during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme). My hon. Friend refused to give way at first—
§ Mr. Lewis
My hon. Friend was advised by our Front Bench, and he later gave way. If the Solicitor-General had given way to me, I should have put two questions to him.
The incident which I am about to recount to the Committee is not hypothesis. It actually happened to me. The first case concerns a worker who, while employed at a hotel, may live in the hotel and, as such, reside there. In other words, for the time being it becomes his home. The second case is where a hotel worker resides in an annexe which is not actually in the hotel but is near to and adjacent to the hotel.
On the occasion of which I speak, I was picketing at the Savoy Hotel, on the Embankment. I was picketing the place of employment of the hotel workers involved. Nearby and adjacent to the hotel was the place where they resided and which was their home. It was impossible to picket either their home or 661 their place of work without picketing both at the same time. Therefore, what I was doing was quite legal, although eventually I was arrested for other reasons, as hon. Members will recall—[Interruption.] I am not apologising. I was quite proud of the effort. However, it is not material to the point that I am making.
If this provision had existed then, I would have been arrested and charged with picketing the residence of those workers. How can trade union officials or strikers picket in places like this other than by picketing the place of residence?
Many charges have been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Orme) said that no instance had been given by hon. Members opposite in which intimidation had taken place and violence had been used near someone's home. I would ask not hon. Members opposite
§ but the Under-Secretary of State for Employment to produce this evidence. His Department was formerly the Ministry of Labour and must have records of strikes and disputes for quite a period.
§ Will he officially—if not now, by Report stage—give the number of cases which have been officially reported to his Department of complaints and intimidation at the homes of striking workers? So far as I know, no figures have been published. If there are any, I should like to see them. They must be so few that it is not worth bringing in this restrictive Clause to prevent legitimate picketing.
§ Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 296, Noes 249.665
§ Clause 121 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 122 and 123 ordered to stand part of the Bill.