§ 8. Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will amend the Code of Industrial Relations Practice to include the suggestion that employers should actively encourage workers to join trade unions.
§ Mr. R. Carr
I will give careful consideration to this and all other comments made on the consultative document.
§ Mr. Ashley
Is the right hon. Genteman aware that industrial strife is often attributed to trade unions, but is due to the attitude of arrogant and ignorant employers, and that a survey shows that more than 40 per cent. of British employers are hostile to the trade unions? What proposals has he for changing the attitude of management, because that could do more than any repressive legislation to create good industrial relations?
§ Mr. Carr
I do not necessarily accept the hon. Gentleman's adjectives, but I agree, and I have made it clear, for example, in the Industrial Relations Bill and the consultative document, that the primary responsibility for good industrial relations rests on management. I have publicly, not only in the House but outside, expressed the belief that trade unionism ought to be encouraged. I think that that is right. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will take account of what he said.
§ Mr. Adam Butler
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that paragraph 6(c) on the first page of the consultative document says—[HON MEMBERS: "Reading."] I am reading from the document; it says—
§ Mr. Butler
I apologise. In this paragraph there is a statement to the effect that it is one of the responsibilities of management to encourage employees to join trade unions. Is not that the straight answer to the hon. Gentleman's question?
§ Mrs. Castle
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it needed a major debate on the Industrial Relations Bill in Committee to get words into the Bill to prevent it from actively discouraging workers from joining trade unions? [Interruption] Hon. Members opposite have not taken part in these debates and do not know. It was the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell) and others who had to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that as it then stood the Bill actively discouraged workers from joining a union. That is why the Government had to move an Amendment. Then we awaited the Code of Industrial Practice—[Interruption.] I am sorry that hon. Members opposite do not like the facts—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] I have asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact —[Interruption.] Mr. Speaker knows that I am in order.
§ Mr. Speaker
I know that the right hon. Lady is in order. But I was wondering whether she was anticipating later discussions.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am dealing with the point—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and asking the Secretary of State whether it is not a fact that the Code of Industrial Practice in Section 6 carefully qualifies a management's duty to encourage trade unionism, limiting it to those cases where trade unions are already recognised? Is it not a fact that the gap in the code has already been commented on by the unions?
§ Mr. Carr
I do not accept the right hon. Lady's interpretation over what happened to the Bill in Committee. What I do recall is that when an Amendment— which I accepted—was moved, to introduce a primary responsibility upon management into the Bill, it was opposed by 763 the first speaker from the benches opposite. As to the right hon. Lady's second point, it is true, as I have said, that since this code must deal with all forms of employment, including employment where there is no union, I must limit the substance of the code as I have done. In the foreword I make it clear that the principle of the code is based on employees being members of a trade union.
§ 13. Mr. Spence
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many requests he has had from trade unions for copies of the Code of Industrial Relations Practice.
§ Mr. R. Carr
Trade unions have so far asked for and received some 11,000 copies of the draft code through the headquarters and regional offices of my Department.
§ Mr. Spence
I thank my right hon. Friend for that figure. Does not he agree that it demonstrates that, no matter what the initial reaction of the T.U.C. may have been to the publication of the code, many trade unions have found it very valuable, and of interest to them?