HC Deb 03 July 1972 vol 840 cc41-176
Mr. Speaker

Before calling the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to move his Motion I should inform the House that I have selected the Amendment in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and his colleagues.

3.50 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I beg to move, That this House censures Her Majesty's Government for the grave injuries to good industrial relations and the general reputation of the law caused by the operation of the Industrial Relations Act, exacerbated by the Government's divisive policy of industry confrontation, and demands that the Government should take immediate steps to repeal it before further damage is done. In a very real sense this debate is a continuation of last Thursday's. Our indictment of the Government is on five counts. First, before the General Election and throughout their period as Government they have consistently regarded the world of industrial relations as a battleground for ideological confrontations, as part of a wider political conflict. Secondly, they have imported into Britain's system of industrial relations—that is to say, human relations—an alien, irrelevant and provocative framework of unworkable legalistic concepts. Thirdly, industrial relations legislation, worked out with singular lack of skill and unprecedented amateurism by the Government's Law Officers, incapable of understanding or reflecting the human issues involved, and rushed through Parliament with inadequate discussion owing to the guillotine, has proved incomprehensible to the courts and to industry, and has led to total confusion and unnecessary division and bitterness in industrial relations.

Fourthly, the introduction of the Inns of Court Conservative Association's concept of law into industrial relations, as presented by the association to the Donovan Commission, and rejected by that commission, has been associated, case by case, with a calculated series of industrial confrontations forced by the Government for political purposes, and with an invocation of the law subordinated to, and discredited by, political considerations. Fifthly, in these past weeks the law has been clumsily invoked, against a background of Press briefing and provocative political speeches, not for its declared purpose of improving industrial relations but for the enforcement of a clandestine incomes policy the existence of which Ministers have denied in statements in Parliament.

That the National Industrial Relations Court was created under a law forcing it to be a puppet court of the Executive, related not to better industrial relations but to incomes policy, has been clear for some time. Lest there be any doubt, and for greater accuracy, the Lord President made it clear in his winding-up speech last Thursday. He gave the game away. His subconscious was showing, and a very substantial subconscious as it proved. He was pronouncing last Thursday a ritualistic reference to the Labour Government's proposals on industrial relations in Cmnd. 3888 "In Place of Strife", and he said—I admit that he was under pressure at the time—referring to our declared desire to secure the co-operation of the trade union movement: They"— that is we— dropped 'In Place of Strife' to get such co-operation. What happened? In the year after dropping it, wage rates went up by almost 10 per cent. compared with only 5 per cent. the year before. Is that what we are to do?"—[Official Report, 29th June, 1972: Vol. 839, c. 1808.] In his mind, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's proposals to reduce the toll of strikes are directly related to reducing wage increases.

I shall refer later to "In Place of Strife". The purpose of "In Place of Strife" and of the Downing Street agreement with the TUC was to improve industrial relations, to end demarcation disputes, to secure some control over unconstitutional "wild-cat strikes". So, we were told, was the purpose of the Conservatives "Fair Deal at Work", the Inns of Court Conservative Association's proposals and the Tory Manifesto—not to enforce an incomes policy. The Tories never told the people that in the General Election. Indeed, they repudiated any such thought in the election whether on any basis, statutory or voluntary. Now we learn from the Lord President the true motive. The invocation of the law is to enforce a Conservative incomes policy which they have denied whenever they have been questioned about it in the House. In their teeth they have denied it in the House.

All parties—before and since the election—have agreed on one thing; namely, that there is a problem—a serious problem—and that the nation cannot afford a single man-day lost through industrial disputes. We may have different approaches to solving the problem. Ours was based on the wise words of Donovan, on reforms of industrial relations from within industry, on the TUC documents "Programme for Action" and "Good Industrial Relations", on the human realities of these problems, on shop steward education, the lot which I commend to the House, and above all to the Prime Minister, to read, study and apply. In "In Place of Strife" we made three statutory proposals. I shall come to that.

In the period before the General Election the Conservatives made their proposals in season, out of season, especially in the polling season—not a parliamentary by-election, even the GLC elections of 1970; but the right hon. Gentleman was on the stump in cities and towns all over the country. The weekend before the GLC elections we had his address to the Conservative trade unionists, the political wing of the National Amalagamated Association of Blacklegs. There was also a speech the following night to the innocent long-suffering News-vendors Benevolent Institution.

On the eve of five by-elections the right hon. Gentleman spoke on this subject in Croydon in October, 1969, and he proclaimed one message, as he did during the General Election, that he had a plan to reduce the ghastly toll of man-days lost through industrial stoppages. We were to get a new dawn, a new era of industrial peace if only he were elected. This, as much as prices, as much as unemployment, as much as the full-hearted consent of the British people for going into the Common Market—all of those constituted a false prospectus of calculated Conservative electoral deception.

Now we have the grisly reality of the right hon. Gentleman's performance. In five years eight months—68 months—of the Labour Government there were 24,045,000 man-days lost through industrial disputes. Too many; they would have been far more if we had not in those days had a Prime Minister who was not so stiff-necked as not to be willing to step in and settle a few strikes, including averting two major rail strikes—with the men going out of No. 10 with not a penny more than they came in, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot say that—to say nothing of the settlement of the newspaper strike during the General Election, allowing Conservative papers to continue their lies against the Labour Government.

Against the 24 million man-days lost in 68 months of the Labour Government, the prophets of the new dawn for industrial relations opposite in 23 months have presided over the loss not of 24 million but of 37,096,000 man-days through disputes—in 23 months 54.3 per cent. more than in 68 months of the Labour Government. Per month, under Labour, the figure was 401,000 days. Under the Conservatives it is 1,613,000 days—more than four times as many. Strangely, when these figures have been announced the Conservative Press has failed to "please copy". Perhaps it will do it tomorrow.

This, apparently, is a Conservative triumph. This is the new style of Government that we were promised, though we have found the right hon. Gentleman singularly reluctant to mouth the figures. Every time he speaks in the House he seeks refuge not in more days of production lost but in fewer strikes. Fewer, smaller strikes—vote Conservative for bigger and better strikes. The right hon. Gentleman reminds me of those hard-faced chairmen of those accident-prone early Victorian railways: Your directors draw attention to a safety record of which we may be proud. We have had fewer accidents, and, in particular, fewer minor accidents. There is that little matter about our having killed four times as many passengers. The one Tory alibi in this debate, as in all the others, will be "In Place of Strife". The Labour Government made three so-called penal proposals out of 25 action points. After consultation, and after a study of the American experience, we dropped one of them—compulsory ballots. We did so for the reason that a ballot showing a majority for a particular settlement ties the hands of trade union leaders, makes it harder for them to compromise and a strike, once having started, harder for them to settle it. The recent railway ballot proved that up to the hilt. A pre-strike ballot would have made any settlement at Jarratt or Jarrattplus impossible. A ballot does not strengthen the elected leaders; it hobbles them.

The second issue referred to inter-union problems, demarcation, recognition, who does what, who sits where, apprentices and so on. This was a major cause of lost time in the 1950s and 1960s. As a direct result of our consultations over "In Place of Strife" the TUC took action and received authority at the Croydon conference. It was given full powers to arbitrate in all these matters, full powers of binding arbitration. There have been very few disputes of that kind in the past two years. If that had not been so, the Tory record of 37 million man-days lost would have been much higher. They have the TUC and "In Place of Strife" to thank.

Croydon did not provide a full answer to Girling-type unconstitutional disputes. The Downing Street agreement was a major step forward, and the Conservatives have gained by it. There were fewer such strikes, demarcation disputes, wildcat strikes, in the year before June, 1970, and fewer still since, thanks not to the present Government, and certainly not to the Industrial Relations Act, but to our agreement with the TUC. But for the Downing Street agreement and action taken by the TUC, the situation would have been much worse over the past two years.

Under the Tories, the Prime Minister has contemptuously dismissed the TUC and Mr. Feather from the scene. The Tories know that because of the powers conceded by individual unions at the time of the Downing Street agreement he has, even so, settled disputes the Government could not settle—the electricians' dispute for one and the railway dispute for another.

Our Motion and my opening indictment referred to the Government's calculated policy of confrontation, right from that halcyon summer of 1970, those first magical days—arms for South Africa, the revocation by the Secretary of State for Education and Science of Circular 10/65. Those were happy days. The Prime Minister had hardly closed the Downing Street door behind him after his pledge to unite the nation than he set about dividing it. In no time at all we had the dock strike, unnecessary and contrived. The TUC was put in baulk; it could not intervene. We had chaos in the docks and a national State of Emergency, the Home Secretary marching up the Floor of the House, exports affected, food shortages, higher prices, and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food saying "Let them eat peaches". A quick settlement on precisely the terms we could have had without a strike was reached after two weeks of strike. But the Government's authority had been asserted, or so we were all told.

Then there was the doctrine of the norm, the N-1 formula, conceived on Mount Olympus and peddled to the Press, but never announced in Parliament; indeed, categorically denied in Parliament by Ministers. All that was needed was a suitable sacrificial victim, and miraculously one presented itself, the local authority manual workers. They had all the qualifications. They were low-paid said to be poorly-organised, and were in the public sector. The whole arena was duly laid out for the confrontation, and the heraldic trumpets were sounded. Garter Times. Mail, Express and Telegraph pursuivant. We waited to see what the Prime Minister would do. After three ideological weeks in which he reduced London and other cities to a mass of stinking garbage, with our rivers polluted, he was unhorsed. N-1 equalled 16 per cent., and the right hon. Gentleman's only compensation was a pettish outburst against Sir Jack Scamp, who incidentally has the distinctions of having settled even more disputes than the Prime Minister has aggravated. Sir Jack Scamp's fellow-arbitrator, Dr. Hugh Clegg, was incontinently dismissed from the chairmanship of the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal. Nothing like the firm smack of peevish government!

Episode three was the electricians' dispute. There was moderate leadership there. I hope the Prime Minister will agree that there was not one of those extremists elected to union leadership during the period of the Labour Government which he so mysteriously talked about last Thursday at Question Time. But it was a good dispute for the Government. It had the merit of being unpopular—electricity cuts, cold comfort at the electric cooker, Christmas shops unlit. Things were going well. Then, just as the Government were exploiting the situation, Frank Chapple, that well-known extremist elected during the period of the Labour Government—worse, Frank Chapple aided and abetted by Vic Feather—struck. The strike ended. Nevertheless, we were told it was a great Government victory—N-½. Then it transpired, when we had Wilberforce Mark I, that the electricians' case had been justified all along. But still it was a famous victory.

Next there were the postmen, again in the public sector, low-paid, with no strike funds, desperate. The Post Offices's Chairman was sacked just in time, lest he be minded to exercise the independent rôle laid on him by the Post Office Act. There was the Government's great victory, with all those cartoons of the triumphant angler, with the stuffed, moustachioed, UPW fish in the display cabinet. Six month's later there was one of the Post Office fish, a grim angler and an empty cabinet labelled "Waiting for the Miners". But that was less than prophetic.

So throughout the spring and summer last year the stage was set. The Prime Minister withdrew into Europe. Unemployment was rising to unprecedented heights. Food prices were forced up with the introduction of food levies. The housing finance White Paper was published, forcing up prices. There was the Budget. Property speculators were set free. As prices rose and rose, we had the ministerial alibis. As property prices rose, as land changed hands again and again, we learned that it was all the fault of the men on £16 a week who were asking for a minimum of £20 a week. In inner London, Victorian working-class houses were changing hands at £8,000, then £10,000, and then more and more. It was all the fault of the workers, we were told. No doubt it was a post-mortem wage application with retrospective effect on behalf

of the long-dead Victorian craftsmen who built them. The Treasury pumped out money like water, to the wrong people, and the gnomes watched.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food went on the BBC to tell the people that the Prime Minister had not intended to be taken seriously in his election promises. As summer gave way to autumn he watched the increase in meat prices, due to the excessive £16 a week wage for farm workers. At least he must have been responsible for the advice that we could all buy pheasants. The Chief Whip and I, comparing our constituency reports, agreed that pheasants were rising well in Bermondsey and Knotty Ash. That was the kind of advice we were getting from the Government at that time, while they were setting the stage for the next confrontation, which was with the miners.

Out of our characteristic and unbounded compassion, I will pass briefly over the history of the miners' dispute. I do so out of consideration for the Prime Minister, who would like to forget it—what the Press said at the time, the briefings, the flexing of muscles, the fight to a finish, the uncertain support of the miners for their leaders, the unprecedentedly high level of coal stocks at the power stations. And then the outcome.

I would merely note the following lessons. First, there was the Government's insistence, even at the end, on fighting the dispute politically. The Prime Minister, who had fastidiously eschewed any contact with the miners' executive throughout that period, made an appeal to it, after six weeks of the strike and he made it at a political meeting of the Liverpool Conservatives—my constituents, a diminishing number of them, and their neighbours. Whatever may be said of the Liverpool Conservatives, there are few miners among them. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman cancel the engagement? It was the day of the industrial blackout, the announcement of 3 million men stood off, of exports paralysed. If the right hon. Gentleman had anything to say to the miners, why did he not say it to the NUM executive? Second was the fact that the National Coal Board was not a free agent. We had the public complaint of a member of the board in mid-January that it was not given sufficient elbow-room by the Government.

And it ended in Downing Street with the beer and sandwiches. How the right hon. Gentleman's gorge must have risen as he poured out the beer. Even then, there was complaint that the ale was stale—stale beer: small wonder—it had been in the Downing Street cellars since the newspaper strike, 20 months and 34.7 million lost man-days before. And the settlement in Downing Street? Wilberforce - N + 10, and £8 million more on top.

And even now the Prime Minister has not learned the lesson. After the deluge I asked him to consider the financial problem I put to him—and repeated last Thursday—of giving the workers in labour-intensive public industries and services wages comparable with those in private industry, to which they are entitled, without its leading to large increases in charges, fares and prices and stimulating inflation throughout the economy. The right hon. Gentleman promised to study the implications, but four months later—that was on 4th March—we have had no answer from him. I hope that perhaps we shall get it from him today.

Then we had the railway men. This was to be different. The Industrial Relations Act was in force, and NIRC was established—Daniel himself come to judgment in the unlikely shape of the President of NIRC. Now the Act could be invoked. We could have a cooling-off period. We could have a ballot. But the miners had had their cooling-off period for four months and it had only hotted things up. They had, in accordance with their constitution, taken a ballot, which showed 58 per cent. for strike action and 42 per cent. against. What could have been more pathetic than the Government briefing that the 42 per cent. would soon become a majority? The Prime Minister entirely misconceived the determination, the solidarity of the miners and their wives, and of the whole mining community. He does not know the miners. They are people. If the vote had been 50.1 per cent. against 49.9 per cent. for, they would have been solid. That is what happened in Nottingham.

So the right hon. Gentleman turned in his humiliation to the railway men. If it had not been for that humiliation we would not have had this confrontation, the briefing, the hardening of attitudes, the ludicrous invocation of the Industrial Court. It was all because of the miners. That is the trouble with the Prime Minister—his characteristic, the hallmark of all the Bourbons throughout all the ages; he learns nothing and he forgets nothing. Everyone but the Prime Minister recognises that Vic Feather was right; that the railway dispute could have been settled earlier at less cost without the disruption, without the suffering of the commuters. If we had had the application of a little less uncommon law and a little more common sense and common humanity, this could have been done.

Our indictment refers to the invocation of the law, so let us examine that. We had a cooling-off period, with a desperate Secretary of State playing for time. He knew when he applied to the court that there was no question of fulfilling the requirements of the Act. There was no prospect of meaningful negotiation, of conciliation, no prospect of arbitration, because the Government were determined to allow none. The Railway Board was under the wraps of a Government diktat. The Secretary of State dared not apply for an extension of the cooling-off period when it ended because he could not have satisfied even the court that what the Government had interdicted in the first cooling-off period would be available in the second.

On the ballot—here we have a remarkable state of affairs, so far unquestionable in Parliament. Under this extraordinary law the court could not question the judgment of the Minister that he had reason to think that the three experienced union leaders were not speaking for their members. All the court could decide was whether the signature on the application was or was not a forgery—I have no reason to think that that was open to question—and that the Minister was sane when he signed it. Yet the court had to rule on the national interest.

This is a complete perversion of the rôle of Parliament and the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. Owing to the sub judice rule, we could not at that time question the Minister's judgment. But when it was no longer sub judice the Minister obstinately, and, I would argue, unconstitutionally, refused to give his reasons to Parliament. Secondly, I would assert that Parliament throughout the years has been and should be the judge of the national interest; that is not properly the function of a court of law.

So we had the miserable story. We had the build up; the reports of the 1922 Committee, the banging of desks in support of the tough Ministers; the demands that the miseries of the commuters should not have been in vain. And then we had the six to one majority in the ballot—even on this ludicrously-drafted ballot question—which cost some £200,000 to the taxpayer. If councils supplying school milk can be surcharged, what should be the penalty for this act of stupidity on the part of the Minister?

Again we had the political intervention. We had the Chancellor of the Exchequer's dramatic descent on the Conservative Political Centre; the sudden Press call, at the very moment when the unions were seriously considering arbitration. He could only have made it more difficult. And we had the Whit weekend speech of the Prime Minister at the Tory carnival at Luton Hoo. Let the Chancellor and the Prime Minister read those speeches again now, after all that has happened. Let the Prime Minister look back now on the publicity buildup. The punch-drunk boxer, fanned by his seconds; the champ who was going to deal with any challenger who came along.

We must also consider the rôle to which the Government reduced British Rail—a pawn of Government policy throughout all those weeks—and, when the battle was over, the Government's unctuous and ostentatious washing of ministerial hands of all responsibility. No—now it was entirely the responsibility of British Rail to settle the amount of ministerial humiliation.

I must now refer to the rôle of the court in relation to the docks. Many hon. Members on both sides have the honour of representing dock workers. I personally represent as many as does any other hon. Member. Over 27 years I have come to know very many of them personally; their families, their children, their memories, their anxieties. Some of us knew the Merseyside dockers before the war when, under the casual system, the best they could hope for was to fight, like animals in cages, for a ticket entitling them to half a day's work. Those old wounds and old memories fester.

We have known them through decasualisation, under Devlin—the teething pains and growing pains of decasualisation—and we all know their anxieties today in facing as brutal a challenge to their security as any workers have suffered from the remorseless onward march of technological change and of shifting trade patterns. And into this situation the Government interposed the cold arid hand of the law; of the courts forced by that in considered law to give the wrong answers to the wrong questions.

And in these weeks we have seen employers and trade union representatives—and here I repeat the tribute I have paid outside to the Secretary of State—approaching these problems with real humanity and understanding. I have publicly praised the statesmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Aldington—not long ago a respected and wise Member of this House—and Mr. Jack Jones leading the other side. I do not know whether Mr. Jack Jones was one of the extremists about whom the Prime Minister was talking last Thursday; perhaps he will tell us.

But the tensions of the container revolution at the moment threatened a national dock strike which, as we now know, could have been ruinous to the national interest. On Wednesday, June 14th, that strike was averted, for six weeks anyway, and perhaps totally. But two days later the nation awaited a dock strike nevertheless—a totally unnecessary strike created by the unholy alliance of the Solicitor-General, NIRC and, for one hour of brief glory, the tipstaff. Then impending tragedy degenerated into total farce. The Times law reports read like nothing so much as a review of a musical of Bardwell v. Pickwick. The strike was off—no thanks to the Government, but contrary to the best efforts of the Government, though that Friday I joined them in their unexpressed relief. Their Act, forced through a gagged Parliament, just failed to plunge the nation into a national emergency. It did not fail to embitter beyond belief industrial relations on the waterfront. It totally discredited the law and the courts.

So let us now consider on the Governments deus ex machina—the insertion of the law and the court into industrial relations.

The British system of industrial relations, admittedly imperfect—that was what Donovan was about—has been built up by wise men on both sides of industry, and men skilled in conciliation and arbitration, in all the years of this century. It is axiomatic that what wise men can create over half a century can be destroyed by a fool in a few minutes. That is not my recollection today.

But what wise men created over many years can be destroyed in weeks by a group of ideologues, and that is what has happened. I spoke to two men who have served on arbitration tribunals—the National Arbitration Tribunal and the rest—and they are heartbroken at what the Government have done to what they and others like them have tried to do for half a century.

Last week the Secretary of State gave his verdict. He was addressing the Foreign Press Association. He was euphoric about the Industrial Relations Act. He said: All my recent evidence is that the legislation is succeeding beyond expectation in its first aim; to concentrate industry's mind"— and he stressed management in particular— on improving industrial relations. I suppose if he had been responsible for designing the Tay bridge, he would have been there among the ruins the day after the disaster claiming to have succeeded beyond expectation in concentrating the nation's mind on the problems of railway engineering.

But to be fair to him, he was not the architect of this legislation. Here we must turn to the egregious contribution of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General. I can just see him somewhere on the corner. The hon. and learned Gentleman is learned in the law but as ignorant of the problems of the British people and the nature of industrial relations in this country as a novice in a nunnery. If the law is not an ass, none would under-rate the Solicitor-General's efforts to make it one. In the process of making an ass of the Courts, we know our Solicitor-General—we have come to know him—took the Inns of Court proposals and compounded them. In the course or a short but dedicated political career, he has endeared himself to so many outside industry by drafting apparently innocent Bills, which, regardless of their main purpose, tend to become the vehicle for gagging Parliament and destroying Parliamentary rights which have been unchallenged for centuries.

In his devoted labours he has been assisted by the Government's unprecedented predeliction for gagging Parliamentary discussion on fundamental constitutional changes. That will be known by my right hon. and hon. Friends who have been concerned with the European Communities Bill. His virtuosity in that regard should not blind us to his achievements on the Industrial Relations Act, on which he served his constitutional apprenticeship. In our innocence—not then knowing the hon. and learned Gentleman—we thought that his main aim was merely to remove long-established safeguards which trade unions had enjoyed over the years, some of them for over a century. But we now see more clearly that he was only exercising his apprentice hand in a more dedicated effort at destroying parliamentary rights and safeguards.

The Prime Minister, now so humiliated by the unselfish efforts of his hon. and learned Friend, may be wondering what to do with him. Apart from recommending him for another of these prizes, the Strafford Prize or the Earl of Wentworth prize—no one has done more than Strafford to destroy parliamentary liberties—I suggest a recommendation to the Lord Chancellor for an early removal to the Bench—the Lord Chancellor is notoriously not choosey in other matters—provided the hon. and learned Gentleman's judicial duties are confined to matters excluding any which affect ordinary human beings.

But while the hon. and learned Gentleman sinks below the waves—[Interruption.]—we have put up with a lot on this side, including all those late sittings voting on Amendments which we were never allowed to debate. However, while the Solicitor-General sinks below the waves—the "in" word is "floating"—his monument remains in the Industrial Relations Act, a law which is totally incomprehensible.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

Would the right hon. Gentleman repeal that?

Mr. Wilson

Yes. What one court decides another rejects. The courts are agreed only on one thing, the Act's incomprehensibility. I do not believe that hon. Members opposite, as they tramped through the lobbies on those undebated Amendments, ever intended that the Industrial Relations Act should become a legal tombola.

Let us take the shop steward syndrome. Under the law, what are they? Are they servants under master and servant legislation, or are they agents? It was held one way by one court and then it was held, whatever it was, to be the opposite. The mind reels on reading the reports. Now the matter comes to appeal and the House of Lords will provide the final legal answer. But the shop stewards want to know what they are. They may find language, not necessarily expressed in legal terminology, to describe the Solicitor-General, the Lord President, who, to his credit—and it is fair to say this—never pretended to understand the Act, the Prime Minister, the courts of law and, this at least I regret, the high court of Parliament.

What the Act does—I refer again to dockland—is serious in real terms. The Prime Minister referred to extremists last week and I hope that he will explain that reference this afternoon, for he has still to identify them before he meets them tomorrow. The Prime Minister must recognise that his Act is a charter for militants, extremists and for those who seek to undermine the authority of the elected leadership and the elected trade union executives.

I should like for a moment to take the Prime Minister on an imaginary tour of the Liverpool waterfront. Probably that is as near as he will ever get. I will arrive by train, Euston to Lime Street. The Prime Minister can arrive by sea if he wishes. We will meet the shop stewards. We may also meet the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board which he bankrupted in his lame duck period. We will instruct him in the history of dock rivalries—the blue union and the white union. The Solicitor-General, who represented a Merseyside constituency not long ago but does not seem to have learned anything, can instruct the Prime Minister how the unions got their names. We will tell him of the 1955 strike when, within a single family, brother fought brother and even militant white card holders went through the picket lines manned by the blue-card-holding members of the same family. [Laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen had seen the agony within families at Merseyside—perhaps the Solicitor-General can confirm this—they would not be laughing like that.

Under the Act, on the holding of the lower court, we had the threat of a shop steward being disciplined under the ruling of the court and perhaps gaoled. What did they expect? The whole history of freedom in this country is one of willing martyrs, be they nice men or not. If one man is gaoled under this Act he will be replaced by another and another and another. The more the leadership tries to carry out the edict of the court, the more we shall see militant superseded by super-militant, the more we shall see an exodus from one union to another and fractricidal division on the waterfront. I hope that the Prime Minister will deal with these issues in the debate. Tomorrow he meets the TUC. We wish him well. His or their terms of reference, the attack on inflation, are important to us

. Last Thursday I gave him suggested terms of reference for a viable policy to deal with inflation: the TUC proposals for a threshold, price-related wage arrangements—I am glad to see in the Press that the Government after 17 months seem to be turning to this idea—Government-exercised control of strategic prices, of the remuneration of top people, of rents and dividends, the restoration of the consumer council, the repeal of food levies, the dropping of the Housing Finance Bills for England and Scotland, the control of land prices and property speculation, the repeal of the sterilising Industrial Relations Act, which is the Prime Minister's worst enemy in these negotiations, and a moratorium on the value added tax.

I have quoted the Prime Minister's reference to extremists at Question Time last Thursday. Of course, the House is becoming acclimatised to these petulant patches we have come to expect between 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The right hon. Gentleman referred to prices and incomes last week and what he considered the consequential effects in terms of the election of extremist trade union officers. Today he will no doubt identify them, because tomorrow he is going cap in hand to the extremists to see whether they will bail him out with an anti-inflation policy instead of divisiveness. I should rather send Mike Yarwood, as long as I write his brief.

But this debate derives from the railway dispute and the coal dispute. Whom did he have in his mind in these disputes as the extremists? Sid Greene, who was elected before the Labour Government, as a matter of fact? Percy Goldrick? Is he a militant? Ray Buckton? True, he has a Yorkshire accent. Or did he have in mind Joe Gormley of the miners' union? This afternoon's Evening Standard has a headline— Wages: Miners' Leader Urges Men to Cool If. Is that the action of an extremist?

Tonight I am going by night sleeper to the NUM annual conference and I shall be seeing the militant Joe Gormley tomorrow morning. This is my sixth trade union conference or function in a month. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman will let me suggest to Mr. Gormley that the Prime Minister himself should address the NUM later this week. He will have a warm receiption. In two years how many trade union conferences has he addressed? So far as I know, one—the local government officers. They are certainly militant and they followed his speech by deregistering.

How many trade union executives has the right hon. Gentleman met? How many times has he met workers on the job in the shipyards—I mean the shipyards, not the yacht-building yards? How often has he sat down with the shipyard workers? He could have been to meet the workers in the real shipyards. The shipyards are full of anxieties, some of them caused by his Government, and he could have been to see the workers there, as did some of his predecessors.

How often has the right hon. Gentleman sat down with shipyard workers, with the men on the job, as I did on Tyneside and Clydeside? Why can he not discuss their problems with pit workers coming off shift, with engineers in one kind of factory after another? Has he done it? If so, why has he not reported to the House?

On his regional visits, how often has he met local trade union representatives, not as part of the regional planning council, and asked them to discuss their problems and anxieties with him? As for trade union executive, how often has he met the miners' executive, not in a wage confrontation but at other times, to hear their anxieties? When the miners' strike occurred, the NUM executive and the NUM president had never been to No. 10 under this Government. That is rather different from what had happened before.

How many shop stewards has the right hon. Gentleman met as Prime Minister. We hear a lot about shop stewards? Does he know what a shop steward is? How many workshop problems are solved day by day which, but for shop stewards, would escalate into major disputes and confrontations, swelling the already inflated dispute figures for which he bears responsibility? The uncaring Prime Minister has not met them. For him, even a cup of tea in the Tea Room would appear to be an unwarrantable concession to democracy, with all those trade union MPs sitting there.

The Prime Minister should try to meet the people he has been elected to lead. Some of them are the husbands of the housewives of Leicester and elsewhere whom he wooed so outrageously with his prices promises. More than that, they are the producers of the nation's wealth. Not an ingot of steel, not a ton of coal, not a yard of cotton, not a measure of farm produce is created except by the workers of this country, the men and women whom he disdains. For him, they are just an alibi for his failures, the bogymen with which to frighten his party supporters.

The right hon. Gentleman should realise that if the entire money-making community—the land speculators, the property speculators, the whole of the Stock Exchange, the exchange market speculators, the public relations profession and most of the lawyers—were all removed, at a stroke, to permanent tax-avoiding exile in the Cayman Islands, not one ton of production, not one machine tool, not one ship, not one mite of exports, not a single contribution to the nation's investments would be lost, not if all his friends went. Yet he will not meet the people who are responsible for producing the nation's wealth.

In reconsidering his industrial relations policy, in rebuilding his shattered economic and financial policy and his taxation policy—and that will contribute a lot to the inflation of the next year—his social policy, let the Prime Minister be guided, however late, by one overriding consideration: how can he take counsel with, how can he take action for, not the hangers-on, not the manipulators, not the merger-manipulators, not the makers of money who are not the earners of money, but the producers of the nation's wealth and the nation's prosperity.

4.35 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'endorses the policy of Her Majesty's Government to provide a framework, within the law, which will enable industrial relations in Britain to be improved, and which will contribute to the protection of the community from the damaging consequences of industrial disputes'.

Hon. Members


The Prime Minister

Whatever the hilarity on the other side of the House may indicate, I doubt whether there is a more important subject for the House to discuss today in national affairs than the problems of industrial relations. No one who has had experience of them, particularly as a former Minister of Labour like myself—and perhaps I may indicate to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that I was dealing with the practical problems of the docks in Liverpool when I was Minister of Labour long before he had connection with them as Prime Minister—can fail to recognise that industrial relations are complex, difficult, frustrating and time-consuming. But, at the same time, good industrial relations are vital for the health of the nation. Nor can it be denied that they arouse deep feelings on both sides of industry, among the general public and, indeed, Governments.

Their sources are easy to discern—questions of individual rights, of collec- tive privileges, of organisational responsibilities, of powerstructures—all these are involved. With their impact and that of sectional interests on the community as a whole, one can understand the intensity of feeling on these matters. When these factors lead to disruption of industrial production—avery eloquent passage towards the end of the right hon. Gentleman's speech—for whatever reason disruption occurs, its impact on the economy and on the standard of living of the British people has now become apparent to all.

The greater the emotion that this subject engenders, surely the stronger are the arguments for the House examining the situation with a certain cool reason. This does not exclude us from recognising all the forces that are involved. Most of all, perhaps, we recognise the attitudes on both sides of industry which have become hardened by years of struggle by the unions, by the frustration and disillusionment of employers and by resentments of Governments, successive Governments, seeing their policies, which they genuinely believed to be in the national interest, damaged unnecessarily. It makes us realise that progress in these matters lies not along the paths of emotional extravagance but by means of calm appraisal of certain principles and practices which are necessary, indeed vital, for healthy industrial relations.

But this can with certainty be said: there has been more public discussion, more detailed and in greater depth, about industrial relations throughout Britain in the last five years than in the preceding 50. With the Act in operation, what goes on in industrial relations is being revealed to the public gaze and examined, as it should be, by statutory bodies in order to bring about its improvement.

In a democracy this is how it should be done, however hard it may be for some—unaccustomed to these matters or accustomed for so long to doing it in another way—to accept. This I believe, again, to be derived from the last Government's emphasis on the need to improve industrial relations, their proposals in "In Place of Strife" and the Bill which had a First Reading and from the present Act which has been carried by Parliament. Perhaps one thought came to my mind listening to the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who is not here today, said of her own Industrial Relations Bill: I think the disease we are all going to suffer from in the next few months is the disease of misrepresentation. I am confident that, as one explains what the purpose of the Bill is, the trade union movement itself will begin to think again. I have previously paid tribute to the courage which she displayed at that time, and I agree with the views which she also expressed then because I believe that the critics are having to think again and that there is now much greater understanding of the problem.

The sweeping demand for the abolition of the Industrial Relations Act in this Motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition can hardly be claimed to be based on rational reflection or on the working of the Act, which has been in operation for only four months. I am asking hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, believing that they are believers in a democratic process, to consider this matter seriously. We have just had a speech from the Leader of the Opposition about which I propose to make very little comment—[Hon. Members: "Why not?"]—except to say that it was frivolous and irrelevant. It was ignorant and motivated by malice, the malice of a man who tried to carry the reform which he saw to be essential and was frustrated by his own people in so doing.

In particular he devoted part of his speech to a vitriolic attack upon my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General unmindful of the fact apparently that, as my hon. and learned Friend pointed out in a speech at Oxted last week, it was the right hon. Gentleman's own Government which appointed him to be a member of the Latey Committee, a most important committee, and a member of the Street Committee, and on the recommendations of that Committee based legislation on racial relations which the right hon. Gentleman's Government carried through. The Solicitor-General's home town is Aberavon where he has had experience of the problems of miners and twice fought elections. Others will pay tribute to what my hon. and learned Friend has done in community relations work in the East End, and I hope that the Leader of the Opposition is thoroughly ashamed of his petty attack.

The only other comment I wish to make about the right hon. Gentleman's speech is that in the whole of it there was not one constructive idea for the improvement of the industrial relations which he and his Government said were vital for the economy and, above all, for the survival of his own Administration. He knows that was the reason why his own Administration was defeated at the hands of the electorate.

The right hon. Gentleman addressed himself to the particular problem of the cooling-off period and the ballot. He would have carried more conviction with most observers if these had not been proposals which he and his Government put their name to both in the White Paper and for the Bill. I am well aware of the differences and there are differences which are genuine and there are rightful grounds for debate between the two sides of the House. [Interruption.] The proposal for the ballot was in the White Paper and was dropped. The cooling-off period was in both.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

Get it right.

The Prime Minister

I have explained the situation. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would listen for a change.

I have never understood why the right hon. Gentleman thought that to put these powers in the hands of a Minister would be more acceptable to trade unions than to have them in the hands of a court. They would have been invoked by a Minister and carried by the Government's majority in Parliament, whichever colour that Government might have been. There would have been no opportunities for the parties to a dispute publicly to state their case, to have it examined and to give the public as a whole the opportunity to hear it. It would have been a purely governmental decision, open to the accusation that it was without check outside the political sphere. We have always believed it was right to act through the courts.

The right hon. Gentleman, because he disagrees with this, has to my regret adopted the policy of trying to undermine the High Court of this country. [Hon. Members: "Rubbish."] The right hon. Gentleman in winding up on Thursday night referred to "puppet courts". Will hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer at an attempt to try to undermine the power of the High Court? I must confess I never expected to hear a former Prime Minister of this country refer to the High Court as a puppet court.

At the same time his hon. Friends have been attacking the judge in the Industrial Relations Court. Are they to suggest that, equally, those who formerly sat on the Front Bench as members of the Government and have since become judges are to be attacked on political grounds? What is to happen to the judicial system of this country if each party in turn attacks those who have left to take up high judicial office? On reflection the right hon. Gentleman will regret that he should have introduced this note into the debate on the problems facing us.

Mr. Harold Wilson

No one on this side of the House has undermined the High Court. That was done by the Court of Appeal. As to the reference to puppet courts, I said in the hearing of the right hon. Gentleman that it was the Government's law that made it a puppet court, not its actions.

The Prime Minister

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not it is a puppet court?

Mr. Harold Wilson

Yes. It was created by the present Government—[Interruption.] I repeat what I have said. It was created by the present Government to be a puppet court.

The Prime Minister

I ask the right hon. Gentleman: is it a puppet court or not?

Mr. Harold Wilson

I repeat, it is a puppet court—[Interruption.]—created by this Government to be a puppet court.

The Prime Minister

It was not created by the Government for that purpose. The right hon. Gentleman has now categorically undermined the status of the court. We have heard the right hon. Gentleman say that he will sweep it away. Lord Donovan who has been rightly praised by the right hon. Gentleman said on this matter: Surely statesmanship requires that those who may take over power in future should say 'When the time comes we will examine the working of the Bill with strict objectivity. We will retain those parts of it which have improved industrial relations, even if they have done so contrary to our expectations, but we will repeal or amend those which have done the opposite or have worked unjustly, and throughout the operation we shall bear in mind not merely the interests of one section of the community but the welfare of the country as a whole.'

Mr. Rose

What was the date?

The Prime Minister

It would be wise for the right hon. Gentleman to follow that advice instead of the sweeping proposal in his Motion.

I wish to deal with the practical question of the cooling-off period. The allegation has again been made today by the right hon. Gentleman that the dispute on the railways could have been settled if only 24 hours had been provided. Their is absolutely no justification for that allegation. It was quite clear after the meeting which was held by Mr. Feather with the members of the TUC concerned that there was no movement in the unions' position whatever. There was no negotiation. If there had been that possibility it was not in any way removed by the granting of the cooling-off period. Such proposals as Mr. Feather had to put forward, if they existed, could have been put perfectly well during the cooling-off period. But no settlement during that period was reached.

It might be that if mistakes were made during that period the arbitration of Mr. Jarratt should have been left for the cooling-off period. It is for those concerned with industrial relations to study this question. But the fact that Mr. Jarratt's arbitration was not kept back but was pushed ahead as fast as the employers and trade unions would accept shows that everything possible was done before the court was asked to grant a cooling-off period. The unions rejected the use of their own arbitration machinery. They accepted Mr. Jarratt as conciliator and arbitrator. He found it impossible, after a day's work, to conciliate and he decided to arbitrate. The unions then rejected his arbitration and only then did the Secretary of State ask for a cooling-off period.

But the gains to the community of the two cooling-off periods granted—first, for the purpose of conciliation, and, secondly, for the ballot—were immense. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] This is undeniable. It may be a matter for hilarity to right hon. and hon. Members opposite that many millions of people found themselves unable to travel during the go-slow and the work-to-rule, and that the economy was disrupted during that period. But the fact is that the cooling-off periods prevented that from happening, as any impartial observer will agree. People were saved from hardship and inconvenience, and from damage to the earnings of fellow workers, which they had already experienced in one work-to-rule, and the economy was saved from considerable disruption.

Next, I wish to speak on the question of the ballot on the arbitration award of Mr. Jarratt. Some unions have procedures for balloting, and I have no doubt whatever that they would have used them on the Jarratt award. The railway unions refused to ballot. It is surely important that such an arbitration at such an important time, with such consequences for the people and the economy if it was rejected, should be put to the members of the unions before industrial disruption on a nationwide scale was caused. The nation, if it is to be subjected to industrial disruption of this kind, has the right to see that the will of the majority of union members is being carried through

The Leader of the Opposition criticised the Industrial Relations Court. Perhaps he will recognise that the appeal court upheld the Industrial Relations Court's judgment on the ballot and very clearly stated in detail the circumstances in which the Minister's decision could be challenged. This is why I make my accusation against the right hon. Gentleman about his ignorance of these affairs in the statement which he made on the Minister's powers. But it was after the ballot—and this is the final point that I wish to make on this matter, which has not been acknowledged by the right hon. Gentleman—that, despite all the forecasts of inevitable and fatal confrontation, there was compromise. It was the first time that the unions had moved towards any compromise since they had put forward their claim for 14 per cent.

Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)

When the Solicitor-General went to the court and asked for the ballot, he had to satisfy the court, according to Section 141(1)(c) of the Act, that there are reasons for doubting whether the workers who are taking part or are expected to take part in the strike or other industrial action are or would be taking part in it in accordance with their wishes… What reasons did he have for those doubts?

The Prime Minister

It was the Secretary of State who went to the court for the ballot, and he has already explained his reasons to the House. It was right to ensure that members of the unions were properly informed of the offer which had been made in the Jarratt arbitration. The Industrial Relations Court was meticulous in ensuring that the offer made by the British Railways Board exactly equalled the Jarratt award. It were therefore right for the Secretary of State to ask for the ballot to be granted. The Industrial Relations Court granted it and the appeal court supported it.

I wish to emphasise again the point which is so unacceptable to hon. Members opposite, but which is undeniable, that it was after the ballot that the unions were, for the first time, prepared to move away from the demand to which they had adhered throughout the negotiations.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, prior to the final unfortunate deadlock, the railway unions had already cut down their claim? Their claim had been reduced considerably. Could not the question of balloting and the confrontation which took place have been avoided if the Government had not stood behind the Board and said that no extra money should be made available?

The Prime Minister

That is certainly not the case. The Board has made it absolutely clear that it went much further than it believed it justifiable to do. That is the absolute honourable and honest position of the Board, and it should be respected by right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

I wish to deal with the question, which the Leader of the Opposition skirted, of the contempt by dockers at Chobham Farm. The important issue here is what happens when the law of the land is not complied with. This situation could equally have arisen before the Industrial Relations Act, and it is surely important that that should be recognised by those considering the question of industrial relations.

Many examples could be cited. For example, in the Torquay case, if the injunction had not been complied with the consequences would have been exactly the same. But injunctions were observed and carried out by the unions in previous cases when injunctions had been made against them. [Interruption.] There is no difference between the sections of the High Court. This is another matter to which I wish to come. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite made no objection when the Restrictive Practices Court was set up to deal with the restrictive practices of employers and the question of resale price maintenance. That is a division of the High Court. Why should there be objection when a special division of the High Court is set up to deal with industrial relations with the deliberate purpose that justice should be speedier and more informal—proposals which have been put forward by many intelligent people in this country on the procedures of the High Court? There is no reason why there should be objection to the Industrial Relations Court.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Trade unionists have not always been very friendly towards the courts, but they have accepted their decisions. The difference about the Industrial Relations Court is, not only that it is a special court, but that there is no change of judges. Sir John Donaldson will make case law consistently, whereas in other parts of the High Court we are likely to find different judges and judgments made on cases as they arise. It is in this respect that trade unionists are not prepared to accept this puppet court, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, which has been specially set up by the Government.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is speaking rather more for himself than for the whole trade union movement. Obviously the situation is changing. But case law will be built up by the Industrial Relations Court, by the appeal court and no doubt by the House of Lords in hearing appeal cases, with other judges taking part. If that is the only point which is worrying the hon. Gentleman, it can be easily dealt with.

The same situation would have arisen from the proposals of the Labour Party when fines had been imposed and had not been paid by those concerned. One might say that fines could be attached to earnings. But the question of the attachment of earnings requires assessment by a court. So finally we come back in every case, in the light of this one, to the action of the courts and what is done when the law is defied, and this is the question to which the right hon. Gentleman has completely failed to address himself.

The other matter on which he dwelt was the question of the shop stewards' authority, and it was raised by another hon. Gentleman opposite, who is not today in his place, at Question time last Thursday. I agree with him at once that it is a vitally important question, but surely the more important this question is and the more important the rôle of the shop steward is then equally the more important it is to be clear precisely where authority and responsibility lie. The Act did not set out to answer this question for the unions. This is made quite clear in the court's judgment, and it is for the unions to decide this for themselves. Why should it be criticised for saying that it is one of the most important functions of the unions to settle it and to decide it?

The Government's position has been clearly endorsed by the Court of Appeal, that where a union does delegate authority to shop stewards, or encourages, endorses, supports or finances their actions, it must assume responsibility. In the long term clear identification of authority is essential for collective action, and to run away from the problem of authority and responsibility will in the longer term be disastrous. Union leaders recognise this clearly, and they know what a problem it posed for them. Registration can enable them to settle it themselves and to receive protection on it. Although the proposals of the party opposite when it was in Government required registration, the unions have done absolutely nothing to support this proposal, which is in the law of the land. Indeed, they have done exactly the reverse. There are signs that the trade unions' attitudes are changing, and I welcome that.

I want now to deal with the aspect of the Motion dealing with confrontation. The House knows that the history of the Act has been one of non-co-operation by unions. Of course they are entitled to take that position. They had no consultation with us when we were in the Opposition; there was non-co-operation when we came into power. I am glad that there are signs that that attitude is now changing. The Opposition's censure Motion speaks of confrontation by the Government. The unions were offered consultation by us both when we were in Opposition and when we came to office, and I regret they refused it.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone) rose——

The Prime Minister

I have been prepared to give way to many hon. Gentlemen a number of times. I ought to get on. This is not in dispute with the unions themselves. [Hon. Members: "It is."]

It was followed by one-day political strikes. The Bill's proposals were published and publicly discussed for four years before the election. They were given in detail in the manifesto. They had public support. There was every indication of that. They were put forward by the democratically elected Government and they were carried into law.

I know quite well that the Leader of the Opposition said that that was under the guillotine, but on that Bill there were no fewer than 56 days' and 481 hours' debate; 26 days and 235 hours were on the Floor of the House of Commons—a longer time than that spent on any Bill, other than Finance Bills, since the war. The House of Lords examined every Clause of it and made 343 Amendments to the Bill. Everybody in this House knows full well why the Bill was not completely covered here. It was, again, an example of the Opposition not being prepared to co-operate to improve legislation but having the sole intention of delaying and frustrating the Bill.

When I listened to the right hon. Gentleman I recalled these words of his on 2nd July, 1970, in the first debate here after he became Leader of the Opposition. It was the debate on the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech. He said: I…tell the right hon. Gentleman this. He will not find this a fractious Opposition, but he will find it a well-informed one He can rely on the fact"— this is particularly appropriate— that we shall not be tempted to make difficulties for him in the sometimes turbulent area of overseas finance. He might draw the attention of the shadow Chancellor to that. He went on: …Her Majesty's Opposition will not be tempted to censure and negative opposition for opposition's sake….That is not good for Parliament. It is not good for democracy Opposition, no less than Government, must follow a theme consistent, comprehensive, based on priorities, and subject to a single unifying approach, bringing together every aspect of government—foreign affairs, defence, financial, economic, social, industrial policies. We shall wait for each new development of policy, wait watchfully and keenly, but we shall not rush into condemnation for the sake of it."—[Official Report, 2nd July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 56–7.] If the right hon. Gentleman can look back with a sense of honesty and integrity to two years of Opposition and regard himself as having complied with that, then he is still living in the same world of illusion as he lived in when he was Prime Minister.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

Would the right hon. Gentleman confirm a point he made? He said that his Government's proposals had been made even when they were in Opposition, and were published four years before the election. That was before the Donovan Report. Is he in fact saying that the Government took no account at all of the Donovan Report in framing their legislation? Is it not a tragedy of the Act that the Bill was introduced dogmatically by the party opposite on its views when in Opposition and without reference to the Donovan Report?

The Prime Minister

I am afraid the hon. Member has drawn an entirely false conclusion. I put these proposals in a speech I made at Southampton in March, 1966, and they were published and discussed with many people concerned. They were published in Fair Deal at Work and they were discussed with those particularly concerned when we came into office, but—alas—not the trade unions. They were published in the Consultative Document. That is the process which they all went through.

The proper processes were complied with, but non-co-operation continued—no assessors in the courts, no help to the tribunals, unions forbidden to register, and no appearance in the courts. There cannot be a greater confrontation in a democracy than that—no decision by the Government but the free decision of the trade unions not to co-operate in any way under an Act of Parliament proposed by a democratically elected Government and carried through by both Houses of Parliament. In fact the accusation by the right hon. Gentleman, freely made inside this House and outside, that the Government asked for confrontation, is entirely spurious.

Those who urged this policy of non-co-operation and got it carried through bear a heavy responsibility for the position of those individuals who now find themselves in conflict with the law. They cannot be surprised at the situation, therefore, which arose at Chobham Farm. It was a deplorable situation which, had there been democratic compliance with the law, need never have arisen, and certainly not in the form it did. It was a dispute between transport workers—63 of them—who objected to being forced out of their jobs by other workers in the same union. I wish to put a direct question to the right hon. Gentleman or to whomsoever is to wind up the debate for the Opposition. Do they, as the Opposition, as the Labour Party, approve of that situation? If they do not, how do their propose to resolve it?

The union itself had already failed to resolve it. It has been resolved as a result of the working of the Industrial Relations Act, the Jones Aldington Committee having been set up. [Interruption.] I know that this is a problem which had been lurking there a long time, but what action had been achieved by the unions to resolve it? None at all. Absolutely none. What did the Opposition do to resolve it? Absolutely nothing. If both sides to the dispute had gone to the court the court itself could have introduced a solution to resolve it. This is where the whole policy of non-co-operation has led. I welcome the setting up of the Jones Aldington Committee just as much as the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that it will now find a long-term solution for the problems wider than the one which has been spotlighted to the public recently.

What the right hon. Gentleman entirely failed to mention is the extent to which the Act is operating in other ways. I have already mentioned the Jones Aldington Committee, but also claims for non-recognition are being considered on their merits by the Commission on Industrial Relations, and objective examination takes the place of industrial action. Individual employees in increasing numbers are taking advantage of the new opportunities to complain to industrial tribunals about unfair dismissal or infringement of their rights as trade unionists. Will the Act be repealed by the party opposite if it ever comes to power again?

Is it not satisfactory that in the first 13 weeks in which these provisions were in operation, 1,757 complaints of unfair dismissal and 148 complaints of infringement of trade union rights were received by the conciliation officers either from the tribunals or by direct application? During this period the conciliation officers dealt with 1,270 of these complaints. Is that an accusation of confrontation against the court, or is it better use of the conciliation procedures? In nearly half the cases tribunal hearings were averted; 221 voluntary settlements were achieved and 407 complaints were withdrawn. I hope right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who want to treat a serious matter seriously will now acknowledge the work of the court, the conciliators and the Act.

There is a demand for better conciliation procedures independent of Government. In the 1950s, as Minister of Labour, I recall that conciliation was condemned by the employers on the grounds that it inevitably led to a settlement which was beyond their capacity. In the 1960s, conciliation was condemned by the unions on the grounds that it never met their demands because the Government interfered, whether a Labour Government or a Conservative Government. In 1950, as Minister of Labour, I considered the separation of the conciliation machinery from the then Ministry of Labour. But the problems are considerable, as the TUC and the CBI are now realising—not least the size of the organisation and the sheer financial cost of running it.

Nevertheless, I welcome this initiative, which arose out of talks I had with the TUC and the CBI. They believe that this should be applied at national level and the Government will discuss this with them at the appropriate time. Arbitration is a different problem which could be similarly examined. But the consumer interest in arbitration must be safeguarded, and the public has the right to know the basis on which this is being done. The use of conciliation procedures in the present or in developed forms, whether voluntary or at the request of the court, will of course render unnecessary the use of the further powers which the Industrial Relations Court possesses. This we have always made absolutely plain, and I shall say this again to the TUC tomorrow.

There are nine major spheres for the use of conciliation procedures by the court laid down in the Industrial Relations Act. Surely the emphasis should be put on attempting first of all to use conciliation procedures in those nine major spheres. Only then, if all those fail or the appropriate one fails, will it be necessary to use the further power the court has under the Act.

I sum up this aspect of the matter in this way. The Amendment cites a framework of law, and I believe that there must be one. For the past century there has been one in existence. The trade unions in their time demanded it, and it has been almost untouched for 60 years. If the Motion means that the Act must be repealed and the framework of law must revert to what it was, I and the Government certainly cannot accept that. It is also against the Opposition's own attitude in Government and their own proposals which were put forward and against the Bill as modified afterwards. If the trade unions say that the Act must be swept away, that means that they must be left as they were, Parliament cannot change the framework of the law and they alone of our great institutions must be ignored in the process of change, and neither I nor the Government can accept that.

More restraints and responsibilities are being placed on employers and on companies, for example, by the requirements of the environment, and rightly so in the national interest. As the trade unions claim a position of such importance in the State, and as their impact on the nation and its economic life is so great, it is right that they too should operate in a framework of law which is modern and appropriate to our times. Perhaps we should have set this out more fully in the Amendment, and spoken of a framework of law "which would help to contain the destructive expression of industrial conflict and to encourage a more equitable, ordered and efficient system". Those words will be acceptable to the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they are taken from "In Place of Strife".

I cannot accept that the Act should be repealed, neither can the Government, nor I believe can Parliament. Public support for it is still maintained. I say to the trade unions, let them now work this Act and co-operate in its implementation.—[Hon. Members: "Why?"]—Because it is an Act of law passed by a democratically-elected Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues ever again return to power they will expect their legislation to be observed by the whole of the community in the same way. Let the unions co-operate in this law. Let them help in its operation. Let them acknowledge the advantages which it has for them which can be clearly proved, some of which I have already demonstrated to the House. After a proper period of operation, let the unions discuss where they believe it is genuinely damaging either to their own interests or to the nation. That is the way in which democracy in a developed country operates. The Government will be fully prepared in such a process to discuss these points with them.

Hon. Gentlemen say that we have not been prepared to do so in the past. This I dispute but, whatever our difference of opinion about that, I know full well that opinion in the trade unions is changing towards the Act—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—there is no point in hon. Gentlemen continuing to deceive themselves. Let the unions play their part as one of the most important groups of organisations in the country. Let them operate the Act fully, and discuss with us from experience after an appropriate period where they believe it is genuinely damaging to them and to the interests of the country.

Mr. Harold Wilson

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman said a few moments ago, will he say whether he is any relation to the Leader of the Opposition who made a direct appeal almost in terms of instruction to the TUC in 1966 asking them not to co-operate with the Government's policy on prices and incomes?

The Prime Minister

At no time have I ever suggested to the trade unions that they should not comply with the law—never at any time. I am perfectly entitled to express my view to the TUC. The right hon. Gentleman may think that he has a monopoly of addressing the TUC; that is no fault of mine. I have never at any time suggested that the unions should do other than comply with the law of the land as it stood.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that I said that?

The Prime Minister

I have never accused the right hon. Gentleman of saying that. What I said was that I have never urged the TUC not to comply with the law, and that is the position.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)

Nor have we.

The Prime Minister

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will go further and urge the unions now to co-operate with this Act of Parliament. I have never told the unions not to co-operate in the law on prices and incomes or on anything else. The Opposition accusation, therefore, has not been substantiated, and I must reject it.

I wish to deal with one other matter affecting conciliation. There are innumerable types of problem with which conciliation has to deal in the relations of trade unions with each other and with the outside world. Most can be satisfactorily dealt with given proper procedures and machinery and a modicum of good will.

Mr. Orme


The Prime Minister

I am coming to that in a moment. The major problem is wage negotiations. It is here that the alleged confrontation takes place. The impact on the economy, on the balance of payments and on the world's judgment of this country is immense. The unions have constantly emphasised, as the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) has just emphasised, that the major principle in which they believe is free col- lective bargaining. I have always been fully prepared to acknowledge that. The unions have bitterly opposed Government interference—whatever the colour of the Government. When they criticise intervention on conciliation matters, it is not limited to this Government. It goes back much further in time, and involves Governments of both parties, and Governments under many Prime Ministers.

Furthermore, they bitterly oppose control of wage increases; they oppose legislation to freeze wages or to govern them by Statute. The trade unions recognise the right of a Government to pursue their own economic policy. The right of the Government to do this in a democracy is essential, but at the same time the trade unions maintain their own right to free collective bargaining. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] If that is the attitude to be maintained, then I suggest that the unions cannot escape their share of responsibility for the impact of free collective bargaining on the economy and on their own members, either in terms of prices or unemployment. Surely if we are agreed on this matter on both sides, that is a major advance.

The unions, which claim the right to be fully consulted on so many aspects of national life, must also accept the implications. There are many trade union leaders and trade unionists who wish to do so, and of this I am quite convinced. The alternatives which otherwise face this country today are stark: they are legal intervention, which the trade unions reject; or confrontation, to which all of us object; or lastly inflation. Those are the stark alternatives—and it might be that confrontation and inflation go together.

I suggest that this is the real position with which we in this House have to deal, and the responsibility is to be borne equally by Government, unions and employers. I do not wish to go at length into the detail of these matters, but I wish to emphasise that the employers have carried out their undertaking to limit their prices to 5 per cent., and they have policed them. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] This is not disputed by the trade union leaders whom I meet on the occasions when they come to No. 10 Downing Street—so many more occasions than the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is generous enough to acknowledge.

The trade union leaders acknowledge the extent to which Government policy fits in with what they have been asking for, and in particular the policy of moving towards growth. This is a policy for which they have asked, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has carried out that policy with all the risks inherent in it, some of which we saw a fortnight ago. We have instituted annual review of pensions, again something for which the trade unions asked. Furthermore, in regional policy it is the trade unions which are complimenting the Goverenment on the policy they are following. [Hon. Members: "No."] This is absolutely true. We are being criticised in some industrial spheres for those policies, but the TUC has supported them.

The trade unions have seen the standard of living of their members increase faster in the last two years than it did under the preceding two years of Labour Government. They acknowledge these things. It is the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his hon. Friends who are in dispute with the trade unions over these matters.

I want to deal with one specific point raised by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, the help given to nationalised industries, some of whose workers he suggested were among the lower paid. In our meetings with the TUC we have always said that we would fully support them if they wished to work out priorities so that the lower-paid workers get additional benefit and so that the differentials are not carried right through to make the burden on employers untenable. But this is not agreed policy in the TUC. If it is prepared to agree on that matter, we will do everything possible to help to improve the conditions of the lower-paid worker throughout industry.

I would say to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that the total cost of supporting the nationalised industries in 1971–72 was £225 million. This money came from the taxpayer, and it excludes the write-off of the capital debt in respect of the British Steel Corporation amounting to £350 million. Nobody can say that the present Government in using money provided by the taxpayer have not employed vast sums to try to keep down prices, and at the same time to help the wages of those working in nationalised industries. I hope that when right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have had to face these problems in their time, come to make their assessment, they will be fair enough to recognise what has been done in those spheres in which the trade unions have asked for help.

We all know that these matters will be discussed tomorrow. The Labour Party has nothing to contribute to that discussion when it takes place, and the Leader of the Opposition has clearly demonstrated this.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of threshold agreements. I would remind him that before this matter was put to Neddy and was examined by the four representatives concerned, the TUC itself did not agree on the proposal for threshold agreements. Therefore, there has been no united recognition on this point, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me on this matter.

Let there be no accusation that the present Government have dragged their feet over threshold agreements. Many economists know that there are dangers in such agreements from an inflationary point of view. Some trade union leaders believe that there are dangers from the point of view of achieving their purposes. There is every reason that the subject should be thoroughly examined, but I must point out that it is not the Government who have been dragging their feet.

There is great urgency about the meeting with the TUC tomorrow, and that which I hope to have with the CBI shortly. It is right for the trade union leaders to look after their members' interests. But it is also right for us as a democratically-elected Government to ask them to take into account the long-term interests of their members as well as what may appear to be the short-term gains. I believe the great majority of trade union leaders also believe that there is something even greater than that to be considered. They know in their heart of hearts that there is a national interest at stake. They also know that it is only the Government of the day, through Parliament, which can take account of that national interest.

Therefore, I believe that if we, together with both employers and unions, can build on the recognition of the interests of this country as a whole, we still have an opportunity to protect the principle which they hold dear and which I respect, namely, free voluntary negotiation, and at the same time to maintain the economy of this country.

5.28 p.m.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)

I am not normally a man who writes references for himself or who pins medals on his own chest, and in the ordinary way I would not dream of beginning my speech by stating my credentials for intervening in the debate. I am induced to do so only by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister began his oration by demanding the ear of the House on the subject of industrial relations, on the grounds that he had very close practical connections with the working of industry based on a year or two which he spent in an industrial estate—a hive of activity, purring with machinery—No. 8 St. James's Square. There he was wearing his dungarees, bespattered with oil and covered in swarf and carrying his 20-year trade union membership card in his pocket. The great trouble is—and the right hon. Gentleman is not alone in this attitude—that he believes that a small spell in Government tells him exactly what is going on on the shop floor. He then proceeded to show in his speech that he has not a clue about what happens in practical terms on the shop floor.

The Industrial Relations Act and the institutions set up under it have proved to be, as we all know only too well and only too sadly, a remedy which is more painful than the disease it is supposed to cure. Even that is not the worst of it. The worst of it is that the disease was wrongly diagnosed in the first place. The Government's justification for throwing the tender plant of industrial relations into the crushing maw or the legal system is that prices are being forced up, and hence goods becoming uncompetitive in export markets, because, and only because, wage claims are putting up our unit labour costs, and therefore our prices, faster and higher than those of our competitors.

What are the facts? Let us compare ourselves with a country with which we are a very fair comparison in industry and exports—the Federal Republic of Germany. In the two years from the first quarter of 1970 to the first quarter of 1972, unit wage costs in Germany rose by 18 per cent. and export prices rose by 5 per cent. That is about what one would expect, because wages are between one-third and one-quarter of the final make-up price of articles. In the same two years, unit labour costs rose by 17 per cent. in the United Kingdom and export prices by 17 per cent. On the parallel of Germany, out of that 17 per cent. increase in export prices only 5 per cent. is due to higher unit labour costs. Where has the other 12 per cent. come from?

Mr. David Mitchell (Basingstoke)

Will the hon. Gentleman also state the figures of productivity in relation to the same scale as he has given on wages and costs?

Mr. Mikardo

I am always glad to give way to an hon. Gentleman who knows something about the subject. Productivity is reflected in unit labour costs, by which I mean costs per machine tool, costs per ballbearing, costs per pair of shoes, which equal wage rates diminished by productivity. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has got that. It is very elementary stuff.

All that the Government have done is make an absolute fetish out of the cause of the 5 per cent. increase in export prices and to do and say nothing about the causes of the 12 per cent. increase. What are the causes of the 12 per cent. increase? Those of us who work in industry—unlike the Prime Minister—can hazard our own guesses. Some of it is due to a lack of increase in output so that higher on-costs are not spread over higher production. Some of it is due simply to very bad management. Some of it is due to profiteering. There may be other causes. The Government never look at any of them. They say nothing about any other possible causes. They simply cause chaos by their obsession with the lesser part of the cost of the increase in prices.

I ask the Secretary of State for Employment to answer this simple question. Why do the Germans, with an 18 per cent. increase in unit labour costs in two years, remain competitive in world markets when we, with a 17 per cent. increase in unit labour costs in two years, are said to be so uncompetitive that we have to turn all industry into a turmoil as a result of it?

I am glad to see that the Secretary of State is noting my questions. Whilst he is at it, will he answer another one. Two items which have gone up faster than anything else in the last two years are land and houses. Which workers are they whose wage increases are responsible for the rise in the price of land? Is it surveyors' clerks or who? Which group of workers are responsible in their wage increases for house prices rising by one-third in one year? Is it bricklayers or plasterers or who? Or is it gazumpers and profiteers? If it is gazumpers and profiteers, what action does the Secretary of State intend to take to put them into the legislative process the way he is putting industrial relations into the legislative process?

I turn now to the question of the workings of the Act itself. I will not add anything to what has been said over and over again by people better qualified than me about the CIR and the Industrial Relations Court. I shall draw attention to one fact which is not widely appreciated. Much of the actual and potential damage which is done by the court to industrial relations is due to the work of the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers' Associations and to the fact that he is not doing his job properly.

In common with all other hon. Members, although I would always enjoy having a bash at a Minister, I do not like criticising an official. However, in this case the Act leaves me no alternative. The Chief Registrar is appointed under Section 63 of the Act, which specifies in terms that he is not an appointee of any Minister nor responsible to any Minister; he is appointed by Her Majesty at Her Majesty's pleasure.

It is obvious that the Government did it this way purposely and precisely to relieve the Minister from any accountability for the actions of the Registrar. That is why I cannot call the Minister to account. That is why some of my hon. Friends and I have put on today's Order Paper a Prayer to Her Majesty to sack the Chief Registrar. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will prevail on the Leader of the House to see that we get some time to debate that Prayer.

It may be of interest to the House to know that the last time a Prayer to Her Majesty was tabled in this form was in May, 1830. It was then tabled in respect of a Sir Jonas Barrington, a judge of the High Court of Admiralty in Ireland, who duly got it where the chicken got the chopper. I hope that the same will apply in this case.

I claim that the Registrar has failed even by the objectives of the Act, and that is something which must interest the Secretary of State. The Act and the Registrar were intended, as we have heard over and over again—we heard it today from the Prime Minister—to put some order into industrial relations. The Registrar has proved an irritant to industrial relations by putting organisations on the Register which are now disrupting existing, and sometimes long-standing, patterns of free bargaining arrangements.

The Prime Minister made a great song and dance about how much he was in favour of free bargaining.

The right hon. Gentleman cannot support something which puts a spanner in the wheel of free bargaining arrangements which have gone on successfully for decades. I repeat, the Registrar has disrupted the work of long-standing free bargaining arrangements by putting on the Register organisations which would not be in a position to disrupt but for the fact that the Registrar has legitimised them. By applying for fragmenting miniscule agency shops under Section 45(1) of the Act, these organisations are disrupting arrangements, interestingly enough often not only against the wishes of trade unions, but also of employers, and notably the Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation. They are costing the Government, through the CIR and the Industrial Court, and the trade unions, who have to defend themselves before the court, a great deal of money. In these cases the Act, because of the defective work of the Registrar, is proving arrantly counter-productive.

The second point is that the Registrar is failing to carry out his statutory duties in a proper manner. Under Section 67(1) the Registrar is supposed to satisfy himself of two things before registering an applicant organisation: first, that it is an independent organisation of workers and, secondly, that it has power, without the concurrence of any parent organisation, to alter its own rules and to control the application of its own property and funds". What is meant by an independent organisation of workers"? That is defined in Section 167—unlike the Prime Minister, I have read the Act—as meaning not under the domination or control of an employer or of a group of employers". Therefore, I maintain that in some instances the Registrar has not complied with the requirements of Section 67(1).

Section 61(1) defines an "organisation of workers" as consisting wholly or mainly of workers of one or more descriptions and is an organisation whose principal objects include the regulation of relations between workers of that description…and employers". That is clear enough.

The Code of Industrial Relations Practice which reinforces this stipulates certain standards which trade unions should meet. It includes, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, according to paragraph 13, first, that they should employ enough full-time officials to maintain adequate contact with management and with their members in every establishment where the union is recognised and with any employers' associations", and secondly, maintain effective communication, including exchange of information and views, between different levels of the union. Paragraph 14 states: Members of a trade union should be prepared to provide their union with the authority and resources needed to carry out its functions. All those requirements refer to resources and their allocation. The Code exists as a guide to industrial relations and is admissible in evidence before the Court and tribunals. But the Registrar does not yet seem to have had a copy because he is not working in accordance with it.

There is no compulsion on the Registrar to take notice of these guides, but a ha'porth of common sense dictates that he shall. Otherwise, what was the purpose of the Code?

There is no provision in the Act for an appeal to the Registrar or the Industrial Relations Court citing the Code as evidence. What then was the purpose of these paragraphs in the Code?

Organisations which applied to be placed on the provisional register, which is now closed, were not required to submit either accounts or rule books—that is laid down in Section 78(3)(b)—and the Registrar is not empowered under Section 79(1) to call for accounts or rule books. So on what evidence was he supposed to satisfy himself that organisations which applied conformed with the criteria laid down in the Act? It means that organisations could be and have been placed on the permanent register without the Registrar being able to fulfil the basic requirements laid down in the Act. Documents about organisations of this kind are not available to the public because they have not reached the Registrar and he has admitted, openly and honestly, that he cannot find out about them because he has not the manpower, resources and facilities to carry out any research. Therefore, he has to take any organisations which apply on their own say-so.

The result is what we would expect. All kinds of strange outfits calling themselves trade unions, but not fulfilling any of the criteria laid down by the Act, have got themselves on the Register. There are dozens of them. Few people realise how many there really are.

I should like to quote examples. There is one called the Association of Officers of Executive Councils and Pricing Committees of the National Health Service. That is a lovely, big, grandiloquent title. It is a lovely, big powerful organisation! We do not know where it lives because it does not pay any rent. I do not know where it can be. I have not discovered anywhere in this country where one can live without paying rent. If one wants to send a letter to the Association of Officers of Executive Councils and Pricing Committees of the National Health Service it has to be addressed care of one of the employers of its members—the Leicester and Rutland Executive Council. By what Alice-in-Wonderland stretch of the imagination can this be called an independent association of workers? But it is on the permanent Register.

A second example is the Association of Cambridge University Assistants. That really is an extraordinary body, and it is even more extraordinary that the Registrar has put it on the Register. The workers concerned obviously share my view, because recently they had the chance of balloting between this strange association and a genuine trade union—my own—and they voted by a significant majority in favour of the trade union.

I have looked up that Association's most recent accounts for 1971. Out of a total expenditure of £1,143 in 1971, the amount spent on industrial relations was £25. That represents the expenses of its Wages and Conditions of Service Committee. Of course, that is a good deal better than the previous year, 1970, when it spent only £6 on industrial relations out of a total expenditure of just under £900. So in 1971, out of all its income, that organisation spent 2.2 per cent. on industrial relations work.

Four of other items in its expenditure budget had more spent on them than industrial relations, and I will tell the Minister what they are. One is angling, one is boating, one is swimming and the fourth one is tennis. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the Registrar was right in putting on to the Register as a bona fide trade union an organisation which spent 2.2 per cent. of its income on industrial relations and very much more on angling, boating, swimming and tennis? Is the right hon. Gentleman really going to say that this organisation exists to defend the wages and working conditions of its members—or at least their working conditions and wages on land, because they seem to spend a lot of their time on the water? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that organisation ought to have been registered?

Another is called the Association of Supervisory and Executive Engineers which, far from being a trade union, is a satellite of a company called the Electrical Engineering Exhibition Company Ltd. The association and the company share the same address, and they share the same secretary. The company runs exhibitions and takes money from contractors and employers to run them, so that the Asso- ciation, which is a satellite of the company, depends for its very existence upon money supplied by companies which are the employers of its members, yet the Registrar adjudges it to be an independent trade union. Is that a view which the right hon. Gentleman shares, or is he not allowed to answer my questions because the Registrar is responsible only to Her Majesty?

What about the General Dental Practitioners' Association, which is a small splinter group of dentists who became disillusioned with the British Dental Association and broke away from it? The association is nearly insolvent. I think that its assets are about £3. It has no negotiating rights, and it has no expectation whatever of ever getting any. It cannot possibly fulfil paragraphs 12 and 13 of the Code of Practice. Why is it on the Register?

What about the National Federation of Traffic Wardens? It has 819 members, is completely in the "red", and has not supplied any accounts to the Registrar later than those for 1969—and those accounts show its assets as minus £483. This organisation could not possibly fulfil paragraphs 12 and 13 of the Code. Nor could it reasonably represent its members without a drastic increase in funds and subscriptions, and yet it is on the Registrar.

I could go on for a long time amusing the House with these esoteric and laughable organisations which the Registrar has put on the Register, but it would be unfair to other hon. Members if I were to do that. I hope, however, that I may be allowed to refer to one more organisation, the London Jewel Case and Jewel Display Makers' Union, which has managed to unite within itself a mass membership of 23 members. It pays £6 a year in rent, and £76 a year in salaries. I wonder how much powerful, strong, militant representation and skilful negotiation its members get in return for a salary bill of £76 per annum? It really is ludicrous to put such an organisation on the Register.

The Registrar has not carried out his statutory obligations and has not used a ha'porth of common sense in doing his work, and by failing to carry out his obligations and by failing to treat his work in anything like as serious a way as he should he has injected into industrial relations a good deal of friction and discontent instead of doing the job which we are told the Act was supposed to do—smoothing the path of industrial relations. That is why I hope that time will be found to debate the Prayer standing in the names of my hon. Friends and myself, to see whether the Registrar really is fit to hold his present position.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. Philip Holland (Carlton)

With no personal knowledge of the odd spots described by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) I shall not attempt to fish in his waters or to play in his tennis court. Indeed, I feel that to follow in detail the points made by the hon. Gentleman would be to take up far too much time of the House when so many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I regard the debate as one of a more general nature, rather than one in which one can indulge in specific nit-picking criticisms of different parts of the Act.

It is perhaps understandable that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who in 1969 supported the view that their survival as a Government depended upon their ability to introduce a legal framework for industrial relations and then went on to prove the truth of what they were saying—I am speaking only of those who supported that view in 1969—by failing in their intention and being thrown out of Government should now be in some paddy of frustration as they see their political opponents succeed where they failed, particularly so when industrial relations is a subject which they have always regarded as peculiarly their own.

As I understand it, the sound and fury of the attack from the Opposition on the Industrial Relations Act all add up to the allegation that the Act is not working in the way in which it was designed to work, and the hon. Member for Poplar made that one of his points. To put in more moderate terms than right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have done so far, the allegation is that the Act has failed and is failing in its main purpose.

That might be true if the Act had ever been intended to abolish all industrial disputes and to settle all wage claims—in short, to obviate the need for collective bargaining in our industrial society. But the law was never intended to be a magic wand—nor was it ever claimed from this side of the House that it would be.

Indeed, through all the years when the policy was being explained to the general public—before the General Election, during it and since then—it was repeatedly asserted that the main objective and hope of the policy was that it would exert an influence on the attitudes of those involved in industrial relations. The arguments which we repeatedly advanced in favour of the legislation were that it would, in the long term, bring a measure of order out of what had become a chaotic situation by exposing to the public gaze those who elect to behave irresponsibly and by giving those who act responsibly the support of the law in the last resort. But the law was always intended to be used only as a measure of last resort when all other measures and attempts to seek, a solution to the problem had failed.

In 1968, in "Fair Deal at Work" we said in Chapter 1: A fair, relevant and sensible framework of the law, while providing no panaceas, can exert stabilising pressures and help to raise general standards in the way men do business together. We said it as long ago as that. We added: We agree that success or failure in this field depends principally on human behaviour, not the law. So the real measure of success or failure is not victories won or lost in the courts but how far the approach to industrial relations by those engaged in it is changing for the better. I believe that to be a fair criterion against which to judge the Act's success.

The outstanding proof of the Act's short-term success in these early days of its operation lies in the 1,757 applications to the industrial tribunals by or on behalf of individual employees alleging unfair dismissals, of which more than 500 have been settled by the intervention of Department of Employment conciliation officers before even getting to the tribunals. Since alleged unjust dismissal has in the past been a frequent cause of wildcat strikes and instant stoppages, and since none has occurred in any of those 1,757 cases, I call that a big plus for the Act so far. That is only in the very short term: the Act was never expected to have much return in the short term, for it is a long-term Measure.

Although my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment used his last-resort powers in the railway dispute only after the Board's offer had reached an inflationary level, his intervention clearly kept to a minimum industrial action, and therefore dislocation of the public service, and it encouraged the parties to the dispute to reach their own final settlement.

We have always said that in the case of a secret ballot being ordered by the court the results would be made public, and it would then be left to the parties to the dispute to find the solution, in the light of the result of the ballot. That has always been the intention, and Labour hon. Members should not have been surprised that that was what happened in the dispute.

Mr. Mikardo

Does the hon. Gentleman honestly think that the ballot would have been ordered if the Government had correctly guessed what the result would be?

Mr. Holland

I honestly think it was right and proper for the ballot to be called——

Mr. Mikardo

Answer the question.

Mr. Holland

I am answering it in my own way. The hon. Gentleman cannot dictate to me how I answer questions; he can only ask them. I firmly believe that the ballot had to be called, and that it was right that it should be called, so that the general public knew exactly what the score was. That was what the ballot revealed.

What is annoying Labour Members and their party political friends in the TUC and the trade unions is their realisation that they are powerless to arrest the growing acceptance by increasing numbers of trade unionists that the Act has a good deal to offer them as individuals, and a good deal more to offer them if they are members of a registered trade union. That view is growing. Frank Chapple has made no secret of the fact that he finds advantages in registration for trade unions. He made no secret of that during the election campaign for the highest office in the ETU. He was elected, so his members thought he talked sense.

Last week I attended a trade union meeting. I am sure that Labour Members will denigrate the trade unionists I met, but I see no reason why they should deny any trade unionist the right to his own opinions, whether political or industrial. I asked the trade unionists present what in their view was the way in which the Act was working most satisfactorily. A member of an industrial union replied "The Act is turning over a big flat stone and opening up to the light of day practices of which the public were formerly only vaguely aware". That is perhaps a more descriptive way of saying that it is exposing to the public gaze those who elect to behave irresponsibly.

Last Thursday it was disclosed that the new industrial peace plan being devised by the CBI and TUC jointly will be ready in draft form within a fortnight. No one believes that that would have ever have got off the ground if there had been no Industrial Relations Act.

Mr. Feather says that the Act must go, but the party political posturings of members of the TUC and the trade unions should be recognised for what they are—party political propaganda. The public, and particularly the mass media, must understand that in these matters the trade union leaders speak only on behalf of those members who are Socialists. They all have in their trade unions members who hold a different point of view. We have been told time and again, for example that the big industrial unions will have nothing to do with legal enforceability, and that their members will not sign any collective agreements unless they have a non-enforceable clause.

Early in June, just six months after the coming into operation of that part of the Act, I took the trouble to make inquiries of two or three large companies. I discovered that of a total of 27 plant level procedural or term agreements concluded since 1st December, 1971, only three incorporated clauses saying that the agreements would be non-enforceable. I am not claiming to make from those figures any forecasts that that is happening throughout the country. All I am saying is that there are many people who do not agree entirely with what the trade union leaders say about these things, and they act differently. In case Labour Members doubt that, I must add that I checked with the companies as to the sort of unions involved and the sort of agreements reached. I specifically asked in one case whether any of the agreements that were legally enforceable were procedural, and I was told that the company had a procedural agreement with shop stewards of the AEU that was legally enforceable and signed in that knowledge by the shop stewards.

In attacking the legislation and urging non-co-operation, the TUC leaders, who are speaking as party politicians, are not speaking in the best interests of the trade union movement, and increasingly the trade union membership is beginning to realise that.

Mr. Mikardo

Then why is Ted meeting them?

Mr. Holland

The Labour Party is adept at hurling boomerangs. It did so in 1952, about the alleged impossibility of building 300,000 houses in a single year. It did so in 1959, and in subsequent General Election campaigns, about the impossibility of increasing social security benefits while reducing the general level of taxation. It is doing so tonight in prematurely attacking the Government's industrial relations policy and legislation. I am glad that the Opposition have chosen to launch this attack tonight. For what they say in this debate will make them look pretty silly when we come to the next General Election.

6.8 p.m.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

The debate has been widely hailed in the newspapers as likely to be rough. It has been suggested that some sort of gladiatorial contest would take place between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That is symptomatic of what is wrong with industrial relations and the debates on the subject in the House. They have become the politics of confrontation, of polarised confrontation, with far more heat than light generated. That aspect was perhaps particularly true of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, which contained not a single constructive suggestion. I never knew until today that the right hon. Gentleman had such a high opinion of Lord Donovan and his Report. If he had, why on earth did he not, when Prime Minister, introduce a Bill based entirely on Donovan?

The truth is that the whole climate in this country has been greatly changed in the past few years, so that it is very difficult to get to grips with the subject of industrial relations and have a debate on it without people prematurely adopting partisan attitudes.

The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) suggested that the claims made on behalf of the Act were very modest, long-term and so on. That is untrue. For a couple of years before the last election people were claiming that such a Measure would be a panacea to cure our industrial ills. Excessive Tory enthusiasm for the worst aspects of the Measure fuelled the fears of trade unionists about what its results might be. The result has been the impossible situation which has arisen in which the Act, which has many considerable merits, has become the knockabout thing of party politics.

Mr. Holland

The hon. and learned Gentleman has quite properly said that people had been going round saying that such legislation would be a panacea. People may have been doing so, but not Conservative Members of Parliament or parliamentary candidates.

Mr. Hooson

I can only think that the hon. Gentleman did not listen or read at all during that period or he would have known that excessive claims were made by Tory politicians; and that has been one of the features of successive debates about the Measure.

An Act such as this has always been linked with the question of an income and prices policy. The Leader of the Opposition today referred to that link-up, saying that the Act introduced an incomes policy in disguise. In 1969, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) put part of his Budget Statement under the heading: Incomes policy and industrial relations. He put the two together, and said: The achievement of the objectives we have set ourselves and the avoidance of further difficulties, must depend upon restraint in the growth of incomes. He also said: Moreover, no observer of the British economy can doubt that the present climate of industrial relations is a serious obstacle to the attainment of our economic objectives, and that the improvement of that climate should be a major aim of policy. He concluded that part of his Budget Statement by saying: In particular we need to facilitate the smooth working of the process of collective bargaining in industry and to help to prevent the occurrence of unnecessary and damaging disputes, of which we have seen all too much recently, and which are totally incompatible with our economic objectives. The Government have, therefore, decided to implement without delay, during the present Session, some of the more important provisions incorporated in the White Paper 'In Place of Strife'. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary will be intervening later in this debate to explain the provisions which the new legislation will embody."—[Official Report, 15th April, 1969; Vol. 781, c. 1003–6.] I have quoted the right hon. Gentleman to demonstrate that the view of the Labour Government was that an incomes policy was directly related to the industrial relations sphere.

There seems to be a wide acceptance in many parts of the House that inevitably the relationship of employer and employed is one of conflict; that under a capitalist system there cannot possibly be anything other than a state of conflict between the two. I do not accept this. Further, I do not believe that there is any virtue in continuing in this House to accept the view that one must either indulge in union bashing or in justifying virtually all existing trade union practices. There is a sphere here where all can appreciate that it is in the interests of employers and employed to come together.

I have great sympathy for the point of view put forward by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo). He referred to the increase in unit costs related to wages and to the increase in export prices and compared them with similar margins in Germany. He was quite right. In Thursday's debate I pointed out the enormous increase—more than 200 points—in the Financial Times index of shares between 1970 and 1972 and the enormous increase in the price of land. I said that it is quite impossible to get the kind of climate in which an industrial relations policy or an effective prices and incomes policy can work effectively while one selects only one element, namely, wages, for attack.

There are those who would make only the rise in wages a matter for control and restraint. If there were a general policy applying to all aspects of inflation that was accepted as being fair all round, there would be some hope of acceptance of such a policy. Many hon. Members would like to see the capitalist system replaced by a Socialist system. I am not one of them, but I should like to see a greatly modified and changed capitalist system. The central point must be grasped that today we shall not get co-operation from those who depend entirely on their wages whilst other sources of wealth remain uncontrolled, untouched and unchanged.

The Liberals do not accept that the relationship of employer and employed must be one of conflict. We believe in the possibility of partnership in industry; in our ability as a society to modify the capitalist system and to create conditions to make the kind of partnership we have in mind a practical reality. On the industrial relations front, three basic objectives must be achieved.

First, we should have a new basic standard contract for all workers stating clearly the basic employment rights of the individual. It is astonishing to find how many workers today are ignorant, despite the sophistication of our trade union system, of their basic rights as individuals in relation to their employers and in relation to their unions.

Secondly, we should introduce statutory works councils representing all employees and management in all firms over a certain size. This would at least recognise that the most crucial sphere of industrial relations today is the shop floor and the individual plant. As it is, we still persist with the old centralised system—the national bargaining, with no kind of allowance for the increased importance of the shop floor and the plant. Councils of this kind could deal at plant level with wage bargaining and day-to-day administrative problems.

Great complaint has been made in the House, and rightly, that under this Government and under the previous Government we have had so many unofficial strikes, but as I have tried to explain on many occasions, and so have others with greater knowledge of the subject, unofficial strikes do not occur simply because of a whim, or a desire to inflict some kind of damage on society. They generally have a basis of genuine complaint, and the truth is that our procedures are not such as to enable those complaints to be dealt with expeditiously and fairly.

We know that many firms have good labour relations, and have appointed specially trained officers to deal with shop stewards on a man to man basis, but we all know, too, that there are other firms which are badly managed and have very bad industrial relations, and where the abrasive influence of a small incident can lead in time to an unofficial strike to put the matter right. The compulsory introduction of works councils of the type I have suggested is long overdue.

Thirdly, I should like to see company law so changed as to give the employees of public limited liability companies the same rights as the shareholders in electing directors to the board. The hon. Member for Poplar, who has very great knowledge of the subject, referred to the situation in Germany, but he did not go further and point out that, as I am told, that highly successful industrial country, which started from much the same basis as we did, which is our greatest competitor in Europe, and which has been doing so much better than we have, has developed an industrial relations system resulting from advice given to the trade union side there by British trade unionists after the war.

Mr. Mikardo

Ernie Bevin.

Mr. Hooson

I am given the name of Ernie Bevin, but I believe that it was the TUC generally that gave advice to the German trade union side. I wish that they had given the same advice to themselves and that it had been taken in this country. Under the 1962 German labour law, there are now two boards of directors for each public company—the supervisory board, which includes representatives of capital as well as elected representatives of labour, and the managerial board, which is responsible to the supervisory board.

The hon. Member for Poplar drew a comparison. He pointed out that in Germany there was an 18 per cent. growth in unit costs and only a 5 per cent. increase in export prices. Whilst in this country there was a 17 per cent. growth in unit costs and a full 17 per cent. in- crease in export prices. One of the great distinctions between Germany and ourselves has been on the question of labour relations, and the reform of German company law has had a great deal to do with it.

Mr. Mikardo

I must not quarrel with the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) after the more than kindly references which he has made to my speech and after he has made a speech with which I agree about 85 or 90 per cent. However, when he joins me, as he promises to do—and I am grateful to him—in campaigning for a wide extension of industrial democracy in Great Britain, I hope that neither of us will be satisfied with getting just the German Mitbestimmungsrecht, which is more the form than the substance of democracy.

Mr. Hooson

I do not mind quarrelling with the hon. Member for Poplar at any time. A few years ago I should have agreed with him that the German law paid more attention to form than substance. However, my recent experience and inquiries in these matters show that that is not so. German trade unionists now place great value on the right of their representatives to be on the boards in Germany. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we should not stop at that stage. All that I am pointing out is that Germany, a country which is in competition with Great Britain, has gone a great deal further in industrial democracy than we have. At least we should look over our shoulder at what is happening in that country and see what lessons we can learn which will benefit us. But we should not restrict ourselves to German experience. We should go further.

I shall give one illustration of the direction in which we should go. There should be substantial tax concessions to public and private companies which are prepared to introduce comprehensive profit-sharing agreements with their employees. How can one expect a man earning £30 a week and living in a rented house to accept a prices and incomes policy when over the road is a man earning £30 a week and living in his own house, who also has some shares? The latter is prepared to accept an incomes policy, because the capital appreciation on his house and shares means that he has an outside source of wealth. There is this acute disparity and it creates a sense of unfairness.

Unless we create a sense of belonging in employees and of teamwork between employers and the employed, we shall have additional confrontations, increased polarisation, and a poor outlook for industrial relations.

The Labour Party's approach in "In Place of Strife" and the Tory approach in the Industrial Relations Act make no attempt to get to the basic structural defects of British industry. Basic reforms are necessary to cure the general malaise in British industry. We are still divided, as we were divided at the turn of the century, into the haves and have-nots, into those who have a vested interest in the profitability of their work and those who have not. It is the belief of the Liberals that it is useless to play, as the newspapers have suggested that Parliament would play, the game of "oranges and apples" with industrial relations. The newspapers have suggested that today is the scene of a gladiatorial contest between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister, but industrial relations will not benefit from this. We need a much more mature and adult outlook at the whole problem of industrial relations than the present partisan battle allows.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)

I do not intend to cross swords with the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). I was interested in his theme of the link between incomes policy and industrial relations policy. In a way, it is my theme, but I will approach the matter in my own way.

The first point which struck me in this debate is that, apart from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, there has been little reference to the public interest. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition seemed to give himself over totally to the union point of view on industrial relations. When he came to reel off different groups which are outside the unions, he seemed to reject them totally as of no interest to him. However, we know that the public have a tremendous interest in industrial relations. The public are the third party. They are concerned because when industrial relations are unsatisfactory it is the public who suffer from lack of services, particularly when there are crises because of wage awards.

I make no apology for looking at the economic side of industrial relations. While the Industrial Relations Act has been in operation, there has also been in operation an incomes policy, a de-escalation policy in terms of wages and prices. It has had—we cannot claim more—a fair measure of success so far. We heard last week that price increases since last December have been halved and that there has been a reduction on the whole in the level of wage settlements. Of course, there have been reverses—we on this side would be the first to acknowledge that—and of course the Industrial Relations Act has been involved in them. However, has there been such a reversal, as has been alleged by Mr. Brittan in the Financial Times? Has the de-escalation gone into reverse? The Government think not. They may well be right, but it is being said in the country that the de-escalation policy has been reversed, and it is as well that the Government should be aware of that view.

The reversal or part-reversal, if such there be, of the de-escalation policy has led to an increase in inflationary expectation. I am told that that is the dominant reason now for pessimism in this country. The British Market Research Bureau survey, which was published in the Financial Times, showed that only 17 per cent. of all adults now think that conditions will have improved in a year's time, compared with 24 per cent. in May, 28 per cent. in April and 31 per cent. in March. The June, 1972, result is only marginally better than the low recorded a year ago. The corollary to this is that 42 per cent. of the adult population think that conditions will have worsened in a year's time in terms of prices.

Whether we think that this is the result of our industrial relations policy, or of the reversal to that policy, or of some partial failure of our incomes policy, does not matter. The fact is that this inflationary expectation, this pessimism, is dominating the country and there is a fear, which again we would ignore at our peril, that the Government have lost control and that the unions are again in control. I would do less than justice to the House and to myself if I did not say that this is my view about the feelings in the country at the moment.

What do we find today? The Opposisition are proving yet again that they are prepared to become—although I hesitate to say so—the tools of the trade unions. I thought that they had learnt their lessons from "In Place of Strife". But I supose that the greatest lesson of history is that men never learn its lessons. But how can the Opposition expect us on this side of the House at least not to have glimpsed the lesson, because we must clearly stand by the public interest? How are we to do so in terms of incomes policy and industrial relations policy?

There is a great deal of talk about a voluntary agreement between the TUC and the CBI, and the Government have stated clearly that this is not simply a matter for the TUC and the CBI but that the public also have an interest. But have we any grounds for thinking that a voluntary agreement would work? Could the TUC or anyone else enforce it? Thus, we come to the inevitable alternative, which is a statutory policy. There is—again do not let us underestimate it—a very strong feeling in the country that we shall eventually have to come to a statutory policy or some form of freeze. There is certainly public demand that the Government demonstrate their will to beat inflation, just as the United States Government demonstrated their will in August last year.

I quote a description from the OECD survey published last week to give some idea of the situation in the United States last year. It says: Over the two years to last August, strong cost and price pressures have persisted in the face of sluggish demand and extensive unemployment. Both labour and management had come to expect that inflation would persist and the process of wage and price formation became dominated by such anticipation. Wage increases usually outstripped productivity gains substantially, reducing profit margins and making price increases inevitable. The three months' price/wage freeze after 15th August halted this spiral. Of course, a freeze does not work for any considerable time. We know that it did not work for long in the United States last year, but there was a fall in consumer price trends in one quarter from 3.8 to 1.7 during the freeze and then prices rose again by 3.4 after the freeze. Similarly, compensation per man hour in the last quarter of 1971, which was when the freeze was operational, was 4.2 up compared with 6.2 in the previous quarter, whereas in the first quarter of 1972, after the freeze was over, it had gone up again to 8.6.

We know a freeze does not work as such for any length of time, but we know that it can have a powerful psychological effect, that it may be a powerful demonstration of a Government's will to beat inflation, and I am afraid that we are approaching now a situation in which we must have this kind of psychological demonstration that the Government are still fully in control.

Mr. Mikardo

The hon. Gentleman is talking about the psychological effect of a temporary freeze. Is he proposing that the freeze should apply only to wages and salaries? If the answer to that is, "No", to what else should it apply?

Mr. Roberts

I hope I did not imply that I intended that the freeze should apply purely to wages and salaries. Of course it would extend to prices as well. In my quotation from the OECD survey, I gave consumer prices as well as compensation per man-hour.

Mr. Mikardo

Would the hon. Gentleman apply it to capital gains, to dividends?

Mr. Roberts

I will not go into the question of the American freeze, but we have had a freeze in this country before. The point I am making is that we have now approached a state in industrial relations and in terms of incomes policy where we may very well have to have a freeze or a statutory policy of some kind. But I would hesitate to recommend it for the simple reason that I think we should realise fully what it would mean. When one has a statutory policy, it means that there has been a failure of democracy. A freeze or a statutory policy is an act of the centralised will, and that is surely a dangerous path for us ever to begin to tread.

Of course there may be other arguments for a statutory policy, particularly since the floating of the £, and the timing will undoubtedly be very delicate. The TUC and the CBI must clearly be allowed to develop their intiative, and it may well be that the development of their initiative, with the Government's representation in that initiative of the public interest, will finally take over from the short freeze that we may be forced to have. The other major consideration is that the £ has got to find its right level and be fixed again. Then a freeze would surely be a clear indication to the country not only of our determination to beat inflation but also to maintain the value of the £. As such, it would be a demonstration to the world.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The last three speeches have averaged about 15 minutes each, for which I am grateful to the hon. Members concerned. I want to be able to call at least five more hon. Members from each side of the House and if the speeches are kept as brief as they have recently been, I shall be able to do so.

6.39 p.m.

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)

I shall do what I can to keep within your appeal, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts) criticised my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister-designate—and I am getting a little tired of such suggestions—for not referring to the public interest when discussing the trade union interest. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the trade union movement has 9 million members. If the hon. Member uses the same criterion as is used when dealing with other sectors of the statistical area he will apppreciate that if we take into account the relatives of trade unionists we are talking about 22½ million people.

The hon. Member also raised the question of the statutory freeze. When the Prime Minister was speaking—incidentally, I thought that he showed a gross failure to appreciate the problems of industrial relations—he referred to the alternatives to confrontation and inflation, namely, some form of statutory incomes restriction. The Prime Minister is falling into the trap of believing that we can solve our industrial problems on the basis of a statutory freeze. I do not think that we can.

The Prime Minister showed a glimmer of understanding when he said that the solution of our industrial problems is of paramount importance to us, as a trading nation. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) put his finger clearly on the spot. It is a question of creating the right climate. During the recent railways dispute I was talking to the guard-inspector on my train. He happened to know me. He said, "Mr. Loughlin, I should like you to see my pay slip for a 40-hour week, which I had four weeks ago. I work a full 40-hour week, and therefore you ought to assess the value of my job in economic terms on the basis of the 40-hour week." That man—a guard-inspector—was doing work that had previously been done by two individuals. He received a £1.03 mileage allowance, and his total take-home pay, after working 47 years on the railways, was £17 a week.

If we remember that last week Dick Marsh, the Chairman of the Railways Board—who is already earning £20,000 a year—received a wage increase of £50 a week, we appreciate that we can use all the sophisticated arguments in the world but we are never likely to be able to get them across to the workers on the shop floor. We cannot possibly begin to talk in terms of goods industrial relations unless we are prepared to redress the imbalance in our society and ensure the creation of a proper industrial relations climate.

The kernel of the argument is the question of the Government's social and industrial policies. It is no good talking about the number of industrial days lost; that argument has been flogged to death. The Government appear to imagine that because there has been a reduction in the number of strikes they have won a victory and that the enormous increase in the number of industrial days lost can just be shrugged off.

If we believe that industrial relation is of primary importance to a trading nation we must concern ourselves with the question of the sectors of industry in which strikes take place. If we examine the events of the last two years we find that strikes took place in the most vulnerable and vital parts of our economy—the docks, transport, the Post Office, and among the miners and the power workers—precisely the workers for whom it is essential to ensure continuity of production and employment. The biggest indictment of the Government's industrial policy is that they have failed to maintain anything like continuity of employment in the most vital sectors of our economy.

There is a very good reason why we cannot maintain good industrial relations. I was a trade union official for 15 years before I came here. Like many others in the trade union movement, I have always taken the view that continuity of employment for 52 weeks in a year is much more important even than wage increases. The question of industrial relations involves many factors apart from the social and industrial policies pursued by the Government. In the area in which I have operated I have made a contribution to the improvement of the industrial practices that are necessary to maintain good industrial relations.

One of the clear deficiencies of British industry is its failure to appreciate the significance of the immediate supervisory people—the charge hands, foremen and departmental managers. I am not saying that Governments alone can superimpose upon industry conditions under which good industrial relations are possible, but it is essential—given an attempt by both sides of industry, at shop floor level to produce good industrial relations—that the Government should see that their social and industrial policies make it possible to persuade workpeople that they are getting a fair deal.

We have reached a situation in which, because of the policies of selectivity adopted by the Government—this is an extremely important point and I hope that the Minister will acquaint his right hon. Friends in the Cabinet of this situation—a man with three children is often worse off in consequence of a wage increase, because of the loss of various reliefs to which he was formerly entitled, in the form of family income supplement, rent rebates, school meals, and so on. To such people a wage increase of £2 or £3 a week is completely invalid. Once the Housing Finance Bill is on the Statute Book a man with three children will need a wage increase of £4 a week simply in order to stand still, without allowing for the increase in the cost of living.

The Government have created that situation because of their emphasis on selectivity. It is no good arguing against workers who apply for £2 or £3 a week increase in wages if we recognise that unless some workers receive more than that sum they will lose money in terms of the reliefs that they could formerly claim.

The first essential for the creation of good industrial relations is immediately to withdraw the Housing Finance Bill, which will merely exacerbate the existing position. If that Bill comes into full operation, it will merely increase the impetus towards higher and higher wage increases, for increasing their wages will be the only way in which people will be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living, quite regardless of any rebates they may get.

The Government talk about differentials in industry. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery is no longer with us. He mentioned the German system of trade unionism. Our system has grown up over a hundred years, and of course craft differentials have crept in over that long period. I do not object to craft differentials, and nor do hon. Gentlemen opposite. Certainly no Minister does, because without them he would not be receiving his present salary. An enormous number of people—chairmen of boards of directors, shareholders, politicians, professional people—believe in differentials. The only objection that I have ever heard to them comes when a skilled engineer, for instance, wants to maintain his differential against a semiskilled engineer.

Why is it that, with one or two specific exceptions, many people in society are able to get for themselves exactly what they like in the way of salaries—so I understand is to be the case under the dividend stripping Amendment which the Government have agreed to make to the Finance Bill and which will result in enormous improvement in the marginal taxation rates for directors and others—when increases for industrial workers are made in the light of full publicity? Surely it is not only industrial workers who have had substantial wage increases in the last two years.

I react precisely as most industrial workers do in these matters, and I have always thought it totally unfair that the wages of an industrial worker should be scrutinised to the nth degree, whereas an enormous number of people—not the sharks, not the land speculators, and goodness knows that we have enough of them, not the builders who have had land banks over the years and who are now making a packet out of the people, but all sorts of people genuinely making a contribution to society—are able to have their remuneration without let or hindrance. Industrial workers are constantly subject to tribunals of one kind or another. There should be a different kind of tribunal and when managers or chairmen of boards of directors or professional people want wage increases, they should have to go to a tribunal where the chairman would be a barrister, but where there would be a miner on one side and an engineer on the other.

Why should it always be assumed that the academic and the business men are able to determine the standard of living of an industrial worker and that the industrial worker should have no influence on the standard of living of those who are not industrial workers? The one way in which to get good industrial relations is to create circumstances in which there may be a climate of fairness, in which people may believe that they are being fairly and decently treated by the Government.

The Industrial Relations Act is a shocking example of the Government not knowing where they are going. The Chobham Farm strike was a near squeak for the Government and the nation, and in another similar incident we might be in serious trouble having not just a strike in one industry, but a general strike. If that happens, there will not be the collapse of 1926, for the modern trade union leader such as Jack Jones and Scanlon will recognise what a general strike is. They will recognise it as a revolutionary situation.

There is always the danger of a repetition of the Chobham Farm incident, with trade unionists likely to be put into prison. If that happens the Government will not have merely a one-industry strike on their hands: they will have a general strike and thus they will have a revolutionary situation over which neither they nor the official trade union movement will have any control.

If any trade unionists are put into gaol, I will do precisely what those trade unionists have done, because in part I am responsible for the creation among trade unionists of the demand for the right to defend themselves. The first thing that must be done if we are to begin to rebuild the fences in industrial relations is to get rid of this vicious, nasty, union-bashing piece of legislation. Both the present Lord President of the Council and the Solicitor-General said that it would not result in people going to prison. They have been proved wrong.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) indicated dissent.

Mr. Loughlin

They did say that; the right hon. Gentleman may deny it if he likes.

Mr. Macmillan

I ought to make it clear. My right hon. Friend and my hon. and learned Friend made it perfectly plain that there was no possibility of anybody going to prison on a criminal charge as a result of the provisions of the Act. This is in contradistinction to the penal clauses of the Labour Party's provisional document. They also made it plain that if anyone were in contempt of court in a civil suit he would be exposed to such action as the court decided, as he would be in a civil suit in any other court.

Mr. Loughlin

I will not pursue the matter. The right hon. Gentleman did not attend the debates on the Industrial Relations Bill. I attended them night after night.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)

My right hon. Friend is right.

Mr. Loughlin

No. Sit down. The argument was that people could not be put into prison. I have been proved right on that. If they are put into prison there will never be any good industrial relations; the situation will be much worse. Not only will there be a general strike but there will be such chaos that this Government will be washed away—and I hope that they will be.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I have listened to more of the debates on the Industrial Relations Bill than the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), although he was there for a considerable amount of time. I should like to confirm what the Secretary of State said, because this was repeated over and over again. I have a feeling that I shall not embarrass the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) if I say that he will concur in this.

The speech of the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West seemed to be a criticism of the new measures by the Government to improve the financial position of the lower-paid workers. He seemed to be saying that there was no incentive for them to work. The whole problem of differentials is difficult, for the trade unions and the employers. I have yet to see any of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues agree that the differentials in their unions should be reduced so as to allow the lower-paid in another industry to receive a larger income.

The major speech from the Opposition today came from the Leader of the Opposition and of all his many trivial speeches this was the most trivial. I call in aid the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) who said that throughout the speech there was not a single constructive suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman adopted an absurd posture, with his left hand pounding the Dispatch Box, criticising the Government and the Act, while his right hand held above his head a brand-new plastic halo to show what a wonderful job he did as Prime Minister during the prices and incomes policy period. It was notable that his remarks were not received with overwhelming enthusiasm by some of his back benchers and although there was almost a full turn-out of the Shadow Cabinet, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) was conspicuous by her absence.

Mr. Heffer

She was sitting there.

Mr. Page

If I am wrong, I withdraw, but I do not believe that I am, because I looked pretty carefully. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was divisive, going back to his old purple passage class warfare type of speech. Worse, he has gone back even further, to the "lower than vermin" mentality.

He said that Conservative trade unionists were blacklegs, meaning that those 20 per cent. of trade unionists who already contract out of the political levy are presumably blacklegs and the 40 per cent. or so of trade unionists who voted Conservative at the last election are also blacklegs. That ought to be recorded because they are equally steadfast members of their unions. What they do not like is the association which their unions have with the Labour Party.

I intended to go through a long history of the Labour Party's activities in connection with prices and incomes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but because of Mr. Speaker's ruling I will not do so. If ever there were an opportunity for a voluntary or statutory incomes policy, it was during the years 1965–69, starting with Lord George-Brown's declaration of intent, going through the voluntary period, the statutory period, the nil norm and all the rest. Tragically for the country, this was found to be a total failure and I am glad that the Government are not succumbing to the many suggestions on this point in the Press and elsewhere, including some of my hon. Friends, who have a hankering to go through the Garden of Eden and pluck this particularly dangerous apple.

Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

Surely my hon. Friend would agree that if Parliament and not just one party supported a statutory prices and incomes policy, it would have some chance of success?

Mr. Page

That is an interesting suggestion but if both sides of Parliament totally supported such a policy—and I should find it difficult to do so—and if the TUC were to endorse such a policy, I still do not believe that it would necessarily be able to deliver the goods. That is why I abandoned the idea.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

What is the alternative?

Mr. Page

My hon. Friend asks what is the alternative, and if he will be quiet I will get more quickly to a couple of suggestions about this at the end of my speech.

In the four months in which the Industrial Relations Act has been fully operative it has scored a number of important successes and it will continue to be more and more influential as the years go by. The Act has proved that the framework of law in industrial relations can and will be accepted by large numbers of workpeople. It is an Act which has caused Mr. Jones and Lord Aldington to get a committee going on the docks industry, an Act which on two occasions stopped the rail go-slow and an Act which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) said, has enabled over 500 cases out of 1,600 brought under its powers to be settled by conciliation without the necessity of appearing before a tribunal.

The most insidious line of attack by the Leader of the Opposition and hon. Gentlemen opposite, as well as by Mr. Feather and other trade union leaders, is that the Act is bringing British justice into disrepute. I would say that the other side of the coin is the fact. It is the approach during debates, the approach to the Act and to the courts after the Bill became an Act which does more than anything else to denigrate the validity of this part of the High Court. This afternoon we had an ex-Prime Minister discussing part of the High Court and saying that it was a puppet of the Government. That was one of the lowest and most degrading occasions in the many degrading occasions in his speeches recently.

I do not believe there is any panacea or magic wand to deal with inflation. When we are dealing with a cost-push inflation we have to make the old-fashioned, well-tried negotiations between employer and employee work better. Managers are becoming more conscious of the importance of industrial relations. I hope that they will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the good Code of Industrial Relations Practice, because if it is put into operation in factories and other places of work it will go a long way towards stopping many of the causes of disputes.

There is no doubt that the much-publicised disputes and negotiations in the public sector have a bad influence on other factory negotiations which take place throughout the country. It is not acceptable to say that a nationalised industry, in its ability to pay wage increases, can be exactly correlated with ordinary businesses. Behind ordinary businesses are the shareholders and bank managers, and they can put up the shutters. Anybody who works in or has anything to do with a nationalised industry knows that the taxpayer and the Treasury are behind the negotiations in that industry. I have no firm views on this matter, but it would seem to me worth searching with the unions and employers for some way of tying wage increases in the nationalised industries alone to increases in the cost of living. I know that there are difficulties and that it fixes a position on the ladder, but it would be worth looking into this matter carefully.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) has left the Chamber before hearing my two final suggestions, which is disappointing, so I hope that he will read them in HANSARD tomorrow. I preface my remarks by saying that I welcome the discussions which are to take place at Downing Street tomorrow with the TUC, and I hope that the further discussions with the CBI will be fruitful. I read in the Press that the main object of the discussions is to consider new means of arbitration and conciliation.

It has been suggested in the newspapers that the conciliation side of the Department of Employment might have to be hived off. I see no reason why that should not be desirable or why the conciliation side should not be a separate agency. However, there never seems to me to be much joy in arbitration unless both sides agree beforehand to abide by the results of it. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. However, I ask my right hon. Friend, in his discussions on arbitration—and probably he has already taken this into consideration—to discuss with the CBI and the TUC what is known as best-offer selection by arbitrators whereby the arbitrator or tribunal is able only to accept one or other of the solutions put forward by the different sides in the dispute. They are not allowed to take a knife and split it down the middle. They may not reject. There are similarities to the wage council procedures. In this way, both sides, at the start of the arbitration, would try to bring their suggestions closer to the most reasonable, acceptable and realistic offer.

Secondly—and also this relates to the meeting which is to take place tomorrow—it is disappointing that there is not a more continuing forum for discussion between the Government, the TUC and the CBI. I wonder whether some means might be created whereby discussions could take place continually with a continuing agenda, the results being published so that the country may have the distillation of the views of the parties concerned and can read about them. By continually kicking about such problems as the problems of the lower-paid workers instead of having the occasional result of an ad hoc discussion, we might have a more fruitful result and greater co-operation and understanding of the views of the parties on the problems which beset us all.

7.16 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

The Secretary of State for Employment said the other day that he had learned a lot during the recent railway dispute. I gained the impression from the speech of the Prime Minister that not only has the Secretary of State learned a lot, but the Prime Minister and the rest of the Government, for the first time in their lives, are in the process of learning something about industrial relations.

The Prime Minister said that there had been consultations with the Trades Union Congress at the time that the Industrial Relations Bill was mooted. That is not absolutely correct. What happened was that the then Secretary of State, now the Leader of the House, said that the Government could not discuss the principles but that the TUC could have consultations on the detail. As the trade union movement had already indicated that it did not want laws of that kind to be introduced, there was no point in discussing the details of the Bill if the basic principles could not be discussed. It was on that basis only that the TUC was not prepared to enter into the phoney consultations about which the Prime Minister talked today.

It is a matter of profound regret that we have had to go through the operation of the Industrial Relations Act for a number of months before the Government can get round the table to discuss industrial relations issues with the trade union movement. The Government are learning, but it has taken them a long time to learn. They have to receive a series of bloody noses from the trade unions in confrontation before they can get some sense into their thick heads about industrial relations issues.

This afternoon the Prime Minister made a number of points which need to be answered in this debate. First, he said that the Industrial Relations Act, by the way in which it had operated in the case of the railwaymen, had been extremely beneficial to the community. I pointed out in an intervention in his speech that what had happened was that the NUR and the other two railway unions involved reduced their wage claim because they were asked to do so by the British Railways Board. They were still open for negotiation, but the Board was told clearly by the Government that there was a norm and that it must not go beyond it.

The situation was that Mr. Marsh quite clearly said to the whole world, "There is nothing more I can do about it; I have no more money available." The Government were telling Mr. Marsh and the Board that they could not go beyond a certain figure at that time. The whole work to rule could have been avoided if the Government had not taken the stand which they did. There could have been a solution and an agreement long before there was any question of a dispute.

Therefore, the Industrial Relations Act has made not one contribution to settling the railway dispute. What it did was to unite the whole of the workers in the industry including, incidentally, non-unionists. It is the most interesting that when the ballot took place non-unionists also voted in support of the national executive of the union. Although they were not members of the union they supported the national executive in the ballot.

Let us look at the situation which exists for the dockers. Like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I come from Merseyside. I, too, have large numbers of dockers in my constituency. Many of the dock workers are my personal friends and members of my party. They are members of a trade union to which I do not belong but with which, nevertheless, I have been in association over a number of years. What were those workers doing? They were carrying out normal trade union activities in relation to the blacking of certain lorries entering the port of Liverpool. They set up a joint committee with the transport section of the Transport and General Workers Union. They put forward a series of proposals and demands to the employers.

Many of the transport employers actually signed an agreement with the TGWU, but then there were people like Mr. Heaton, who was prepared to use the Industrial Relations Act to create a confrontation, undoubtedly believing that the Government were behind him in the confrontation. The situation was that those workers, as I said, were carrying out the blacking of vehicles in the normal, traditional way of trade unionists, in the same way that the Chobham Farm workers, and the dockers there, were blacking, again on the basis of fear of loss of their jobs because of containerisation.

What has happened at Chobham Farm? Agreement has been reached by the trade union with the employers that the workers who work inside Chobham Farm should be retained and that new workers taken on will be members of the docks section of the Transport and General Workers Union.

That decision could equally and easily have been arrived at without the introduction of the Industrial Relations Act, which, as I say, has not made one single contribution towards solving any industrial relations problem. On the contrary, it has hampered the development of a solution both of the railways dispute and of the dispute in the docking industry. It has not helped and it cannot help towards solving the containerisation problem.

Let us have a look at the whole question of containerisation. In Liverpool in the last 10 years we have lost something like 5,000 to 6,000 workers on the docks, and the workers, in an area where there are 51,000 unemployed, are naturally concerned as to the future of their employment. No Member of this House would feel any differently if he were in the same position as that of the dockers on Merseyside or in London or in any area where there has been extensive containerisation.

What is the Act doing? Under that Act the puppet court—I will equally use the term used by my right hon. Friend—the puppet court very quickly decides that three men are in contempt of that court for carrying out normal, traditional activities of trade unions. What actually happened? A hell of a row, a glorious confrontation in the whole of the docks industry. I remember that during the passage of the Bill I said from the Front Bench that the first docker arrested or threatened with arrest would cause a national docks strike. I did not expect it to come so quickly, but there we were, poised on the edge of a national docks strike, because of the existence of the Industrial Relations Act, but for which there would not have been that confrontation.

Then out of the blue we had the good fairy, the Official Solicitor, of whom no one had ever heard; most people in this country did not even know who the Official Solicitor was. He comes out of the blue, this man who apparently has been hiding for years; he emerges, and stops the dock strike by going to the Appeal Court. The Appeal Court also upheld the appeal. All this is in contrast to what I would call the wicked fairy, the Solicitor-General, because this situation in the industrial relations process arises precisely because of the activities of the Solicitor-General and his drafting of his Act which has not made one single contribution towards solving the problems of industrial relations.

I have only a few more minutes left to speak, and I must say it is very difficult to condense into a quarter of an hour all one wishes to say. I could have made a speech which would probably have lasted three-quarters of an hour in relation to the Industrial Relations Act.

We have been told that we on this side of the House have not made any positive suggestions. The first positive suggestion is that this Government tomorrow, when they meet the TUC, should agree with the proposal by Mr. Feather and his colleagues that, pending repeal of the Act, the Act should be put on ice. The Government could fairly quickly repeal the Act if they desired. Of course, they have said they are not prepared to repeal it. At least, however, they could make certain that it is put on ice, and they could urge the employers not to use it, but to ignore it, to ensure that we do not get that sort of confrontation which we have had in the past few weeks. That is the first sensible thing this Government could do. That is a positive contribution.

Secondly, the Government could seriously discuss with the TUC and the CBI the ideas that are being developed by them. Both the TUC and the CBI are extremely worried about the operation of the Industrial Relations Act. The Government could discuss how much financial aid should be given to the independent conciliation service which is being proposed by the TUC. That is an equally positive step.

Thirdly, if the Government are serious about better industrial relations, they should accept the Employed Persons (Safety) Bill which was introduced last year by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) and again this year by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), which has gone through its Committee stage. If the Government were to accept that Bill and put it into operation is could lead to improvement in welfare and health services in industry.

All those things can be done now and they would be a positive contribution towards the improvement of industrial relations. All this talk we have heard about putting trade unions in their place and making certain that the big unions are held back from future development can stop. If the Minister is serious about industrial relations, he will accept the proposals which I have put forward, but I feel that he and his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister have no intention whatsoever of getting to grips with a real solution to our industrial relation problem. The Government have had to retreat in the granting of money to industry, the lame duck policy has now gone out of the window and they are having to retreat on the industrial relations front as well.

The Government should tell the TUC tomorrow, "We want to solve this problem; we do not want a confrontation. We recognise already that the Act is not leading to better industrial relations and, on that basis, we are prepared to put it on ice and discuss the conciliation procedures which you have suggested."

The way is open for the Government it they are prepared to take it. The question is whether they are prepared to take this step tomorrow or whether the proceedings tomorrow will be just one further manoeuvre by the Government to try to get themselves out of the imposible situa- tion which has resulted from the stupid and vicious piece of legislation which they put on the Statute Book last year.

7.34 p.m.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)

It is always interesting to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) in an industrial relations debate, especially when he brings into his speech his practical experience of industries on Merseyside. He mentioned the railway dispute and the docks dispute, and I hope he will forgive me if I leave until later in my speech my comments on the railway dispute. As has been predicted, the debate is a continuation of last Thursday's debate and to some extent a post mortem on this year's major industrial disputes. It is also an inquiry into the political parties' attitudes to a prices and incomes policy.

During the economic debate last Thursday it was said that as a result of television, greater mobility, affluence and increasing education, the public are probably more aware than they have been at any time in our history of the current economic arguments and realities. This presents a great opportunity for the Government, the CBI and the TUC to state their economic and industrial relations cases, as they have a public willing to listen, observe and contribute as the various arguments are followed through.

During the coal dispute earlier this year the public saw a vigorous Press advertising campaign mounted by the National Union of Mineworkers, a rather half-hearted attempt to meet this challenge in words by the National Coal Board and Government intervention to end the dispute somewhat late in the day.

On the railway dispute, which at one stage looked like being the dispute without end, I do not believe the public felt that the late arbitration intervention by Mr. Jarratt could succeed, if only because the issues were of a complexity that demanded more time for an arbitrator to succeed than a heavy weekend's work.

Thus, we have a situation in which the public find it highly desirable that there should be an incomes commission to process and examine wage or salary claims so that the public know the real cost both to the industry concerned and to the nation if a claim were to be met in full. An expanded office of manpower economics could well take up this task, but I am the first to admit that without public support such a commission will get nowhere in helping in the battle against inflation. The membership of such a commission is particularly important, as was stressed by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin). It would have to have on it people with specific responsibility for certain groups in our society and also someone to represent the pensioners, who are very often forgoten in these industrial confrontations.

Let no one imagine that such a commission can necessarily make an early impact on the economic and industrial scene. Its ability to become an influence will arise from its reports and opinions as they become widely known and as they are respected as being fair and reasonable judgments of particular claims, provided that the reports are presented in a way that is easily comprehensible to the public.

I read in yesterday's newspapers that the President of the National Union of Mineworkers said that this year's wage claim would possibly be larger than last year's. Today he has gone even further and said that he will also call for changes in fringe benefits and payments for shift work. That is the sort of claim that an incomes commission could start to examine now and to hear evidence from both sides. We should then begin to have a climate of informed public opinion on a wage claim affecting a vital industry.

With the ending of the old National Board for Prices and Incomes and the beginning of the working of the Industrial Relations Court some people have felt that the latter was merely taking over the work of the former. That is obviously not so, and the Government are right to stress that the Act can play only a limited part in industrial relations, although, as we have seen in recent weeks, the Act if used in certain ways can bring us to the brink of a Grade A industrial crisis.

What we have seen during this year is much greater public appreciation of the changing pattern of work in this country. What stands out from letters I have received and conversations I have had with constituents on the question of the proposed higher salaries for the heads of nationalised industries and judges is the feeling amongst the public that what is important is not only the salary, which is of course generous, but also how rewarding and interesting is the job. People contrast that with the repetitive, boring and often dirty jobs which so many people have to do and they remember the great industrial disputes that have occurred over these people's pay during the past few months, and the consequent hardship when, in the ultimate, labour was withdrawn.

If we are to get people to do these labour-intensive jobs, we must make them as financially attractive as possible and remember that the attitude of the people doing them can be easily soured if there are appeals for restraining incomes which do not appear to them or their union leadership to be fairly based. Nor should we forget that it is not only a question of persuading union leadership to a particular point of view; it is the total membership that has to be convinced, and their attitude can easily be formed and changed by how they see other groups in society being treated.

I have mentioned the need for an incomes commission, but I also believe that we are looking in this debate at the whole nature and pattern of work and not just the pay for it. I should like to see much more research into hours of work and the reduction of hours that is likely to come in the next decade as well as into the changing pattern of demand for labour in certain industries. There is a considerable task to be fulfilled in getting across to the public the facts about how manpower requirements are likely to change in this decade. Here is a field where there should be much easier and more fruitful cooperation between Government and both sides of industry.

I welcome the fact that the Government are holding firmly to their policy of a 5 per cent. growth rate, which is now at last producing a fall in unemployment, but the central problem of agreeing on the level of pay settlements still remains. If the Government can provide social leadership, I believe that it is within our power to convince all sections of the public that the benefits of a fast-growing mixed economy can be made to benefit everyone.

Policies such as more trade union participation in industry, as to how particular industry should grow, can help towards removing the idea that a union should be in a permanent state of dispute with an employer. But at this stage the immediate need is for some form of incomes commission. Therefore, I hope that before the House rises for the Summer Recess the Government will have in being the outline of such a commission.

7.43 p.m.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

I have rarely had to listen to such a ragbag of distortion and downright misrepresentation as that to which we were treated by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister today. It is clear from all he said that he paid scant regard to the now rather numerous decisions which have been made under the Industrial Relations Act. He cleverly managed to quote from Lord Donovan—though not from Lord Donovan speaking with experience of that Act, but from words uttered by Lord Donovan prior to decisions on the Act. And when the right hon. Gentleman was pressed, he refused to say when the speech was made.

The Prime Minister criticised those of us who referred to the court as a puppet court, but the Court of Appeal itself when considering applications by the Minister said that it was no more than a rubber stamp. It is regrettable that the Prime Minister did not seem to understand the difference between telling people to do something that is unlawful and telling people not to register. In some cases there may be an argument for registration, but the fact is that registration is not mandatory and nobody has to register under the Act, and there is nothing unlawful about a trade union that does not register under the Act. It was therefore deliberately misleading to the House to suggest that the two things were the same.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—who dropped the cooling-off period, and I thought she acted rightly since I have never supported "In Place of Strife"—and said that the cooling-off period was in the Bill, when in fact it was not.

If ever there was an occasion which merited the expression "You were warned", it is the tragi-comedy that has resulted from the Industrial Relations Act. The present Government have succeeded not only in producing an unprecedented trebling of days lost in strikes, but in bringing about a national power crisis, a national miners' strike, a dislocation of our railways, and in bringing the country within a hair's breadth of a national dock strike. This is what has brought the law and the courts into disrepute.

Sir John Donaldson may have displayed a disturbing eagerness and enthusiasm in implementing the Act, but by clothing in judicial robes decisions which ought properly to be those of a competent Minister, the court was made into a rubber stamp in deciding upon the strike ballot and a cooling-off period for railwaymen. It was a denial of natural justice that the Minister could refuse to give reasons for his application, and we still do not know what those reasons were. Indeed, the result of that strike ballot showed that there was no good reason whatever if we look at The Times Law Report of 17th May this year. It was the case of the Secretary of State v. ASLEF and others in the Court of Appeal and that case shows that unless the court is willing to pronounce the Minister either a knave or a fool, it must give him what he wants. Mr. Pain for ASLEF said: If you cannot challenge even that"— he was referring to the Minister's belief— what is the good of having a court at all? Lord Justice Buckley thereupon replied: In a sense under Section 142 the court is a rubber stamp because, unless you can show that the application was unjustified, the court is bound to make the order. We do not know what evidence the Secretary of State had and I cannot see any means by which he can be compelled to disclose it. This is precisely the point which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was trying to make and which the Prime Minister ducked earlier in this debate. We all know in retrospect that the Minister was wrong because of the result of the strike ballot. The whole charade is based on the Tory mythology of irresponsible militants like Sir Sidney Green driving their passive members into industrial action like heavy locomotives pulling empty freight wagons.

Cooling-off was never on. The Government were warned, but they chose to ignore the evidence and to adopt the dogma of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General. He was told—and he knew this because he had studied the American system—that the Senate Committee on Labour and Public Welfare had reported to Congress that the experience of the cooling-off period was not a happy one since it was too frequently used as a device for bringing to a rapid crisis disputes which might have been solved by patient negotiation. He might also have seen in the April, 1969, issue of Personnel and Training Management a detailed analysis of the American Taft-Hartley legislation which warned that, the net effect may be merely to postpone rather than alleviate industrial discord. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Employment failed to take any advantage of the time available during the cooling-off period and succeeded only in increasing discord.

By the same token the strike ballot is an even greater nonsense when imposed in this way, especially where the workers were not breaking their contracts but were working to rule. The same authority states: The leaders can no longer accept adjustments which would have offered a sound basis for agreement before the vote was taken. The problem of the strike ballot is that it prevents flexibility in negotiation, and the quotation from the Senate Committee could well have been written with the railway dispute in mind. Compromise and flexibility have become more difficult and one may ask whether a union ought now to have a strike ballot on the question whether it should accept a further offer, as happened in the case of the railway men.

What happened was that the obtuse actions of the Government, in taking out their new toy rather prematurely, have not only inconvenienced the public but have brought our legal system into disrepute. This is what I am concerned about. I believe the unions kept their dignity during this period of terrible provocation, and I believe that no loyal trade unionist can remain complacent when the Tory Government bring the courts of law into politics. This is the most serious count in the indictment against the Government.

The second count concerns the law of contempt. I do not want to go into this in great detail, but the smooth assurances of the Solicitor-General, and the Duke of Plaza Toro who now leads the House from behind, have been shown up for what they are worth when they speak of imprisonment for contempt. I quote from The Times Law Report of 15th June in Churchman and Others v. Steer and Others: Three dockers who defied an interim order made by the National Industrial Relations Court on Monday restraining them from seeking to prevent lorries from entering or leaving the container depot at Chobham Farm, Leyton Road, Stratford, were committed to prison for contempt of court. Sir John Donaldson said: Once again the court was concerned with whether the rule of law was to be maintained. That decision produced chaos. We had warned that workers in industry would not accept this, that if one goes to prison someone else will take his place. An Act which purported to curb militancy had played right into the hands of militants, as Lord Robens warned, and as I and others warned when we found the Bill, as we did in the House.

Like some deus ex machina, the Official Solicitor appeared. Some people had never heard of the Official Solicitor before. A dock brief was given to the redoubtable Mr. Peter Pain, who perhaps ought to be president of the NIRC, in view of his rather sterling services: at least, he would give it some credibility. Lo and behold, Lord Denning, reported in The Times of 16th June, in the Court of Appeal saved Sir John and the Minister's chestnuts or bacon, or whatever else they may be losing, by his decision.

It transpired, according to the court, that someone had sworn at the driver of a vehicle. Lord Denning opined, in his rather unique way for which we all admire him, that he did not know that swearing was a breach of the order". Section 134 still allowed peaceful picketing and that matter must be proved with all the satisfaction which the court habitually required before depriving the subject of his liberty". Apparently the NIRC did not think that. Thank goodness Lord Denning did, because that averted a national dock strike. Lord Denning's words prevented the country from being plunged into worse chaos than the floating of the £ plunged it into last week.

The Solicitor-General is now in the dock. I remember warning him when I was sitting on the Opposition Front Bench prior to a rather important vote. I was accused by the Daily Telegraph at that time of being Jesuitical, whatever "Jesuitical" may mean in this context. I suggested that the criminal law was being brought into industrial relations. I suggested that whether committal for contempt was called "civil", "criminal" or "quasi-criminal" the result was the same, namely, prison.

All that we got from the other side at that time was a flippant attitude to the problem. The Solicitor-General, clinging to the ivory towers in the Temple, refusing to venture into the real world, as, happily, some members of the legal profession do, or have had to do during their lives, would not recognise that the only ultimate and final solution, once the law is introduced into industrial relations, must be, and can only be, the threat of imprisonment, namely, by using the law of contempt. That is the second count on the indictment.

The third count is that similarly the Solicitor-General failed to face up to the problem created by attempting to place the duty of taking action upon union officials against persons who are effectively outside their control—what we referred to freqeuntly during the debates as policing, expecting trade union officials to police their members and their shop stewards.

It was argued during the case against the Transport and General Workers' Union by Heaton's Transport of St. Helens, as reported in The Times of 9th June, that The court said to the union, 'You have founded the office of shop steward which not only has rights and duties but also responsibilities. You must stop what they are doing'. That was the case against them.

On 9th June the headline in The Times was Union must act to secure shop stewards' obedience". A little while later, I think on 19th June, the headline in The Times was Union not liable for blacking by shop stewards". The decision was stood on its head—rightly—by the Court of Appeal. One wonders what the NIRC was playing at to come to so remarkable a decision. The Master of the Rolls was again putting Sir John Donaldson and the NIRC straight when he said this: The shop stewards were not acting as representatives of the union but as representatives of their own work groups. This was something that my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and for Doncaster (Mr. Harold Walker) and myself had stressed to those who argued in favour of that at that time. We always argued that the unions could not be made responsible. We argued that that was the position and that there would be great confusion, if the Bill became law, with regard to what a union should do to look after its members.

Curiously, we debated that matter. Many other matters were not debated because of the guillotine, but we debated that matter in some detail. The fears of my right hon. Friend, of my hon. Friends and of myself turned out to be only too justified, because we pointed out that the Bill does not define what is reasonably practicable. The then Minister told us gently that It is clear that very few cases will come to it". One came to it very speedily. I ask him to tell that to Jack Jones.

The Minister attempted to laugh out of court the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Walton and myself with regard to this problem. The Minister said that we were exaggerating, that it was flights of fancy, and all the rest of it. I replied: The Minister should not say that it is nonsense when my hon. Friend the Member for Walton or I refer to expulsions or sanctions, such as suing members. He has only to turn up the evidence given by the Solicitor-General to the Donovan Commission. He was asked: 'How would you suggest the unions should go about it? Sue its members?' 'Sue its members, yes'. 'What do you say about the men themselves?' 'I would think one of the things the union would have to say was that it was intending to suspend and expel them'. Earlier I had suggested that the trade union movement will suffer fines if they fail to police the very thing they fail to accept…he is bringing into disrepute not the trade union movement…but unfortunately the law itself. I have never purported to be a prophet, but on that occasion I might claim exemption from that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn said from the Front Bench, summing the whole matter up—that the Minister was putting an obligation on people against which they are protesting and then saving, 'What is more, we will fine you if you do not police our law to which you object'. The right hon. Gentleman had the cool cheek to reply: as she has described it, it is a complete travesty of what the Bill says. The decision of the NIRC was precisely that, and it is the former Secretary of State for Employment who was guilty of the complete travesty. It is the Prime Minister who has been guilty of misrepresentation and travesty today. If some of us are indignant, it is because we were subjected to so many distortions during that time and since. That is the third count on the indictment, and the Government have been spared from their own folly only by the ruling on that specific instance of the Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning.

Meanwhile—this is another source of irritation—bogus bodies are registering on the register of trade unions, bodies which are financed by employers, and unions legitimately refusing to register are virtually being called law-breakers by the Prime Minister. They are, as a result, refused the right of an agency shop.

When this matter was taken up with the Chief Registrar, the reply was that he did not have the staff to cope with the problem, that he did not have the staff to decide whether unions were genuine unions. It is a rather damning indictment of the Act that that can be the case. We now have the mushrooming of those unions, not to speak of the fragmentation that the NIRC's decision would have resulted in had it not been overruled by the Court of Appeal.

All that the Act has done is to succeed, as we forecast, in injecting into industry a bitterness that has been unknown in the post-war period. It is a sick joke, not only in industry but in the legal pro- fession. It is no secret that talk about dock briefs and official soliciting and such other jokes is going around the Temple and everywhere else where lawyers get together.

It is a disgrace, not only to the House, but to lawyers, that we were steamrollered into passing a Bill that was almost unintelligble. I had an example only today before an industrial tribunal where the unintelligibility of the drafting of the Solicitor-General was to blame for a legal point that had to be decided.

The sooner this Statute is swept away, the sooner it is repealed as far as it introduces law into industrial relations in a punitive fashion, and the sooner its authors are swept from power, the sooner will the wheels of industry begin to turn again. We need lubricants instead of spanners in the works, conciliation, not compulsion, and arbitration rather than legal enforcement. Those are the tools we require.

The Government should be big enough to admit their dangerous actions, as yet not catastrophic, will be catastrophic unless they decide that this Act, which has already caused so much confusion and bitterness, is repealed. One of my hon. Friends suggested that it might be "put on ice", at least for the time being, so that we can get on with the real job of making industrial relations work in a harmonious way in this country.

8.1 p.m.

Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was less than fair in many of his strictures, and in particular in casting doubt on the sincerity of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and those of us on this side of the House in our desire to see an end to this bitter fighting which is doing nobody any good.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) was carried away by that bitterness. However, the speeches of both hon. Gentlemen were to be preferred considerably to the speech of their right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition who opened the debate. It is incredible that a man who has been Prime Minister of this country should throw so much cheap kerosene on an important situation that is already overheated to such a degree, and his personal attack on my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General plumbed the very depths.

I want to get right away from any such thoughts. I want to try to restore a little balance on grounds which I feel may be acceptable to anyone who is prepared to consider this difficult problem on the merits. I do so in the form of two requests.

The first is a request to hon. Members in this House and to everyone outside that, if they have in mind to criticise the law—that is perfectly fair do's; it is more than fair do's; it is the duty of all of us to do it when it is called for—they should first inform themselves about it. Surely that is a reasonable request. How could anybody think otherwise? But we have had a classic example of failing to do so today, in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition, who said that "it is not for the courts to decide where the national interest lies". I agree, but it was a wholly irrelevant and misleading observation to make.

For a cooling-off order the court has to be satisfied about two requirements. On one of them the word of the Secretary of State is final—I am speaking briefly to save time—so the control stays in this House and that decision is open to question here.

Mr. Rose

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Percival

No. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my point.

Mr. Rose

On that point.

Mr. Percival

No. I have listened to the hon. Gentleman's argument.

On the other point—it is not a question of where the national interest lies—the decision lies with the court. The court has to be satisfied on the evidence that if the threatened industrial action took place there would be a likelihood of grave injury to the national economy.

I take the view that it is wrong for such extreme compulsory powers as those included in Part VIII to be solely under the control of the executive. They should be subject to some control from outside. One sphere in which they can be controlled is that which I have just men- tioned. I do not think those powers should ever be available to an executive except where there is a likelihood of grave injury to the national economy. I think it is right that that control should be exercised by the court.

Why I did not give way to the hon. Gentleman——

Mr. Rose rose——

Mr. Percival

I am not giving way now. I did not give way to him because I can see there is room for argument about that. One can say that there ought to be more control either in this House or in the court. However, what I do not accept, or what I very much dislike, is the way these matters, which are proper for discussion, are misrepresented as this was today.

We have had other errors on matters of law today. The hon. Member for Blackley—I warn him that I shall comment on one matter he mentioned—said that the railwaymen were not breaking their contracts; they were working to rule. The hon. Gentleman is wrong. I was in the court. What had to be established was that some of them were breaking their contracts. As a matter both of law and common sense it is all so obvious. It will not do for people to say, "We are working to rule. Therefore, we can mess everybody about up hill and down dale and collect our wages". The court had to consider whether there was any breach of contract by any of the persons concerned. It decided that there was a breach of contract by some people concerned in the so-called "work to rule".

On contempt, one may say that there should be no circumstances in which anybody engaged in industrial disputes is at risk of going to prison. It is a point of view. But what is the justification for it? If anybody else disobeys an order of the court he may be fined or, if he wants to get into prison, he may find himself there. Why should we draw any distinction in this sphere? It is not for the industrial action that a person is committed to prison; it is for disobeying the court.

Although I cannot claim to have taken as much part or spent as much time in the debates on this matter as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton, I recall the debates on this point. It was pointed out that this would not be committal to prison for a criminal offence. My hon. and learned Friend said that if anybody wanted to get into prison and was sufficiently obdurate and disobeyed enough orders, he could probably get into prison. That is true of any branch of the law. It is in no way particular to this matter. I think that is right. I want the same law for everybody.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)

That is a typical lawyer's argument.

Mr. Percival

It may be a typical lawyer's argument, but it is not a bad one for all that.

There are also matters concerning the operation of the Act which call for discussion. At the moment the situation is wholly artificial because nobody is making use of the registration provisions. It is a free country. People do not have to make use of those provisions. The hon. Member for Blackley was right that it is not a breach of the law not to make use of them. I do not think that anybody has said that it is a breach of the law. However, the present confrontation—and let nobody be in any doubt about who is confronting whom; the Trades Union Congress is deliberately confronting the Government, as it is entitled to do, by advising its members not to register—produces an artificial situation. Nobody can say whether that part of the Act which depends on registration will work because people are refusing to use it and see whether it has the advantages claimed. There is a lot of room for discussion here. I should like trade union leaders to be willing to talk to others—even to lawyers—about this matter. We might even be able to put their minds at rest about some of their fears concerning the Act. At all events, I agree that it is one area about which there should be more discussion.

The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), who took such an active part in the debates, in an intervention during the speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said it was wrong to have a special court and that if these matters came before the ordinary courts of the land and they made orders trade unionists would recognise and obey them.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I have always thought that not only should the law be the same for everybody but that it should be administered to everybody, and at the request of those who want it, in the same courts. What a pity the hon. Gentleman did not say that a long time ago. A special court was set up because it was hoped that having a special court with special procedures and with assessors appointed from a panel, without the frills of an ordinary court, would be more acceptable to the unions.

We all know that there is no question of changing any of these things now, but we ought to be discussing them with a view to getting straight in our own minds what changes we might perhaps make in due course. I think there is also room for discussion about picketing. Here again I have always thought that we should have the same law for everybody. If a person is committing a breach of the peace he should be liable to the process of law like everybody else, whether or not it is in pursuance of an industrial dispute. The same should apply to anybody committing a tortious act. But if people are doing neither they should be free to do what it is they wish to do; and it would remove a source of confusion and contention if we were to do away with special concepts like picketing.

There is also room to discuss those things that are going well. Contrary to what some hon. Gentlemen opposite have said, I adhere to the view that the processes which were adopted through the NIRC in the railways dispute saved a lot of people from a great deal of inconvenience. And it is not just inconvenience. We all have constituents who, when there is a strike like that, may well be bankrupted. They may have small businesses working in such a way that they cannot stand that kind of disruption. If someone were to say that we should try to find ways of getting such benefits without the compulsion of orders, I would have agreed with him, but let us not overlook the fact that in that instance there was far less disruption than there was in the previous major dispute.

Those who say—and I think that they include the hon. Member for Blackley—that no benefits have resulted from the Act——

Mr. Rose

I did not say that.

Mr. Percival

I am sorry if I misunderstood what the hon. Gentleman said. I hope that it will be realised that there are many people who, if asked, would say that they are pleased with the provisions about negotiating rights because they now have rights to negotiate which they might not have had before. There are many people who are pleased about the unfair dismissal provisions. For a long time unfair dismissal was one of the most frequent causes of unofficial strikes. I think it is right to say that concurrently with the introduction of this remedy and the widespread use that is being made of it, unfair dismissal has become less frequent as a cause of unofficial action.

All these things merit discussion, and I for one wish to goodness that this terrible barrier of bitterness that has been set up could be broken down so that all concerned, including the lawyers, could get together to discuss and thrash out any changes that need to be made.

Because the debate has been dealing mainly with the law, I have so far referred to a number of points of law, and I want now to conclude with a second request. I do ask everyone to recognise that all these provisions of law are there as a last resort and only as a last resort. That is true of the whole of our legal system. Right throughout our affairs there are provisions of law which affect them. There are courts to deal with disputes and differences, but how often do people come before those courts? They do so only as a last resort, and the same applies here.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was good enough to refer to a Committee of the Inns of Court Conservative and Unionist Society whose report he said was the foundation of the ideas which later led to this Act. I had the honour of forming that committee, and I served upon it. We gave evidence to the Donovan Commission and it is correct that many of the ideas in its report were adopted and developed by the Government.

Under the heading: How far can the law help? the first paragraph of the report said: We recognise that the legal framework, within which management and employees, trade unions and employers' associations must work, is only part of the problem. In the ultimate analysis, the spirit and good intentions, the vision and the effort, the failings and inadequacies, the stupidities and fears both of management and of employees and of their representative institutions are infinitely more important than the legal framework within which they work, whatever it may be. The final paragraph was to the same effect, recognising that industrial relations are human relations, and that reaching a solution by agreement, which must be the aim of everybody at every stage, is the all-important consideration, but tacking on to that the belief that one ought to have a sensible and up-to-date framework of law so that if agreement proves impossible there is some way of seeking to resolve disputes otherwise than by bare force.

That is how we lawyers always approach this problem—not with any desire to take it over or to invade the field, but simply from the point of view of how far the law can help to do what we all want to do. How wonderful it would be if there were a period during which people stopped knocking the lawyers and had a look at their own acts. I wonder whether those who talk about the law being an ass everask themselves what we lawyers think about them. I wonder whether they ever appreciate that we might think it a bit daft that people seem no longer to realise that before a cake can be divided it has first to be baked. Do they not sometimes think how much more sensible it would be if management and men got down together to bake more and bigger cakes before deciding how to divide them; and how much better it would be if, instead of boasting about giving the Government bloody noses, they got down to avoiding the need for conflict?

What a prize there is ready for the taking by men and management—for the country—and what a triumph for hon. Gentlemen opposite, who undoubtedly wield such influence in these circles—if we were all to do the obvious thing for a while—work together for the common good of our country and all of us in it.

8.20 p.m.

Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)

I trust that the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) will forgive me if I do not follow the legal argument he put forward. The same can be said to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), who also talked from the point of view of a lawyer. The difference is that at least my hon. Friend attempts to make himself conversant with the practicalities of industrial relations. I hope that many of the lawyers in the House will from this day forward also attempt to make themselves familiar with the situation in industry.

The Prime Minister said that the trade unions now recognised that they were moving towards acceptance of the Industrial Relations Act. He and I must be living in two different countries, or two different worlds, metaphorically speaking, because my understanding of the situation is entirely different. Only last Saturday I attended a meeting of shop stewards, branch secretaries and branch chairmen of the union concerned with the steel industry. Bearing in mind the statement by the British Steel Corporation that 7,500 jobs are to fall by the wayside in Scotland within the next two to three years, we can understand the feelings of those present. There was a strong expression of opinion that industrial action should be taken as a fight against the redundancies. To their great credit, the shop stewards present completely negated that point of view and were prepared to take the matter through the proper procedure, the proper negotiations. That proves conclusively what many of us on this side have said for many years, that too much is said about the alleged badness in the trade union movement and not enough about its good points.

There was talk this afternoon about the cooling-off period as it applied to the rail dispute. In view of the parroting of Conservative Members, it is worth repeating what George Meany, the President of the AFL-CIO, said about cooling-off periods on a recent visit to this country: We never had one that led to agreement during the period. The use of strike ballots was abandoned in the United States after a period of 10 years. Mr. Meany commented: The results were so bad for the Government that they took the ballots out of the Taft-Hartley laws. The theory was that labour leaders wanted to have strikes but their members didn't. That has been the Government's opinion.

Those of us who have been associated with the trade union movement for many years realised at the outset that as soon as a Measure like the present Act went on the Statute Book we would obviously be heading for difficulties. My own industry is the construction industry, in which men work in deplorable conditions. In some cases they are working as high as 700 or 800 feet. They work in winter conditions that none of us would work in. There are shop stewards in the industry looking after the interests of their members. Anyone who thinks that trade union officials, from general secretaries downwards, will tell those lads what to do must be living in Cloud-Cuckoo Land. Those lads are doing a valuable service not only for the construction industry but also for good industrial relations. The number of disputes resolved at plant and site level day in and day out is immeasurable, but unfortunately that is the sort of thing we do not read about, though a national stoppage becomes headlines in the Press and television news.

Last week I travelled up from London overnight to attend the presentation of a safety award to one of the companies in my constituency. That is the kind of thing we all talk about, and there was quite a show at the factory, but the amount of publicity given to the event was virtually nil. But the same factory had been on strike for six weeks, finishing only two weeks earlier, and the Press and national television publicity had been astronomical. I am proud and happy to say that after the strike had gone on for four weeks both sides, the trade unions and the employers, asked me to act as mediator. As the end of a week I got both sides round the table and the men back to work. Since then, I am told production has not lagged one iota.

The point is that we do not put enough stress on communications. Where there are good communications from boardroom level right down to plant or shop floor level, there are very few disputes. Pat Lowry, Director of Industrial Relations for British Leyland—no one can tell me that he votes for Labour at a General Election—wrote in the Scotland magazine only last month: In recent years managements have tended to the view that the task of communicating with the shop floor belongs exclusively to unions and shop stewards. That, in my view is nonsense. Unions have the right to convey their views and their reports on the progress of negotiation to their members but it is the right of management to transmit its views. its policies and its attitudes to its employees. If managers did this more often they might be surprised at the results. What I have found in industry, in which I have had tremendous experience, is that the lines of communication go from boardroom to shop floor level, but in some cases those in mid-management are left out entirely. They resent not being brought into the discussion and at the end of the day becoming the buffer between the boardroom and the shop floor. The salutary lesson is that they should be brought in at the outset. They should be present at all the negotiations. If we operated in that way, there is a distinct possibility that many present disputes could be avoided.

In the areas for which they are responsible, managers should be made as accountable for their industrial relations as for other aspects of the business. It is not the job of personnel and industrial relations men. They are there to counsel, guide, and assist line managers, and to relieve them of the on-going burden of negotiations.

One might ask what the unions are now doing about training. The Trade Union Council itself has accelerated the training of its officials, and because of the many amalgamations that have taken place and are taking place throughout the whole trade union world many causes of disputes in the past do not now arise. In such a situation, and with that sort of mood, I counsel the Government to put the present Industrial Relations Act on ice. The trade unions and managements should be given a period in which to start afresh and really get down to business.

Tomorrow, when the Prime Minister meets the TUC General Council representatives at 10, Downing Street, I am sure that they will leave him in no doubt about many of the things of which they told him from 1970 onwards and which he now chooses to accept as Government legislation. One of these is regional policies. It ill becomes the Prime Minister to say that the trade unions are pleased with the Government's regional policies. It is only because of the efforts of the trade unions and the Opposition that the Government changed course, and they must therefore concede that they at the outset were the perpetrators of many of the disputes in British industry.

Conciliation is of vital importance. I have already referred to the meeting with the TUC, but in a week or so the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Employment will be meeting the CBI. The TUC and the CBI can strike a decisive blow for good industrial relations. Once the courts enter into industrial negotiations or relations we are heading for disaster because ultimately, whether we like it or not, it means that union members go to gaol for contempt of court. If we have that prospect at the end of the road, we shall find ourselves in serious difficulties.

I therefore ask the Government to put the Act in an icebox. Let them put it right out of the way. We on this side are very much concerned with good industrial relations, and subscribe to the view that industrial relations are human relations. We want peace in industry. We want the best possible deal for our members. We want to ensure that our members are not left by the wayside in any Government policies. But we do not believe that such an Act as this is the right way to solve the industrial relations problem.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

The hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton) spoke with a manifest sincerity and a considerable good sense on the subject of our debate. I am sure that the House will agree that in doing so he added further scorn and shame to the appalling speech of his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, whose groping round for Press cuttings marked a nadir of his career.

I do not want to follow that line. I do not even want to follow our legal friends in a detailed analysis of the Industrial Relations Act. I simply pick up the last point made by the hon. Member for Bothwell and say that I cannot agree with him in his belief that the Act should be put on ice. I recognise the philosophy that lay behind his remarks, but it seems to me quite evident that the Act is at the very least as yet unproven, and that if we study it closely we shall find clear and manifest benefits flowing from it. It must be looked at as a whole and if at the moment there are some awkward things in it, I have no doubt that they can be put right as time goes on. Some parts may need amending, but the great bulk of the Act is sound.

Nor is it right to say that we are for the first time bringing the courts into industrial relations. We know that there is a long history of law governing the framework of industrial relations, and what the Act does is to revise, amend and update the law, but not to produce something completely new in that respect.

I do not wish to talk about the Act in particular because it is important to show that it is only one ingredient in the broad picture of industrial relations, and I am sure that we need other approaches and other initiatives in tackling the problem of industrial relations cum inflation. We all know that the two are very closely interlinked, and that the country's major economic problem cannot be properly examined by looking only at one ingredient.

What is happening at the moment? Essentially, what is happening is that many people are asking for more. It seemed to me that The Times on 16th June, in a leader on inflation, summed up our predicament very well. It said: People talk very freely about the cost of inflation, about the way in which they have to pay more for their meat or bread or houses. People do not talk so freely about the way in which they personally benefit from inflation, though inflation would not continue if very powerful groups in our society did not benefit from it. That takes us to what in some ways is the heart of the problem. Many groups of people are demanding more out of the economy. In particular, in the context of this debate, it is reasonable to point out that the unions and those they represent are demanding a bigger share of the cake or bigger earnings—bigger real wealth—than they have had in the past. It is true, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor the Exchequer said on Thursday, that over the past year real earnings have increased by 5 per cent. more than the cost of living. In other words, there is clearly accruing to the unions some real benefit from these wage increases.

However, the fact remains that if the unions and other groups go on pressing this policy we are bound to run into ever-increasingly serious trouble. It is also true—this is something which we must never forget—that those who depend on the fruits of industry, such as the disabled, have a right to ask for more. They are increasingly asking for more, but they suffer from being, in comparison with other groups in society, the weaker group. A social or economic policy which does not face up to this problem, and allows the more powerful groups to push ahead without any consideration for the less powerful, will not solve our problems.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) talked about the division between the haves and the have-nots in terms of bosses or management on one side and men on the other. That is a completely outmoded picture. The have-nots in society today are the dependants. They are not the people on either side of the men and management conflict.

Mr. Loughlin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Raison

I think not, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, because of time.

Given that there are these various groups in society all pressing for more, there is clearly only one answer which can satisfy their needs, and that is greater growth. I have no doubt that our policies must continue to go all out for greater growth. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been right to adhere to his 5 per cent. target. It would be tragic if we should be forced off that sort of policy. On the other hand, we have to recognise that if inflation continues to gallop ahead in an ever-increasingly uncontrolled way, which I fear may be the position in future, although there has been an improvement in the last few months, it will check the growth which we need to sustain our society.

One of the things we have to do to make sure that growth can continue is to concentrate ever harder on the broader picture of industrial relations. In particular, we need to build up understanding or rapport between the Government and the unions. For that reason I am so pleased that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is meeting the unions tomorrow. I am sure that what will be initiated tomorrow will lead to a series of helpful discussions. There is in the trade union movement a great deal of good will which sometimes is underestimated, but which was manifest in the speech of the hon. Member for Bothwell.

I turn now to some of the topics which I hope will crop up in the discussions to take place between my right hon. Friend and the unions. There can be no question of putting the Industrial Relations Act on ice. That is an unrealistic and foolish proposition. However, there are points on which constructive discussion can take place and can be of real value. Here, however, one must issue a caveat. We must remember that the trade union leadership nowadays cannot always deliver all the goods we would like it to deliver. One respect in which the Donovan Report showed a great deal of wisdom was in its view that power lies today to a very great extent on the shop floor. Whatever we may think about shop stewards, their power is a fact of life and a great many crucial negotiations which will shape industrial relations for the future will be day-by-day shop floor negotiations between managements and workers' representatives. There is no point in deluding ourselves that the trade union leadership has the power simply to wave a magic wand so that everything it says will be automatically followed by its supporters.

One must add that management now must more and more recognise that the place where good industrial relations start and end is the shop floor, rather than at the somewhat grandiose sessions of the CBI and the TUC and so on. Nevertheless, there are major topics which should be talked about at the forthcoming meetings, and I hope that they will be dealt with. I hope in particular that they will be dealt with in an attitude of mind which accepts that our economy will not solve these problems unless it manages to be both fair and dynamic at the same time. There can, of course, be a conflict between these two objectives, and somehow or other it is the business of our leaders to try to make sure that neither submerges the other.

A topic which I hope will feature prominently is that of low wages. My right hon. Friend had some interesting things to say about this today. He pointed out that it was not on the Government side that there was reluctance to talk about it, but that the difficulty has been to get some sort of agreement from the unions as to what they want. I do not deride the unions for this because it is a difficult problem. One has only to read the report of the Prices and Incomes Board on the subject a year or two back to see how great and complex the difficulties are. It was a very good and interesting report. This is a subject with which we must press ahead, with the simple objective of trying to find ways of allowing the wages of the very lowest paid to rise so that they get up, at the very least, to a decent level.

The first reason for this is that people who are badly paid should have every reason to hope that they will become well paid. We should, secondly, get people away from selective benefits, means testing and so on. The Prices and Incomes Board pointed out quite reasonably that anyone in a full-time job should derive enough money to pay for the essentials of life without having to call on selective benefits. The Government have been right to introduce their measures such as the Family Income Supplement, but it is right to regard these as a temporary expedient. They were introduced to tackle a short-term problem. In the long term, I hope that we can see all full-time employees in a position in which they can essentially pay for themselves, with help concentrated perhaps on family allowances, on those who have several children to look after.

Above all, I think it necessary to get into a situation where there is real incentive to work. There is a lot of evidence that, for people on the lower end of the earnings scale, the advantages of being in full-time employment as opposed to being unemployed are pretty inconsiderable. We have heard about the "poverty surtax". I think that there is something in the argument that it is right that we should aim at raising wages at the lower end of the scale. This means facing the problem of differentials and this presumably is what the discussions will be about. It will require a good deal of good will to make headway, but it must be done.

The second topic which I hope will be discussed is that of unemployment. The last two monthly figures have shown a welcome and almost spectacular drop in the figures, but they are still far too high and we cannot be sure that this rate of fall will continue for very long. Some of my hon. Friends and I recently produced a pamphlet called "Prospect for employment", which looks at the whole problem. We have tried to argue the long-term objectives and problems. One of our suggestions is that the amount of time to be spent in manufacturing employment of the traditional sort is likely by any standard to be substantially less in the future than in the past. Even if the economy is going full tilt, there will not be the number of jobs in productive industry—perhaps even also in the service industries—that there has been in the past. It is right that we should face this possibility. It is difficult, because employment projections are peculiarly difficult to arrive at. I believe that there is a long-term trend here, and that it is time we talked a little harder about what to do.

The first thing that we talked about was the need to examine more carefully the employment possibilities in the social services, because that seems to be one area in which real growth is taking place and in which it is capable of taking place to a greater extent in the future. I hope that the Government and those who are concerned with this matter will consider that area carefully, in order to make sure that we have the right analysis in terms of the employment that will be required, and to direct appropriate public resources to finding and financing the jobs, and making sure that people are available for them.

I would much rather spend more public money in bringing the social services up to strength than in Measures such as the Industry Bill. It seems to me to meet a clearly expressed and evident need, and that sort of approach has much to be said for it, rather than offering vague and hypothetical subsidies which might easily fail to produce the job results that are intended.

It follows from what I have said that I think that the way to tackle the employment problem also entails not subsidising jobs simply to keep them in being. It would be disastrous if we were to regard productive industry as a branch of the social services. There are areas in which we can hope to have great increases in employment in the future, but to give help to areas that depend on North Sea oil and North Sea gas to keep them in being, and to the shipyards, which manifestly will not operate efficiently in the future, does no long-term good to our economy.

Lastly, we must begin seriously to consider the question of the length of the working life, the possibility of voluntary early retirement, the length of the working week and working year, and so on. In other words, it is important to begin to argue rather more effectively about the long-term employment situation, and it is basically right to regard meaningful discussions about these matters as part of the necessary pattern for achieving a better atmosphere in industrial relations.

We must also consider very carefully—and we must involve the unions in this—the problems of our dependants, particularly the old people who, time and again, are left behind in inflationary pressures. Trade union leaders, like other sections of the community, are always ready to nod in this direction, and to say that we must do this, but even the most ardent supporter of the trade union movement would not claim that it has so far managed to be very constructive in this matter. This is an area in which talks and negotiations should develop much more.

We must also develop a more profound understanding of the nature of life at work. The hon. Member for Bothwell gave us a glimpse into this. There is no doubt that industrial and office life have about them features of stress, strain and boredom. If we have a national duty, it is to recognise this situation and to try to find ways of remedying it. We have a duty to recognise that more and more educated and able people are coming into the work force, and they will not be prepared indefinitely to go on doing boring jobs that might have satisfied people in the past. We need to raise our standards in this respect, and the incorporation of this question in future discussions is highly desirable.

We must also consider the pattern of conciliation that is necessary in the future. Undoubtedly a new situation is arising. Mr. Aubrey Jones, in an article in the Observer yesterday, hit the nail on the head when he asked: Is there some method of marrying the newer interest of government with the older concept of conciliation? How do we work into wage negotiations in the future some idea of national intrest as well as simply trying to strike a balance between the demands of employers and employees? That is something that we need to think about very hard.

I do not believe that all these problems will be solved overnight, or even to show what is in fact the case—that the Conservative Party is deeply concerned to see the development of an improvement in the climate of industrial relations. I do not think that it is a particularly good climate at the moment and it is vital that it should be improved, but I am sure that the approach of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the actions that he is taking and is to take, and those of his colleagues, are calculated to bring about a system in which we shall have industrial relations that are friendly and that will provide a chance for everybody to derive satisfaction from his work without falling back into that slackness which was so often the weakness in the past. The Government are pointing their noses in the right direction, and for that reason I support them in this policy.

8.51 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Brown (Shoreditch and Finsbury)

As, regrettably, only a short time is left for me in the debate, I do not intend to comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) in great detail. Having sat through the debate, I am saddened by the Government's attitude. The paucity of their case has been clearly demonstrated. They have made a transparently synthetic attempt to justify that attitude, and at times they have come close to showing despair.

The Government seem to be insensitive to the fact that both sides of industry deplore the Industrial Relations Act. Those who have good industrial relations intend to ignore it completely, and only those who are the bad employers and the bad employees will be able to use it. We have already seen several examples to show that that will be the pattern in industry so long as the Act remains on the Statute Book.

The Government must realise that in industry there is need for mutual trust not only between management and worker, but between industry and Government. It is in this area that the Government have forfeited any right to any sort of trust which they may have had. Throughout the period 1965 to 1970, hon. Gentlemen opposite spent their time in opposition doing everything they could to destroy any form of trust between the Labour Government and industry, and they are now reaping the benefit of having sown those seeds of destruction.

The House will recall that during those years the Labour Government attempted to create a climate in industry of productivity, prices, and incomes in which everyone in industry would be aware that there was a third important partner in negotiations, and that partner was the national interest. We said that the community should be taken in account, and that was the purpose of the Declaration of Intent and everything that went with it.

But while we were saying that the national interest must be taken into account, the right hon. Gentleman who is now Lord President of the Council was saying One of the hallmarks of freedom is surely the right of people to determine their own earnings without State intervention or direction…."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May, 1968: Vol. 765, c. 318.] He was arguing that there should be no dictation by the Government, that all wage settlements were to be a matter of negotiation between trade unions and employers alone. That was the tenor of the argument of hon. Members opposite in those days. For them now to argue that the trade union movement should be sensitive to the wider needs of the national interest is absurd.

The Amendment talks about a framework, within the law…". If it needs a framework, within the law in terms of negotiations and industrial relations, why not for safety? I could support the Amendment if two words were changed—"industrial safety" in the second line instead of "industrial relations" and "industrial accidents" at the end of the last line in place of "industrial disputes". That would read perfectly.

The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland), whom I describe as a wicked man, deliberately and wilfully talked out a Bill when the House had decided that it wanted it, when the Committee had decided it wanted it, when it had passed all of its stages. He wickedly turned up at 4 o'clock on only one Friday—I have not seen him since and I doubt whether I will see him again—and talked out the Bill.

The House had said that it wanted the Bill to reduce accidents in industry and to save the lives of people. He is the man who did this, and it is disgraceful even to listen to him putting his views on industrial relations. Industry does not think very much of him, on either side, for having talked out a Bill which meant so much.

People will respond only if they can see that there is fair play and justice, that they are having their share of the cake, that their ideas and thoughts are being considered too. Management must understand that there needs to be a far greater attempt to understand the needs and aspirations of workers. We must have ways of sharing responsibilities. There is no point in trying to superimpose a legal framework of this nature upon industry if there is no understanding within industry about the relationship which there should be between management and workers. Any such idea will be abortive until industry can ensure that its workers have a real stake in the industry, that they are part of an enterprise and can be seen as such.

This needs a great deal of re-thinking by industry and Government. The Government put forward an illusive argument that if only they can introduce this industrial law in some way harmony and good relations will arise there from. I would turn it the other way and say that unless the Government are prepared to make it abundantly clear that the interests of the workers are as important as the interests of any other part of industry there will not be this harmony with both sides working together, pulling in the same direction on the same rope. Unless this can be achieved the country will suffer badly, and I urge the Government not to place their reliance upon the Act but instead to understand the needs of industry so that our community can survive.

8.58 p.m.

Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)

I begin by saying how much I agree with the remark of my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) who referred to the speech of the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts). My hon. Friend was objecting to one of the most irritating bits of nonsense that kept cropping up, not only from the hon. Member but from other speakers opposite, whereby they tried to perpetuate the hoary myth that somehow or other there is a conflict in these discussions between the point of view of trade unionists and the point of view of the general public.

Associated with that is the complementary myth that because we on this side support a trade union point of view we are in some way speaking against the public interest. I speak as a trade unionist, and I am proud to do so. The Motion we have moved today is as much in line with the general public interest as any Motion ever moved by any part in this House. The interests of the whole public—workers, management, professional classes, and consumers—are damaged when the state of industrial relations becomes as bad as it has become under the present Government in the last two years. The losses to national production when the rate of time lost in industrial disputes is four times as much as it was under the Labour Government are felt by the whole public. When the law is brought into disrepute by forcing through a gagged Parliament a bad law of this kind, the whole public interest suffers. When the nation is put in danger as it has been by the experience of the working of the Act in the last four months, the whole public interest suffers

So we want to be judged in this debate—and we want the country to judge between the arguments of both sides—not according to the partial interests of any part of the community but in terms of the interests of the whole public.

I wish to begin by discussing the experience of the last four months, with particular reference to the two major questions of the rail situation and the docks situation, both of which have been referred to several times in the debate. There could not have been two better set pieces of the folly of the Industrial Relations Act. They are different set pieces: the rail dispute illustrating the folly of the Government's involvement through their emergency powers in the Act, the docks dispute illustrating the folly of the action which could be taken under the Act by people other than the Government, representing between them the total folly of the legislation.

I want to put three propositions on the rail dispute. I should have thought that the first was quite unexceptionable if it had not been for the remarks of the Prime Minister. I should have thought that no one would need to argue that the use of the Government's powers under Sections 138 and 141 of the Industrial Relations Act had done nothing to help to solve the rail dispute. I should have thought that that was obvious. But apparently it is not obvious to the Prime Minister. In what I thought was one of the weakest arguments of a particularly weakly argued speech, he suggested that there were gains for the community in the fact that the Government used the procedures of those two Sections and therefore that the industrial action was not taking place in most of the period between early April and early June, between the Jarratt award and the final settlement.

If the Prime Minister is assuming that during that period of two months the alternative to what happened would have been a situation in which there was no settlement but the industrial action would have continued through those two months, he is right. But he knows, and surely everyone knows, that that was not the alternative. The settlement in early June was almost exactly the same as, but if anything a little higher than, the settlement available to the parties in early April, and nothing which happened in those two months contributed to the solution of the dispute. But the damage done by those two months is damage which the Prime Minister apparently is not able to recognise—damage to the finances of British Rail, damage to the morale of the British Rail staff, damage to the interests of the travelling public and damage to future industrial relations in this important industry, because the two sides must live with each other now that it is all over and the Government have withdrawn from the scene.

All that could have been avoided by a settlement in early April which was bound to be a little higher than the Jarratt award and a little lower than the figure for which the unions were asking. There was a very narrow gap between them in early April. The settlement had to be made within that gap, and it was made after two months in which the Government used the various gimmicks available to them to no purpose whatever.

The Prime Minister

I hope that, if the right hon. Gentleman is going to repeat this myth, he can give evidence for the statement he is now so freely making that this settlement was available, because there is no evidence published of any kind. The General Secretary of the TUC never claimed it was so. The trade unions never said it was so themselves. Therefore let the right hon. Gentleman substantiate in detail this claim which he is now making.

Mr. Prentice

The evidence available to me at that time—and I talked to the General Secretary of the TUC and I talked to the leaders of the unions and I talked to the Chairman of British Rail—suggested to me from all those sources that a settlement had to be within that bracket and could be within that bracket. The right hon. Gentleman may recall that during the few hours of discussion which took place during the cooling-off period—there were only three hours of discussion—an offer was made by Sir Sidney Greene to halve the difference between the two sides and on that basis the settlement would have been the same as it would have been in April.

The Prime Minister

This offer was not made by the trade unions in the negotiations. It was mentioned by Sir Sidney Greene in a broadcast, but not supported by the other unions and it was never substantiated.

Mr. Prentice

The solution was suggested in those talks but was not followed up by British Rail or by the Government or anyone else.

I also remind the Prime Minister that Vic Feather, just before the cooling-off period was applied for, said, "Give me 24 hours and I shall try to settle it" and, clearly, in view of what happened afterwards, he could have done so. It would have represented a settlement on the basis which could have been obtained two months earlier.

I wanted to go on to suggest that, quite apart from not serving the public interest, the Government's manoeuvres during those two months did not even suit the Government's interest and that this was just another chapter in their policy. They looked back nostalgically, for another victory such as they got over the postmen, and they were smarting from what had happened in the 1922 Committee over what was considered there to be their surrender to the miners, and so they decided to take on the railwaymen. The effect of their manoeuvres in the two months did not even enable them to do that, because again the settlement at the end was of the same order—or a bit higher—as it could have been in April. The mood of the railwaymen in June was more determined and was hardened, and they would have been more ready in larger numbers to go on with a long struggle in June than some were in April.

I am bound to return, upon the rail dispute, to one issue which has cropped up in this debate and during the discussions over recent weeks, that the whole episode calls in question not only the judgment of Ministers but the good faith of Ministers, and I am bound to return to the question of evidence the Government had when they applied to the court first for the cooling-off period and secondly for the ballot.

I draw attention, as 1 did earlier in an intervention, to the wording of the Act, Section 138. The Government had to satisfy the court that in their view a cooling-off period would be conducive to the start of negotiations, conciliation, or arbitration. In the cooling-off period there were no negotiations except for a three-hour meeting. There was no conciliation. There was no arbitration. There was no move by the Government to bring about any of those things, and I put it to the House, therefore, that there was no evidence, when the Government wanted to create a cooling-off period, that it would be conducive to a settlement by any of those methods.

Similarly when the Government applied for the ballot under Section 141 they had to show reasons for doubting whether the workers who are taking part or are expected to take part in the strike or other industrial action are or would be taking part in it in accordance with their wishes…". I put it to the House that there were no reasons. In reply to my intervention earlier the Prime Minister said the Secretary of State had given reasons. I should like to know when, because I believe that I have been in the House every time the Secretary of State has answered Questions or made statements on this subject. Inevitably, there have been many Questions and many statements, but there have been no reasons. I can rememeber the occasion when he said he had reasons, but I cannot remember him saying what those reasons were. Nor did the Prime Minister when he was questioned on this. Both of them fudged.

The Secretary of State has another opportunity tonight to spell out those reasons. If he does not, people will be bound to conclude that this is one of the worst lapses of integrity even of this Government. In addition to all the other reasons for getting rid of the Act, there is the reason that it puts temptation into the path of the Government to depart from the standards of integrity which Ministers should follow.

The docks dispute gives us a different illustration of the folly of this Act. For some weeks the country has been in a critical situation; we have been under notice of an official dock strike. On two occasions the dock delegate conference has postponed the strike notice to allow the leaders of the union to continue to negotiate on the matters in dispute. Progress has been made and agreement has been reached on fallback pay, severance pay and holidays. On the cruicial question of employment, with particular reference to containerisation, we still do not know whether we shall have a dock strike. The committee, under the joint chairmanship of Jack Jones and Lord Aldington, has been at work on this. I am sure all hon. and right hon. Members hope that they succeed in their efforts, and would advise the dockers to look to these negotiations to solve their problems and not go ahead with any action that is not authorised by the national dock delegate conference.

The background to the dispute, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), is of growing unemployment in the docks, over one-third of the jobs being lost in the last seven years, many in areas of high unemployment. It is clear that the constructive efforts of both sides in the dispute and of the Secretary of State and his Department have very nearly been completely sabotaged by the effect of the Act. The Prime Minister said that the fact that it was being brought into the open and that the Jones-Aldington Committee had been formed was somehow due to the operation of the Act. How he works that out, I do not know. That is twisting the truth to an incredible extent. The problems were there and the two sides were trying to solve them. The Act is irrelevant to these problems, and the Act has nearly destroyed, and may still destroy, the efforts of both sides to bring the dispute to a satisfactory solution.

The Act is so drawn that any tin-pot employer, like Heatons, or any group of workers anxious for their jobs, such as those at Chobham, or any individual, can take a union or a group of workers to court and escalate a local situation into a national crisis that can bring an industry to a standstill. That is the essence of the folly of the Act.

In putting this point to the Government I am speaking directly to the Motion. If they hint or imply tomorrow to the TUC that they will go easy on part of the Act and put the emergency procedures into cold storage, that will not be enough. If they ask the CBI and the Employers' Federation to advise their members to do the same, that still will not be enough. As long as the Act remains on the Statute Book some people somewhere will be crazy enough to use it, and the consequences of their using it in the wrong circumstances could be to bring a great national industry and the economy of the country to a standstill, as might have happened a fortnight ago but for the surprise intervention of the good fairy in the shape of the Official Solicitor.

Mr. Adam Butler (Bosworth)

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that 60 members of the Transport and General Workers Union were crazy to use the Act to safeguard their employment?

Mr. Prentice

One can understand that, with the present situation of over 800,000 unemployed, any group of workers are desperate to protect their jobs and will seek any remedy open to them to protect their jobs. When I see some hon. Members opposite laughing at the fact that two groups of workers were in conflict over the Chobham Farm issue, I must remind them that that conflict is a direct result of this country having over 800,000 unemployed. But I still think that those workers would have been wiser to use other methods. I still think that use of the court has not been helpful to them. I believe that the talks held in the Transport and General Workers Union between representatives of the dock group and the road commercial group under the chairmanship of Mr. Harry Urwin are the kind of effort which will solve problems of this kind. I only wish that the employers had got together on a similar basis.

The Prime Minister

As the union efforts failed, will the right hon. Gentleman say what other remedy was open to the 60 men who objected to being forced out of their job?

Mr. Prentice

The long-term remedy is full employment. The short-term remedy, given the level of unemployment which now exists, is further negotiation or access to a conciliator. If we had in operation a conciliation and arbitration service—and I hope the Prime Minister will discuss this matter constructively with the TUC—and if there were a district officer who could be called into a situation like Chobham Farm, I feel that in this way our difficulties could be sorted out. In a country of this size and complexity, there will always be arguments of this kind. The essential thing is to see that they are solved by some procedure of that sort.

A great deal of discussion has taken place on the questions of inflation and prices and incomes. Inevitably in discussing industrial relations the arguments get interwoven with arguments about prices and incomes policy—and sometimes they become too interwoven. I do not want to seek to dodge the problems of an incomes policy, but I feel that we need to see it in perspective.

First, incomes are only one factor in the whole inflationary process. There are other factors which clearly need to be taken into account, and my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) illustrated this matter is his speech. We must also bear in mind that the impact of trade union wage demands is only one of the influences on the rise of incomes. Over half the employed people in this country do not belong to a union at all. Then there are those who belong to a union but whose wage and salary increases are decided by a process that has nothing to do with the trade union. People get individual rises by promotion, or by being given extra responsibilities or because an employer is anxious to retain the individual concerned.

All kinds of circumstances affect the wage demands, and the wage demands of a trade union are one influence among many others. Many middle-class people who pontificate about irresponsible wage demands by trade unions would do well to sit down and tot up on a bit of paper the change in their own incomes over the past four or five years consistent with their own level of productivity before they talk about demands by other people.

We believe that a voluntary incomes policy operated by the unions is a sensible part of a general strategy against inflation. I personally believe in this as a trade unionist of many years, and indeed I have often spoken in these terms at trade union conferences in the past. I believe in such a policy not only because it can be used against inflation but also because it can also be used as a means of giving priority to the lower paid. If the higher paid in industry were prepared to exercise restraint in favour of the lower paid, I feel that this would be in the best traditions of working class solidarity and it is something that we ought to support.

Therefore, we on this side can say to the trade union movement that in any future attempt to deal with inflation the trade unions cannot stand aside from a constructive attitude. I do not think that the majority of trade unionists want to stand aside. The Government have forfeited any moral right to make that appeal to the trade unions. The point about inflation under this Government is not merely that the Government have failed to deal with it. Governments of all parties all over the world have failed to deal successfully with inflation. The charge against this Government is that they have deliberately pursued policies that have made inflation worse. I need only mention VAT——

The Prime Minister: It has not come into effect yet.

Mr. Prentice

—council house rent increases, food levies, Health Service charges, and higher school meal charges, every one of which was a deliberate decision by the Government resulting in higher prices.

The Prime Minister says that VAT has not happened yet. When we talk about these things we are not talking merely about what has happened in the last two years. We are talking about price increases that are in the pipeline. VAT has not happened yet. Council rents have not risen yet under the Housing Finance Bill. Food levies have gone up to some extent, but will rise more next year. In other words, the Government are committed now to future policies that will send the cost of living up further and give further twists to the inflationary spiral. Only by reversing those policies have hon. Members opposite any more right to ask the trade unions to try to operate an incomes policy in a way which will lead to greater restraint.

The Prime Minister made a great deal of the provisions for dealing with appeals against unfair dismissals. It is not surprising when so much is going wrong with the Industrial Relations Act that the Prime Minister should devote part of his speech to stressing a part of the Act which is fairly useful and constructive.

No hon. Member opposite should claim that this is a policy which they have introduced and which we would not have introduced. Provisions for appeals against unfair dismissals were in the Bill which fell at the time of the General Election but which would have become law if a Labour Government had been returned. This is one part of the Industrial Relations Act which we shall keep when we repeal most of the Act—[Interruption.] The Prime Minister says this is a change of view. Will he stop sneering from a sedentary position. If he says that it is a change of view, let him say what it is a change of view from. The Prime Minister has become very childish. I repeat that our Bill had provisions for appeals against unfair dismissals. We shall keep those provisions which are in this Act and we shall improve them.

Even the Prime Minister may recall that during the debates on the Industrial Relations Bill we on this side maintained that the dismissed worker should have a right to reinstatement if he so chose and not merely the compensation available to him under the terms of the Act.

I hope that the Prime Minister will take the conciliation and arbitration service seriously when he meets the TUC. Clearly the CBI takes this service seriously and wants something along these lines. [Interruption.] I am asked what our constructive proposals are. I have been discussing these with the TUC for many months. If the Government would show some signs that they are catching up with our thinking on this we should be only too glad to assist them to put through legislation to implement it.

It is urgently necessary in the public interest that there should be a conciliation and arbitration service which can be genuinely regarded as independent on both sides of industry. It will not be regarded as independent if Ministers insist on a system by which the arbitrator is to be part of Government policy for fighting inflation. If the Government try to lean on the arbitrator, if they try directly or indirectly to hobble him in some way so as to control the settlements he can make, the service will not be successful in fighting inflation. Indeed, it will often lead to more inflation. The only effect will be to destroy confidence in the arbitration system as they have destroyed confidence in existing forms of arbitration.

I turn to the important part of our Motion in which we refer to the "general reputation of the law". On this point the Prime Minister's speech reached a degree of impudence which was remarkable even by his standards when he said that we were trying to undermine the High Court by our criticism of the Industrial Relations Act. That is not merely untrue but a complete reversal of the truth.

If I need to lay it on the line again, we have said all along that everyone in this country should obey the law and, therefore, carry out the decisions of the courts. Therefore, we thought the rail unions were right to call off their industrial action when the court ordered them to do so. We said that publicly. Whether it was reasonable or not, it was a decision of the court and we said they should obey it. Similarly, the dockers' union was right to pay the £55,000 into court. However, the leaders of the picketers at Chobham Farm were wrong to disobey the order to go to the court.

We have upheld the need to keep the law at every point, but we are bound to point out that if a law is introduced which flies in the face not only of common sense judgment but of both informed and general public opinion, people will rebel against it. Therefore, we damage the whole fabric of the law of this country at a time when we are anxious about the rising crime rate, what is happening in Ulster, and various trends in our society, if we show lack of respect for the law. This is the worst moment in time to introduce a law which will have that kind of effect. It is the Government who have undermined respect for the law, not those of us on this side who have been careful to say that the law should be obeyed. However, it is a bad law and it should go at the earliest possible moment.

Finally, but briefly, I should like to mention two other points. First, there has not been as much discussion as we think on the central problem of full employment. I believe that any serious discussion about industrial relations in our time ought to take account of the level of employment as one of the key factors. We have over 800,000 unemployed. The victims are not only the unemployed and their families but the large numbers of people in industry who are afraid that it will be their turn next. This fear has a stultifying effect on industrial relations. We live in a time when technological change is presenting new opportunities which we can grasp only if fear is taken out of this situation. Therefore, any constructive industrial relations policy must include full employment strategy at its heart.

Secondly, I wish we could debate these matters in an atmosphere freer of crisis than that in which we have discussed them today. Industrial relations are not only about the avoidance of strikes or of wage inflation but about the human being at work. Industrial relations are concerned with the dignity and job satisfaction of the individual at work. The starting point ought to be to look at a boy or a girl in one of our constituencies leaving school now, entering industry with perhaps 50 years working life ahead of him or her, and asking, what can the State do to back up progressive employers and trade unions by creating conditions which will lead to a better working life for the individual? Therefore, we should be discussing training and job satisfaction, the employment service, manpower planning, industrial democracy, and themes of that kind.

We do not blame the Government because they have not solved all the crises in industrial relations. Crises exist in every industrial country in the world. We blame the Government for pursuing a course of action which has made these industrial relations worse. They have created a situation in which industrial relations in Britain are worse than at any time since the twenties, in which unemployment is worse than at any time since the thirties and in which inflation is running ahead of inflation in other industrial countries which are competing with us in world markets. This is a recipe for disaster, and it can be changed only by a new Government who are prepared to put the public interest ahead of the outworn mythology of the Tory Party.

9.30 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Maurice Macmillan)

We have had a debate characterised by some constructive suggestions from my hon. Friends and from the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). I am not sure how far I could go with some of the detailed remedies which he proposed, but I think that the objective of greater participation which he set out, and to which the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) referred, is very much part of the objectives of the Act and the Code of Practice which goes with it.

From hon. Gentlemen opposite the suggestions have, on the whole, been more negative and have concentrated on the demand that the Act should be repealed. or at least put on ice. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) added two more. He wanted to make sure that the Government would discuss ways and means of achieving independent conciliation with the TUC and CBI. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear, that is already being done. The hon. Gentleman also wanted the Government to take action on improving safety, health and welfare. I have announced to the House that the Robens Report will soon be published, so that the Government are moving on both fronts suggested by the hon. Gentleman.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in a characteristic speech, took rather too literally the classic advice which is given to debaters, "If you have not a case abuse the other chap's lawyer", in an ill-founded attack on the Solicitor-General.

The Opposition alleged that the Industrial Relations Act has caused grave injuries to good industrial relations and the general reputation of the law They rely heavily on the way in which the National Industrial Relations Court is being brought into two disputes, and on the application of the Act to the docks, and I shall have something to say about both.

The right hon. Member for East Ham, North made the most astonishing and inaccurate assessment of what happened. He said that the use of the Government's powers did nothing to help. Admittedly they did not succeed in bringing an early settlement, but they did succeed in their primary purpose of making it plain that when industrial action is taken it is taken only as a matter of last resort, and with the full support of all those concerned. One can say that the Industrial Relations Act failed only if one believes it to be an Act designed to prevent industrial action from being taken by the unions, or if one believes that it really is a union-bashing Act.

The argument was based on a belief that a settlement was available earlier, and that is not true. The offer to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was a suggestion put forward in a broadcast, I think, and it was withdrawn. It was made plain tome at my last meeting with the board and the union that nothing would satisfy the demands of the union except the full 14 per cent. at which the claim had stood ever since I first came into the dispute. It is true that earlier I saw Mr. Feather after the TUC had put out a statement saying that it thought it was possible to negotiate on the Jarratt award. I was unable to discover whether that meant that there was a compromise available or that the full settlement would have to be made. There was no possibility of discovering that.

We did not seek a confrontation. I say what I have said before, that the Act was properly used to postpone industrial action for a cooling-off period. Opposition Members have said that the cooling-off period was not used. It was not used in part at least because the unions indicated in that period that they were not willing to move from the position from which they started. They made that plain to the board and later to me when I brought the board and unions together to talk.

The Act does not say that when the Secretary of State applies for a ballot it must appear to him that the workers concerned are opposed to taking part in industrial action, nor do I have to give evidence either to the court or the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Quite."] My good faith can be challenged—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—but the court made it plain that in this instance there was no question of that. I had to indicate that I had legitimate grounds for doubting the attitude of the work people—[HON. MEMBERS: "What were they?"]—I repeat the reasons I gave to the House earlier. All my contacts during the negotiations led me to believe what many people in the unions believed, that the Jarratt award would be accepted. It was rejected out of hand, and the union executives refused to negotiate on it. Although a variation was put up by the board, there was no question of its being explained to the work people, nor was there any possibility of their being able to discover the details.

There were more general considerations. It was entirely legitimate to doubt how far the unions had carried out any comprehensive or systematic consultation with their members about the various offers. Indeed, when Mr. Feather came to see me it was plain that he was uncertain about what the union executives thought about the various offers then being discussed. There had been no opportunity for the railwaymen fully to understand and consider them. In particular, on 4th May, when the board made its offer modifying the Jarratt award so that the higher rates which the award proposed from 1st January next year were brought forward, the offer was rejected by the union executives virtually on the spot, with no possibility of consultation or reference to the members.

It was only after the ballot, when the unions were actually confronted with industrial action, that there was any real sign of willingness by them to compromise. It was then that the settlement was eventually achieved. As I have said before, I am grateful to Mr. Victor Feather for his help in achieving it.

The arguments we have heard today ignore entirely that the problems of industrial relations, including relations between unions and different sections of the same union, were not created by the Act. They were there anyway, and needed to be seen and dealt with. That was attempted by the Labour Government when they made an abortive attempt to deal with the problem, based on the ill-fated "In Place of Strife". Their failure led to worsening industrial relations. So far from doing injury, the Industrial Relations Act and the National Industrial Relations Court have helped and are helping in the sort of case which was identified in "In Place of Strife" but with which the Labour Party, when in Government, failed to deal.

"In Place of Strife" said that there were considerable problems connected with the recognition of white-collar workers—[Interruption.] The National Union of Bank Employees has achieved recognition from the National Bank of Pakistan and the United Dominions Trust—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—which had previously been refused. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may think it unimportant——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) was listened to fairly quietly.

Mr. Macmillan

Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may think it nothing that white-collar workers who had been seeking recognition for a long time have achieved an improvement through the Industrial Relations Court. I do not, nor do those workers. They regard it as important that it should be so. And they regard it as important that the Act has helped in the settlement of inter-union disputes, as it did in the case of C. A. Parsons, and in achieving what "In Place of Strife" identified but failed to do anything about. As to procedural agreements, in cases where there have been for a long time strained relations between unions and firms an application to the court has produced new procedural agreements and an arrangement satisfactory to the unions.

The hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) made a good deal of rather irrelevant fun at the expense of the Registrar-General, but it is important to note that unions are achieving recognition through the Industrial Relations Act. Whatever members of the Opposition may say, the Act has also succeeded in preventing industrial action in at least one case.

The docks were the other example upon which the Opposition relied heavily. It is nonsense to say that it was the Act that nearly caused the national dock strike. As my right hon. Friend made plain the pressures were there before, and it was the existence of the Act that certainly helped to set up the Jones-Aldington Committee which is dealing with the really difficult problems which exist. Several points of dispute have been sufficiently settled to allow that committee to deal with this other problem, albeit with a limited amount of time available to it.

Mr. Prentice

Exactly in what way were the procedures of the Act or of the court used to set up the Jones-Aldington Committee?

Mr. Macmillan

It is fairly plain. The provisions of the Act identified the fact that this was fundamentally a dispute between two sections of the same union and it was the Act that led to the pressures put on both leaderships that certainly contributed to their wish to settle that dispute.

Members of the Labour Party opposite when in Government suggested that the CIR should tackle these former inter-union disputes if the TUC could not resolve them by itself but in this case neither the CIR nor the TUC were available. So it was that some of the members of one union took the others to court, and it was the refusal of those others to respond that led to further trouble and open defiance of the court order imposed.

It is not damaging to the law, to the Act or to the court that the law intervened in another guise and that another and superior court was brought in. I find the view of the Leader of the Opposition quite extraordinary. He said contemptuously, that what one court decides another court rejects. That is a normal practice between the High Court and the Court of Appeal. If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that the Court of Appeal has no right to overturn the judgment of an inferior court, he is going rather far. The Court of Appeal is part of the framework of the law and the NIRC is also part of that framework, with the full protection of the law for work people, unions and management.

It cannot be damaging to the law if it is seen to be protecting people even from some of the consequences of their own actions. It cannot be damaging to the law to give the right of access to a court to those whose jobs are theatened by the activities of others, when they have left no other avenue of redress. Still less can it be damaging to give the right of access in long-standing disputes, as the NIRC has done and is doing, and when the NIRC recognises, as it does, that it should be the last and not the first resort and seeks to avoid formal orders and to get instead informal settlements. These are not actions which are injurious to industrial relations—unless the Opposition are saying that there is no place for industrial relations in the law at all and not merely for the Industrial Relations Act.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eylesbury(Mr. Raison) made it quite plain that there is more to industrial relations than the law and the Act. It is true that the State has always been involved with the process of industrial relations. That is not a dictum of the present Government alone. It was well recognised by the Labour Government. They, too, recognised the need for State intervention and involvement in association with both sides of industry. The question they failed to answer was what form that intervention should take.

There are many differences between the Government and the Opposition on this issue, and our Act is more favourable to the unions and the workpeople than were the proposals put forward by the Labour Government. The powers of the Act are not exercised without the opportunity for unions to oppose them in a court. The Labour Government's proposals included penal clauses whereby failure to observe the conciliation machinery would have been a criminal offence. We introduced the concept of "unfair industrial action", which enables only civil action to be taken. The sanctions the Labour Government proposed on individuals would also have born more hardly on them.

The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) said that my right hon. and hon. Friends, in discussing the Industrial Relations Act, did not make it plain that there was the possibility of imprisonment for contempt of court. Any action that involves a court requires those who apply to it to comply with the orders of the court. Failure to comply with the orders of any court, including the Industrial Relations Court, may lead to penalties, including imprisonment. However, we also made it plain, which the hon. Gentleman appeared to challenge, that there was no question of any imprisonment by means of the Act for any industrial practice or offence.

Mr. Loughlin

I am sorry to have to try to get this through the thick skull of the right hon. Gentleman. I have repeatedly said that the effect of the Act was to put people in prison. The effect of the Act was demonstrated at Chobham Farm when lads were exposed to the possibility of imprisonment.

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman has it wrong again. It is not the effect of the Act but the effect of being in contempt of court, which is something entirely different. The hon. Gentleman must accept that. The proposals which the Labour Government put up included proceedings for contempt.

I make one admission to the House. The Code of Industrial Practice, set up under the Act, is not quite so tough on the responsibilities of the unions to keep agreements as the TUC's "Industrial Relations—a Guide for Negotiations". As my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) pointed out, it has led to a considerable improvement in firms. A large number of firms are studying the code with a view to improving their industrial relations and their practices.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the education of shop stewards, and that is happening in fact. There are seminars and training courses in which both managements and shop stewards are taking part in an attempt to improve their industrial relations. The hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton) mentioned the importance of associating middle management with such seminars and training courses, and the importance of that aspect is fully accepted in the code. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to the protection of individual rights, but the right hon. Gentleman sneered at that. He seemed to think it unimportant that individual rights are protected under the Act. But I do not think that those whose rights have been successfully dealt with are nearly as contemptuous as he is.

These are policies for improving the practices of firms, for the protection of individual rights and for the solving of problems which the Labour Government identified in "In Place of Strife" but with which they did nothing to deal. They are not policies of divisiveness; they are not policies of confrontation. They are an essential and important part of the Act, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman at least now recognises and has amended, as it were, verbally the terms of the Motion, saying that the Opposition will not repeal the Act but only parts of it. He is not, it seems, going to repeal the good parts, but only the bad parts. In other words, he is proposing to do just what the Opposition did when in Government—refuse to deal with difficult problems which are set before any Government in a modern society.

The Motion talks of confrontation. What confronted the present Government when they took office was a wage explosion and mounting price inflation. We did not abdicate before the challenge. We have improved the price situation. Prices are now rising at 6 per cent. as opposed to 10 per cent. last July. We have had some success in slowing down the rate of increases in wages. But they are still rising faster than prices, thus helping to push prices even higher.

The Government accept their responsibilities. We shall not abdicate as the Labour Government did. But it is also the responsibility of unions and managements to find a more rational approach to settlements. The Government welcome the CBI-TUC talks and seek to co-operate with both unions and managements in all these matters, as my right hon. Friend has made clear. I hope that that co-operation will lead to a more coherent and less disruptive system of wage negotiations and conciliation, a system which recognises the wider public interest. I hope, too, that, despite what the right hon. Gentleman said, most hon. Members opposite will recognise, as they did under the Labour Government, that the public are concerned; that there is indeed a public interest in the settlement of industrial disputes, and that there is a public interest in industrial relations.

It is because there is a public interest that the State and the Government are concerned. It is because there is a public interest that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I believe that it can best be protected within the law. I hope that hon. Members opposite will extend this concept to the sort of situation which they failed to deal with where, to quote their own words: imperfect competition in many industries may enable unions and employers to continue to exploit their worker power at the expense of other members of the community". That is why I tell the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West that there is trouble in these vital sectors, as his right hon. Friend recognised.

If we can establish some better form of machinery, and agreements are reached, the provisions of the Act will not be invoked, because there will be no unfair industrial practice, provided that the machinery is used and the agreements are kept. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are seeking to go

further, if they are seeking to abrogate the Act, so that agreements are not kept, all that they are asking for is unrestricted licence for unofficial action, unsupported by the unions concerned. I cannot believe that that is what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are asking for, especially when such a state of anarchy is already proving damaging to union interests and can only make the situation worse in the future. It is damaging not only to union membership but to the country as a whole.

For all that the Opposition Motion talks about confrontation, they have not established that the Government have sought anything of the kind. The Industrial Relations Act has no power to bring about confrontation. It is not a wage-restraining instrument in itself. It is not a union-bashing instrument. It cannot be denied that there should be a degree of accountability in unions and employers, as in every form of trade union relations, provided that it is within the framework of the law. That is fundamental in industrial relations. The Labour Party, when in Government, abandoned most of their ideas, and the Leader of the Opposition made the position clear beforehand when he said that legislation was essential and that the problem would not be solved by an abdication by the Government of its responsibilities, nor will it be solved by any threatened abdication by the TUC of theirs.

It is that that I accuse him of having done—of abdicating—and he now has no coherent policy. At best he has advocated a return to 1906—a sort of neo-Victorian commitment to laissez faire. He cannot claim that this will be of any use in helping to solve industrial relations problems, and the settlement of wage claims. It is for those reasons, and because it is in the public interest and in the interest of industrial relations, that I ask the House to support the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 300, Noes 272.

Division No. 257.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Astor, John Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Atkins, Humphrey Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Awdry, Daniel Batsford, Brian
Beamish, Col. Sir Tutton Gorst, John Mather, Carol
Bell, Ronald Gower, Raymond Maude, Angus
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Benyon, W. Gray, Hamish Mawby, Ray
Berry, Hn. Anthony Green, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Biffen, John Grieve, Percy Meyer, Sir Anthony
Biggs-Davison, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Blaker, Peter Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Gummer, Selwyn Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)
Body, Richard Gurden, Harold Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Boscawen, Robert Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Moate, Roger
Bossom, Sir Clive Hall, John (Wycombe) Money, Ernle
Bowden, Andrew Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Monks, Mrs. Connie
Braine, Sir Bernard Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Monro, Hector
Bray, Ronald Hannam, John (Exeter) Montgomery, Fergus
Brewis, John Harrison, Brian (Maldon) More, Jasper
Brinton, Sir Tatton Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Haselhurst, Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hastings, Stephen Morrison, Charles
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Havers, Michael Mudd, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Hawkins, Paul Murton, Oscar
Buchanan-Smith, Allck(Angus,N & M) Hayhoe, Barney Neave, Airey
Buck, Antony Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bullus, Sir Eric Heseltine, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Burden, F. A. Hicks, Robert Normanton, Tom
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) . Nott, John
Carlisle, Mark Higgins, Terence L Onslow, Cranley
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hiley, Joseph Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Cary, Sir Robert Holland, Philip Osborn, John
Chapman, Sydney Holt, Miss Mary Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hordern, Peter Page, Graham (Crosby)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hornby, Richard Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Churchill, W. S. Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Paisley, Rev. Ian
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Parkinson, Cecil
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howell, David (Guildford) Peel, John
Clegg, Walter Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Percival, Ian
Cockeram, Eric Hunt, John Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Cooke, Robert Hutchison, Michael Clark Pike, Miss Mervyn
Coombs, Derek Iremonger, T. L. Pink, R. Bonner
Cooper, A. E. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cordle, John James, David Price, David (Eastleigh)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Cormack, Patrick Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Costain, A. P. Jessel, Toby Quennell, Miss J. M.
Critchley, Julian Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Raison, Timothy
Crouch, David Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crowder, F. P. Jopling, Michael Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Dalkeith, Earl of Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Redmond, Robert
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Kaberry, Sir Donald Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rees, Peter (Dover)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.James Kershaw, Anthony Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dean, Paul Kilfedder, James Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Kimball, Marcus Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Digby, Simon Wingfield King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Dixon, Piers King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ridsdale, Julian
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kinsey, J. R. Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Drayson, G. B. Kirk, Peter Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kitson, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs. Jill Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Knox, David Rost, Peter
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lambton, Antony Royle, Anthony
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lamont, Norman Russell, Sir Ronald
Elliot, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Lane, David Scott, Nicholas
Emery, Peter Langford-Holt, Sir John Scott-Hopkins, James
Eyre, Reginald Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sharples, Sir Richard
Farr, John Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Fell, Anthony Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shelton, William (Clapham)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lloyd, Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Simeons, Charles
Fidler, Michael Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Sinclair, Sir George
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Longden, Gilbert Skeet, T. H. H.
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Loveridge, John Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Luce, R. N. Soref, Harold
Fockes, Miss Janet McAdden, Sir Stephen Speed, Keith
Fortescue, Tim McCrindle, R. A. Spence, John
Foster, Sir John McLaren, Martin Sproat, Ian
Fowler, Norman Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Stainton, Keith
Fox, Marcus McMaster, Stanley Stanbrook, Ivor
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Steel, David
Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, Michael Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Maddan, Martin Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Gibson-Watt, David Madel, David. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maginnis, John E Sutcliffe, John
Glyn, Dr. Alan Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Tapsell, Peter
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Marten, Neil Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Goodhart, Philip Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) van Straubenzee, W. R. Wilkinson, John
Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Winterton, Nicholas
Tebbit, Norman Vickers, Dame Joan Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Temple, John M. Waddington, David Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Walder, David (Clitheroe) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) Woodnutt, Mark
Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Worsley, Marcus
Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.) Wall, Patrick Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Tilney, John Walters, Dennis Younger, Hn. George
Trafford, Dr. Anthony Warren, Kenneth
Trew, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Tugendhat, Christopher White, Roger (Gravesend) Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Wiggin, Jerry Mr. Victor Goodhew.
Abse, Leo Dunnett, Jack Lamond, James
Albu, Austen Edelman, Maurice Latham, Arthur
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lawson, George
Allen, Scholefield Edwards, William (Merioneth) Leadbitter, Ted
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Ellis, Tom Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Ashley, Jack English, Michael Leonard, Dick
Ashton, Joe Evans, Fred Lestor, Miss Joan
Atkinson, Norman Ewing, Henry Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Faulds, Andrew Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Barnes, Michael Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lomas, Kenneth
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Foley, Maurice Loughlin, Charles
Baxter, William Foot, Michael Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Forrester, John Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Fraser, John (Norwood) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bidwell, Sydney Freeson, Reginald McBride, Neil
Bishop, E. S. Galpern, Sir Myer McCartney, Hugh
Blenkinsop, Arthur Garrett, W. E. McElhone, Frank
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Gilbert, Dr. John McGuire, Michael
Booth, Albert Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mackenzie, Gregor
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Golding, John Mackie, John
Bradley, Tom Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P C. Mackintosh, John P.
Broughton, Sir Alfred Gourlay, Harry Maclennan, Robert
Brown, Bob (Nc'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Grant, George (Morpeth) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow. C.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McNamara, J. Kevin
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Buchan, Norman Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield,E.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marquand, David
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Marsden F.
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hamling, William Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Cant, R. B Hardy, Peter Mayhew, Christopher
Carmichael, Neil Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Meacher, Michael
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Hattersley, Roy Mendelson, John
Castle, Rt. Hn Barbara Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mikardo, Ian
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Heffer, Eric S. Millan, Bruce
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Hilton, W. S. Miller, Dr. M. S.
Cohen, Stanley Hooson, Emlyn Milne, Edward
Coleman, Donald Horam, John Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Concannon, J. D. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Molloy, William
Conlan, Bernard Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Crawshaw, Richard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Cronin, John Hughes, Roy (Newport) Moyle, Roland
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Janner, Greville Murray, Ronald King
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oakes, Gordon
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Jeger, Mrs. Lena Ogden, Eric
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) O'Halloran, Michael
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) O'Malley, Brian
Davidson, Arthur John, Brynmor Oram, Bert
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Orbach, Maurice
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Orme, Stanley
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Oswald, Thomas
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Padley, Walter
Deakins, Eric Jones, Dan (Burnley) Paget, R. T
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Palmer, Arthur
Delargy, H. J. Jones, Gynoro (Carmarthen) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles.
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Pardoe, John
Dempsey, James Judd, Frank Parker, John (Dagenham)
Doig, Peter Kaufman, Gerald Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Kelley, Richard Pavitt, Laurie
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Kerr, Russell Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Driberg, Tom Kinnock, Neil Pendry, Tom
Duffy, A. E. P. Lambie, David Pentland, Norman
Dunn, James A. Lamborn, Harry Perry, Ernest G.
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Silverman, Julius Varley, Eric G.
Prescott, John Skinner, Dennis Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Small, William Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Price, William (Rugby) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Wallace, George
Probert, Arthur Spearing, Nigel Watkins, David
Rankin. John Spriggs, Leslie Weitzman, David
Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Stallard, A. W. Wellbeloved, James
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Steel, David Weils, William (Walsall, N.)
Rhodes, Geoffrey Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Richard, Ivor Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Whitehead, Phillip
Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon) Stoddart, David (Swindon) Whitlock, William
Robertson, John (Paisley) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Strang, Gavin Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Roper, John Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Rose, Paul B. Summerskill, Hn Dr. Shirley Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Swain, Thomas Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Rowlands, Ted Taverne, Dick Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Sandelson, Neville Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Woof, Robert
Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Short,Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Torney, Tom Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Tuck, Raphael Mr. Joseph Harper.
Sillars, James Urwin, T. W.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put: —

The House divided: Ayes 299, Noes 273.

Division No. 258.] AYES [10.14 p.m.
Adley, Robert Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Gurden, Harold
Allison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Cormack, Patrick Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Allison, James (Hemel Hempstead) Costain, A. P. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Critchley, Julian Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Crouch, David Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Astor, John Crowder, F. P. Hannam, John (Exeter)
Atkins, Humphrey Dalkeith, Earl of Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Awdry, Daniel Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Haselhurst, Alan
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James Hastings, Stephen
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Dean, Paul Havers, Michael
Batsford, Brian Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hawkins, Paul
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Digby, Simon Wingfield Hayhoe, Barney
Bell,Ronald Dixon, Piers Heath,Rt. Hn. Edward
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Dodds-Parker. Douglas Heseltine, Michael
Benyon, W. Drayson, G. B. Hicks, Robert
Berry, Hn. Anthony du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Higgins, Terence L.
Biffen, John Dykes, Hugh Hiley, Joseph
Biggs-Davison, John Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Holland, Philip
Blaker, Peter Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Holt, Miss Mary
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hordern, Peter
Body, Richard Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hornby, Richard
Boscawen, Robert Emery, Peter Hornsby-Smih,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Bossom, Sir Clive Eyre, Reginald Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Bowden, Andrew Farr, John Howell, David (Guildford)
Braine, Sir Bernard Fell, Anthony Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Bray, Ronald Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hunt, John
Brewis, John Fidler, Michael Hutchison, Michael Clark
Brinton, Sir Tatton Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Iremonger, T. L.
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles James, David
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Fookes, Miss Janet Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Bryan, Sir Paul Fortescue, Tim Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N & M) Foster, Sir John Jessel, Toby
Buck, Antony Fowler, Norman Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Bullus, Sir Eric Fox, Marcus Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Burden, F. A. Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Jopling. Michael
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fry, Peter Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Carlisle, Mark Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Kaberry, Sir Donald
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gibson-Watt, David Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Cary, Sir Robert Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Kershaw, Anthony
Chapman, Sydney Glyn, Dr. Alan Kilfedder, James
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Kimball, Marcus
Chichester-Clark, R. Goodhart, Philip King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Churchill, W. S. Gorst, John King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Gower, Raymond Kinsey, J. R.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Kirk, Peter
Clegg, Walter Gray, Hamish Kitson, Timothy
Cockeram, Eric Green, Alan Knight, Mrs. Jill
Cooke, Robert Grieve, Percy Knox, David
Coombs, Derek Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Lane, David
Cooper, A. E. Grylls, Michael Lambton, Lord
Cordle, John Gummer, Selwyn Lamont, Norman
Langford-Holt, Sir John Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Stainton, Keith
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Osborn, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Le Marchant, Spencer Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Lloyd,Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Paisley, Rev. Ian Sutcliffe, John
Longden, Sir Gilbert Parkinson, Cecil Tapsell, Peter
Loveridge, John Peel, John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Luce, R. N. Percival, Ian Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
McCrindle, R. A. Pike, Miss Mervyn Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
McLaren, Martin Pink, R. Bonner Tebbit, Norman
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Temple, John M.
McMaster, Stanley Price, David (Eastleigh) Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham) Proudfoot, Wilfred Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
McNair-Wilson, Michael Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Maddan, Martin Quennell, Miss J. M Tilney, John
Madel, David Raison, Timothy Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Maginnis, John E. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Trew, Peter
Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Tugendhat, Christopher
Marten, Neil Redmond, Robert Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Mather, Carol Reed, Laurence (Bolton, E.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Maude, Angus Rees, Peter (Dover) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Rees-Davies, W. R. Vickers, Dame Joan
Mawby, Ray Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Walker-Smith. Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Ridsdale, Julian Wall, Patrick
Miscampbell, Norman Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Walters, Dennis
Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C. (Aberdeenshire,W) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Warren, Kenneth
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Moate, Rogert Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Money, Ernle Rost, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Monks, Mrs. Connie Royle, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Monro, Hector Russell, Sir Ronald Winterton, Nicholas
Montgomery, Fergus Scott, Nicholas Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
More, Jasper Scott-Hopkins, James Wood Rt. Hn. Richard
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Sharples, Sir Richard Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Woodnutt, Mark
Morrison, Charles Shelton, William (Clapham) Worsley, Marcus
Mudd, David Simeons, Charles Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Murton, Oscar Sinclair, Sir George Younger, Hn. George
Neave, Airey Skeet, T. H. H.
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Soref, Harold Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Normanton, Tom Speed, Keith Mr. Victor Goodhew.
Nott, John Spence, John
Onslow, Cranley Sproat, Iain
Abse, Leo Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm. Northfield) Duffy, A E. P
Albu, Austen Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Dunn, James A
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Dunnett, Jack
Allen, Scholefield Clark, David (Colne Valley) Edelman, Maurice
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Cocks, Michael (Bristol. S.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Ashley, Jack Conn, Stanley Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Ashton, Joe Coleman, Donald Ellis, Tom
Atkinson, Norman Concannon, J. D. English, Michael
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Conlan, Bernard Evans, Fred
Barnes, Michael Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ewing, Harry
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth. C.) Faulds, Andrew
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Crawshaw, Richard Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Baxter, William Cronin, John Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Foley, Maurice
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Foot, Michael
Bidwell, Sydney Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Forrester, John
Bishop, E. S. Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dalyell, Tam Fraser, John (Norwood)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Darling, Rt. Hn. George Freeson, Reginald
Booth, Albert Davidson, Arthur Galpern, Sir Myer
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Garrett, W. E.
Bradley, Tom Davies, Ifor (Gower) Gilbert, Dr. John
Broughton, Sir Alfred Davis, Clinton (Hackney. C.) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Golding, John
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Deakins, Eric Gordon, Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Gourlay, Harry
Buchan, Norman Delargy, H. J. Grant, George (Morpeth)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dempsey, James Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Doig, Peter Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire. W.) Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Cant, R. B. Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Carmichael, Neil Driberg Tom Hamling, William
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Maclennan, Robert Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Hardy, Peter McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Roper, John
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) McNamara, J. Kevin Rose, Paul B.
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Hattersley, Roy Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Rowlands, Ted
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Marquand, David Sandelson, Neville
Heffer, Eric S. Marsden, F. Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Hilton, W. S. Marshall, Dr. Edmund Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Hooson, Emlyn Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Short,Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Horam, John Mayhew, Christopher Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Meacher, Michael Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Sillars, James
Huckfield, Leslie Mendelson, John Silverman, Julius
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mikardo, Ian Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Millan, Bruce Small, William
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Milne, Edward Spearing, Nigel
Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill) Spriggs, Leslie
Janner, Greville Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Stallard, A. W.
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Molloy, William Steel, David
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Stoddart, David (Swindon)
John, Brynmor Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Moyle, Roland Strang, Gavin
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Murray, Ronald King Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Oakes, Gordon Swain, Thomas
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ogden, Eric Taverne, Dick
Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) O'Halloran, Michael Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) O'Malley, Brian Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Oram, Bert Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Judd, Frank Orbach, Maurice Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Kaufman, Gerald Orme, Stanley Torney, Tom
Kelley, Richard Oswald, Thomas Tuck, Raphael
Kerr, Russell Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Urwin, T. W.
Kinnock, Neil Padley, Walter Varley, Eric G.
Lambie, David Paget, R. T. Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Lamborn, Harry Palmer, Arthur Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lamond, James Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Wallace, George
Latham, Arthur Pardoe, John Watkins, David
Lawson, George Parker, John (Dagenham) Weitzman, David
Leadbitter, Ted
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Wellbeloved, James
Leonard, Dick Pavitt, Laurie Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Lestor, Miss Joan Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Pendry, Tom Whitehead, Phillip
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Pentland, Norman Whitlock, William
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Perry, Ernest G. Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Lomas, Kenneth Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Loughlin, Charles Prescott, John Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Price, William (Rugby) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Probert, Arthur Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
McBride, Neil Rankin, John Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
McCartney, Hugh Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Woof, Robert
McElhone, Frank Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
McGuire, Michael Rhodes, Geoffrey TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mackenzie, Gregor Richard, Ivor Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Mackie, John Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon) Mr. Joseph Harper.
Mackintosh, John P. Robertson, John (Paisley)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House endorses the policy of Her Majesty's Government to provide a framework, within the law, which will enable industrial relations in Britain to be improved, and which will contribute to the protection of the community from the damaging consequences of industrial disputes.

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