HC Deb 25 July 1972 vol 841 cc1534-600

Leave having been given on Monday, 24th July, under Standing Order No. 9, to discuss:

3.30 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

Our first charge against the Government is that on the very day that the Jones-Aldington Committee produced its report on dock employment the Government were sitting in the Cabinet room presiding over an almost total stoppage in the docks and in some parts of wider areas of industry, a stoppage which, as we warned, was the direct and inevitable consequence of their inept and malevolent manoeuvrings in industrial relations.

In the last debate on this subject those of us in the House who represent dockers, and some of us representing the lorry drivers serving the docks as well, spoke of the deep anxieties felt in dockland and the need for fundamental solutions to the fundamental human problems, solutions which Mr. Jones and Lord Aldington were determined to seek. I paid tribute to the rôle of the Minister in those vital preliminary stages before the Jones-Aldington Committee got to work. Even so, the work of the Committee would have been destroyed at the outset, through the intervention of the fussy, prissy legislation which is the hallmark of this Government, had it not been for the intervention of the Official Solicitor—the first intervention of the Official Solicitor. The Government, powerless to help themselves or the nation are now praying for the nearest thing the legal system provides to divine intervention in the second intervention of the Official Solicitor.

Yesterday the work of the Jones-Aldington Committee was set at nought. It had produced a report which, by dealing with the real fears and anxieties of the dockers, could have rid dockland of the protective measures which have been taken by dockers and lorry drivers as they saw the need for them in defence of their jobs. On Thursday of this week the dockers' delegate conference had to decide on the Jones-Aldington Report. It would not have been easy even without the committals to prison. Fears and suspicions die hard on the waterfront. But now the conference must take its decisions against a background of the fiercest anger and blazing resentment that the docks have ever known.

There opposite me sit the men responsible. The Solicitor-General is, I think, shyly sitting at the end of the Front Bench, but he is there, too. [Hon. Members: "Where is Barbara?"] She has gone to hospital this afternoon, if Conservative Members want to know.

Those on the Government Front Bench are responsible for what could be the second shutdown in industry in less than six months, both of them the result of doctrinaire postures in industrial relations, first on the miners and now on the docks, both the result of a total miscalculation of the mood of men who feel themselves unfairly challenged with the power of the State, and in this case with the majesty of the law arrayed against them.

Let the Government accept their responsibility like men for what has occurred. What has happened is the direct result of a law of their making, a creation of their design, the Industrial Relations Act, and the Industrial Relations Court, which because of the law that court has to administer is rapidly proving the most irrelevant and expensive judicial bauble in history. The Government sit there in the face of the crisis they have created, unable to act, paralysed, immobilised, impotent, politically and morally bankrupt in this situation. [Interruption.] They caused it, but they cannot get out of it, unless the Official Solicitor comes to their help once again.

We have heard a great deal of the Prime Minister's personal style of government. Let me give him one canon of government with which in his heart he must agree. No Government must ever put themselves in a situation where they are powerless to act in the face of a national crisis—and that is where the Government are today. This Government, by the nature of the legislation they forced through the House, have rendered themselves ineffective and powerless to act. They are now the prisoners of their own law, like a bench of right hon. Frankensteins ruefully contemplating the damage and devastation caused by the legal monstrosity they created. [Interruption.] I have plenty of time. Conservative Members may laugh at the fact that the docks are closed. The Government Front Bench closed them. The Government are looking at the damage their legal monstrosity has created. But, at least, even Baron Frankenstein, before being destroyed by the monster he had created, did not go on Radio 4 whining about it and blaming everyone but himself, like the Secretary of State for Employment last night.

The Government talk about the law. Not everyone will like this, but my right hon. Friends and I have repeated many times—I said it publicly before the first ill-fated reference to the court by the Secretary of State for Employment—that the law must be obeyed, even manifestly bad law. [Interruption.] I said it on television. I have said it throughout.

But there is an implication here. Bad law must be changed. That is why we have made it clear that we shall immediately repeal the Act, if the Government have not themselves been forced through a short repeal Bill to slit the throat of their own legislative progeny. For side by side with compliance with the law—[Interruption.] I want to be brief, but I have plenty of time. [Hon. Members: "So have we."] So have we, when the Prime Minister gets up. I have noticed that Conservative Members are never so noisy as when they are in deep trouble. That is why they are being noisy this afternoon, and they know it. Those on the Government Front Bench know it. They are not joining in.

Side by side with compliance with the law is another obligation, an obligation on Government to introduce laws capable of reflecting—indeed, strengthening and not destroying—that sense of national consensus on which the spirit and the working of our democracy must rest.

I say this to the Secretary of State for Employment. Not long ago the name of Macmillan and the word "consensus" were regarded as something like synonymous. Now that name is debased as the right hon. Gentleman acts as a messenger boy and apologist for a leader who rejects in his heart the very idea of consensus, whose style of government is a system of confrontation based on the memory of those partisan cheers that he used to get when he went around the country peddling the distorted doctrines of the Inns of Court Conservative Association—whose members are now working. They are working all right, but the docks are not.

The Secretary of State now stands on the burning deck with a microphone in his hand but with nothing to say except to appeal to the law. There is something totally improper in his ex cathedra pronouncements in the House and in his broadcasts that had NIRC not existed the Court of Chancery would have brought about the situation we face today. He cannot say, he is not entitled or empowered to say, what the judgment of that court would have been, and he, above all men, should be wary of pre-judging the actions of the Court of Appeal. If he or the Lord President want to repeat their claim that without NIRC the law would have been enforced, let either of them tell the House how many workers in total were ever in prison as a result of the pre-1971 law.

Nearly two months ago at a trade union conference—and Ministers should try to attend them sometimes because they might learn a bit more about the subject—I warned about the dock situation and the inability of the court so constituted by the Act to deal with the deep social problems and fears. I contrasted on that occasion the work of Lord Devlin on docks decasualisation, and my suggestion to the Government then was "Devlin in, NIRC out". Anyone who saw Lord Devlin on television last night and heard his wisdom, his humanity, his hard-headed realism, and his respect for the law that has been debased by the Government's Act would regret that even at this late stage the Government did not take that advice. Yet this afternoon the Prime Minister sneered at Lord Devlin as he and other Ministers at the time sneered at the Devlin Report on the Nyasaland massacre. [Interruption.] I refer hon. Members, if they do not accept what I say, to Mr. Harold Macmillan's memoirs on the subject.

Since the Prime Minister appears not to have seen Lord Devlin on the television, I assume that he has asked for a copy of the text and that he will study it. If not, I will remind him of one or two comments made by Lord Devlin last night. He said that the Act might have worked out quite peaceably…But in the light of hindsight, I think that there are some provisions of it which do rather turn the thing into a confrontation between the Courts and trade unions and which I should like to see go". He went on: First of all there's contempt of court. I wish that contempt of court had never been introduced at all but it was in the Government's Bill. He said This, after all, is a new field. It's a new court and it's a court"—


I know that hon. Members on the Government side do not want to hear the words of Lord Devlin, but they are going to. He said: It's a new court and it's a court in a politically controversial area and when you put judges into a politically controversial area it doesn't just do to assume that all the old procedures that worked well in the courts as they exist are going to work equally well. When he was asked if it was contempt of court on which the men had been committed, Lord Devlin said, Well it is. Its…formally it is so but in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of the people who are refusing to comply with what they think is a bad law it's not contempt in any sensible meaning of the word, it seems to me and so he went on. He was referring to the inability of the Government to intervene. He said that the problem with bringing the law in was that it must take its course.
Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman apply the same argument to those members of the National Front who this week have been appearing in court saying that the Race Relations Act, 1968, is not a good law and, therefore, they are under no obligation to obey it?

Mr. Wilson

I am quoting the decision of the Government to bring industrial relations into court. It is a political matter. [Interruption.] If hon. Members want to support the National Front, that is up to them. We do not. [Interruption.] I am quoting from Lord Devlin. [Hon. Members: "Answer the question."] I am answering the question. I am quoting from Lord Devlin's view that in this matter the courts should not have the power of contempt. Obviously they should under the normal laws passed by the House. Lord Devlin went on—[Interruption.] Hon. Members are entitled to laugh. The Official Solicitor might intervene on their behalf. That is all they must pray for now.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr): Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the law of contempt was removed from his own prices and incomes Acts?

Mr. Wilson

No it was in the Prices and Incomes Act. If the right hon. Gentleman is to intervene in the debate, perhaps he will say how many trade unionists went to jail under the Labour Government. Contempt provisions were not at any stage in the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle).

Mr. Carr

Will the right hon. Gentleman refer to the Clause—I accept that I cannot expect to him to remember it now—in the Bill that his right hon. Friend printed in April or May, 1970, or in "In Place of Strife" where contempt of court was removed from her proposals?

Mr. Wilson

The position in that Act—and I have checked it with the former Attorney-General and with my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn—was that the only sanction in those proposals at any stage was the sanction of distraint of wages in respect of fines under the attachment proposals, which meant that they had to be paid. The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong, but I understand why he and his right hon. Friends, especially the Prime Minister, do not want to hear what Lord Devlin said.

The Prime Minister missed television last night and did not hear what Lord Devlin said. There are hon. Members who think Lord Devlin a better lawyer than the Solicitor-General, who was the author of the Act. Lord Devlin said: there's a distinction you see between making a law which judges have to interpret and apply and between putting the court in the position as if it were identifying itself with the law…That's what I dislike, it's a political matter and it should be kept as a political matter…if the impression is given that somehow there is a court created which has got to make the Act work, that it's got to get the thing through somehow, well that's bad for the law". If the Prime Minister does not have this text he can have it now and reply to it when he speaks. The House is entitled to a reply.

These are very grave charges. We were not allowed to debate them when the Bill was going through the House under the guillotine. Perhaps the Prime Minister will condescend to reply. The Secretary of State for Employment was on the television last night and this morning, talking about the British constitution as though he had just discovered it. If he did not actually invent it, one got the impression that the Solicitor-General had slipped him an advance proof copy. He gave the impression that he would be betraying the constitution if he took any action—if action is possible as a result of the Act of Parliament—to break the deadlock, which on all the evidence will not end unless the gates of Pentonville prison are sprung to let the dockers out.

Other Governments have been concerned with the maintenance of the constitution. None would deny to Winston Churchill the accolade of a great student of the constitution, a great expositor and a great defender of it. What did he do in1941? In a year of acute danger for Britain lodge officials at Betteshanger Colliery were committed to prison for a strike which was illegal under war-time emergency powers. Winston Churchill's Government negotiated with them, the Home Secretary signed their release, and in the case of nearly 1,000 miners who refused to pay fines the court was officially advised by the Employment Secretary's Department—the Ministry of Labour as it then was—not to enforce the fines. The facts are supplied in an appendix to the Donovan Commission Report, which hon. Members may like to study.

The Government must explain why they are too proud to follow the precedent set by Winston Churchill. It is that they will not or that they cannot? If they will not they have to justify the refusal which in the industrial state of the country can only be condemned as obstinate and wilful. If its is that they cannot act, and cannot because they are helpless victims of their own legislation, then let them cease from these pious constitutional reiterations on radio and television.

I do not need to catalgoue the dismal account of the paralysis spreading over the country. Not only the ports are affected, but coalfields, food markets, and, as stocks run down, if the Official Solicitor does not intervene, the housewife, whom the Prime Minister so assiduously wooed two years ago but has forgotten ever since, will suffer from shortages and still higher prices. The newspapers have stopped. It is right to say that, however strongly those responsible for the stoppages may feel, other people feel strongly, too, and in the interests of the imprisoned dockers themselves the whole case should be argued out and this and other debates reported for the public to judge all the issues involved in the action taken under the Government legislation.

I wish that I could appeal that all those who are loyally defending a vital principle as they see it should revert to our normal democratic practice and, faced with bad law, rally round Parliament and those of us in Parliament who are resolved to get rid of this odious legislation. That is right. But the right hon. Gentleman should recognise that there is a deep trade union principle involved. The Government should recognise, too, that the whole history of reform and democracy, including some of the rules of this House, has been built on those who, rightly or wrongly, have suffered for what they regarded as a principle. It does not lie in the mouths of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to decry the principles of other people—people they have never begun to understand. But do not let them delude themselves in default of the Official Solicitor. Behind those five there are another five, and 25, and there are battalions created by the Government's sowing of the dragon's teeth of provocative industrial law.

It is not only the industrial state of the nation which is now affected. There is the state of Government policy. Last Wednesday, to judge from the Press reactions which followed the No. 10 Downing Street meeting with the CBI and the TUC, the Prime Minister seemed to be in a state of euphoric triumph at having persuaded the TUC to join in the tripartite talks. He should have known that there was a long way to go and that the restraint and sacrifice for which he was asking would have to be matched by restraint and sacrifice on his part—above all, the sacrifice of some of his more rooted ideologies.

The Prime Minister cannot be proud that those talks are now suspended. He knows how vitally important they are. But even when they resume they will take place in a different atmosphere. The TUC can agree but the Prime Minister knows that of itself it cannot deliver. Trade union leaders can agree but they cannot deliver. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not understand the nature of industrial democracy—the pressures, the fears even the sometimes irrational actions arising from fear or bitterness. For them it is easy explaining it all in terms of militants Communists, "Trots", Maoists and the rest.

The Prime Minister—and he will have to face this one; he will not be smirking if he continues with his policies—despite the Jones-Aldington Report, clearly regards Mr. Jones as one of the extremists he referred to in terms on 29th June at Question Time. If he does not, perhaps he will tell us who the extremists were he had in mind. But his legislation has weakened the power of responsible trade union leadership—and this he will eventually learn.

But the right hon. Gentleman deludes himself if he believes that the reactions in industry, going far beyond the docks, in the past two days are the work of extremists and trouble-makers. This is a grass roots, factory floor situation. I have personally heard this week the reactions of men I respect on the trade union side in industry. I have read the reactions of men I know to be moderates. Does the Prime Minister agree that the Notts miners are as moderate a group as we can find on the industrial scene? He may remember a former Member of the House, Sid Schofield, now secretary of the Yorkshire miners. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that he is a very moderate leader. Yet he is calling for a TUC conference to consider a national strike.

The Prime Minister may deplore those feelings, but he should not underrate them. They are as real and, if disregarded, as potent as the beliefs of international speculators and sober corporation treasurers whose beliefs led them into actions which forced the Government to devalue a month ago. The right hon. Gentleman has had to take them into account. He should take into account the views of moderate leaders of the trade union movement.

Whatever action the Government take now will be dangerously late. But to take no action at all is a prescription for national disaster. They give the impression in what they have said publicly that they see no way out unless the fairy queen from the Official Solicitor's office waves his wand again. [An Hon. Member: "You have said that."] It is important to go on saying it. The Government have relied on external intervention. They stopped the dock strike a month ago. Rolls-Royce was saved only by the vote of a maverick American senator. The Government are not in control of the matters in which they intervene. If the Official Solicitor succeeds again, his salary should be paid on a payments-by-results basis.

Some of my hon. Friends may feel—and I understand this feeling—that it is for the Government to take action without our help or to remain impaled on a hook of their own construction. I believe that where the Government have failed the Opposition have the duty, not to the Government but to the nation, to point the way for the Government to follow. There is only one way: this Act must go; and the Government must take the initiative. They must surely realise that the Act is dying anyway, dying on its own two feet. [An Hon. Member: "Like you."] The interruptions are now reaching a very high intellectual level! Some hon. Members opposite who have been shouting will not be here to see the repeal of the Act in the next Parliament.

The Secretary of State will be very wary of making any further references to the court of the kind which involved him in such humiliation a month ago. As long as the Act remains, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not make references, it will be sporadically and provocatively invoked by mainly small employers, some serious and dedicated, others living in a long-dead past, and yet other wild-cat employers of the type who infest those somewhat unsavoury political fringes of industry. We can have politically-motivated men on more than one side of industry, as witness the fringe organisations which briefly flourish at election times in support of the Conservative Party.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman: repeal the Act. To help him I pledge the fullest co-operation of the Opposition in facilitating the necessary parliamentary procedures. We will go in his Lobby against some hon. Members opposite who will regret the retreat. But—and I am trying to help the right hon. Gentleman; I wish hon. Members opposite would understand this—if that involves too much loss of face—and the right hon. Gentleman's face week by week is becoming the most expensive commodity in British history; it is the face which stopped a thousand ships—then let the Government consider two important, limited but fundamental Amendments.

First, they should take the advice of Lord Devlin and take the contempt powers out of the Act and treat the court not as a court of law but as a commission. Secondly, they should look at the proposal made in the Guardian last weekend sugegsting that action to invoke the court shall be confined to those references taken on the initiative of the Minister, and it would be important that this should require the approval of this House before the court was invoked. If that were accompanied—and this would be very helpful—by a statement by the Government that the Secretary of State did not propose to invoke the law, that would do for the present—until we came in and despatched the Act, the court and, one hopes, the Solicitor-General to merciful oblivion.

But I am told—and perhaps the Prime Minister can confirm this—that the principle of private enterprise use of the Act by private firms, privateering, is so deeply ingrained in the Bill, so deeply incorporated in the warp and weft of its entire tapestry, that this would be too complicated and would take too long. If that is so—and the Secretary of State will be able to tell us—the answer is simple. Repeal is the only way—and the Prime Minister will be able to claim that this is a far, far better thing than he has ever done.

Let the Government therefore announce their intention to repeal, for we simply cannot afford to continue this process of provocation and industrial paralysis every few months as a result of the Government's misreading of the industrial situation. When the toll of this week's stoppages is counted, the Government will be very near recording twice as many man-days lost through disputes in 25 months as were lost in nearly six years of the Labour Government—and the Prime Minister was elected on a mandate to stop this loss of man-days.

If they refuse to govern, if they refuse to act, let the Government resign. Let the responsibility for industrial relations and, with it, the strength and well being of British industry pass into the hands of those who will act because they know the British people and care about them.

4.1 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I should like if I may to address myself to the facts of the present situation and first as the Adjournment is on the general industrial situation, speak about the present position. I do not in any way underestimate the seriousness of this situation and, in particular, the fact that the docks are out and that there are some 50,000 dockers on strike. There are other working people on strike, particularly in parts of the coal mining industry and in the newspaper industry.

It is especially to be regretted that there should be a stoppage in the newspaper industry at such a time as this when Britain and the British people are entitled to have information. Most of the stoppages otherwise have been token stoppages, and our latest information is that, in addition to the 50,000 dockers on strike, there are 30,000 other workers who have come out, a total of 80,000. That is to be regretted, but it has to be compared with 24,500,000, which is the working population of the country.

Mr. J. D. Concannon (Mansfield) rose

The Prime Minister

I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not wish to talk of an industrial paralysis throughout the country in this situation.

Now I wish to deal with the facts—

Mr. Concannon rose

The Prime Minister

I have a great deal to say and it is a short debate. I am sorry, but I am unable to give way. [Hon. Members: "Give way."] I shall not give way, because I have a great deal to say and the debate is short.

I wish now to deal with the facts of the case which led to this situation. It is right that the House as a whole should hear the details of this case. On 3rd July, Midland Cold Storage applied to the court on the ground that the men concerned—

Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

This is disgraceful.

The Prime Minister

—were committing an unfair industrial practice by blacking. On 7th July the court ordered the men to desist. The court described its injunction as "ordering a truce". I wish to bring the details of this case to the attention of the whole House because they are essential to the argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Prime Minister to intervene in a debate on the present industrial situation only to recite to us from a brief facts that we read in the Press weeks ago?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows quite well that that is not a point of order.

The Prime Minister

I am certainly going to tell the House all the details of this case.

The purpose of the court order was to secure a truce"— these are the words of the court and I am therefore entitled to quote them— in common fairness and elementary justice. The dockers would have complained if the court had accepted Midland's complaint without the fullest investigation. But such an investigation took time if it was to be full and fair to everybody. Therein lay the problem. Unless a truce were effected, Midland would be out of business and their employees dismissed before the investigation was completed. Such a result would be most unfair. Whether they were right or wrong the dockers would win anyway. That was not justice. Neither the dockers nor anybody else would suggest that it was.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) rose

The Prime Minister

I cannot give way.

Those are the words of the court explaining why it made the order—that there should be a truce in the blacking of Midland Cold Storage. The court went on to say—[Interruption.]—the House is entitled to hear the details of this case. The court went on to give a description of the blacking and the picketing and said: It was no idle threat and the drivers knew it for the pickets recorded details of all vehicles which crossed the picket line. Thereafter the names of all concerned were circulated to docks throughout the country and dockers who worked there carried out the blacking. Each of the seven dockers was involved in one way or another in these threats and each was ordered to stop doing so. Mr. Justice Megarry also summed up the effect on the firm and why the truce was asked for: The effect of these acts on Midland's business had been disastrous. Instead of a weekly profit of hundreds of pounds, they were now running at a weekly loss of over £2,000. The great majority of traders and hauliers who used the store had ceased to do so. An object if not the main object of the picketing was to secure the employment of registered dock workers who were members of the Transport Union or some union other than USDAW in place of USDAW workers. That is the situation which led up to this case. I believe that it is a situation which demands great attention. The court, because of that, ordered a truce. Is the House to say that the court which asked for a truce in that situation to enable a solution to be found is wrong? [Hon. Members: "The court ordered a truce."] It ordered a truce so that the matter could be investigated thoroughly and a solution found. It could be investigated by a committee, or the union and the employers, or by conciliation. All of those ways were available, and the court ordered a truce.

But the men concerned were not willing to stand by a truce. They also rejected the constitutional processes of their own unions. [Interruption.] This is the trouble with industrial relations—hon. Gentlemen opposite are not prepared to reason or to listen. The men concerned refused a truce and rejected the constitutional processes of their own unions and the joint negotiating machinery of the industry. Does the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition think he is right, therefore, to say that these men felt that they were unfairly challenged by the law of the State? They reject their own unions, they reject the joint negotiating machinery, and they reject the request for a truce in order to find a solution. There can be no justification for saying—

Mr. Harold Wilson

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the Jones-Aldington Committee was sitting to provide the answer. By the action of his Government under this Act the Jones-Aldington Committee has been severely endangered. Will he stop reciting the history that we have all read and tell us what he will do about it?

The Prime Minister

As the Jones-Aldington Committee was already sitting, how does the right hon. Gentleman justify the refusal of the workers to accept a ruce while it did its work? How does the right hon. Gentleman justify this firm being put out of business and the USDAW workers being put out of their jobs while the Jones/Aldington Committee was finding a solution? That is what the right hon. Gentleman has to justify, and he cannot do it.

Mr. Robert Mellish (Bermondsey)

I come from the dock industry, and this matters to me. I will try to put it in the right perspective. The dock workers rightly or wrongly according to one's individual judgment, sincerely believed that they were fighting for the right to work. It mattered to them and they felt it. No words and arguments of that kind will change a man's conscience. That is why they did what they did.

The Prime Minister

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, but perhaps I am at liberty to point out that the USDAW workers were fighting for their jobs, too.

To continue with the facts in this case, the men who were asked for a truce were given a full fortnight from the moment of the injunction to reconsider the position. It was only on 21st July that the court committed to prison five out of the seven dockers against whom complaints had been laid. I draw the attention of the House to the words of the court in doing this: Midland and their workers are entitled to be protected from these men who have constituted themselves judge and jury in their own cause. If the court cannot protect them by orders, it has no alternative but to resort to physical restraint. The purpose of the Court was to protect the firm and those who were working in it while a solution was found to these problems. Again I say to the Leader of the Opposition, what he has to justify is their refusal to do precisely that.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West) rose

The Prime Minister

I am always ready to give way, but it means that others will not be able to speak.

Mr. Orme

Is the Prime Minister now saying that the Act was brought in so that at the end of the day trade unionists could be put in prison?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has given me no justification for giving way again.

When the court made its judgment it said: But the issue is far greater even than good industrial relations. That is what the right hon. Gentleman referred to. The public at large through a properly elected Parliament has set up the industrial court. It has given this court the power and duty of protecting the rights of all workers, unions and employers in accordance with the law. The issue is whether these men are to be allowed to opt out of the rule of law. Can they pick and choose, relying on it for the protection of their homes and families but rejecting it when even temporarily it obstructs their industrial objectives? That is the issue to which the right hon. Gentleman has not addressed himself in any way at all. That is the issue which the court had to decide. Were these men to be allowed to opt out of the law of this country? The court decided "No". That is the issue on which the House has to express its opinion. If the Opposition divide the House tonight they will be doing so unequivocally in favour of being able to opt out of the rule of law. [Interruption.]

I did not listen to Lord Devlin on "Panorama". I was in discussion with the TUC throughout the evening. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to quote the interview, but I shall quote the authorities of the courts. What the court has said is that these men are in no different position from any other citizen who defies a court order under any other Act. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to dispute that, he should tell the country so. That is the position.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman challenging me? I quoted Lord Devlin, and the right hon. Gentleman is singularly unwilling to reply. What I said was that this should not have been in the Act. When human considerations are involved, matters should not be dealt with in an ordinary court.

The Prime Minister

With great respect, it is not in the Act. The High Court has powers to deal with contempt and to use physical restraint. This is acourt with similar powers to the High Court, and it has these powers. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to say that it should be a tribunal or a similar body, he is entitled to use that argument, but as it is an Act of Parliament and as the court has been set up he is not entitled to say that that Act and that court should be defied or that the court should not use its powers. I think the right hon. Gentleman is saying that this is a new court under a new Act and it ought not to be observed. That is a doctrine of anarchy which I believe the House will reject.

Let us look at the situation before—

Mr. Harold Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman quote one word I have said to the effect that the court should not be observed? I said that the court should not be there with those powers, but I said that the law must be obeyed. Will he admit that I said that?

The Prime Minister

The court is there and the Act is there and the right hon. Gentleman should immediately tell the five workers that they should obey the court. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to say that this position has been brought about by the Act—[Hon. Members: "Withdraw."] I shall certainly not withdraw. If the right hon. Gentleman holds the view, he says he holds, he should tell the dockers to obey the court.

As the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to blame the Government and the Act, let us look at the position before the Act. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General pointed out at the weekend that injunctions against the pickets in the Midlands Cold Storage dispute could have been obtained without the Industrial Relations Act ever having been in existence. Mr. Justice Megarry in the Chancery Court last week clearly expressed the view that these pickets would not have been entitled to any of the protection afforded by Sections 2 and 3 of the Trade Disputes Act, 1906, or by the Trade Disputes Act introduced and passed by the Labour Government in 1965. [Interruption.] Members cannot dispute that; I am stating the view of the court.

Let us now take the position supposing the trade disputes protection had applied to the Midland Cold Storage disput. Trade union Members on the Opposition benches who have been concerned in these matters know perfectly well that the protection applied only to inducing or threatening to induce breaches of contract of employment.

An Hon. Member

What about the Torquay case?

The Prime Minister

I am coming to that.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose

The Prime Minister

In this dispute we are largely concerned not with contracts of employment—[Interruption.] I would have thought that the House would want to debate this matter seriously. In this dispute we are largely concerned not with contracts of employment but with commercial contracts. In other words even under the old law, under the Liberal Party law of 1906 and under the Labour Party's law of 1965, injunctions could have been obtained against these pickets.

An Hon. Member

How many were obtained?

The Prime Minister

If these injunctions had not been complied with, those who defied the order of the court would have been clearly liable to imprisonment in exactly the same way. To say otherwise is to deceive the House and the country.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how he reconciles the judicial ruling he has read with the judgment of Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls, in 1969, Chancery Court proceedings, page 139, in particular that part of the judgment which will be found at F, G and H of that page?

The Prime Minister

It may be very clever of the right hon. Gentleman to have been advised by his right hon. and learned Friend to produce that sort of question but what good does it do to a serious debate? I am dealing with the situation in the court and the plain fact is that the situation before this Act was exactly the same. There could have been an injunction and if that had not been observed then the men could have been sent to prison for contempt.

I read last Sunday that the right hon. Member for Blackburn(Mrs. Castle) said that if the Labour Party had been returned to power and she had been allowed to put her Industrial Relations Bill on the Statute Book no docker would be in prison today. What the hon. Lady has forgotten is that even after the Labour Government had taken out of their legislation virtually everything to which the TUC was opposed, her published Bill would have left the legal position of those who induced a breach of commercial contract substantially unchanged. Exactly the same consequences would have followed. The same penalties would have been there, with those consequences.

Therefore I must put another question to the Leader of the Opposition. Is he saying that in these matters, specifically a breach of contract, in other matters of industrial relations in which the weak are being protected, be it union, employees or a firm, there are to be no sanctions of any kind in the ultimate event? If the right hon. Gentleman says there should be attachment of earnings, I am advised that those concerned have to attend the court for the attachment to be made. How is the right hon. Gentleman to behave if they refuse to attend court for that matter? The right hon. Gentleman must face up to the fact that eventually, in all circumstances, if there is to beany order at all—and I think the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) will agree here—a court of law has to have a sanction which it can use.

Mr. Wilson

On the question of the law before 1971—in other words, not the Industrial Relations Act of this Government—on the whole, after consideration, I prefer the judgment of Lord Denning to that of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the question of contempt pro- ceedings under this Act, I prefer the views of Lord Devlin to which the right hon. Gentleman has cleverly abstained from replying.

The Prime Minister

I have quoted the views of those in the Industrial Relations Court and the Chancery Court. I will of course take Lord Denning's views into consideration, but I am not dealing with those at the moment. The points I have dealt with require answers from the right hon. Gentleman if he is to take this view. Those who support the five dockers in their defiance, who advocate massive strikes in sympathy, should say whether they support defiance only of those laws enacted by this Government or whether they would similarly support defiance of the Acts of 1906 and 1965. I do not believe that they would, and they ought to accept that the laws of this Parliament and the courts of the land should be obeyed.

We are coming near to the point when the individual citizen seeks to choose which law he will obey, and in a democracy where laws are passed in a Parliament based on universal suffrages, that is an intolerable proposition for the Opposition to proclaim. One day, presumably, they will expect to be called back to office. Would they be content in power with the situation in which individuals begin to decide which laws they will comply with, which taxes they will pay, which courts they will resist? I see the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) shaking his head. Last Friday I gave him full credit for having had the guts to state the real position.

Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)

Will the Prime Minister at least acknowledge that what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech just now, what he has said consistently and what many of us have said consistently is that we do believe that the laws of this country should be obeyed? We think that this is a bad law and that it should be changed but that in the meantime it should be obeyed. He should not build a speech on pretending that we have taken a stand that we have not taken.

The Prime Minister

I have given the righthon. Gentleman credit for what he said and it was very different from what was being said elsewhere in his Party. But if right hon. Gentlemen are putting that doctrine forward—also put forward by the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn)—that people can choose the legislation which they are prepared to obey and the courts which they are prepared to accept, then it will not only be dockers who will take advantage of this new doctrine. [Hon. Members: "Who says that?"] Let the right hon. Gentleman repudiate it and urge those dockers to accept the ruling of the court.

Mr. Wilson

I have already said in this speech and every other that the law must be obeyed. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman now to say who on this side of the House said what he is now attributing to us.

The Prime Minister

I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman reads the "Tolpuddle Martyrs' Manifesto" of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) last Saturday. He will see it there all right.

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to prove that it is only under this Act that injunctions were sought and that otherwise the system has worked perfectly well. Of course he is wrong. When the right hon. Gentleman was in power injunctions were sought and made against pickets wrongfully interfering with contractual relations. This was done on at least three occasions. It was done in 1967 at Bernard Sunley's in London, in 1969 in the Torquay Hotel Company case and in 1970 at Johnson Matthey. The right hon. Gentleman said that during his time there was no case of imprisonment. Why was this so? It was because in all these cases the order of the court was complied with immediately and scrupulously.

There was no difference. They are both courts with the power of the High Court. They are both Acts of Parliament and they are both dealing with commercial contracts. Therefore there was absolutely no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not say that this order of the court should be complied with by the five dockers, which he has so far refused to say. These earlier injunctions were ordered by the court and carried out immediately.

Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

Is not the explanation this? Historically and recently trade unionists have obeyed the injunctions of the courts. They are disobeying the injunctions of this court because it is regarded as a piece of political mechanism infiltrated into the administration of justice of this country and the fact of the refusal of the injunction is a measure of the refusal of the working people of this country to accept the jurisdiction of this court.

The Prime Minister

I have the greatest respect for the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but that is an extraordinary argument for a former Law Officer of the Crown to put forward. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not saying that there was any justification for resisting these injunctions. There was no justification. This is a branch of the High Court set up under an Act of Parliament. I should have thought a former Law Officer would have been the first to make that clear to every trade unionist. [Interruption.] Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends have agreed, when the Restrictive Practices Act was passed in 1956 and the Restrictive Practices Court was set up with the power of the High Court, that the employers were justified if they had said "This is a purely political Act set up by a Government for a specific purpose. Therefore, we are justified in resisting its orders."? The Opposition would never have accepted that for one moment. I am astonished that a former Law Officer should take that attitude.

We all know that the industrial practices of picketing and blacking started as attempts by trade unionists to counter the overwhelming power of employers. How different from their use in this case and similar cases today! We now see employers, who have no dispute with their work force, are on good terms with them and their elected trade union representatives, and are pursing a legitimate business in a legitimate way—[Interruption.]—I should have thought all those things were something to be satisfied about, both by employers and trade unionists—find camped outside their gates men who they have never seen before, with whom they have no connection, and who have no constitutional authority in the trade union movement.

Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central) rose

The Prime Minister

They are men who use blacking and picketing to destroy that firm and the livelihood of its employees. [Interruption.] We cannot be surprised that in such circumstances those who are aggrieved, sometimes employees and sometimes employers, should look to the law and to the courts. Where else can they go for redress in the circumstances?

Mr. Clinton Davis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not a matter of common courtesy that when an hon. Member whose constituency is affected by a matter of this kind the Prime Minister should give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

No. It is entirely within the discretion of an hon. Member whether to give way or not.

The Prime Minister

I have given way many times and many hon. Members wish to speak.

Where else, in those circumstances, can the aggrieved go for redress? Knowing these facts, hon. Gentlemen opposite with a real knowledge of the trade unions must be sickened by the claptrap which they have now heard, comparing the five men who are now in prison in the circumstances which I have described to the men who were sentenced at Tolpuddle 150 years ago. What a comparison! [Interruption.] The practices which were invented to protect the weak against the strong are now being used unconstitutionally to impose the will of the strong on the weak. That is what is happening. I again remind the House of the words of Mr. Justice Megarry: It is not a case of dockers fighting to save their jobs but all dockers fighting to take the jobs of dockers by putting Midland's business in peril. That is the law of the jungle, but the law of the jungle is not law but force. Those who obtain jobs in that way might in their turn have their jobs taken from them by other people with greater power or cunning. It is the weak who would go to the wall, both employers and employees. It is the function of the law to protect the weak against the unfair use of power. It has been said that we are seeking a confrontation. We have heard much in industrial relations debates about confrontation. In the case of the five dockers, who was confronting whom? [Interruption.] As the right hon. Member for East Ham, North said in a moment of lucidity and honesty, for which he is now being reviled below the Gangway, these dockers had been trying to become martyrs for weeks. I give him full credit for publicly saying so. The House will recall the anger of the dockers when they found they were prevented from going to prison on the previous occasion. [Interruption.]

Let us look at the real situation. The modernisation of the docks has created a grave social problem. It is a real problem which concerns Governments, unions and employees, and the courts have asked for a truce. It is a problem whose importance no one denies. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentleman below the Gangway are doing themselves and their trade unions no good by their behaviour.

In recent weeks we have seen two different ways of approaching the problem. On the one hand, there is the Jones/Aldington Committee. Its results were announced yesterday. That Committee, on which employers and unions have been working together to tackle the real problem of the industry, produced a series of agreed conclusions which I believe will commend themselves to all concerned. [Interruption.] Why did the right hon Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition not tell the dockers to have a truce whilst a solution was worked out? Let the right hon. Gentleman answer that. One of the Committee's conclusions involves financial assistance by the Government to supplement the measures which the industry—[Interruption.] I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman to take his responsibility as Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Harold Wilson

I should like a truce now. I should like the Jones/Aldington Report, which has been endangered by the Act, to go through. Will the right hon. Gentleman, before he sits down, instead of throwing it all at us—we are very patient and we will listen to anything he wants to say—tell us how the Government are going to get out of this mess?

The Prime Minister

The Government will not interfere or attempt to overrule the courts of this land. I should have thought the Labour Party and the Leader of the Labour Party would have been the first above all, to remember what happened to a Government who interfered with the law of this land and with the courts. The right hon. Gentleman should read his history and recall what happened to the first Labour Government.

I shall now deal with the Jones-Aldington Committee. One of its conclusions involves financial assistance by the Government to supplement the measures which the industry will be taking and paying for. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment told the House yesterday, we are ready to give that assistance when normal working is resumed.—[Interruption.] Is the right hon. Gentleman criticising the Government for taking part in a tripartite arrangement to help the docks? If he is, I thoroughly condemn him for doing so, and he had better say so frankly.

Mr. Harold Wilson

The words I used were justified: conscience money.

The Prime Minister

I have seldom heard a more despicable phrase from anybody who has held high office in this country. [Interruption.] I am not going to be shouted down by anybody. The proposal of the Committee is that for a period of five months the maximum voluntary severance entitlement—[Interruption.] It is obvious that hon. Members opposite are not interested in the dockers in any way at all. The proposal is that the maximum voluntary severance entitlement for unfit registered dockers and those over 55—[An Hon. Member: "Bring back Reggie."]—should be increased from the present level of about £2,300 to £4,000, and the minimum for the unfit from £1,000 to £2,000. [Interruption.] I hope that when the Press resumes publication the country outside will be told about the attitude of the Labour Party to any improvement in the position of dockers.

During this period in which the improvement will be made the Government will meet the full cost of severance to those two categories of men. A Supplementary Estimate will be laid before the House in due course, and in the meantime, so that the scheme can start as soon as possible, recourse will be had to the Contingency Fund. That is one approach—through investigation, conciliation, persuasion and a joint effort by all con- cerned. [An Hon. Member: "What conciliation?"]

The other approach has been that taken by the dockers. They decided, quite arbitarily, that work in a particular firm should be taken away from fellow trade unionists and given to dockers. They tried to impose that decision by force, by disrupting the business of the firm and destroying the livelihood of their fellow workers. They refused to desist when their fellow workers requested them to do so. They refused to desist when a court ordered them to do so. They refused to desist, even to allow the problem to be examined and a sensible solution to be found. They have been resolved to take advantage of the problem, not in order to improve the livelihood of their fellow workers but in order to damage it; not to bring about harmony in the docks but to create disruption. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know that to be the truth.

Mr. Maurice Orbach (Stockport, South)

What are you going to do about it?

The Prime Minister

They know that these men are exploiting traditional trade union solidarity for ends which have nothing to do with genuine trade union aims.

Last Saturday the right hon. Member for Bristol, South East—

Mr. Heffer rose

The Prime Minister

I am sorry I cannot give way. I am nearing the end of my remarks.

Mr. Heffer

Why does he not give way?

The Prime Minister

Last Saturday the right hon. Member—

Mr. Heffer rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) knows the rules of the House as well as anybody. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, the hon. Member must sit down. We must have the rules kept, and this is all the more essential when feelings run high.

Mr. Heffer

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have kept strictly to the rules of the House. All I wished to do was to raise a point with the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that this is not a point of order for me. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

I hope we may still observe the rules of order in Parliament, even if the hon. Gentleman will not support them outside.

The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East wrote about seeking respect for our traditional human values. What are these values? Do they relate to men acting unofficially?

Mr. Heffer

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister just said that I have to abide by the rules of the House here, even if I do not accept them outside. Is he suggesting that I am not accepting the rules of this House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am not en titled, or able, to answer for the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member knows that cannot possibly be a point of order for me.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East wrote last week of seeking respect for our tradi tional human values—

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister said that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was not obeying the rules—

The Prime Minister


Mr. Short

The right hon. Gentleman said that my hon. Friend had to obey the rules in this House even if he did not obey them outside. The right hon. Gentleman is impunging the integrity of my hon. Friend. Is not my hon. Friend entitled to some protection from the Chair when this arrogant Prime Minister makes that kind of accusation?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is not a serious point of order. What the Prime Minister said, as I understood him, was that the hon. Gentleman had to obey the rules of order in this House. Obviously, the rules of order in this House do not apply outside.

The Prime Minister

I do not wish to question the hon. Gentleman's integrity either inside or outside the House; I make that quite clear.

I return to what was said by the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East last Saturday about seeking respect for our traditional human values. I was asking what are these traditional human values which the Opposition tonight are seeking to respect. Are they respecting men acting unofficially, blacking firms, putting fellow trade unionists out of work, attempting to drive a firm with which they have no connection out of business? Are they defending the traditional values by refusing to allow time for conciliation?

Mr. Orbach

What are you doing about the situation?

The Prime Minister

Are they defending the traditional values by advocating open defiance of the law? Is this what the Opposition stand for in this debate? Is this what they are urging trade unionists to work for? Is this what they are to vote upon tonight? It is a distortion and perversion of everything we have stood for in this House and in this country.

The issue does not lie between the Industrial Relations Act on the one hand and trade unionists on the other hand. It lies between the two approaches I have mentioned. It lies between conciliation and persuasion on the one hand, and bullying and disruption on the other.

Despite what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I suppose I have had more meetings in the last two years with trade unionists and their different bodies than anybody in any previous Government. I have listened to them patiently because I believe they have a right to a very important say in our legislation and in our economy.

Mr. Harold Wilson rose

The Prime Minister

I cannot give way again.

I have done this because I believe the priority in trade union leadership is to improve the standard of living of its members. I believe that the co-operation about which we have been having meetings recently on the whole economy can be fruitful and can have advantages for the whole country. I do not believe that the trade union leaders and the great majority of trade unions will throw away the advantages and fall into the trap prepared for them by those who have provoked and engineered the present situation.

There is a choice also for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let them be in no doubt about the meaning of their vote tonight. If they vote tonight they will be voting against finding solutions through conciliation in industrial relations. They will be voting—[Interruption.] They had better listen to what it is against which they will be voting. They will be voting against constitutional authority in the trade unions. They will be voting against seeking a rational solution to genuine problems. They will be voting against the interests of millions of trade unionists and against the rule of law. They will be voting for the doctrine that irresponsible industrial strength shall with impunity override the interests of the community, the rights of individuals and the rule of law. It is for that that they will be voting. If that is their position, Heaven help the party opposite! If that is their position, they had better say so openly, when the people will judge them.

Mr. Orbach

Heil Hitler!

4.51 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

This debate will not be televised and it may not be reported in the Press. But anyone who has attended it in any capacity will realise the bitter divisions in industrial affairs which characterise this House. Unless those divisions can be healed and unless the bitterness can be overcome I see nothing but economic chaos for the country.

I have only two basic assertions to make, and my speech is in support of both. The first is that, whatever view one takes, the implications for the economy of the country and for our whole pattern of industrial relations are as grave as any industrial situation to have faced the country since the General Strike. The second is that no one who has been involved in these matters comes out of them well or wisely.

I happen to be in a slightly different position [Interruption.] My colleagues and I voted for the Second Reading of the Industrial Relations Bill. Our reason for doing so was that we believed that there were certain aspects of the Bill which were valuable and which could help improve our industrial society. But we made it plain—[Interruption.] I am not answerable to the Labour Party and, as far as I can see, there are certain hon. Members on the Opposition benches who fall into the same category. We made it plain that there were certain matters, not least the confrontation which might result from criminal powers and the danger of matters of contempt arising out of the legislation, that we wished to see amended in Committee. We gave notice that if those Amendments were not carried we should vote against the Third Reading, and so we did.

We made precisely the same point to the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) when she introduced her Bill. With my colleague Richard Wainwright, the former Member for Colne Valley, I made it clear to her that we intended to support the Second Reading but that unles certain matters were amended we should vote against any subsequent proposals, and that we did.

No one can deny that a situation in which talks between the Government, the TUC and the CBI have been postponed, in which there is a strike at the docks and in which there is a very real chance of a General Strike presents for the country a very grave situation whatever view one may take of the dispute.

I believe that both management and trade unionism are vital elements in our society. But I do not believe that at any time either of those elements should dominate society or be thought to have, if not the exclusive, the pervading ear of the Government of the day. Whatever criticisms may be made against my own party—and 2 million people voted for it—no one will suggest that the party that I have the honour to belong to is the political wing of either of those two interests. Neither are we under any financial obligation to either of them.

Therefore, I should like to examine very briefly the mam actors in this tragedy. I turn first to the most powerful, which is the Government of the day. It is possible to argue, although, with respect to the Prime Minister, there is a different legal interpretation, that the commitment to prison for contempt could have flowed from an interlocutory injunction under the 1906 and 1965 Trades Disputes Acts. I have read the view of the Attorney-General. I have read other views. But the point is that the Industrial Relations Act has changed the whole climate of opinion towards the courts. That is what is important. It is not whether technically this might have happened had an application been made under one of two previous Acts. It is whether the situation and the climate would have been such that this confrontation would have been arrived at.

I believe that Lord Donovan was right when he made it plain that if into industrial relations, which after all is a matter of human relations between one man and another, one imports the whole majesty of the law and all the terrors, deterrents and punishments of the law, one induces a situation in which there will be confrontation. What the Industrial Relations Act has done is to create tensions making it much more likely that an individual will defy the law of the land than may have been the case before it was passed.

It is no good the Government saying that they had a mandate to introduce it. Many Governments have many mandates to introduce many measures. The law of the mandate does not override the law of what is practicable and acceptable. If the Prime Minister has any doubts on that issue he should ask the Leader of the Opposition for his views on the Iron and Steel Bill between 1964 and 1966.

This Government are very keen to criticise the Labour Party for being Socialist doctrinaires. But there is nothing more doctrinaire than the Industrial Relations Act. It was drafted when the present Government were in opposition, before the Donovan Report was published—

The Prime Minister indicated dissent.

Mr. Thorpe

—and even when faced with the Donovan Report this Government were not prepared to change one comma or semi-colon in their draft legislation. It was pre-Donovan. [Interruption.] I am asked why I voted. Because I believe in the right of trade unionists to have information regarding their companies and in the right of appeal against unjust dismissals. I can enumerate other factors to the advantage of trade unionists and the making of better industrial relations. I voted against Third Reading because I believed that to bring in the law for the settlement of industrial relations was profoundly wrong. As the Leader of the Opposition, in a speech with which I found myself chiefly in disagreement, said, the Betteshanger Colliery dispute of 1941 proved that.

The first point is that the Government's psychology has been wrong because it has created a climate in which it is more likely that people will welcome a confrontation with the law than co-operation with it.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that the fact that a large number of railway men on two occasions called off industrial action in response to the request of the NIRC pinpoints the difference between them and this small number of dockers who many people feel were hell bent on being sent to prison?

Mr. Thorpe

I am coming to that point. We have all the dockers out on strike and we are possibly on the verge of a general strike. I should think that was the most up-to-date commentary on the effect of the Industrial Relations Act.

The second actor to whom I would refer is Sir John Donaldson. I do so diffidently and declare an interest as a lawyer. I have never felt that any person should be precluded from sitting on the bench because he has had a political past. Were that the case, it would be a new form of political test which I should be the first to deplore. I do not underestimate the qualities and the integrity of Sir John Donaldson. However, when one has a distinguished lawyer, such as he is, with views on industrial affairs which have been as pronounced as his have been in the past, I believe it was not showing the total sensitivity that one would expect of the Lord Chancellor in appointing him to the NIRC. I do not believe that the subsequent track record of appeals is a factor which redresses the balance. I am not criticising the learned judge. I am merely saying that his appointment to a court which was likely to be far more controversial than any other court or any other division of the High Court was not the most sensitive appointment which could have been made in the circumstances. I put it no higher than that. I am not attacking the learned judge. I am merely saying that a more sensitive and, therefore, acceptable choice might have been made.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)

By the same token, was it not perhaps insensitive to appoint Lord Donovan, who, in his time, had been a Labour Member of Parliament, to head the Commission on Industrial Relations?

Mr. Thorpe

The hon. and learned Gentleman has had such a distinguished career at the Bar that he has obviously not been in touch with politics for as long as some of us here. Lord Donovan was appointed to the Royal Commission on Trade Unions. The report which he produced, to which unfortunately this Government and their predecessors paid far too little attention, indicated the force of what I am saying—namely, that the political antecedents of a distinguished lawyer should not preclude him from office or appointment to Royal Commissions, but that on every occasion of such appointment a certain sensitivity is required on the part of those who appoint him.

I move to the next actor in this tragedy—the trade unions themselves. Nobody can say that this is Lord Melbourne and the Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834 all over again.

Mr. Orme

That is what they said in 1834.

Mr. Thorpe

Whatever may have been said in 1834—I do not live as much in the past as some hon. Gentlemen—we know the facts. This is not a Tolpuddle Martyrs' situation; this is not a vicious lockout by employers backed by the Government. The Government may have a part to play. This matter arises from a dispute between the members of two unions, USDAW and the Transport and General Workers Union, who are competing for certain work.

Mr. Orme

That is not true.

Mr. Thorpe

It is a fact. Indeed, it may almost be in breach of the Bridlington Agreement.

Mr. Heffer

It is not.

Mr. Thorpe

If the hon. Gentleman thinks there is a difference between the poaching of members and actually demanding that one group of people should switch to one's own union, I agree that poaching is the better of the two.

Therefore, at the very moment when the Jones/Aldington Committee was at work, the timing of an inter-union dispute on this matter was extremely ill-judged and unnecessary. The one thing that was wanted was an agreement which could be accepted within the unions. Therefore, I think the timing was ill-judged.

Mr. Heffer

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, as it gives me an opportunity of pointing out—

Mr. Thorpe

I gave way but not so that the hon. Member can make the intervention which he was unable to make with the Prime Minister.

Mr. Heffer

It is on the same important point. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Jones/Aldington Committee. The second recommendation of that Committee's interim report very clearly points out that stuffing and stripping of groupage containers carried to and from their ports is performed that as good terms and conditions as obtain where such work is carried out under proper agreements between the unions and port authorities or other major groupage operators. The essence of the whole situation is that the conditions and terms of employment are not as good. The report upholds the dockers in this struggle.

Mr. Thorpe

I do not normally thank the hon. Gentleman for reinforcing my speech, but I do so now. The hon. Gentleman has proved the entire point that here was a body of men, sympathetic and knowledgeable, going into the problem and producing a result which was agreed between Lord Aldington and Jack Jones. All that was asked was that whilst they were deliberating and producing an agreement there should be a truce, no more or no less. I cannot believe that was an unreasonable demand.

Finally, I move to the last of the actors in this tragedy—the Opposition themselves. We have had two views on the situation from Ham. We had one from the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) at the Dispatch Box this afternoon. We had another from the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice). The one is not a lawyer; the other is. I confess, I prefer the first reaction of the non-lawyer to the legal situation to the considered legal opinion of the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South. The right hon. Member for East Ham, North, who, I confess, appears to have had his views somewhat changed or modified by discussion with his colleagues, blurted out the truth when he was first quoted. He ended by saying that he deplored the Industrial Relations Act. In that he spoke for the whole of the Labour Party. I hope he also spoke for the whole of the Labour Party—I quote from The Guardian; no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will tell me whether it is inaccurate—when he said: I am angry with people like Bernie Steer. They are absolutely wrong to organise picketing and blacking which has not got the support of their union. They are even more wrong to defy the order of the court. They have been looking for martyrdom for weeks. I have no sympathy for them and I do not think they deserve the support of other workers.

Mr. Orme

They have got it.

Mr. Thorpe

On the radio this morning Mr. Vic Feather suggested what the Government ought to do, and my final point is to say what I think the Government should do, and here I disagree with Mr. Feather. He said that there is a Lord Chancellor, there are Attorney-Generals and there are Solicitor-Generals, and they should make known their views. Surely the essence of the rule of law in this country is that the only people who can make laws are the Members of this Parliament. Were it otherwise, we would be subject to the decree of any dictator.

Mr. Orme

The right hon. Gentleman voted against the Act.

Mr. Thorpe

And I voted against retrospective legislation when the Labour Government introduced a Bill which had the support of the Tory Front Bench.

Mr. Ron Lewis

The Liberal Party is like a rocking horse—all motion and no progress.

Mr. Thorpe

If I thought that I would not be out of order, I should in a friendly way refer to the hon. Gentleman as being like the grocer's cat—all piss and wind. The second factor—but it may be denied by the Opposition Front Bench—is that the only people who interpret and enforce the laws are the judges, the judiciary, and the moment the Executive starts to interefere with the judiciary one of our basic freedoms goes.

The third thing is that the obligation which the citizen has in return for the guarantee of an independent judiciary and for Parliament being the only body which can promulgate laws is to respect and obey them whether he likes it or not. If, out of this, the Government can learn not to be so stubborn in trade union negotiations and go back to the letter of pre-Donovan law, and if the trade unions can learn that the rule of law is basic to this society and that nobody is above it, then both sides may have learned something which will be to the benefit of the whole of this country and its future prosperity.

I respect laws which are passed even though I might criticise them. When one finds that laws are wrong, one seeks to work through the normal democratic processes to amend them. It is quite clear that the present state of the law will inevitably continue to bring about confrontations between the trade union movement and management or the Government or the nationalised industries. I believe that the first thing we have to do is to set up a working party under the chairmanship of someone like Lord Devlin or Lord Donovan—

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)

He is dead. [Laughter.]

Mr. Thorpe

The fact that one mentions someone like Lord Devlin or Lord Donovan and the latter is dead is no cause for mirth. The working party must be under the chairmanship of somebody who is respected as being totally impartial, and I gave two examples.

There are certain sections of the Act relating to unfair industrial practices which will have to be scrapped—there is no doubt about that—and in exchange there must be some movement by the trade unions towards acceptance of registration. There will have to be some new form of conciliation machinery, and agreements will have to be referable to the Monopoly and Restrictive Trade Practices Acts so that it can be seen that nobody in this country—nobody—is able to abuse a monopolistic position.

We should then move on to a works constitution Measure very much on the German model, but varied to the needs of our economic and industrial society, which would make works councils mandatory for any firm with more than 200 employees.

Mr. Orme

We do not want that rubbish.

Mr. Thorpe

The hon. Gentleman may not like it, but I should prefer to have the economic prosperity of West Germany, the comparatively better industrial relations and the greater rights which German workers have in comparison with workers in this country.

Mr. Orme

They are non-unionists.

Mr. Thorpe

I should like to see our company laws amended so that workers have substantially the same rights at annual meetings as shareholders to fire or elect the directors, who, after all, very much influence their lives, and influence them very much more than that of the average shareholder.

I believe that the people of this country are shocked at the damage that will be done to the economy. I believe they are shocked that we have not yet evolved a civilised industrial society in which there can be give and take and co-operation on both sides. If the Government have learned that there is a stage when they must stop being stubborn and sticking to what they said they were going to do 10 years ago and face the realities of the situation, and if the trade union movement likewise realises that the rule of law is basic to the liberties of everyone in this country, we shall begin to change industrial relations, and with it the health of our society.

5.16 p.m.

Mr. Robert Redmond (Bolton, West)

I must follow some of the comments of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). Some of his solutions, whether or not we agree with them, are somewhat long-term, and we are facing something that is rather urgent.

Most of the trouble arises from the fact that many trade unionists do not understand what the Industrial Relations Act is about. At lunchtime today I was informed on very good authority of a letter that had been written by a senior official of a trade union in Merseyside to Mr. Len Neal, a member of the CIR, complaining that he had put five people from the docks in gaol and asking him to release them. It is rather interesting that a senior trade union official can so confuse the CIR and the NIRC.

Mr. Ron Lewis

Name him.

Mr. Redmond

I am not going to be led into that sort of thing.

Mr. Lewis

Why not?

Mr. Redmond

Because I do not have his name with me. If the hon. Gentleman cares to get in touch with me after the debate, I shall see whether I can help him.

Mr. Lewis

Let his name appear in Hansard.

Mr. Redmond

I am sorry, but I have it from a reliable authority that a trade union official has written to Mr. Len Neal of the CIR.

Mr. Lewis

Give us the authority.

Mr. Redmond

I am sorry, but I am not going to be led any further into this as I do not have the permission of the person from whom I received the information to reveal his name. If the hon. Gentleman cares to see me afterwards, I shall see whether I can get permission for that to be done.

It is a tragedy that a situation like this can arise, but it is also a dreadful tragedy that five people should find themselves in gaol because they have been so misled as to believe themselves to be martyrs. The blame for this lies on those who ought to know better. It lies on the people who have misled these dockers, and they have done so because they do not understand what the Act is about.

The plain fact is that but for the intervention of the NIRC the dockers would have won their case by brute force, to the exclusion of everyone else. I see no difference between five people saying, "We are martyrs because we do not recognise the Act" and an hon. Member saying yesterday afternoon that he welcomed the opportunity of saying that he treated the National Industrial Relations Court with contempt. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman's contempt is far worse than that of the five men who are now in gaol because the hon. Gentleman should know better.

This Government did not invent the law of contempt. The law of contempt has been there from time immemorial.

Mr. Paget

It is true that this Government did not invent the law of contempt, but they did invent this court which is naturally treated with contempt. When it is sought to disguise a purely political instrument as a court, that court is, and will be, and deserves to be treated with contempt.

Mr. Redmond

It is extraordinary that an hon. and learned Gentleman should refer to a branch of the High Court in such terms. It is a great pity that his legal training does not overcome his political instincts and let him recognise the true facts. The court having been set up, whether the Opposition like it or not, if it were to be upset by Government intervention—

Mr. Paget

It is a bogus court.

Mr. Redmond

—we should have a negation of democracy and the beginning of the use of anarchy.

Nevertheless, something must be done to help to get the dockers out of jail. I suggest that we might bring in the services of Mr. Len Neal of the Commission on Industrial Relations and ask him to go with Lord Aldington and Mr. Jack Jones to Pentonville to meet these five men and, without any television cameras around and without any of the propaganda being thrown at them, explain in detail and at length to these men what the Industrial Relations Court is all about and what the Aldington-Jones Report is all about.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

One of the five men in prison is a constituent of mine. I saw him in prison on Saturday. Rightly, the governor always asks a prisoner whether he wants to see somebody before allowing him to receive a visitor. If anybody went to try to explain the Industrial Relations Act to my constituent he would get a very loud raspberry.

Mr. Redmond

That is the sort of damage that has been done to the whole of democracy by hon. Members opposite, particularly by the hon. Gentleman, whom I have just criticised for what he said in the House yesterday afternoon. If he has so blocked the situation by seeing his constituent in jail that his constituent is now not prepared to see a reasonable man, a trade union official, and the chair man of a commission, it is an appalling situation and adreadful commentary on what has gone on. The hon. Gentleman should do what he can to persuade his constituent to accept the suggestion I have made. I do not think anyone could sink lower than people who say that they will block any means of communicating with people who are in jail. I believe that these five unfortunate men who have got into jail through being misled—

Hon. Members


Miss Bernadette Devlin (Mid-Ulster) rose

Mr. Redmond

No, I will not give way to the hon. Lady. This is a short debate, and I must press on.

Mr. Driberg

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman said that this is a short debate. He is prolonging it by refusing to withdraw a remark about myself which had no substance.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Redmond

I have said nothing that I could regret. I am merely asking for the co-operation of people whom we are entitled to ask for co-operation. I am sure that, if the five unfortunate men who are in jail could understand what the advantages could be of co-operating with the Act, they would purge their contempt fairly quickly and that would be the end of the trouble.

Over the last three months no fewer than 12 members of trade unions within my constituency have asked to see me privately. They know full well that I do not hold surgeries. I invariably meet people in their homes. These 12 union members have asked me to meet them privately. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] I see nothing wrong with my going to see my constituents in their houses where they can talk to me in confidence and in comfort.

I repeat that no fewer than 12 members of trade unions have asked to see me privately in the last three months and have asked me how they could set about forming new trade unions—what they call breakaway unions—because they are fed up with the way their own unions are behaving in relation to the Act and they want to get into unions that will be registered under the Act. My advice to them has been that I would give them no such advice and that they should go to the trade union branch meetings and make their opinions felt.

Mr. Ron Lewis

The hon. Gentleman said that he has visited at least 12 of his constituents. When he visits his constituents, do they put the kettle on when he goes in or when he comes out?

Mr. Redmond

I see hundreds of my constituents in the course of a year. I am talking about 12 whom I have seen in the last three months. Whether they put the kettle on is none of the hon. Gentleman's business. He is wasting time.

If the Opposition would realise that the so-called opposition to the Act is not quite so strong at the grass roots as they think, it would help. I am not saying that the 12 people I met represent a majority, but they are 12 who feel sufficiently strongly to discuss the matter with me.

Does not the leader of the Opposition, who made that corny speech at the beginning of the debate, recall that 10 to 15 years ago there was a serious deterioration in industrial relations? If not, why was the Donovan Commission set up anyway? Why did his party issue "In Place of Strife"? It was clear that there was a deterioration in industrial relations and that the matter had to be dealt with.

The decision we face today is whether we go forward as a democracy governed by Parliament or by some anarchist organisation which wishes to take over from us.

5.26 p.m.

Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)

I hope that the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Redmond) will forgive me if, because of the shortage of time, I do not comment on any of the points he made in his speech.

For 27 years I was General Secretary of the Chemical Workers' Union. Because of that, and because I had a vested interest, I was reluctant to take part in debates in the House on industrial questions. I thought that I would concentrate on consumer problems.

During debates on the Industrial Relations Bill I made one or two modest speeches during which I suggested to hon. Members opposite that the result of the Bill once enacted was that inevitably shop stewards would be arrested and imprisoned. I suggested that as soon as that happened hon. Members opposite would have a welter of industrial disputes on their hands and, possibly, a general strike. The Secretary of State and the Solicitor-General said that nothing in the legislation would lead to shop stewards being prosecuted and imprisoned. That is what was said time and time again. If they were honest in that observation they should do something about the present situation.

Because of the Industrial Relations Act, my union decided last year to merge with the Transport and General Workers' Union. I declare an interest, because I am a national officer of that union. We merged with that union because we did not believe that a small union could live with the Industrial Relations Act, because we thought that one unofficial industrial dispute would empty our treasuries and we could not exist.

The members of my union, who were not very revolutionary but just ordinary democrats, came to the conclusion that this legislation waslegalised tyranny, and that is the view of millions of industrial workers today. In all history, both ancient and modern, men and women with great courage have fought against legalised tyrannies and have gone to prison to change the laws. That is what industrial workers are doing today.

The Government and their supporters have no conception of what it means to a man of, say, 50 years of age when he finds his job disappearing, as though it never existed. He becomes an outlaw in our society. He cannot fit in. He resists the disappearance of his job. Is that a crime? He goes to work to earn enough to give himself, his wife and his children a decent standard of living. If that position is put in jeopardy, is he to be blamed for resisting it? If he not allowed to resist by withdrawing his labour, and by picketing, that man is a slave. What life can there be in slavery? What wrong can there be in resisting slavery? As I say, the Tories have no conception of the resistance of workers today.

The Prime Minister said today that we must defend the rights of members of USDAW. But USDAW members are on strike. They are on strike today to protect members of the Transport and General Workers Union, who, the right hon. Gentleman said, were interfering with their right to work. This is an expression of the intrinsic loyalty of working men and women who believe that the Industrial Relations Act is a tyranny which has swept aside the fruits of 200 years of struggle for trade union rights. That is what they believe, and they are right in that belief.

You talk and write about the class war, but when you get in Government, you Tories, you do not talk it; you fight it. For once in a while, working men and women throughout this country under stand what the struggle is all about. You have to face the situation in which British industry is grinding to a halt, and you have to do something about it. You have to do something about it because our economy will be shattered otherwise. The only thing you can do is to get these men out of prison. You say that you cannot do it. You did it during the Kent miners' strike without any difficulty. I remember it well. Under the Emergency Powers Act during the war, the law put miners in prison—you put them in prison—

Mr. David Waddington (Nelson & Colne)

You? It was Ernie Bevin.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am being accused of a lot of things. I am just wondering where my responsibilities end.

Mr. Edwards

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I ought to know the proper form, after 17years, as a Member. At the time of the industrial dispute in Kent during the war, miners were put in prison, and everything stopped in this mining area. But the Government got them out. What is the difference between that situation and the situation now? Parliament has power over any court. We make the laws. We are more important than any court. If the Government of the day want to save a shattering blow to our economy, from which it will take decades to recover, something must be done now. The Government must get the men out, because the country faces a mounting dispute which will gather momentum and lead ultimately to a general strike. There is no doubt about that.

I deny that the Government have a mandate for the Act. A few months ago, I went to speak at a public school in the constituency where the Member was the national chairman of the Conservative Party. I spoke to those young public school people about the Industrial Relations Act and the rôle of the trade unions. A letter had been received from the Conservative Member of Parliament. He had been asked to speak on the Industrial Relations Act, but he said in reply, "I do not know anything about it"—although he was chairman of the Conservative Party—"I should like to discuss with you unit trusts, because I know a lot about unit trusts".

I am sure that that experience is in line with the experience and knowledge of most hon. Members. The matter was never debated at the time of the General Election. If the national chairman of the Conservative Party was not prepared to discuss it with scholars in his own constituency because he knew nothing about it, and he would prefer to talk about unit trusts, what right have hon. Members opposite to say that they have a mandate from the people? They never had a mandate for this kind of legislation. It is not too late to put the Act in cold storage and save a welter of industrial disputes which would be infinitely more severe on the economy than was the General Strike of 1926.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)

I have had a personal friendship with the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Robert Edwards) for many years, both in industry and in the House, and on visits abroad with parliamentary delegations, but I must say that I have never heard him talk so much rubbish as he did in the last few minutes. It is nonsense to suggest that we had no mandate to introduce the Industrial Relations Act. It was clearly in the Conservative Party manifesto at the last election, and it was one of the main planks on which we won that election.

Right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition side may not like to hear it, or they may wish to bury their heads in the sand and ignore it, but the plain fact is that the rank and file of people in this country are sick to death of the machinations and shenanigans of trade unions in this country. That is why the mass of the people are behind the Government and what is being done in the present serious situation.

Mr. Paget rose

Mr. Cooper

I suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman goes back to his fox hunting, because he is more effective there than he is here. Before they start talking about destroying the country's economy, the Opposition must understand that the number of people on strike today is less than 100,000, out of a work force of nearly 24 million. Let us get the facts straight.

It is a piece of arrogance and impudence on the part of the Opposition to raise this matter on an Adjournment Motion. The truth is that trade unionists have been encouraged and incited to defy the law. It was the last Labour Government—the hon. Member for Bilston talked of history, so let him listen to a bit of up-to-date history for a moment—who brought in the White Paper "In Place of Strife", but their paymasters the trade unions forced them to withdraw it. In our manifesto we said that we would introduce a Bill, which was largely in line with what the Labour Party itself had proposed in "In Place of Strife". But what did the Labour Party say during the passage of that Bill? It said that trade unions were not to register under the Act and neither were they to recognise the courts.

Mr. Ron Lewis

Who said that?

Mr. Cooper

The leader of the trade unions said it. It was TUC policy to dictate to its members what they should do—to defy the law, not to register and not to recognise the court. It was not until the court imposed fines upon the Transport and General Workers Union that the unions woke up to the fact that the court existed and that it was part of the law of the land and had to be obeyed.

The Leader of the Opposition was pressed many times this afternoon and refused to answer. I pose the question again. Do the Opposition support the rule of law or do they support anarchy? That is the sole issue which faces us. [Interruption.] Opposition Members may not like what I say, but they will have to listen. Even if I have to stay here until 7 o'clock I will say the things I want to say. The fewer the interruptions, the more opportunity there will be for Opposition Members to speak. The responsibility for the present situation rests on the shoulders of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), Mr. Vic Feather, Scanlon and Jones. They are the men who have encouraged trade unionists to defy the law and not to register, with all the things which have happened as a result.

The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) is not present. My constituency happens to be next to his. I have many dockers in that constituency, and last Thursday and Friday I met deputations of them. They are very unhappy at the action being taken by their so-called leaders—[Interruption.] It is all very well for Opposition Members to laugh at this, but I should like them to understand—

Mr. Clinton Davis

Tell the truth.

Mr. Cooper

I am telling the truth.

Mr. Davis

It is not true.

Mr. Cooper

You have not got a docker within 10 miles of your constituency.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will address me, please.

Mr. Cooper

The dockers I met are not in sympathy with what is going on. They do not want to go on strike, because many of them have financial commitments.

Miss Devlin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cooper

No. You have troubles in Northern Ireland which you cannot solve. I suggest that you go back and see to them.

Miss Devlin

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman has referred to my duties in this House as if they had no further relevance than to my own constituency. Many other hon. Members do not have dockers in their constituency but are concerned with the problems of the whole area over which this Parliament is supposed to have jurisdiction. Therefore, have not I, as much as any other hon. Member, a right to speak in defence of my class in this or my own country?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Lady has no rights unless the hon. Gentleman gives way.

Miss Devlin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cooper

No. We have an hour and a quarter left on a very important debate. We must have wasted the best part of half an hour—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. In fact, we have exactly 25 minutes left.

Mr. Cooper

I apologise. In that case, I shall cut my remarks short.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall be grateful if you will take the opportunity to correct what you said about 25 minutes remaining for debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The debate finishes at half-past six. I was speaking about the back-bench speeches.

Mr. Cooper

I should like hon. Members who are so incensed about the operation of the Industrial Relations Act to remember that this is just one side of the coin. The other side is that the Companies Acts impose severe obligations and duties on company directors and all those associated with a business. They provide for penalties of heavy fines and imprisonment if we do not comply with them. Why should one side of industry have all those obligations imposed upon it and yet the trade unions be free from the law?

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

The hon. Gentleman is on a very good point. But why is it that the Government and Ministers immediately responsible for taking action against the dockers have refused, not once but on 15 separate occasions, to take action against company directors who have been breaking the law under the Companies Acts for three and four years on end? I could spend until 6.30 this evening giving the names of the companies and the directors. I could quote the most recent, the Real Estate Fund of America. Why is it that for years the Government and the Prime Minister have refused to enforce the Companies Acts yet within hours they take action against the dockers?

Mr. Cooper

I shall understand in future not to give way to the cheating of the hon. Gentleman. I repeat that the Companies Acts, which are the other side of the coin, impose severe duties and obligations on companies. Why should the trade unions regard themselves as being above the law?

Mr. Lewis

Because the company directors are.

Mr. Cooper


The principal leaders of the trade unions—Jones, Scanlon and so on—realised from the beginning that when the Act was passed they would be exposed as incompetent and unable to control their members. That was the very first thing that happened. Jack Jones immediately tried to control some of his members up in Liverpool, and they put their fingers to their noses at him. He could not do anything about it.

Why is waffling Vic Feather opposed to the Act? It is because he has no powers, because the individual trade unions will not give him the powers to control the unions. The unions cannot control their own members. That is the reason for their weakness today. The tail is wagging the dog in a big way and will continue to do so until a law is introduced by one side of the House or the other giving power to the unions to control their own members.

The trade union leaders are opposed to going into the Common Market for precisely the same reason. They know perfectly well that the Continental trade union leaders will givethem the runaround. Our present difficulties may well throw up young men of quality and ability who can take care of the trade unions and look after their members.

For all our differences in the House—and there are many—we are nevertheless one nation. We must live here, work here and have a prosperous community. It is up to each and every one of us to try to co-operate one with the other.

Hon. Members know me. I have been in industry for many years. We do not have problems in our company, because we have what I think is a fairly decent system of labour relations. It is possible for all of us to have this relationship. What we cannot have if the country is to prosper is the constant expression of two sides. We are not two sides. Those of us who work in a company are one team—[Interruption.] Of course, there are hon. Members like the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) who do not want to work with anybody but with the Labour Party. If the hon. Member came and worked with me he would probably earn a damned sight more money than he does today.

This is a serious time in our history. At moments of difficulty we can always rely on the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Vic Feather and the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East to say something damned silly. But this is not the moment for them to use words of that sort. They must recognise that from 1st January when we join the Common Market we shall have enormous opportunities of a character that we do not believe to be otherwise open to us. If we were foolish and did the wrong thing, we could throw all those opportunities away.

5.50 p.m.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) is a buffoon. I am sure he did not realise what he was saying when he referred to the seriousness of the situation. Of course it is serious, but one would not have gathered that from listening to the debate since 3.30. Why on earth were hon. Members on the Government side standing on their seats and waving their Order Papers? Who were they cheering? Were they cheering the fact that five men were in gaol? Were they cheering the speech of the Prime Minister? [Hon. Members: "It was a good one."] Were they cheering his leadership? If they were cheering all those things, a contradictory situation exists on their side of the House.

When the hon. Member for Ilford, South referred to events in the Labour Party he spoke about class politics and the class struggle as though we on the Labour side were the only purveyors of class hatred. But he personified the class struggle with his remarks. Does he not realise that the Opposition spend the whole of their political lives seeking a classless society? He is accusing the wrong people. We want a classless society, and that is the whole purpose of our political activity. We do not want to perpetuate the class society that the hon. Member envisaged.

The hon. Member described the trade unions as the paymasters of the Labour Party and how, by whatever methods, "In Place of Strife" as a policy document was dropped by the Labour Party. But has he forgotten that Government back benchers can be effeotive only if they are joined by Opposition hon. Members? That is the only way a Government can be defeated. It must therefore mean that the Conservatives would have voted against the legislation if he maintains that we were able to force the abandonment of "In Place of Strife"

Mr. Cooper

During the passage of the Industrial Relations Bill the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer)said consistently that the Labour Government did not introduce a Bill and that it was never put up for Second Reading.

Mr. Atkinson

The hon. Member must understand the history of the matter and recognise that the White Paper was never converted into legislation because the then Opposition said that they would not support it, and therefore those who were supporting the Labour Government on other policies were able to persuade them not to implement "In Place of Strife".

Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)

If my hon. Friend is talking about the history of these matters, he should get it right. The White Paper "In Place of Strife" was not withdrawn, but certain elements of it were removed for the reasons which he correctly gives. The Labour Government, at the counting of heads, which is the basis of political power in the House, reckoned that the then Opposition, allied with a minority on the Government side, would deprive the Government of a majority. That is a reality of political power. It is no good hon. Members saying that the Labour Government retreated when the Conservatives were as much responsible for the situation as anyone. But a Bill was subsequently presented. It had the overwhelming support of the Labour Party and the trade union movement but, unfortunately, it fell with the General Election.

Mr. Atkinson

I move on to the issues raised by the Prime Minister and mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and others and deal with the political court and political law in this country.

Unfortunately the Press does not allow us to put our case as thoroughly as we would like and, therefore, there is not a widespread understanding of the views that many of us on the Labour side have expressed about accepting the law as it is enacted here. The Prime Minister referred to selectivity and said that it was wrong for a political party to advocate the right of people to select laws, accepting those designed for their own protection and welfare but rejecting others. He said that it was wrong for people to pick and choose laws.

Some of us on the Opposition side say that it is right to be selective. I could give many examples often used in argument. It is a commonly acepted law that one man should not kill another. But there are circumstances in which an officer in the Army may give another man a gun and give him permission to execute a fellow man. He does not seek permission from Parliament or anywhere else. The law is immediately changed because of the circumstances. Presumably the authority to kill is inherited in that situation. The law still exists, but on two bases: there is a right to kill in one set of circumstances and in other circumstances the law must be obeyed and it denies a man the right to kill.

It may be argued that if a man wears a uniform he may kill another without the permission of the State or Parliament, but immediately he takes off the uniform he is subject to civilian law, which says that he must not kill. There is this selectivity in the law as it applies to a given situation.

I would not put it past some Governments to try to outlaw the Labour Party or to outlaw a particular newspaper, as has happened elsewhere in the world. If there were an attempt to outlaw a trade union or a political party, I hope that all my hon. Friends would reject such a law and would work to support whatever was being outlawed by the party in power. If a newspaper were outlawed and it became illegal to publish it, I hope that we should combine together to defeat that law, and I hope that the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) would join me in trying to defeat a law of that kind. If hon. Members on the Government side lived in a country which had outlawed trade unions, I hope that we could join together to defeat the law in those circumstances. Thus we are selective about the law, accepting some laws and rejecting others.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

Rubbish! That is anarchy.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

The hon. Gentleman is arguing the case for anarchy and he knows it perfectly well. He mentioned the right to kill. Is he really saying that people in society may choose whether they have the right to kill?

Mr. Atkinson

Of course there is a right to choose. There is the right to conscientious objection. Tf a man says that he will not kill, either because he does not believe in the political objective of the killing, or for some other reason, he has the right to choose whether he will kill. It is a question of applying the law to different situations, and we have the right to argue about the selectivity of the law.

The Government are making the rules as they go along. They have set up what was rightly described by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition as a puppet court and it is presided over by a puppet judge. It is an extension of the political mechanism, and that is why we reject the law emanating from that court. Its laws are political laws.

It was the Government themselves who wanted to create a different court. Why was it set up as it was? If I had time I could list 20 or 30 differences between this and other courts. The reason for those differences is that this court must accept the word of the Government, and that is why it must be the puppet of the Government.

Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)

Can the hon. Gentleman suggest in what way the law of contempt is a political law?

Mr. Atkinson

Because the dockers have expressed themselves in contempt of the political policies which emanated from the Government. What the dockers are doing is rejecting the policies pursued by the Government, who are deliberately pursuing policies which have been rejected by trade unionists. Therefore, trade unionists must reject the court.

It is true that TUC policy all along has consistently been non-co-operation, and that has led to this situation. The trade union movement as a whole rejects this instrument of political activity, this use of the courts for political ends. That is why we have said what we have said, and that is why the Government are now interfering with the processes of the court and why they are now trying to solve the problem as they are.

I understand that the Official Solicitor came out of hiding again, that he went to the court this morning and will present his case to the court at three o'clock tomorrow, and presumably events will follow from that and the shop stewards will be released from prison. Then we shall move into phase two of this struggle. It is the Government who are interfering with the court. The court is to be used by the Government in their resort to extraordinary measures to solve their own problems. But while they are using the court as an instrument of their policy, they are using the most extraordinary methods to extract themselves from their present situation.

My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North does not represent the views of all Opposition Members, or the majority of views throughout the British Labour movement, when he says that at all times all laws must be obeyed and all courts must be obeyed. That is not the majority view throughout the trade union movement; that is not the view held by the TUC; it was not the view expressed at the special conference at Croydon; it was not the view endorsed by the TUC at Blackpool. It was not the view taken by the Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee on three occasions since then. The TUC policy has always been non-co-operation with this court.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Disobeying the law.

Mr. Atkinson

Non-co-operation plainly means disobeying decisions. If we are not to co-operate with a political court, how on earth can we accept its decisions? How can one appear in a court if one is pursuing a policy of non-co-operation? Consistently since the Croydon conference the TUC has said that the policy is non-co-operation with this court, that it does not want anything to do with it and that the court is designed to destroy the TUC's strength, to destroy the shop steward movement. One cannot co-operate in one's own destruction. An organisation cannot be asked to proceed on a policy of co-operation which will result in its own destruction.

The Government have said that the purpose of this law is to eliminate the militancy in trade unionism, to eliminate wildcat strikes and so on. This law has been an attack on the shop stewards movement and that is why we reject the law and the court. I believe that the great majority of our friends and party members throughout the country will take the same attitude and that they will reject the views of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North when he says that these men do not deserve the support of the Labour movement. I believe that the opposite is the case.

I believe that it is the job and the responsibility of all of us here to support the shop stewards in the struggle they are waging in defence of their employment. It is the responsibility of everyone on this side of the House to change the kind of society in which we live, and if we are to change the society we must dismantle the apparatus set up by the Government. It is our policy to repeal the Act, to dismantle the court and to put an end to it. If we are consistent, we must support the dockers. That, I believe, is the view throughout the country, and it is the opposite of that advanced by the right hon. Member for East Ham, North.

6.10 p.m.

Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)

We are accustomed in the House to the Government not replying adequately to debates, but we have seldom listened to speeches as blatant as those we have heard this afternoon from the Prime Minister and some of his hon. Friends, in which they have tried to pretend that the debate is about something different. They are not entitled to label us as being people who are not in favour of respect for the law. The Prime Minister has heard the views of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and many of my hon. Friends on this subject, speaking in the House, in the country and through the broadcasting media over many months. The Prime Minister heard the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon in which he reiterated his conviction that the law, however bad it was, should be respected. The Prime Minister was interrupted several times by my right hon. Friend, by myself and by others in an attempt to put him right, but he ploughed on with a long speech in a short debate in which he completely dodged the issues in front of the House by talking about something which was not the issue we are debating.

The subject before the House is the chaotic industrial situation created by the Government's folly and pigheaded persistence in keeping the Act on the Statute Book. We were entitled to hear from the Prime Minister an acknowledgement of the seriousness of the crisis and ideas on the policies that the Government would pursue to deal with it.

The subject we are discussing is the critical situation of employment in the docks which has been getting worse for many years. Over one-third of the jobs have been lost in seven years. That is against a background of heavy general unemployment and heavy unemployment in dockland areas. We have been on the verge of a national dock strike since May. A national dock strike has twice been called and postponed by the National Dock Delegate Conference. This week the Jones-Aldington Committee has presented what might well be the beginnings of a solution to these problems. It is only the beginnings because the committee has produced an interim report and is due to go on to further studies. The interim report is bold and imaginative. It is made by a committee representing not only employers and trade unions but having as members two working dockers, and it provides a solution upon which both sides might have agreed to call off any industrial action so that a peaceful settlement could have emerged.

At the eleventh hour this artificial crisis arises out of an argument about one cold store in the East End of London. I ask the House to reflect upon how ridiculous it is that the nation's docks should be brought to a standstill—and perhaps other industries as well—over one local argument, however serious, that should never have reached this pitch.

The remarks which I made on Friday have been quoted at length by hon. Members opposite. I wish they had quoted all my remarks, including the passages in which I criticised the Government. I stand by what I said. I believe that the shop stewards were wrong to pursue the action they did, and I believe that not only as a law-abiding citizen but as a trade unionist.

The constitutional authority here is the National Dock Delegate Conference, which called off the strike action so that its representatives should be able to talk within the framework of the Jones/Aldington Committee, and that was right. Every decision of the National Dock Delegate Conference was reported to mass meetings of dockers in the dockland areas. That is the way to proceed. I make this practical point with which my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) may not agree. All trade unionists might learn a lesson from the recent railway men's dispute. The railway men obeyed the law, carried out the orders of the court, won their fight, got a good settlement and made the Government look ridiculous. That is how we should fight these battles. We should fight to win.

A point that is not often mentioned in these debates is the responsibility of the employers. People attack the actions of the pickets. I equally attack the foolish, irresponsible action of Midland Cold Storage in taking this case to the court. I do not know who was supposed to be helped—certainly not Midland Cold Storage, which has not benefited from what has happened since. There will always be in British industry trade unionists or employers, or both, who behave in a way which we might think to be unreasonable, but what is wrong is that they are presented with a scenario in which the situation can escalate into a national crisis. Therefore, the main culprits are the Government and this divisive, unfair and unreasonable Act which they have put and kept on the Statute Book, despite the evidence of recent events that it is a national disaster. The events of the last few months are all events that the Government were warned about by the Opposition and by many other people when they were bringing forward the legislation.

The Prime Minister was complacent this afternoon in speaking of the relatively small number of workers who are on strike. I hope the number will remain small and that this dispute will be settled. I agree with the decision made yesterday by the TUC not to call a general strike, but if things go on as they are going the Government cannot expect their luck to hold. There is bound to be a much bigger reaction, resulting in large numbers of people on strike, and large numbers of other workers being laid off because of the strike, with consequent great hardship to the people and great loss to our economy.

The Prime Minister has given us no idea of any constructive approach to the problem. In the absence of that, I put on record my profound hope that two things will work out. First, I hope that the Official Solicitor will find a way to do what, apparently, he proposes to do and appeal to the court for a procedure which will get these men out of gaol. If this happens, as I hope it will, the Government must remember that they will have been saved by a stroke of luck to which they have contributed nothing and which they do not deserve.

The other development I hope for is that the Jones-Aldington proposals will be accepted by both sides. I emphasise "by both sides". There are militants among dock employers as well as among dock trade unionists, and many of the militant dock employers are angry about the proposals. Both sides need to discuss the proposals with great urgency and to discuss them constructively, remembering their responsibility to everyone in the community. If—and it is a big "if"—the country is saved from this crisis by these developments, as I hope, without being over-optimistic, will be the case, at the end of the week the Government will still have to recognise that as long as the Act remains on the Statute Book crises of this sort will occur over and over again.

I take up the Prime Minister on one point. He laid great stress upon respect for the law and pretended that the Government benches were defending the law whereas the Opposition were attacking it. That is the precise opposite of the truth. The Government have put on the Statute Book an Act which millions of people regard as stupid, offensive, divisive and unfair and their opinion of the Act will lead some of those people to break the law. I do not defend their breaking the law; I am merely saying that it will happen. When it happens the overall respect of this country for the law as a whole will be lessened. The Government are the wreckers; they are the people who are bringing the law of the country into disrepute.

The Government's pride is the least important element. If I were giving advice as a friend to the Government, I would say that they would appear to be bigger men in the country if they would acknowledge their mistake. Everyone else knows that it is a mistake. They will appear as bigger men if they acknowledge their mistake by either repealing or suspending the Act. At the very least, they should introduce the two amendments to which my right hon. Friend referred earlier, so that it is no longer possible for an individual employer or any other individual to escalate a local dispute into a national crisis in the way we have seen. If the Government do not take these steps, we shall be in deeper and deeper trouble and the whole fabric of our society will as a result be irreparably damaged.

6.20 p.m.

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

There is one thing that this debate has not made clear and it is what the Opposition are really trying to do.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

What are you going to do?

Mr. Macmillan

They have not said what they intend to do to deal with the root cause of this problem. They seek to use these problems as part of the campaign which they are helping to conduct to make the Industrial Relations Act disruptive and divisive. In doing so they are conniving at methods which they condemned outright in Opposition and which the union leadership has condemned and denounced.

The Government are trying to help dock workers, as the Leader of the Opposition was good enough and generous enough to admit. The Government are prepared to provide finance to enable the Aldington-Jones proposals to go ahead. The total amount will depend on the number of dockers who take advantage of these special temporary arrangements. If, for example, 2,500 men with varying lengths of service took severance, at the higher rate of £4,000 maximum for those unfit and over 55 and the £2,000 minimum for the unfit the total cost would be in the neighbourhood of £7½ million.

The right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) intervened in my right hon. Friend's speech. I hope that he will accept that in the course of this matter I have tried to understand not only the technical, social and economic problems of dockland but also the emotions of the dockers which he and other hon. Members representing dockers have explained to me and members of my Department.

I am fully aware that where over the years the right to work has depended on solidarity and where that right is now felt to be threatened, not only by containerisation but also by other massive changes in cargo handling, this leads to genuine emotions. We were very near to a lasting solution. Why, then, did these five men have to put it at risk by using methods which they described as "Us in, You out"? Industry has done its best—union officials, working dockers and employers—in the Aldington/Jones proposals, and the Government in providing finance.

I am happy to be able to tell the House that the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industries has accepted these proposals, both trade union and employer sides. The employers are now to consider details of the severance proposals put to a further meeting of the National Joint Council. So the problems of the dockers are genuinely being dealt with in the first stage of what could be a massive two-stage operation to bring the problems of dockland much nearer a total solution.

We have a good chance of eliminating the temporary unattached register, of dealing with containerisation problems, of meeting the just arguments of dock workers to provide a long-term solution. This should go ahead, and I hope that members of the Opposition and the unions and their leadership will do all that they can to persuade these five men to accept the judgment of the court and to accept that the picketing and blacking is now no longer necessary nor helpful in the present situation. The facts are clear. They are not as the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition said. The problem does not derive from this Government failing to face the real problems of industrial relations, from which he ran away when in Government and from which he indicated this afternoon he would run away again.

Nor is it right to say that we on this side should abandon our responsibilities as he suggested, or take power to override the law. These five men were not imprisoned by the Industrial Relations Act. They had already rejected the constitutional process of their union, the joint negotiating machinery of their industry and the court's order to desist in an unfair industrial practice of national blacking. In rejecting this order they made it plain that they at least prefer the use of force to negotiation and discussion, suggested in the Aldington/Jones Report. It is their total rejection of all of this which has created the problem. That is what is causing the difficulties now.

Nor is it true, as was suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that this is a union-bashing Act. I have the greatest respect for the sincerity of the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Robert Edwards) but this is not a bad law—

Mr. McNamara

It is wicked.

Mr. Macmillan

It is an Act which once it achieves the co-operation of the unions, which it will achieve, will bring greater justice and order to the industrial relations scene. It is not the Industrial Relations Act which is at fault; it is the attitude which is taken by its opponents in persuading people that this is not a High Court. It is hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are at fault, who in their political campaign have sown a distrust of the court. The Government have made it plain that they seek no confrontation with the unions. They have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to consider alterations to the Act as they are shown to be necessary. But we are not willing to give in to the type of pressure now being put upon us.

This is an Act of Parliament passed by an elected Parliament, setting up a division of the High Court. Whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may say, people cannot pick and choose which laws they shall obey. There is no selective law; there is no such thing as a selective law in this country.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

This is class law.

Mr. Macmillan

There are selective duties and selective rights under the law,

and it is on this law that our liberties and our whole position is founded.

Nor is it true that it can be claimed that industrial relations alone should be exempt from the provisions of the law, that alone of all courts industrial relations court should, if held in contempt, be unable to use any methods to deal with that contempt. Not one piece of industrial relations legislation has ever said this. The law of 1906 and 1965 and even the provisions of the published but unenacted Bill of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) contained ultimately the sort of sanctions contained in the Industrial Relations Act.

I ask the House to support conciliation in industrial relations, to support the constitutional authority of the trade unions, to support the rational solution of genuine problems and the interests of millions of trade unionists, and to support the rule of law.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn: —

The House divided: Ayes 266, Noes 299.

Division No. 315.] AYES [6.30 p.m.
Abse, Leo Cohen, Stanley Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Albu, Austen Coleman, Donald Fletcher Ted (Darlington)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Concannon, J. D. Foley, Maurice
Allen, Scholefield Conlan, Bernard Foot, Michael
Armstrong, Ernest Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ford, Ben
Ashley, Jack Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Forrester, John
Ashton, Joe Crawshaw, Richard Fraser, John (Norwood)
Atkinson, Norman Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Freeson, Reginald
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Galpern, Sir Myer
Barnes, Michael Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Garrett, W. E.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Gilbert, Dr. John
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Dalyell, Tam Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)
Baxter, William Darling, Rt. Hn. George Golding, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Davidson, Arthur Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Gourlay, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Ifor (Gower) Grant, George (Morpeth)
Bishop, E. S. Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Deakins, Eric Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Booth, Albert de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Dell, Rt Hn. Edmund Hamling, William
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Dempsey, James Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Bradley, Tom Devlin, Miss Bernadette Hardy, Peter
Broughton, Sir Alfred Doig, Peter Harper, Joseph
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Dormand, J. D. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hattersley, Roy
Buchan, Norman Driberg, Tom Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Duffy, A. E. P. Heffer, Eric S.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dunnett, Jack Hilton, W. S.
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Eadie Alex Horam, John
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Edelman, Maurice Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Cant, R. B. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Carmichael, Neil Edwards, William (Merioneth) Huckfield, Leslie
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Ellis, Tom Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) English, Michael Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Evans, Fred Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Ewing, Harry Hunter, Adam
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur(Edge Hill)
Janner, Greville
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Meacher, Michael Sandelson, Neville
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Rowlands, Ted
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Mendelson, John Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
John, Brynmor Mikardo, Ian Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Millan, Bruce Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Milne, Edward Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Sillars, James
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Molloy, William Silverman, Julius
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W. Ham, S.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Small, William
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Judd, Frank Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Spearing, Nigel
Kaufman, Gerald Moyle, Roland Spriggs, Leslie
Kelley, Richard Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Stallard, A. W.
Kinnock, Neil Murray, Ronald King Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Lambie, David Oakes, Gordon Stoddart David (Swindon)
Lamond, James Ogden, Eric Strang, Gavin
Latham, Arthur O'Halloran, Michael Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Lawson, George O'Malley, Brian Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Leadbitter, Ted Oram, Bert Taverne, Dick
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Orbach, Maurice Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Leonard, Dick Orme, Stanley Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lestor, Miss Joan Oswald, Thomas Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Tinn, James
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Padley, Walter Tomney, Frank
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Paget, R. T. Torney, Tom
Lipton, Marcus Palmer, Arthur Tuck, Raphael
Lomas, Kenneth Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Varley, Eric G.
Loughlin, Charles Parker, John (Dagenham) Wainwright, Edwin
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Mahon, Dr. J. Dickson Pendry, Tom Wallace, George
McBride, Neil Pentland, Norman Watkins, David
McCartney, Hugh Perry, Ernest G. Weitzman, David
McElhone, Frank Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
McGuire, Michael Prescott, John White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Mackenzie, Gregor Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Whitehead, Phillip
Mackie, John Price, William (Rugby) Whitlock, William
Mackintosh, John P. Probert, Arthur Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Maclennan, Robert Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McNamara, J. Kevin Richard, Ivor Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E ) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Marks, Kenneth Robertson, John (Paisley) Woof, Robert
Marquand, David Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Marsden, F. Rodgers. William (Stockton-on-Tees) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Roper, John Mr. James A. Dunn and
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rose, Paul B. Mr. James Hamilton.
Mayhew, Christopher Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Adley, Robert Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bruce-Gardyne, J. Dean, Paul
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bryan, Paul Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Digby, Simon Wingfield
Astor, John Buck, Antony Dixon, Piers
Atkins, Humphrey Bullus, Sir Eric Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Awdry, Daniel Burden, F. A. Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Drayson, G. B.
Balniel, Lord Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray&Nairn) du Cann, Rt. Hn Edward
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Carlisle, Mark Dykes, Hugh
Batsford, Brian Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Eden, Sir John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cary, Sir Robert Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Bell, Ronald Chapman, Sydney Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Elliot, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Chichester-Clark, R. Emery, Peter
Benyon, W. Churchill, W. S. Eyre, Reginald
Berry, Hn. Anthony Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Farr, John
Biggs-Davison, John Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fell, Anthony
Blaker, Peter Cockeram, Eric Fenner Mrs. Peggy
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Cooke, Robert Fidler, Michael
Body, Richard Coombs, Derek Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Boscawen, Robert Cooper, A. E. Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Bossom, Sir Clive Cordle, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bowden, Andrew Cormack, Patrick Fookes Miss Janel
Braine, Bernard Costain, A. P. Fortescue, Tim
Bray, Ronald Critchley, Julian Foster, Sir John
Brewis, John Crouch, David Fowler, Norman
Brinton, Sir Tatton Dalkeith, Earl of Fox, Marcus
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)
Fry, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Galbraith, Hn. T. G Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Gardner, Edward Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Longden, Gilbert Ridsdale, Julian
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Loveridge, John Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Glyn, Dr. Alan Luce, R. N. Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Goodhart, Philip McAdden, Sir Stephen Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Goodhew, Victor MacArthur, Ian Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Gorst, John McCrindle, R. A. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Gower, Raymond McLaren, Martin Rost, Peter
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Royle, Anthony
Gray, Hamish McMaster, Stanley Russell, Sir Ronald
Green, Alan Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Grieve, Percy McNair-Wilson, Michael Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Scott, Nicholas
Gummer, Selwyn Maddan, Martin Scott-Hopkins, James
Gurden, Harold Madel, David Sharples, Sir Richard
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Maginnis, John E. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Shelton, William (Clapham)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Marten, Neil Simeons, Charles
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mather, Carol Sinclair, Sir George
Hannam, John (Exeter) Maude, Angus Skeet, T. H. H.
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mawby, Ray Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Soref, Harold
Hasethurst, Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony Speed, Keith
Hastings, Stephen Mills, Peter (Torrington) Spence, John
Havers, Michael Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Sproat, Iain
Hawkins, Paul Miscampbell, Norman Stainton, Keith
Hayhoe, Barney Mitchell, Lt. -Col. C.(Aberdeenshire. W) Stanbrook, Ivor
Heath, Ht. Hn. Edward Mitchell. David (Basingstoke) Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Heseltine, Michael Moate, Roger Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Higgins, Terence L. Molyneaux, James Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hiley, Joseph Money, Ernle Sutcliffe, John
Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Monks, Mrs. Connie Tapsell, Peter
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Monro, Hector Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Holland, Philip Montgomery, Fergus Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Holt, Miss Mary More, Jasper Tebbit, Norman
Hordern, Peter Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Temple, John M.
Hornby, Richard Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Morrison, Charles Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Mudd, David Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Murton, Oscar Tilney, John
Hunt, John Neave, Airey Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Hutchison, Michael Clark Nicholls, Sir Harmar Trew, Peter
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Tugendhat, Christopher
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Normanton, Tom Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
James, David Nott, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Onslow, Cranley Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Jennings. J. C. (Burton) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Vickers, Dame Joan
Jessel, Toby Orr, Stanley, L. P. S. Waddington, David
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Osborn, John Walder, David (Ciltheroe)
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Jopling, Michael Page, Graham (Crosby) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Page, John (Harrow, W.) Wall, Patrick
Kaberry, Sir Donald Parkinson, Cecil Walters, Dennis
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Peel, John Ward, Dame Irene
Kershaw, Anthony Percival, Ian Warren, Kenneth
Kimball, Marcus Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Wells, John (Maidstone)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pike, Miss Mervyn White, Roger (Gravesend)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Pink, R. Bonner Wiggin, Jerry
Kinsey, J. R. Pounder, Rafton Wilkinson, John
Kirk, Peter Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Winterton, Nicholas
Kitson, Timothy Price, David (Eastleigh) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Knight, Mrs. Jill Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Knox, David Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Woodnutt, Mark
Lambton, Lord Quennell, Miss J. M. Worsley, Marcus
Lamont, Norman Raison, Timothy Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Lane, David Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Younger, Hn. George
Langford-Holt, Sir John Redmond, Robert
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Le Marchant, Spencer Rees, Peter (Dover) Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Rees-Davies, W. R. Mr. Walter Clegg.

Question accordingly negatived.