HC Deb 11 June 1974 vol 874 cc1388-9
6. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary ol State for Employment if, in his proposals for increased industrial democracy, he will provide for participation by management in the decision taking of trade unions.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr Albert Booth)

I can assure the hon. Member that where managers become members of appropriate trade unions they have the usual opportunities to participate in the decision taking of those trade unions.

Mr. Rost

May we assume that 50 per cent of the elected members of company managements and shareholders will be appointed by Government legislation to trade union executives, or is the Government's proposal for participation and industrial democracy merely a one-way process?

Mr. Booth

One of the prime functions of a trade union is to look after its members. It is right that those members alone should participate in the union's decision making. The operations of a company have to take account of the interests not only of management but of shareholders and workers. The responsibility in these cases should be shared, and we believe that in making provision for these matters in the industrial democracy Bill these mutual interests, even where they conflict, will be properly represented.

Mr. Wigley

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the greatest hindrances to economic growth resides in the wasted energy of endless industrial strife and the fact that an increasing number of people in management and trade unions now recognise the need for profit sharing and participation in industrial democracy to get ourselves out of the present situation?

Mr. Booth

I very much appreciate the hon. Gentleman's comments. We believe that a successful extension of industrial democracy will avoid many of the disputes that now take place and will make for a more efficient operation of industry.

Mr. Whitelaw

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if that process is to take place—and it is desirable that it should— it must mean that the trade unions should be seen to have rules which make them responsible to their companies and to the community as a whole?

Mr. Booth

Trade union rules are matters for the trade unions, just as the rules of employers' associations are matters for those bodies. I have no reason to believe that the existing rules of employers' associations and trade unions will be allowed to stand in the way of a proper extension of industrial democracy.