§ The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)
I beg to move Amendment No. 76, in page 14, leave out line 16 and insert:'For the purpose of obtaining information which in the opinion of either of the Ministers is needed to form or to further national economic policies, or needed for consultations between Government, employers or workers on the outlook for a particular sector of manufacturing industry, including the outlook for the major companies in that sector, that Minister, if it appears to him that one of the following conditions is satisfied, namely—(a) that a company'.
Amendment (a) after "information" insert:
'from a company or companies which have made or which have signified in writing to the Secretary of State their intention to make a planning agreement and'.
Amendment (b) leave out from first "to" to second "sector" and insert
assist in the making of a planning agreement (such expression having the meaning assigned to it by section 14(2) above'.
Amendment (c) to delete "the company or companies concerned" in the first paragraph of Government Amendment No. 79, and insert
'a company or companies which have made or which have signified in writing to the Secretary of State their intention to make a planning agreement'.
§ Mr. Kaufman
During the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers), I noted the packed ranks of the Liberal Party which has said so much about co-ownership.
I am moving the first of the series of amendments standing in the name of my right hon. Friend. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, it might be helpful to the House, if, in introducing this amendment, which is the first of the Government amendments on information powers, I outlined the Government's revised information proposals as a whole, indicating the main changes from the Government's original proposals. A considerable number of these changes stem directly from the debate in Standing Committee and from assurances given both to my hon. Friends and to Opposition Members.
In Clause 20 we have provided a fuller definition of the purpose for which the powers may be used. The powers are to applyFor the purpose of obtaining information which in the opinion of … Ministers is needed to form or to further national economic policies, or needed for consultations between Government, employers or workers on the outlook for a particular sector of manufacturing industry, including the outlook for the major companies in that sector.We also provide a new preliminary procedure before an order to require the provision of information can be made. Under this the Minister serves on the company a preliminary notice which says that, if he is not satisfied that the company will provide the necessary information to Government and unions voluntarily, he will consider making an order, and requires the company in 14 days to notify the relevant unions that it has received a notice and to inform the Minister which union representatives it has notified.
The Minister is required to lay a statement before Parliament saying on which 1482 company or companies he has served a notice, and when. The Minister is not empowered to make an order for at least three months after serving the preliminary notice, and he may not serve a notice unless he is satisfied at the end of this period that the information will not be provided voluntarily to the Government and union representatives. The order is, of course, subject, as we previously proposed, to negative resolution.
We have provided a definition of the purposes for which the powers may be used to bring out the distinctive role of the information provisions of this Bill from those of the Employment Protection Bill. The information powers in the Industry Bill relate to policy and planning, in which both the Government and the workers need to be properly informed if they are to take an effective and constructive part with management. The analogous provisions in the Employment Protection Bill are, of course, concerned with collective bargaining.
We attach particular importance to the preliminary procedure, which is the other main new proposal in this clause. In introducing this procedure the Government are underlining the point made many times by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and other Ministers in the House, in Standing Committee and in correspondence, that the information powers are reserve powers and to give every opportunity for the company and its unions to negotiate voluntary arrangements. I entirely share the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) when, in winding up the Second Reading debate on the Bill, he said:Where a company has good arrangements for informing and consulting its workers through their trade unions on the formation of its plans, the use of compulsory powers would be irrelevant. Arrangments entered into on a voluntary basis are much more satisfactory than the use of a statute."—[Official Report, 18th February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 1426.]This preliminary procedure is to allow time for negotiation of voluntary arrangements.
The Bill proceeds in Clause 21 to set out the information that the Minister can require to be provided to him. In the amendments the Government have proposed, we make clear that the Minister's 1483 right to require the provision of information is restricted to the subjects listed in the clause. This, as I shall make clear, is in fulfilment of the undertaking given in Committee. But we have added to the list expenditure on research and development. We accept that the details of research and development and know-how may be commercially very sensitive. We have, therefore, excluded them from the scope of the information powers.
It remains, as before, for the Minister to decide whether to require provision of information on some or all of the subject matters listed.
In Clauses 22 and 23 we propose changes to the procedures for the provision of information to trade unions.
While the Bill previously left to the discretion of the Government whether to seek to apply the powers to a particular company and to decide the extent to which information should be required on any of the subject headings listed in the Bill, it was mandatory on Ministers—except in narrowly defined circumstances—to require the disclosure of all the information they obtained to representatives of the trade unions that the company recognised for the purpose of collective bargaining. It gave the company the right to seek a ruling against such disclosure, notably on the ground that it would be seriously prejudicial to the interests of the business.
The debate in Standing Committee and the consultations that the Government have had with the CBI and the TUC have led us to conclude that the Bill would be improved if, in the final stages of the procedures, we provided the same scope for the exercise of Ministerial discretion as in the decision whether to invoke the powers and on the extent to use them.
We do this in recognition of the fact that the information requirements of workers and the Government need not be the same and that a mandatory requirement on a Minister to pass on all the information obtained to trade unions could lead to large-scale references to the independent committee which, in the original Bill, had a binding power over the Minister, with long consequent delays in the effective operation of the information powers. We have, therefore, introduced amendments which place on the 1484 Minister the responsibility for deciding what information obtained tinder the compulsory powers should be disclosed to unions. But in vesting this discretionary power in the Minister we have enlarged the list of considerations that he has to take into account and that preclude him from requiring disclosure. In this way it will be possible to avoid the need for repeated reference to the independent committee on points that have been settled in analogous cases many times before. There is no doubt that that would have been a method of frustrating the information procedure, particularly as the independent committee's decision would have been binding on the Minister. It will also avoid the inescapable need for appeals to the committee on points on which the Government may require information for their own purposes, but which is of little interest to workers.
Under the terms of our new proposals the Minister comes to a provisional view on the information to be disclosed and informs the company and the unions. Either may then require the Minister to refer his "proposals" to the advisory committee on the grounds that the information was communicated to the company in confidence or that disclosure would cause substantial injury to the undertaking or to a substantial number of its workers. That is a new provision. The Minister may also, at his own initiative, refer matters to the committee.
The committee's rôle is to consider any such references and to advise the Minister on them, and, as before, the committee has to give the company and the unions the opportunity to make representations to it. But it is not now for the committee to take final decisions on these matters. This decision is reserved for the Minister. I think that is absolutely right. It is not a satisfactory situation for a Minister of the Crown to make a decision and then be powerless to set aside a decision of an independent committee on him.
However, if the Minister wishes to set aside the committee's advice and to require the disclosure of information which it has advised should be withheld, he is required to make an order, subject to the negative resolution procedure, which may not take effect until 28 days from 1485 the date on which it was laid before Parliament.
In these ways we have provided for the more flexible operation of the decision process, without clogging up the system with wholly unnecessary appeals to the independent committee, and also provided for proper parliamentary oversight of Ministerial decisions.
I am aware that our earlier proposals for the independent committee were the subject of much comment—indeed, prolonged debates—in Standing Committee, and, having reviewed the arguments, we have decided to establish a special advisory committee for the Bill. This is something for which hon. Members asked in Committee, though it seems that the Opposition are not satisfied with the solution that we have reached. Our proposals are set out in a new Schedule to the Bill.
The advisory committee will be constituted from three panels of persons: panels whose members have experience in industry as employers or managers, panels whose members have experience as representatives of workers, and panels whose members are barristers or solicitors. The chairmen will be drawn from the panel of lawyers, and all members of this panel will be appointed with the consent of the Lord Chancellor or, in the case of advocates or solicitors who have practised in Scotland, the consent of the Lord-President of the Court of Session. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) is not present. I should have expected at least a thin cheer from him for that. The membership of a committee, apart from the chairman, is to be one member drawn from the employers' panel and one member drawn from the workers' panel.
These changes affect all the main provisions in the information clauses in the Bill. But I want to make quite clear that in making these changes the Government have not in any way revised their view of the legitimate need of workers to obtain the information they need, through their trade unions, to take part in decision-making with Government and the management of the companies in which they work. We have, in fact, provided more effective powers than before, and, by having considered carefully all the 1486 arguments put to us, including those which went on for several days in Committee, we have concluded that our purposes can be better achieved, first, by providing formally in the Bill for a breathing space to negotiate satisfactory voluntary arrangements tailored to the circumstances of the company, and the respective needs of Government and workers; secondly, by providing greater scope for Ministerial discretion in decisions on disclosure; and thirdly by several changes which, while individually perhaps of less importance, collectively clarify and facilitate the working of the Government's proposals.
In making these changes we have also been anxious to provide for parliamentary review so that this House can guide the Government in what we recognise to be a very major policy initiative by the provision of a statement when the preliminary procedures are put in hand, by the laying of an order subject to negative Resolution if the Government propose to proceed with compulsory powers, and finally by requiring the laying of another order subject to negative Resolution if the Government propose to set aside the advice of the independent committee and to require the disclosure of information.
I well recognise that on this side of the House some of my hon. Friends have reservations about these changes, and I am also aware, from its public comment, that the CBI does not consider that these changes go anything like far enough to meet the views that it has advanced to the Government. I am no less aware of the views of Members opposite to these proposals. But I can assure the House that the Government have listened very carefully to the arguments that have been put to them, and hon. Members will see that we have responded to a number of points made during the long debates in Standing Committee both by my hon. Friends and by hon. Members of the various Opposition parties. In tabling these amendments the Government have shown that they are responsive to reasoned argument, and I believe that, with the amendments made, the Government have enabled this part of the Bill to make an effective contribution to the creation of the new relationships in industry between workers, managers and Government that are needed if we are to overcome our economic problems.
§ Question proposed, That the amendment be made.
§ Mr. Speaker
I understand that the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Mr. Stanley) wishes to move the Opposition's amendment to the proposed Government amendment.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling)
I beg to move, as an amendment to Government Amendment No. 76, after "information" insert:'from a company or companies which have made or which have signified in writing to the Secretary of State their intention to make a planning agreement and'.Although I recognise that the Government have made a number of alterations in the detail of the disclosure provisions, it is the view of the Opposition that the substantial case which we advanced in Committee on points of major principle has not been met. In the course of the next two days, we shall wish to return to those points of principle.
I deal first with this Opposition amendment, the effect of which is to limit the operation of the disclosure clauses to those companies which voluntarily have entered into planning agreements or which have indicated that they wish to do so.
We have tabled this amendment for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that this was clearly the role for the disclosure provisions originally envisaged by the Government in their White Paper and was subsequently the subject of an unequivocal assurance from the Prime Minister that the policy in the White Paper would be put exactly into effect in the Bill.
Our interpretation of the White Paper has never been contested. Paragraph 11 says clearly under a large heading "Planned Agreements":The Act which gives effect to the new system—that is, the new system of planning agreements—will also provide reserve powers to require the relevant companies to provide the Government and the workers in the firm with the information needed to formulate and monitor a Planning Agreement".That was followed subsequently by a very clear assurance, which admitted of no ambiguity, given in this House by the 1488 Prime Minister on 25th February in answer to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield). The Prime Minister said:What I did in that speech was to repeat what I have said many times; that the Bill, and its operation when it becomes an Act, will follow exactly the White Paper which was published before the election …"—[Official Report, 25th February 1975; Vol. 887, c. 286]We do not in any way dispute the right of any Government to change their mind during the passage of legislation and certainly subsequent upon the publication of a White Paper. But we believe that there is a substantial and fundamental difference between, on the one hand, giving an assurance in this House and then coming back to the House saying candidly, "The Government can no longer honour that assurance", and giving reasons for that change of mind, and, on the other, what the Government have been doing in the past six months, which is to maintain that the assurance is being honoured when it is clear to everyone in the House and outside it that the assurance is not being honoured at all. I hope that the Under-Secretary will address himself to this point. It is clear that the Prime Minister's assurance is not being carried into effect, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take this opportunity at long last to admit that that is the case.
I turn to other reasons why the Opposition have returned to the amendment which we tabled in Committee. First, we wish to stress that there is no difference between the two sides of the House about the desirability of the maximum degree of disclosure to all employees, whether or not they are members of trade unions. There is no dispute between the two sides of the House about the principle at issue here. The difference between us relates to how this disclosure is brought about and to whom the information is given. That latter point is covered by amendments with which we shall be dealing later.
I address myself, therefore, to how the disclosure is brought about, especially in the light of the way in which the Government have now amended Clause 20 and subsequent clauses.
We suggest that the best way of having effective and clear disclosure is to have a two-tier basis for disclosure: first, through a statutory basis in which there are grounded in legislation certain basic 1489 rights to information for employees—basic rights to information for collective bargaining purposes, basic rights to information where a company is proposing to jeopardise the future of certain manufacturing operations, and basic rights to information about the historical performance of a company set out in the obligations of the Companies Acts.
We see a succession of legislation in the Companies Acts, in our Industrial Relations Act, in the Government's Employment Protection Bill and in the amendment to the Companies Act which is expected next Session. All these have been grounded on providing a statutory right to basic information, and in each and every case the rights to disclosure go to all employees in all companies. We believe that that must be the essential and correct principle.
We say that the only additional need is to make sure that, on top of the statutory ground work, there is the maximum degree of voluntary disclosure carried out without Government interference or coercion.
The major problem that we find with this group of disclosure clauses is that the Government are interposing a third layer of disclosure grounded on a selection rather than a voluntary basis which starts as voluntary and ends up being compulsory. The result is that companies will be put through the most formidable bureaucratic obstacle course. That was brought out graphically in the Under-Secretary's description of the new disclosure clauses.
Perhaps I might remind the House that, if a company starts going round this bureaucratic obstacle course, it will face first a Section 20 preliminary notice. That will be followed by a Section 20 order. That in turn will be followed by a Section 21 notice, then by the right to make Section 22 representations, and in turn by a Section 22 preliminary notice. Then there will be a Section 23 reference to the advisory committee. Finally, the company will come over the finishing line clutching a Section 23 ministerial notice. It is an enormous bureaucratic tangle which is the direct result of the Government interposing this third layer which comes between the genuinely voluntary and the purely statutory.
1490 One of the major objections we see to the imposition of this additional layer of disclosure is that the very existence of these powers, however sparingly they are exercised, will almost certainly have a deterrent effect on investment in this country. In our view, the mere existence of these powers is likely to deter from investing here some companies who might be doubtful about doing so, and is likely to increase the reluctance of companies already here to expand and extend their manufacturing base.
On that point I am tempted to draw attention to an advertisement I saw for a particular publication a little while ago. It had as its heading,Goodbye Britain. Plan your escape now with the 1975 Guide to Emigration".Under that heading we were invited to learn about living and working abroad. Perhaps I might tell the Under-Secretary the source of that advertisement. It is in the Government's own Trade and Industry Journal of 6th June, 1975. That is possibly a prophetic sign of the times, that Government space is being given over to the advertising of a publication inviting us to withdraw from Great Britain. The sales of that book are likely to be stimulated by the very existence of these disclosure powers.
The disadvantages are in terms of its acting as a deterrent to investment, undermining business confidence and tending to accentuate uncertainty. We look, therefore, for what might be the offsetting gains and benefits of these disclosure clauses. It is very difficult to adduce clear and tangible gains and benefits from them. The Under-Secretary says that one of the Government amendments rewrites the preface to the disclosure clause by giving us a new subsection (1) in Clause 20 of the Bill. The Government have rewritten their whole rationale for these clauses in Amendment 76.
One of the reasons they have rewritten the rationale for the disclosure clause is that we on this side exposed vividly during the Committee stage of the Bill how little rationale there was, and how little substance there was, in the arguments put forward by the Government for the disclosure clause in the way they were advancing them. Although the Under-Secretary referred to the new definition of 1491 the disclosure clause, we have stressed that the definition is purely of an advisory nature. It has no legal status at all because the definition is purely descriptive prefaced by the words "in the opinion of the Ministers" and is in no way restricting or constraining on the use of these powers.
During the Committee stage we were told by the Under-Secretary that the disclosure clauses were neededas part of the revoluntary change, by proper social and economic means and by proper constitutional means, in Briitsh industry that now desperately needs to be brought about."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E. 17th April 1975, c. 1571.]Talk of revolution has disappeared with the former Ministers in the Department of Industry. We now have a completely new definition of the rationale for these clauses. We are told that this provision is needed by the Government to further national economic policies. We are told, in addition, that this is needed to help in consultations between the Government, employers and workers on the outlook for a particular sector of manufacturing industry. The basic case for these clauses advanced by the Government is that the Government need them for their own economic purposes, for the planning of a particular sector of industry.
That in no way answers the question which we posed again and again during the Committee stage and to which we failed to get an answer. We asked again and again what evidence there was that companies in the private sector were in any way reluctant to provide the Government, on an entirely voluntary basis, with the information they needed for either national economic planning purposes or for the planning of a particular sector of manufacturing industry.
The Government Ministers were then, and I believe are now, unable to provide us with any evidence at all that industry is in any way reluctant or backward in coming forward with information that the Government need for their own purposes. I suggest, therefore, that the new rationale which has been put forward by the Government for these clauses is no more grounded in necessity than the previous arguments advanced at the Committee stage.
§ Mr. Kaufman
So that there can be absolutely no doubt about the situation, nothing of what I have said today in any way replaces or supplants what my hon. Friend the then Under-Secretary of State said, as reported in column 1571 of the Official Report. The meaning of the words that the hon. Gentleman has quoted from my hon. Friend—that these powers are necessaryas part of the revoluntary change, by proper social and economic means and by proper constitutional means, in British industry that now desperately needs to be brought about—is self-evident and totally accepted by everybody on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am glad to have confirmation from the Under-Secretary that the Government stand by what was said in Committee, which brings us to the second stated justification advanced by the Government for these clauses, which incidentally is not referred to in the Bill. I expect that the Minister will want to refer to this in winding up the debate. During the Committee stage we had a great deal of talk about one of the major objects of the Bill being to further worker participation, or industrial democracy, or whatever phrase one wishes to use.
We make the point that if the true objective of these disclosure clauses is to further the interests of worker participation or industrial democracy, we fail now, as we failed in Committee, to understand how that can possibly be achieved by giving rights on a purely selective and discretionary basis. If the rights asked for are so important—and it is crystal-clear that they are not a policy of producing greater worker participation—surely there can be no justification for confining them solely to companies on which Section 20 orders are served. Surely there can be no justification for confining them solely to companies in the manufacturing sector of industry as opposed to the service sector. The only basis on which it is sensible to expand such rights is a comprehensive basis.
It is our view, therefore, that if the Government wished to go further on a statutory basis in disclosure, they would have done much better to leave the clause out of the Bill and to wait until they are legislating on a general basis, and until we understand what they intend to do in the next Session. In our view, the Government amendments to Clause 20 and 1493 subsequent clauses bear all the signs of a botched compromise.
No real case has been made out for the disclosure clauses as now drafted, either in Committee or on the Report stage of the Bill. The compromise clause has been designed to try to placate industry without causing too much ire among back bench Members of the Labour Party.
By the mere existence of the statutory powers the Government are taking a discretionary power of huge scope which in our view will serve only to undermine investment confidence and business confidence generally. This will not serve to bring about a general widespread improvement in the amount of information employees can get, or to bring about an input of information into the Government that the Government have been able to demonstrate does not already exist.
I commend our amendment as an alternative on the ground that on this one occasion the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister—that the Bill should follow exactly the wording of the White Paper is correct.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)
The Chair has selected Liberal amendment (b) to Government Amendment No. 76 for discussion, together with the Conservative amendment (a) and also Conservative amendment (c) to Government Amendment No. 79.
Our amendment is intended to carry out the identical purpose of the Conservative amendment which has been argued and, therefore, I shall not move our amendment and shall certainly not seek a vote upon it, and, since we are operating under very strict guillotine procedure, I do not wish to weary the House by repeating in my own phraseology the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malting (Mr. Stanley), with whom I very largely agree.
All I have to add is from a strictly practical point of view. In our view, the Government's search for information, which they have now conceded is to be carried on in a voluntary atmosphere with statutory powers held only in reserve, is not likely to be fruitful. It is certainly not likely to be worth all the effort 1494 required to obtain the information and test it. It is not likely to be got unless it is related to a specific operation with planning agreement in mind.
My own professional experience, now somewhat out of date, which did not relate to any organisation with statutory powers, was that the manufacturer would test my professional integrity by tempting me to talk about the operations of a competitor in some area. If he was satisfied that I knew how to keep my mouth shut, his next question—in my experience in the North of England—was likely to be "What is the purpose of this inquiry? Is it relevant, or have you simply persuaded someone that it is worth a fee to ask me these questions, and will it all end up in some pigeon-hole?"
It is worth making the point because my experience is not that the manufacturer is panic-stricken that his secrets are to be scattered to the competitive world. His main fear is quite the opposite, that, after he has gone to a lot of trouble to produce statistics in a form to which he is not accustomed, those statistics will simply be filed away after being processed and the whole operation will have been a waste of his time and of someone else's money.
If the operation is focused on a specific project, and the planning agreement is obviously the relevant one in the context of the Bill, the operation stands a reasonable chance of being conducted successfully and expeditiously. The House is entitled to be cynical about the likely results of a search for information in a general way, especially when, to follow the wording of the Government's amendment, the object isto form or to further national economic policies".We have to accept that when people are voting with their feet in the case of those who emigrate from a country whose regime they more and more distrust, others will also vote by withholding cooperation from the agents of the Government.
This is a long-standing and respectable British radical tradition. The Department must expect it to operate when it attempts to carry out a section which is expressly designed to help the Ministerto form or to further national economic policies".1495 The Department must face the fact that if this amendment is accepted as it stands it will meet serious resistance, not necessarily organised but individual resistance, from manufacturers who will receive the agent of the Government by announcing that they have no time for the Government's economic policies, they do not want help "to form or to further" them, and they regard them with distrust or dismay, or both.
The only antidote that appears to exist is for the civil servant to be able to say "I have not come for some political purpose. I have come to help construct a planning agreement between your sector of the industry and the Government. The Government for their part are under a duty to reveal certain information to your sector."—I hope that that will remain in the Bill—"On the other hand, if you will co-operate by coming clean with your information promptly and without a great inquisition on the part of the Government, there is the prospect of a constructive planning agreement." In that context, although there will be difficulties about disclosure, I can imagine the operation, with luck, being successfully conducted in a reasonable period. Unless the issue is focused upon a planning agreement in this way, the Government's new version is doomed to cause almost as much frustration as their earlier version.
§ Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)
We have heard two typical speeches from representatives of the Conservative and Liberal Parties which illustrate their basic philosophy towards the workers in this country, whom they believe to be merely part of the assets, were chattels which go with the business and, as such need not be informed about what is happening to their works or about their future prospects. It is felt that they need not be told anything about the industry in which they work until they are suddenly faced with a closure, and then that is just bad luck.
In 1975. with the present trade union set-up, that attitude is nowhere near good enough. I want to tell the House about what happened to some of my constituents last week in a factory in the town of Gainsborough, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball). Many of the people who work 1496 at that factory live on my side of the River Trent and are my constituents. They cross the bridge daily to work at Marshall-Fowler Ltd. Last week 880 of these employees were suddenly told in a works handout that the factory was closing down. The factory makes tractors and road rollers. The management said in the handout that the firm had sustained some very heavy losses over the past three financial years and that in the circumstances the directors of Thomas Ward Ltd. the main firm of which Marshall-Fowler is a subsidiary, had decided to phase out production as from 25th July 1975, with the result that the 880 workers would have to be fired.
What was the reason for this? The firm obviously did not give any answers. The unions wanted to know. It was not a question of high wages. This firm pays some of the lowest wages in the East Midlands. It certainly pays well below the average. There have been excellent labour relations there. The plant has lost less than one week in strike action in the past seven to eight years. It was supposed to have plenty of orders.
Marshall-Fowler News, issued every month to the employees, said in December 1974:It is widely known that our order books are at record levels mainly for export … which lends even greater urgency to our efforts.In January 1975 the News reported:our order books were perhaps the largest in the company's history and clearly illustrated a world-wide demand for our equipment in its present specification.This was the sort of "bumf" being given out by the management—management which Liberal and Conservative Members support. This is what managements talk about as participation or disclosure, or taking workers into their confidence—shiny publications once a month and a big piece of "kidology" to keep them quiet. There were naturally some restive murmurings among the workers. They still do not know why their jobs have been taken away.
Is it due to boardroom manipulation or to lousy management? Have the directors of this firm kept quiet to keep up the share value until the last possible moment because they are more interested in the people who invest money in the firm than in those who invest their lives 1497 in it, who have bought houses on the understanding that the firm would continue in business?
§ Sir Raymond Gower (Barry)
Without commenting in detail on the individual case which the hon. Member has raised, may I ask him whether he is aware that a large number of companies are currently in great difficulty? Would it not be the last thing for them to do to give a hint of their problems, since this might exacerbate the problems and delay recovery?
§ Mr. Ashton
I am sure that it brings great consolation to those who are to lose their jobs to know that others will also lose their jobs. It will make their redundancy pay so much more acceptable.
I do not accept that argument for one minute. If the workers were taken into the confidence of management they might have been able to help. Perhaps there was an urgent problem of investment. They could have forgone some wage increase. The workers have co-operated all the way with the productivity and reorganisation of the plant. This is a firm with an excellent record of co-operation with management. The reward of the workers has been to be treated like cattle, to be thrown out at the whim of the management without any reason being given.
In a situation like this, people are naturally angry, not only because of the way the matter has been handled and the decision announced only at the last minute, but because of the suggestion that it was in their interests that nothing was done. Is it in the interests of workers to take on a works study engineer five weeks before the closure? Six days before the closure he bought a house in Gainsborough. His wife moved into the town, lived in the house for six days and then found that her husband had been made redundant.
The Opposition are saying that people do not have the right to know what is happening in their own firms. The people of this country will not stand for this sort of attitude any longer. They will not stand for the Arnold Weinstocks, the take-over bids and what happened at Imperial Typewriters——
§ Mr. Stanley rose——1498
§ Mr. Ashton
No, I will not give way. The hon. Member can reply later.
Thirty apprentices were told by the firm that they could start work on 11th August, but now they will have to look for other jobs. Gainsborough is an isolated town, and there are no other engineering firms in the area. It is not like London, where one can just go down the street for another job. These people might have to sell their houses and move to another part of the country where house prices are higher. Those who have worked in the firm for less than two years will get no redundancy pay. Many people moved into the town to invest their lives in this firm, but the Opposition care more about the people who invest their money in it. That is the basic difference between our two parties and between unions and management.
§ Mr. Ashton
The hon. Member can say "No" as much as he likes, but while closures like this continue they give more power to the elbows of trade unions, which will not see this sort of thing happen, and to my party, which is determined to pass legislation to stop it happening. Until the Opposition tell managements who belong to their party that this sort of behaviour can no longer be tolerated, there will be the utmost resistance by workers, who will refuse to co-operate. When workers see the amount of work thinning out, they will go slow, implement restrictive practises and refuse productivity agreements. They will decide that if there is only a small amount of work they will make it last.
Until a couple of months ago we had a Bill with some teeth which would have helped workers and unions. I am not blaming my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, but it appears to some of us that many of these teeth have now been removed. It is all very well saying that voluntary arrangements are better than statutory powers, but if we expect managements like this to volunteer, we shall wait a long time. Firms will now be given up to three months before being forced to disclose information. A firm could park up and go into liquidation in that time. Three months is a hell of a long time in a crisis period when there are liquidity problems or the possibility of bringing in a receiver.
1499 There are fears that loopholes in the Bill will be exploited by highly-paid lawyers—the guinea-a-word men—who have never had to face redundancy in their lives. They will be employed to prove why unions should not be able to obtain information from a firm in which there may have been no strikes, low wages and full co-operation with management, but which may be closed down suddenly by a decision from a head office 50 or 60 miles away.
There are also doubts about the position of subsidiaries of major firms. The duty imposed on the Minister to give information to unions has been removed and this is causing grave concern.
The situation at Marshall-Fowler is not unique. It is happening all over the country. But that does not make the situation better; it makes it worse. Ordinary, decent people are not prepared to accept this sort of treatment from managements. These are not militants or people who march through the streets. They are owner-occupiers, white-collar workers and high-level executives, many of whom probably vote Conservative or Liberal.
What has happened has been a downright disgrace, and while the Opposition continue to vote against this clause they are supporting the sort of behaviour of Marshall-Fowler at Gainsborough.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me. I have another engagement to attend, and I apologise to my hon. Friends for intervening at this stage.
I have to declare an interest because, before the Bill reached its Committee stage, I had some responsibility for industrial matters on the Conservative Front Bench. Although I have now been removed to a different sphere, I have taken a close interest in the Bill and I am a director of a number of companies which have been concerned about it.
The pleas of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) are well understood, but I think he was wrong and discourteous to attack a particular firm which has no opportunity to put its point of view in this House——
§ Mr. Griffiths
I hope the hon. Gentleman will be fair and bring to the attention of the House the views of the firm if it disagrees with what he has said in his privileged position.
§ Mr. Ashton
I telephoned the firm and spoke to the unions and told the manager what I intended to do. He accepted the position. I warned that I would be very critical and asked if he wanted to make any comments.
§ Mr. Griffiths
It is wrong that an hon. Member should attack, from a privileged position, a particular firm in the constituency of another hon. Member. I hope he will take the opportunity to bring to the attention of the House any views the firm may wish to express in contradiction to what he has said.
§ Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)
The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) might have had the courtesy to advise me that he was going to raise this matter. The factory is in my constituency and I am in the closest touch with the management, which I am meeting on Friday. The Department of Industry and the Department of Employment are fully aware of the problem. We have received the greatest possible help from them, but not from the hon. Member for Bassetlaw.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I think I may now safely leave this matter to my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Bassetlaw.
I have discussed the issue of disclosure with the boards of a number of British companies whose managements are neither Left nor Right, neither Conserservative nor Labour. They are practical people concerned with getting their goods out of the factory door. I must tell the Under-Secretary, who has come relatively new to this legislation, that many firms, without reference to party political considerations, feel great disquiet at having to use a vast amount of scarce secretarial and managerial time to meet the requirements laid upon them in the Bill. He should accept, whether or not he agrees with them, that many managements are desperately up againt it at the moment in trying to deal with all the red tape and form-filling imposed on them by Governments of all complexions and by local government as well. Adding another round of paperwork to the problems of 1501 managements is asking them to do something which many believe they will be hard put to manage. It will be expensive in secretarial time, which has become one of the most expensive commodities in industry, and it will clog up the works of much of middle management in industry. I ask the Government to accept that managements, without any political considerations, feel very seriously about this.
I have also discussed this matter with a number of overseas companies, particularly American firms, which invest in Britain. There are many reasons why American firms ought to invest in this country, and I would encourage them to continue to do so despite all our economic difficulties. When an American board conies to decide whether to invest in a British plant or in a Dutch, German or French plant it is influenced by a wide range of considerations, including profit, availability of labour, markets and so on. It is marginally influenced, too, by the amount of red tape that Governments impose upon it. Britain is not alone in this respect. I would yield top position to the French in putting red tape on industry, but Britain is becoming very close to the top of the league in Europe in entangling managements in paper work which is often unnecessary for the real conduct of their business.
There are a number of American firms well known to me which have been deterred—I will not say put off altogether—by the disclosure provisions of the Bill from investing in Britain and providing new jobs. I ask the Government to take that matter very seriously. Disclosure needs to be a two-way street, and of course we are all hoping, as the Government have suggested, that, if we are to have this Bill at all, the information extracted from companies will genuinely be used for the purposes of planning agreements and nothing else. If that is the purpose of disclosure, I do not think anyone on either side of the House would object.
There is a case for disclosure, which my hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge and Malling (Mr. Stanley) fairly made, but a lot of people in business are worried about the discrepancy between the kind of information that industry will be expected to give the Government and the rather poor and inadequate 1502 information that the Government in return will give industry. For the most part, industry will be expected to give fairly precise estimates of the future of investment, marketability, and all the rest. In return it will get from the Government some very broad-brush ideas about where they think they are going in the national economy.
I have two examples of what industry can expect from the Government in return for the information which it provides. The other day the Chancellor announced, as a responsible Minister, and no doubt a lot of industry will take note of that, that the expected rate of inflation would be 8 per cent. I presume it is on the basis of that kind of information that industry is supposed to take its investment decisions. We know that the current rate of inflation is nearer 30 per cent., and the Chancellor has been proved, and has now himself admitted, to be grotesquely wrong. I use that illustration because, having been in a Government, I know how wildly wrong Government prognoses can go under all Governments. It is difficult to make macro-scale economic predictions, and Governments get them wrong on such things as population and investment and on the price of such commodities as oil which effect the national economy.
Business is genuinely anxious about the discrepancy between the quality of information it will be required to give to the Government and the very poor and inaccurate information, and, frequently, the reverse of information, that will be provided by the Government in return.
The Chancellor's statement yesterday gives me my second example. Only a week ago the Chancellor said that he had absolutely no intention of legislative interference with wage bargaining. I think those were almost his precise words. That is the quality of the information that the Government would have to be able to give to industry only a week ago. Yesterday the Chancellor, in my view rightly, announced that there would be a 10 per cent. wage freeze, imposed if necessary by legislation. I use that illustration only to reinforce the point that the information extracted by the Government will be precise and will consume a great deal of time in compilation and will have a deterrent effect on industry's decisions 1503 to invest. In return, industry will get—I say this having experienced Government predictions from the inside of a great Department of State—a ragbag of political projections underwritten by some of the Civil Service statistics, which, honourable though they may be, all too often are wildly wrong.
It is the discrepancy, the dichotomy between what industry is expected to give and what it will get in return, which makes this whole procedure one-sided and unfair on British firms.
§ Mr. Michael Marshall (Arundel)
I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) in underlining the reservations which many of us feel about the Bill. I rise principally, however, to support amendment (a), because we believe that if we try to revert to the provisions of the White Paper and bring together the applicability of planning agreements and the disclosure of information we might at least pick some bones out of what looks to many of us to be a very thin carcase.
The Government's arguments which I believe we have now begun to consider is one in which we are willing to test their good faith. They clearly have decided to try to meet some of the objections advanced in Standing Committee and by industry. By that test I am willing to proceed with this argument. However, it is hard to imagine that argument being accepted without some firm evidence of planning agreements and the disclosure of information being brought together under the same umbrella. I do not feel passionately that we should regard this as a Prime Ministerial commitment of such value as will save the nation. We are all too familiar with the incredible saga of the Bill, the White Paper which was to have green edges, the revision of the Bill and a further White Paper yet to come——
§ Mr. Kaufman
If the hon. Gentleman is giving an account of the facts he should stick to the facts. There was no commitment to a further White Paper. He should look back at the Question put by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) to my right hon. Friend who is now the Secretary of State for Energy and the discussion that went on about this matter in Standing Committee. The 1504 hon. Member should withdraw the word "commitment". Let us have an accurate debate even if it is to be contentious.
§ Mr. Marshall
It is fascinating to see the Under-Secretary leaping into action in his barrack-room lawyer style when he was unable to attend the Committee—for reasons we all understand. If he is saying that a White Paper has been ruled out, we are greatly obliged to him for that information. I cannot recall the precise words as reported in Hansard, but it was said that among the options which the Government were considering was a White Paper on the operation of the Act. If the Under-Secretary is saying that a White Paper is totally ruled out, the House will hear that with great interest. Many of us have certainly been pressing for a clear indication on that score. I hope that the Under-Secretary accepts that this is a matter of legitimate concern. The Question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) was answered in terms which gave great encouragement for the House to assume that a White Paper was possible.
Perhaps I should explain why I believe the bringing together of planning agreements and the disclosure of information should be encouraged in the interests of industry as a whole. We have to look at this in the negative sense, as it were, and consider the objections and representation put by companies and industry as a whole to the Government and to individual Members of Parliament. They fall into three broad areas. There is still the argument about coercion. Whatever the Minister might say, the preamble is vague and worded so as to give ministerial discretion. It cannot be disguised that there is a strong element of coercion here in seeking to bring companies into the ambit of disclosure of information. We believe that if that disclosure of information were tied in with planning agreements, at least we should see some kind of logic and initial movement in some direction, resulting, we hope, in some kind of logical progress.
Companies' fears in this matter are that the Government's intentions concerning planning agreements are clearly of a voluntary kind, whereas, on the other hand, on disclosure of information they are, in effect, compulsory, whether 1505 it is in regard to the appeals mechanism or the whole series of horse-trading activities behind the scenes. Companies will be faced with the need to provide against their will information which they may believe is commercially sensitive.
If the Government took the view that they were prepared to treat planning agreements as stage one and disclosure of information as stage two, we should see some kind of positive view emerging. Much work which would otherwise be repetitive would be at least made a constructive and on-going exercise. It would not involve the obvious duplication of effort.
A moment's consideration will show that in any attempt to have a planning agreement with a company, followed by a further disclosure of information, if the second part becomes a kind of afterthought—when it is recognised that the planning agreement has perhaps not covered all the ground that the Government might think useful within its overall strategic framework—this will inevitably mean a time lag. It will mean locking up management time, energy resources and profitability, in order to provide the Government with information, when, frankly, we have heard so little from the Government as to the use to which this information might be put. There is very little indication from Labour Members that they feel there is a real, positive benefit to be gained at the end of the day.
As to the arguments which companies are advancing at this stage, I put this in a positive sense. If the Government can show that the planning agreement approach is based on something containing positive features, there will be an opportunity then to build up some form of advantageous, mutual confidence between this Government and industry.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds is quite right, I believe, when we speak of the planning agreements and the positive input which is claimed from the Government—which would include information about price inflation and wage inflation—when he points out that it is very hard for us to put much credence on that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer having made a projection of 8 per cent. inflation and been proved to be totally out of touch within a matter of weeks. Even if we take at face value 1506 the Government's wish to play their part and make some positive contribution towards companies' own planning, surely the planning agreement system as such is one that ought to be built upon and regarded as a stage which would involve disclosure of information as part of the same package and not some totally separate exercise.
I cite as an example the nationalised industries, and in particular the British Steel Corporation. Here is an example of concern to all hon. Members. We have debated it a number of times recently. One of the outstanding features of the corporation and its relations with the Government is that it has, as is well known, a number of agreements, on a quarterly, an annual, and a five-year basis, which in many respects model the planning agreements that the Government seek to bring about in the Bill.
Despite those planning agreements, the fact remains that the British Steel Corporation is still unable, on a day-to-day basis, to regard those plans as being worth the paper on which they are written. This is because the overall disclosure of information is on a day-to-day basis. Members on all sides will know what I mean. The closure review is a classic example of the way in which disclosure of information is required on a piecemeal. ad hoc, day-to-day basis.
I will cite only the example at Redcar, with the implications for Teesside, for Hartlepool and for Consett. Here is an exercise which is locking up—as anyone with any contact with the British Steel Corporation knows—large amounts of management time in very difficult and sensitive political arguments which are basically ruining any attempt to maintain a long-term strategy such as is covered by the planning agreements.
I shall not pursue this argument further today—it is one for another debate—but it clearly illustrates the way in which these two streams of thought ought, in my view, to be brought together so that companies could at least be made to feel that the presentation of information is worth some sort of candle. But unless the Government can show willingness in this respect, we shall once more experience that sinking feeling known by anyone with any knowledge of industry, when there is a purely academic approach and it is felt that the 1507 Civil Service is once more trying to interfere in the day-to-day direction of the industry, whether in relation to trade union influence or management influence. On either count we have cause for concern. We know that the Government are trying to overcome some part of this concern. Let them now set an example by accepting this amendment.
§ Mr. Douglas Crawford (Perth and East Perthshire)
I suppose that I should cease to be amazed at the polarisation which seems to take place whenever industrial and financial matters are discussed in the House. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) said, I think, that he was worried about the two-way flow of information between the Government and industry and between industry and the Government. I put it to him that if the input is increased the output will increase in quantity and, one hopes, in quality as well.
I do not think I can agree with the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), who said, I think, that he thought that sufficient disclosure was taking place already. The Conservative and Liberal amendments effectively emasculate the prerequisite of disclosure in principle.
§ Mr. Stanley
So that we may be clear on this, I said that the Government's case for the disclosure clauses was based on a Government requirement for information, and that the Government, during the Committee stage, had never been able to demonstrate that any single company was reluctant to provide it with information.
§ Mr. Crawford
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I failed to understand what he said. The amendments effectively emasculate the prerequisite of disclosure in principle. Neither my party nor I are entirely happy with all the disclosure provisions which appear later on the Bill. We feel that the next group of amendments contains the important ones.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) asked what was to be the purpose of the information and how it was to be used. I should have thought that the words in the Government amendment in lines 2, 3 and 4 perhaps indicated sufficiently what is the purpose of the information, especially in regard to the 1508 furthering of national economic policies. The Minister will realise that my ideas of national economic policies are different from his.
§ Mr. Crawford
But companies could conceivably—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—use the concept of a planning agreement, if that were passed, as a blocking device, blocking the need for disclosure. I do not go all the way here with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton). It is not simply Bassetlaw and Gainsborough which suffer from closures. We in Scotland suffer from them as well. There have been closures by companies in Scotland which have been taken over by companies based in England. After the take-over the plant has been removed to the South, so that we lose out in that way. But the hon. Member's remarks made a lot of sound sense in a partisan way.
It is because the National Enterprise Board will be working in Scotland that we favour disclosure of information per se. We hope that when the Scottish Development Agency Bill is in Committee we can make sure that it has a similar kind of disclosure provision in principle.
We differ on the points of information that should be disclosed. Some parts of Clause 21(2) and new Clause 3 are ludicrous. We shall not support the Government on the next group of amendments, but it is essential in principle not to hedge the matter around with restrictions. Although we can differ on the details, we do not differ from the Government on the principle, especially as the arrangements are voluntary in the first instance. Therefore, we support the Government on this group of amendments but not the others.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell and Wishaw)
I hesitate to intervene at this stage in the debate because I am sure that there will be points with which Conservative Members will enrage my hon. Friends, as they would enrage me, but I shall leave it to my hon. Friends to take them up.
I feel some concern about the changed shape of the Bill as it will emerge with the Government amendments. During the Committee stage I had a number of discussions with people on both sides of 1509 industry who were concerned about the Bill and were thinking how it would operate in practice. I am sure that every other member of the Committee did the same. I tried to describe how I thought the Bill would work. I understand that the Government hope to initiate between 12 and 20 planning agreements in the first year of the Bill's operation, which is not an enormous number.
I would have expected the process of development of such planning agreements to be initiated by a wholly informal letter from the Minister to the chief executive of the company, inviting him to have a chat about the provisions of the Bill. There would then be a discussion of the general position of the company and the ways in which it planned its operations, not with any wish to impose a different pattern, but just to see the basis for further discussion.
That would create the framework for officials to take up in further discussions between the Department and the company the definition of the scope of possible planning agreements and the information which might be required in support of it or for altogether separate purposes not related to a planning agreement. The background throughout those informal discussions would be the statutory powers of the Bill. That would be clear to all parties involved, but the powers would not have been invoked.
Now we see this stage of the preliminary notice introduced, which seems to me to confuse that initial process of informal discussion which can create the right conditions for a fruitful relationship between the firm and the Government. Legal requirements are imported into a very early stage in the relationship. If the informal discussion is to go on, as I hope it will, the Bill is needlessly elaborating the legal processes which would follow if the informal discussions were getting nowhere.
I am sure that the attitude in industry will be "Let's keep it informal, but if we have to go formal, let's get the thing over quickly. Let us not have a whole barrage of stages of preliminary notices, and questions about to whom it has been circulated." I entirely agree that the licence given to lawyers by these further statutory requirements seems wholly undesirable, bearing in mind the wise advice given by the hon. and learned 1510 Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) about the effects of introducing the law into this matter.
We then go on, in the definition of the matters on which disclosure can be required, to enumerate a number of matters which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary described as needed for policy and planning, which he distinguished from the requirements in the Employment Protection Bill, which were for collective bargaining. That is unrealistic from the point of view of both the company and the trade union movement. For the company, collective bargaining is an important part of policy and planning.
I give one example. If a firm is establishing a new factory in a development area, an important part of the preliminary planning is the contact with the trade unions in the area. Trade unions give invaluable services to companies in establishing constructive relationships. I have known them go so far as draft procedure arrangements which they undertake to secure for their members who will be employed by the firm, with the agreed wage structures to be filled in in the process of negotiation when the firm begins work.
In the process of policy and planning which should underlie the planning agreements there is a large content of collective bargaining and matters relevant to collective bargaining, which are properly covered by the provisions of the Bill. The same applies in the normal day-to-day business of collective bargaining in a fully-established enterprise.
There was a reference earlier to an engineering firm in Gainsborough, where there were major issues in the policy and planning which should have been raised through the processes of collective bargaining much earlier. Therefore, I do not see the distinction that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary tried to make between those two types of information.
I refer my hon. Friend to the precedent set in the Statistics of Trade Act 1947, when the matters on which statistical returns could be required were left to a schedule which could be amended by order. A Bill was not required to change the content of the information. I have been reading the Second Reading debate on that measure. Sir Stafford Cripps was 1511 the Minister speaking for the Government, and Mr. David Eccles, later Lord Eccles, spoke for the Opposition. It was almost a pre-play of the debate on this Bill. Many of the points made about the disclosure and uses of information, confidentiality and so on were made in that debate. We were merely repeating them in what I fear, despite the jazz words of "information" and so on, is a rather more primitive, polarised climate.
I commend to my hon. Friend particularly the wisdom of including a schedule to detail the information. The need is shown by another Government amendment, which is to include expenditure on research and development as a further item on which disclosure can be called for. In Committee I suggested research and development expenditure as the kind of topic which we would have included if we had been passing the Bill 10 years ago in view of what was fashionable in the climate of that time. Now I find that after consultations with the TUC, where I understand the matter was raised by Mr. David Basnett, an admirable trade union general secretary, it has been included. But it has been included simply on the casual say-so of a trade union general secretary who said that it would be an interesting item to have in the Bill.
Among other matters not in the schedule are imports. These are included in the new clause which my hon. Friends hope to put to the House. There are also purchases, which are not included in the Bill.
As the detailing of the provisions now stands it is not possible to calculate the contribution of a firm to the balance of payments or to the net output of its industry from the information being established. We are bound to get gaps in information from time to time as interest shifts. It is improvident of the Government not to have allowed themselves the freedom of merely amending a schedule by order.
The provisions to which the Under-Secretary referred—these will be dealt with later in the debate—by which it is at the Minister's discretion whether information should be passed on to trade unions or whether there is a mandatory requirement on the Minister to pass on the information seriously weaken the position of trade unions.
1512 The general impression, not only in the Labour Party and among trade unionists, but also among Members of Parliament and members of the Cabinet, was that the Bill should enable trade unionists to obtain the information they seek about the firm in which they are working. Virtually not a shred of that is left in the Bill as a result of the Government's amendment. Requirements for disclosure will be introduced at the rate of 12 to 20 in the first year, but this will affect only a tiny proportion of the workers in industry.
In these circumstances I should certainly vote with my hon. Friends who seek to maintain such remnants of trade union power as were in the Bill when it emerged from Committee.
A point that was stressed over and over again in the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 and a current theme in our debates in Committee is that it is useless calling for information unless we know what we want the information for.
There is no definition of the purpose of planning agreements in the Bill. We tabled an amendment yesterday which, under the guillotine, was not reached. This sought to define at least a purpose of planning agreements and to provide a rationale by which the dialogue among the firm, the trade unions and the Government could take place; namely, to secure the full employment of people and assets of the enterprise. In the absence of such a rationale, the greatest single requirement on my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and his right hon. Friend will be to define just what a planning agreement is and just how it can best be served by the information which will be sought and shared with not only the Government but the trade unions as freely as possible.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
Most Conservative Members accept that Government Amendment No. 6 constitutes a great improvement. To that extent we are not in conflict with the Under-Secretary's opening remarks about it. However, it would be an improvement if he could look more sympathetically at the amendment tabled by the Conservative Front Bench. This would reassure many hon. Members who are a little concerned about the nature oar the information which will be required.
1513 I hope that no Labour Member shares the view expressed by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) that there are some Conservative Members who regard employees as chattels. That was quite a disgraceful suggestion.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
The hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) may say that he and his hon. Friends knew what was meant. However, I certainly hope that it is utterly rejected by all Conservative Members. Indeed, it would be a very foolish undertaking these days which had the inhumanity to regard employees in that light, especially in view of the fact that such undertakings are faced with serious obligations under legislation passed by Governments of different colours and complexions in recent years.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
Far more like the obligations which have been imposed upon industrial undertakings and companies in general—obligations such as giving adequate notice of redundancy benefits, which constitutes a heavy obligation for which companies have to budget many years in advance. We agree that these obligations are perfectly proper.
The hon. Member for Feltham and Heston has put a different interpretation on my remarks. I was suggesting that it would be injudicious, to say the least, for any company to regard employees in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw.
As we have asserted on many occasions—particularly my hon. Friends who took part in the Committee proceedings—we are in favour of the utmost sharing of the most clear and accurate information between industry and the Government. This is not a political issue. On the other hand, we want to balance that requirement sensibly with the very real burden under which many companies are working today, which has been mentioned by one or two hon. Members.
The hon. Member for Feltham and Heston knows that there is a plethora of legislation which requires detailed work 1514 by companies, their advisers, and those who work for them. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) was accurate when he suggested that today secretarial assistance is one of the most expensive commodities for which any company has to pay. Anything that can be done to relieve corn-panics of unnecessary work should be accepted by all parties as desirable. This should apply to State-owned industry as well as to private industry.
Therefore, we need a balance between the provision of essential information—information that will be helpful to the Government in assessing their economic policy or in assessing the prospects, as it says in the Bill, of a sector of the industry. That is perfectly right and proper. It is only between the sharing of that information and the consideration of the enormous burden of work that not only will be imposed by the Bill but has already been imposed by other legislation that we seek to achieve a fair and reasonable balance, that is the problem.
There is another consideration. The hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) mentioned the aspect of sharing with the trade unions. This is desirable. I do not know whether he regards the term "trade unionists" in the same light as employees of a firm. I draw some distinction because I believe that those who actually work in an enterprise have more interest in the future of that enterprise than the whole broad membership of a union. I hope that the Under-Secretary follows that distinction because I believe it is a real one. People in one union may work for a number of firms which are in competition. The sharing of information throughout the union could be injurious if shared among them all. I hope that the hon. Gentleman follows this.
Therefore, it is extremely desirable that the employees of particular undertakings should be entitled to the largest and most accurate diffusion of information. What is less desirable, perhaps, is that this should be interpreted as a sharing of information to all and sundry who happen to be in the same industry, because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, there can be rivalry as long as there is—and we hope that this will long remain—some private enterprise in this country.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the diffusion of information in the manner which he describes—and I am quite prepared for that information to be diffused if disclosed in the way which was originally intended—would operate to the advantage of workers in the industry? I am prepared to concede at the outset that it is possible to take the view that the advantage of the workers in the industry is the disadvantage of the employers in the industry. I think that the hon. Gentleman will understand this point when I explain it. The two parties to a collective bargain are not necessarily equal. If one party holds the key to all the information which is germane to the subject of their bargain, that makes them unequal. A disclosure of information is by itself an equaliser, and, beyond that, if the information then becomes diffused from the confines of a single firm it is to the advantage of the workers, in so far as they are then able to make comparisons which hitherto they were unable to do, and, therefore, they will be advantaged.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
The hon. Gentleman raises a large amount of material which would require a rather long answer. However, if there has been some degree of shortcoming—I do not want to attribute blame particularly—it has been partially shared by members of some of our unions, who have not imitated the examples of some of the great American unions which have gone out of their way to accumulate expertise and employ people to study a particular industry and give advice about the performance of companies. Indeed, as they have told me, they have been concerned to increase the profits so that they can have a larger share. This is largely due to a difference in attitude.
I adhere to my original statement that the Opposition want to see the greatest possible sharing of information, especially in these particular sectors. This is a legitimate objective of Government economic policy. A legitimate description was given of a sector of a particular industry. We accept and applaud this. But we want to balance it by not imposing on our companies too many serious burdens.
1516 I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bassetlaw is not in the Chamber at present. During his speech I made an interjection relating to the problems of several companies, which I had discussed with them. These companies were in terrible trouble a few months ago. By very careful and skilful management, some of them have managed to survive the difficulties which threatened in some cases to destroy them. But had the information that they were in dire danger a few months ago been widely dispersed, it might well have proved fatal. That is the point I wanted to make previously. This matter is not quite as clear-cut as some would have us believe. There are sometimes considerations which are better not made widely known or published.
However, on the whole we have no objection. In fact, we share completely the enthusiasm of those who want this generous interchange. We hope that the measure of the information which will be given by the Government in return will be of a higher order of accuracy than that with which companies have had to put up in the recent past. Certainly it would not be a fair exchange of information if companies had to give accurate detailed information about their prospects and plans and the Government were allowed to get away with half-baked estimates of what they might do—often completely inaccurate and shown to be so in a very short time.
I hope that the Minister will look with greater sympathy towards the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), which could carry the improvement a little further.
§ Mr. Hal Miller (Bromsgrove and Redditch)
I begin, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by apologising to you and to the House for the fact that a derailment prevented me from hearing the opening speeches of the debate. I apologise further if I repeat some of the remarks which have already been made.
I wish to emphasise one point that has not been sufficiently brought out while I have been able to be present. That is the commitment of the Conservative Party to disclosure of information. It is against that background that I wish the rest of my remarks to be considered.
1517 The commitment of the Opposition to greater disclosure of information was made very plain in Command 5391, the White Paper on Company Law Reform, of July 1973, prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry, which said,Disclosure of information is an essential part of the working of a free and fair economic system.The White Paper went on to mention limits for commercial confidentiality, and also said,But the bias must always be towards disclosure, with the burden of proof thrown on those who defend secrecy. The more people can see what is actually happening, the less likely they are to harbour general suspicions.That is the principle we put out. It was enshrined in Schedule 1 of the Companies Act—I shall return to that point a little later—as being the proper place of disclosure requirements of that nature.
I turn now to the Bill and the disclosure provisions and the amendment that we are discussing, having stated the context in which I should like my remarks to be considered. We have here to turn to the remarks of the Prime Minister, who said, on 25th February,What I did in that speech was to repeat what I have said many times: that Bill, and its operation when it becomes an Act, will follow exactly the White Paper."—[Official Report, 25th February 1975; Vol. 887, c. 286.]That White Paper, Command 5710, I have in my hand. It makes it absolutely plain that the Act—that is, the Bill we are discussing—which gives effect to the new system of planning agreementswill provide reserve powers to require relevant companies to provide the Government and the workers in the firm with the information needed to formulate and monitor a Planning Agreement.That is the original purpose of the disclosure provisions. There is no other reason, in an Industry Bill, to have disclosure provisions. They should more properly be placed, if they are considered to be an aid to industrial relations, in perhaps the Employment Protection Bill, in the Industrial Democracy Bill which the hon. Member for Chesterle-Street (Mr. Radice) is being successful in promoting at present, or in the Companies Act, where the Opposition thought that the disclosure provisions would naturally and properly fall. Indeed, we have had some guidance from the Department of Trade that disclosure provisions 1518 were to be included in the new Companies Bill which that Department is preparing.
But we are concerned here with this Bill and the White Paper "The Regeneration of British Industry", which talked quite clearly ofa closer, clearer and more positive relationship between Government and industry.In pursuit of that general objective, it talked of the creation of two new instruments—planning agreements and the National Enterprise Board. There was no mention of any other leg to this stool. The White Paper also said,A fuller exchange of information will be an essential ingredient in Planning Agreements; the information which companies provide in this context will be used for this purpose only.The matter is absolutely plain, and yet here we have been subjected to compulsory disclosure provisions for a variety of purposes. In Committee the Minister's predecessor was trying to explain to us that these provisions were put in that way as a result of the concession to the Opposition that planning agreements were no longer to be compulsory. He made virtue of the fact that he had separated the planning agreements from the disclosure provisions, which were still to remain compulsory. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) had a few sensible comments to make about that, and I very much agree with them. There is no point in the information being provided except in the context of planning agreements, although I do not agree with the hon. Member for Walton that planning agreements should be compulsory.
I hope that the Under-Secretary will not repeat the remarks of his predecessor on the assurance given by the Prime Minister. He purported to set aside that clear undertaking given by the Prime Minister, which I have already quoted, in words which surprised all those present in Committee. The then Under-Secretary saidIf the hon. Gentleman thinks that he can overturn very serious and profound discussion now going on on the basis of words uttered albeit by the Prime Minister and albeit in good faith, he is very seriously understating the importance of this discussion."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 6th May 1975; c. 1441.]That discussion was concerned with industrial relations, which have no place 1519 in the Bill, or in the White Paper which gave birth to it. That is more properly the province of another Department.
According to the Government amendment, the justification has now shifted to the national interest and to sector planning. We were told in Committee that at no stage had companies withheld from the Government information needed for such purposes. The Government could produce no record showing that any hindrance had been placed in the way of the Government's obtaining the information which was necessary for that purpose.
I strongly support the Opposition amendment, which was designed to tie in the disclosure of information with planning agreements. The Opposition support the full disclosure of information. The first point is that this is the wrong place. The second point is that it is the wrong information. That point was made constantly in Committee, but was never satisfactorily answered. I hope that the Under-Secretary will turn his mind to that point this evening.
The information which the Government require for the national interest or sector planning is not necessarily the same as the information which employees of the company—never mind the unions, for the moment—require for a better understanding of their work, or their job security, of their prospects, and all the other aims and protections which they feel they need. This is the wrong place to include the information required for the second category.
It is plain that the Government have been shifted and blown about in the wind, the wind blowing first from one side and then from the other, backing and filling, so that it is impossible to find a constant ground and a constant purpose in what they are seeking to do in the Bill.
I support the amendment, which is designed to put the Bill on its original tack and to carry out the clear, detailed and unusually precise undertaking given to the House by the Prime Minister.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw (Pudsey)
The Opposition made it clear that one of the reasons why we sought to move this amendment, and no doubt to press it firmly to a vote, was to bring the proposals into line with 1520 the White Paper. That argument has been fully deployed. However, there are other arguments of almost equal importance.
The first argument concerns the general design and objectives of the Bill and its relevance to "The Regeneration of British Industry". However much we may disagree with the Government's definition of what is required, I do not think that any hon. Member would disagree with the obvious evidence that British industry is at present in a grave state. Indeed, to attribute the reason for that would not be an appropriate subject for this debate. I mention it merely to recognise that it is so.
Any legislation which comes before the House—this is legislation par excellence—in which industry is involved must be scrutinised to see whether it will help or hinder British industry to recover its economic strength and viability. Much of the discussion in Committee tried to put the Bill and the amendments to its clauses into the context of the question whether it would help or hinder a solution of our existing industrial problem.
Turning to the question of information and disclosure, will the Under-Secretary comment on the extent to which he sees the disclosure of information under this clause as providing new information which the Government do not possess? This point has been referred to by previous speakers. We must recognise that this information will concern practices within companies or industries which the Government already hold. It is the intention of the Goverment within the planning agreement context to seek agreements with major companies in major sectors of the economy. That is clear. These are sectors of the economy which are already closely involved with the Government and NEDC. The Government no doubt wish to seek planning agreements with the major companies in these sectors. It therefore follows that much of the information for the major sectors of the economy in which the Government are interested is already known. Industry may question why it must provide further information to fulfil much the same purpose. What relationship does the Minister see between NEDC and the information required under this clause?
The second point concerns the attitude of a company to the information which 1521 it holds. Clause 21(2) gives the list of headings under which the Minister may require information to be given. It deals with employment, although we were happy to see, as a result of pressure in Committee, the exclusion of information about individuals. It deals with capital expenditure, capital assets used in the undertaking, the disposal or intended disposal of such assets, the acquisition or intended acquisition of fixed capital assets for use in the undertaking, the productive capacity, the undertaking's output and productivity, the sales of the undertaking's products, exports of those products, and the sales of industrial property owned or used in connection with the undertaking. Any company supplying information under those headings would regard such information as critical.
Companies can, perhaps, give few indications of what their future plans, other than those related to the acquisition or disposal of assets. They can offer estimates of sales and of products, but those achievements are to a major degree outside their control. A decision to sell or to acquire assets is information of a different kind. Industry is sensitive about the information to be given under Clause 21 and the question of disclosure, and therefore expresses its grave concern.
The Minister will recognise that an intention to dispose of or acquire an asset is a matter which is acutely sensitive to disclosure. He will recognise that this is information which all companies keep close to themselves. I understand that if the Minister seeks to have information of this kind for the benefit of employees, in so far as relevant trade unions should have access to information of this kind, it is legitimate that the information should be properly assessed before being passed on. We welcome the fact that there is now a power within the Minister to determine whether part or all of such information shall be disclosed. But, without precise knowledge of what are the assets, we must be concerned how such a discussion can take place with representatives of relevant trade unions either in the Ministry or subsequently in the committee that the Minister proposes to set up. That is the difficulty which industry sees in trying to interpret what the Government are about in the clause.
I return to the question of the scale of information and the degree of involve- 1522 ment which the Government see in it. This very day I have attended a meeting of the all-party Wool Textile Group with a delegation representing a complete cross-section of the wool textile industry. We discussed many matters, of which the Under-Secretary of State will be aware, concerning the future of that industry and its problems. It became abundantly clear that one of the big problems of the industry is that the Department of Trade takes one view of the industry's problems and the Department of Industry very likely takes another view, and it is far from easy to get agreement on the part of the Government as a whole on the solution to the industry's problems.
When we find evidence of practices which indicate that it is difficult to get a uniformity of view from the Government in their interface with a single industry, we understand how doubtful industry must feel in relation to these disclosure powers about the part which it is meant to play and the response made by the Government in dealing with the information.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Sir R. Gower) said that there were important features of disclosure in which relevant trade unions and employees as a whole should be involved. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove and Redditch (Mr. Miller) said that we, as an Opposition, wished to be as fully constructive as we could towards a solution. I recognise that industry is a complete partnership between those who manage, those who own, and those who work within it. It is impossible to talk about the two, three, or five sides of industry. Industry has one coherent and collective objective which is the profitable employment of all who work within it.
When we consider the disclosure clauses, the aspect above all others that we rate as important is that a solution should be found which is based upon consent—that is a phrase which has a familiar ring. It is undesirable to endeavour to set industry against the Government, industry and the Government against relevant trade unions, or the Government and relevant trade unions against industrial management. That way lies total industrial suicide. What we have to do is to get an identity of objective, and to do that we have to approach confidential company information, the disclosure of it to relevant trade 1523 unions, the procedure by which it is handled and its relationship to Government planning, as matters which must be seen to be operating together towards the advantage of British industry.
The theme of consent suggests to us that we cannot enter into the disclosure provisions as presently set out without relating them to planning agreements. Within the context of the Bill and planning agreements, there is at least a clear objective and a clear coming together of company and Government to know the parameters of the information and for what it is to be used. But under Clause 20 that aspect is not related specifically to planning agreements. There is a major gap and it is that gap which Amendment (a), so well moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), is designed to fill. It is of vital importance to the confidence of British industry that we are seen here to fill it.
I conclude by reminding the House that the list of aspects of industry covered by Government, ranging from the Price Code to the Employment Protection Bill and the Industry Bill, is massive. If the Government believe that these additional provisions for disclosure are important, they must see that they ask for information that is not duplicated by information they already hold and is not at variance with the information they seek for another aspect of their policy. The Government will have to do their homework to ensure that information required under the Employment Protection Bill, for example, is not deliberately set out in a different way so that it has to be answered by different men in British industry. They must understand that the most costly factor of British industry is not secretarial time but management time. Management time is not being devoted to the productive development of sales for the benefit of all employees if it is being devoted to the compilation of information and its provision to various Government Departments.
Amendment (a) has the important effect that by relating Amendment No. 76 to planning agreements we relate it to large companies which require to have information from the Government and with which the Government require to enter into planning agreements. The large com- 1524 panies, by being so involved, can play a sensible economic rôle in the planning of industrial sectors. To take that rôle away from them would be to leave them in the limbo of what any Minister of State might decide should or should not be disclosed and bring them into the cockpit of petty departmental politics and inter-relations between the relevant unions, politicians and industry. In that direction lies hopeless effort and helpless confusion and we therefore wish to press the amendment firmly.
§ Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport)
Having spent a great deal of time in Committee on another Bill I feel rather like an American at the Court of King Arthur when I come into the Chamber and hear the level of skill and expertise which my hon. Friends have developed in working in Committee on the Bill, and I congratulate them for it.
I have read the Committee proceedings with great interest. Much work has gone into the subject of planning agreements and disclosure. When that subject was first brought before the House in the Second Reading debate it was a new con-concept and was put before us as such by Government representatives. Since then a great deal has been learnt from discussion with both sides of industry—although I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw) that there are more than two sides—and with all people involved in industry, and there is now a body of skill upon which we can draw in deciding how planning agreements should be tackled. Amendment (a) incorporates the best of that body of knowledge.
Planning agreements are an attempt to bring the time scale of industry in line with the time scale of the Ministry. The time scale of industrial concerns is already long, and it needs to be. Above the desk of the Secretary of State for industry there should be a sign saying "Don't just do something, sit there". The Government are less good at taking a long-term view than is industry because the Government are controlled in the last resort by Ministers who, as we have seen, come and go.
The Government have come under pressure as the Bill has progressed. They have taken heed of the fact that there is a deep well of suspicion in industry. They 1525 have taken note of the fact that industry suspects that trade unions may require planning agreements to be changed so as to take account of trade union demands. It is not necessary at this stage to consider whether or not industry's suspicions are justified, but the fact is that suspicion exists and note should be taken of it.
The Government have rightly come under ruthless and searching analysis by my hon. Friends in Committee. The Government have taken note of their requirements and of the pressure that has been exerted, but they have yielded in a manner which fails to achieve the original purpose. There is still retained in the hands of a Socialist Government the worst features of the original plan. There is a great danger that when it is not possible to meet two conflicting views the Government will broaden the discretion that lies in the hands of the Secretary of State and then give assurances to both sides of industry that all will be well. In so doing the Secretary of State is left with wide powers which increases the suspicion that is felt within industry that the legislation will be used against industry's best interests.
My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), in a wide-reaching measure proposed a year or so ago, very wisely decided that a group of Conservative Members should link themselves with specific industries. Over the last year I have been linked with the electronics industry. The companies in that industry are united in their desire to see a Government of either party achieve a more stable long-term approach to industry. As one travels around the country meeting people in the industry one is criticised not as a Conservative or, heaven forbid, as a Socialist, but as a politician—namely, for not having a longer-term approach to industry.
The giving of the most sweeping discretion to the Secretary of State increases the scope within which Government policy may vary and does not meet the need. The old complaints about planning agreements remain. There is to be compulsory disclosure, but no real advantage is to be given by the Government to companies. The concession embodied in Amendment No. 76 is flabby and, on balance, not 1526 particularly helpful. The Government must come off the fence on this issue.
The amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) completes the logical measure of linking the information of planning agreements to the disclosure of information. I hope that if necessary we shall pursue the amendment to a Division.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Unlike what most Labour Members seem to imagine are the characteristics of lawyers, I am a very simple man and I like simple law. One of the things which dismays me about modern legislation, of which the Bill is an outstandingly typical example, is its complexity on the one hand and its meaninglessness on the other. Nothing which has been added on Report does anything to detract from those two features.
For example, in Amendment No. 79, 13 simple words have been replaced by no fewer than 35 lines, none of which, in my opinion, means anything, unless it is an attempt to extend the work of the lawyers. Of course, many hon. Members spend much of their time attempting to allege that they wish to see lawyers out of work.
The principle behind the proposal to which I object is that it involves a new burden on productive industry and on private industry. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will tell the House how many requirements in terms of the supplying of information have been put upon ordinary firms in the past year. Of course, the requirement will vary because much depends on whether the firm makes thread, jam or shoes, for example, but there is a plethora of required information such as the census of industrial this and manpower that.
I return to the theme that was set yesterday, namely, that so long as we have a continuing division in industry large or small, whether it be productive industry, private industry or public industry, an increasing burden is placed upon it by Government and a smaller and smaller number of people are actually producing. It is only by producing that we shall be able to solve our problems.
One major fallacy is the assumption that if we can find a scapegoat we shall do better in future. At present there is the feeling that if only we knew the 1527 secret of how Jack made those beans grow taller we would be able to grow tall beans. That is fallacious. It is a scapegoat, an excuse and a paranoic fantasy. There is the idea that if a mass of additional information is provided by British industry, thereby enlarging Government Departments, we shall all of a sudden see the regeneration of British industry. That is a major fantasy in British public life. If, tomorrow, no firm had to fill out another form I think that the regeneration would be likely to start. Members such as the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) display a paranoic fantasy when they suggest that people are keeping things from them and that if they had the information we would all live happily ever after.
One of the particular lunacies of the Bill—the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) pointed this out very clearly in Committee—is to imagine that the information which is considered necessary to further national economic policies, whatever they may be—they change a good deal and they do not have much substance even when they have been changed—should also be passed on to the ordinary working man so as to make him feel, as the hon. Member for Basset-law said, that he will not lose his job tomorrow. That is just so much humbug or hypocrisy.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell and Wishaw)
If someone thinks that there is a lion under his bed it is quite a good idea for him to look under the bed to see whether a lion is there. The requirement to disclose information can, in the same way, clear up many fears and anxieties.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman, but the number of lions proportional to the number of beds on which we lie is, as I understand it, very small. To require everyone who ever lies on a bed to fill up a form describing the number of lions or other beasts which may or may not be there is typical of Government thinking. There may be a lion under the hon. Gentleman's bed. Indeed, there are many things in Motherwell that you do not find in other parts of the country. That is particularly so when there are Englishmen such as 1528 the hon. Gentleman representing constituencies in Scotland. It may well be that we should put a unicorn under his bed and not a lion.
I do not believe that the regeneration of British industry is likely to be achieved by imagining that one of the beasts of the Royal Coat of Arms is lying under every bed and that we should spend our time looking underneath every bed in case a beast is present. That is a concept that leads to a greatly enlarged bureaucracy and a lot of useless information, although it is thought by some that such information will lead us to live happily ever after.
The feeling that additional information will solve all our problems stems from the phenomenon of secrecy. I would not have thought that any sector of industry would be unwilling to supply an intelligent answer to any Minister who asks for it. If a Minister wants to put together a national economic policy I cannot imagine one company which would not be willing to give him short and intelligent information in a talk or in a letter when there is an overall legislative requirement.
It is wrong to make it a legislative requirement. Everything is becoming increasingly compulsory; legislation is extending, as is the bureaucracy. If we want to see the regeneration of British industry, let us not for ever take the view "We shall get on with it only when we have the information, and when we have more people working on more facts, if we can get them". It is a completely fallacious concept and one which the House would do well to overthrow.
In the words of the White Paper, we want to see a closer, clearer and more positive relationship. If there is one thing which would serve to ensure a better relationship, it would be to abolish paper. It will be most unfortunate if these provisions—which are even more complicated than were the previous ones, although there are some concessions—go through.
Will the Minister please reduce the compulsion on industry and also cut down the number of people who are undertaking utterly useless work in asking industries for unnecessary information? That information is dealt with by equally useless people who are paid by the State 1529 vast amounts of money to make false calculations. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot get his sums right from week to week in the management of the economy, and if the Post Office cannot get its estimates right from week to week, is it not facile to pretend that the requirement that industry should produce innumerable facts and figures and pass them on to the Department of Industry will have any useful deductive influence on the future pattern of our trade success? I believe that it will not have any effect on the situation. I believe that this requirement is fallacious, fictitious and wrong.
§ Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
I should like to take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers). He said that the motto on desks in industry should be "Don't just do something—sit there." The hon. Gentleman put that across as a policy which would be beneficial to industry. We have only to remember the era when the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) was in the Department of Trade and Industry in the early 1970s. The hon. Gentleman considered that contact between industry and Government should consist of the Government supplying all the money and dishing out propaganda and exhortations, but that the Government should have no truck with industry itself and that any form of involvement amounts to gross interference and should not happen.
§ Mr. Viggers
The point I was seeking to make was quite different. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that successive Secretaries of State and Chancellors of the Exchequer have so changed the rates of tax, investment allowances, VAT, hire purchase and credit arrangements that they have destroyed the firmer framework within which industry seeks to operate, and indeed have distorted it in relation to the capacity of industry to make its own plans?
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Rooker
We are today discussing the disclosure of information. What is crucial is the use to which that information is put. I was only leading off about the so-called voluntary laissez-faire attitude of the Department of Industry which, so it is argued, should not be 1530 expected to take too great an interest in the way industry works, but should merely dole out the cash and approach matters via propaganda and exhortation. Surely that attitude is utterly wrong. The whole point of the requirement for the disclosure of information is the necessity to make the very best use of the facts disclosed. Proper use of information will enable us to pick up the failures which industry suffered in the period 1966–70 and to examine the rôle of Government involvement.
I would be the first to admit that in earlier periods of Labour government the system had its flaws. We all remember the famous phrase the "white heat of the technological revolution". That was a much-abused phrase and soon fell into complete disuse before Labour left office in 1970. The reason for much of the failure lay in the fact that in seeking to make effective use of our policies the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation was not a very effective instrument. We are now putting that situation right, by this Bill which provides for planning agreements, disclosure of information and the National Enterprise Board. Therefore, we are building the instruments for the implementation of policy.
The other reason why we failed was that we did not select the right subjects for Government involvement. We selected some good subjects but also some bad ones. This situation arose only because of insufficient advice the Government received—or information which they did not receive—because industry was not known for its alacrity to come forward with information. The previous Labour Government pumped millions of pounds into highly sophisticated products on which the return was low, but there are examples where little money was spent with a much greater return. I refer, for example, to the evolution of the technology of tribology. The public expenditure involved in that technique was only £2 million, but the return over the years has amounted to £200 million a year. The British Steel Corporation has made use of the new technology and has achieved encouraging results. That was only a part of the activity in earlier years and it succeeded, but the rest of the plan failed because we did not build the instruments and did not have recourse to the information which firms had within their control.
1531 The Government agencies require information on which to base future policy decisions and put forward initiatives. If the information is not used for that purpose I do not know what we are all doing here this afternoon. These provisions are not a sop to any side of industry or to anybody in the House. We shall make use of them. We must try to pull industry screaming into the twentieth century. A good part of industry is still not involved in the twentieth century and does not even make use of known techniques and technologies. The cost of putting these matters into practice is small. We do not know how far these industries have gone along the road because we do not have access to the information.
We are paying the price for not taking action in earlier years. We have to pick up the reins, but we have not much time. It is not just another load of form filling. I do not think that industry will run away from these requirements. Most firms will see it as a great benefit. Industry should be knocking at the door of the Department of Trade in Victoria Street and saying "Why do you not ask for the information so that you will then know our requirements? You will know what we need." That is what we are talking about. It is fatuous to say that VAT and other matters are on all fours with this requirement. The main thing to remember is that we must make the very best use of all the information that comes to hand.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I wish to make a brief speech. During the last two days, as we have entered on the Report stage, I have asked myself, what is the good of having a Report stage at all for a Bill which we have considered so closely for 100 hours in Committee? Of course, it is of value to the new Secretary of State, the new Minister of State and the new Under-Secretary of State. Indeed, it is valuable to those hon. Members who did not take part in the Committee proceedings. That has been illustrated by a number of speakers this afternoon and not least by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), who has brought a breath of fresh air into our debate. He has expressed the view from the shop floor, and I think I am right in saying that he has done so on 1532 more than one occasion when we have discussed industrial matters.
We are apt, when on Report, to go to sleep. It is all words, words, words. I cannot think why we are having this Report stage. I know that during the last two sittings of the Committee the Secretary of State promised that he would read through the report of the whole of the proceedings, and I know that he has done so. I have great respect for him because he has been so diligent in his study of the observations made on both sides of the Committee. He has considered points of view expressed from behind him, from in front of him, from his supporters, from those who criticise him, from the back benches behind him, from the Opposition back benches and from the Opposition Front Bench. He has heard the view of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr who has asked what we are going to do with all this information. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) has pointed out, are we not asking for too much information?
In my view the Secretary of State has dressed the Bill up. He has read it, but he has added a great deal that is not really of great moment. With the greatest respect to him, in my view he has dressed up Clause 20 and the following clauses that deal with the disclosure of information, so that they look, perhaps, more respectable. For example, instead of being a vigorous young girl in a tee shirt and jeans it has become a prim and proper young girl wearing a long dress at Ascot.
Is the Bill now supposed to be that much more presentable to all sides of industry because it has been dressed up and because it has been given a grand presence? Amendment No. 76 does have a rather grand sounding introduction. The amendment to the amendment, which my colleagues have proposed does try to bring some reality to the situation and to limit the amount of information that will have to be generated and received by the Department of Industry in future.
I know that the Secretary of State and his Ministers are capable of understanding what we are talking about now and what we shall be talking about later. However, what is the position of the officers in the Department? Are we not 1533 putting too great a burden on men who are not really equipped to accept this information? I am not saying that all civil servants are incapable of accepting and interpreting, in micro-economic terms or less, what will come to them in future, but we are inviting industry now to deliver a great deal of information which has got to be taken on board by the Department.
We know that the Fulton Committee Report on the Civil Service has not been implemented. There is far too little movement of civil servants into industry for attachment or secondment for two or three years. It does happen, because I have met such people. I have met assistant secretaries working in industry and I have also met men from industry who are attached to the Civil Service Departments, but I have met far too few on far too few occasions. It has not happened on enough levels. The Government are inviting and encouraging a much greater work load for the civil servants who are to advise and to interpret this information for them.
The intention has now been made quite clear by the Secretary of State that it is for the further study of national economic policies—for sectoral planning. I do not disagree with any of this, if we can do it. However, I agree with my own colleagues who propose the amendment to the amendment that we must limit it, we must make it possible, and we must confine it to those companies that enter into planning agreements.
What is the point of having a Report stage if we do not make any progress towards accepting some of the sensible and good ideas that are being put forward? We are trying to make the Government's burden lighter. There is nothing devious about what we are suggesting. We are all concerned about the regeneration of British industry. As has been said by so many hon. Members on both sides of the House this afternoon and in Committee, we are concerned that there should be disclosure of information to all employees. We are concerned that the trade unions should be taken into confidence and assist in the study of all problems of industrial management and their solution. We are concerned that the Government should be brought in and that there should be confident, proper sectoral planning and 1534 the use of our resources. We know that our resources, whether they are financial, labour or mechanical, are limited. All hon. Members are concerned for British industry to make progress.
However, I suggest to the Government that in these last few days when we have a chance of considering the Bill they should not overload the Government machine so that it cannot cope. I do not think that the Department will be able to cope with the amount of paper and information that will come its way. I ask the Secretary of State to listen to some of the sensible—I hope he agrees that they are sensible—suggestions for trying to lighten the Government's burden and to make the task of the nation easier.
The hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) has made many valuable contributions during the months we have considered the Bill. As a former distinguished Minister and a technical man he put forward in Committee some very constructive amendments which have gone through and which are in the Bill, requiring the Government to give information back to industry. Industry can cope. Industry has the people who can take on board all the information that would be given to it by the Government. I shall seek to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, later, when we come to some other amendments which would delete those very things which the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw has sought to put into the Bill.
§ Mr. Rooker
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) made the interesting point that industry has got the people to take on board the information that the Government would give it. Will not the same people be used to give the Government information from industry?
§ Mr. Crouch
We can express the point of view that industry has enough people to produce information. Indeed, I was not making the point that industry does not have the people to produce the information, because industry today does have people who produce a great deal of paper, as well as many studies, reports and so on. It has been suggested by some of my hon. Friends that, perhaps, it would be better if we did not employ so many people on the clerical side to do this sort of work. I agree. There are 1535 not enough people trained in understanding industrial problems in the Department of Industry who can take on board the full significance of the information they will receive.
I am sorry that the Government at this stage will seek to remove those valuable additions which, at the instance of the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw, were put into the Bill in Committee.
§ 6.30 p.m.
We have listened to nine speeches from the Conservative Opposition today, in addition to the more relevant speeches from the Liberal Party and the Scottish National Party. We are still totally unacquainted with what the Conservative attitude is toward the information disclosure provisions in the Bill, and whether Conservatives are in favour of there being information disclosure provisions, as distinct from whether they favour these specific provisions. As on practically every subject that the House debates at present, there is no clear policy on this matter from the Conservative Party—which as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) has described it, is "the party of the southern shires".
We have had carping criticism of detail which, these days, passes for the rôle of the official Opposition. For example, we have had complaints about the cumbersome procedure in which companies, the Government and unions would be involved if either the original provisions of the Bill had gone through unamended or the provisions of the Bill, as we are seeking to amend them, were enacted.
We have had complaints from the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), who has courteously apologised to me for his inability to be present for my reply, about the burdens that may be placed on industry if the information disclosure provisions remain in the Bill.
I hope that companies looking at what is undoubtedly a cumbersome procedure now, just as it was a cumbersome procedure in the Bill as originally framed, will find that, rather than go through that cumbersome procedure, it will be more satisfactory for them to provide the information voluntarily.
1536 In any case, there seems to be some dichotomy on the Opposition benches. We have complaints from the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds and the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) about the fearsome burdens which will be imposed on hard-pressed industry, with extra paper and other kinds of work, if these information disclosure provisions are enacted and implemented. At the same time, the hon. Member for Ton-bridge and Malling (Mr. Stanley) intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) and said that companies were not reluctant to disclose the information. One argument throughout the proceedings on the Bill has been that companies are ready to provide the information. If they provide it voluntarily, the amount of paperwork involved in getting together the information and communicating it to the Government and trade unions will be less than if the information requirements in the Bill are fulfilled.
We are told again and again by some idealists opposite, who demonstrate their idealism by declaring their interests as they rise to speak, that industry is altruistic and wishes to co-operate with the Government and workers. That is well and good, and very satisfactory. That completely conforms with the ardent hope of my right hon. and hon. Friends who preceded my right hon. Friend and myself in the Department that the information disclosure provisions will never have to be used, because all companies will flock to provide voluntarily the information which the Government and trade unions so justifiably require.
Incidentally, the hon. Member for Ton-bridge and Malling is misinformed in contending that the Bill, while aimed at industrial democracy, does not mention it. Clause 2(2)(e) mentions it. The hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that the Bill did not contain any reference to industrial democracy.
§ Mr. Stanley
The Minister obviously did not clearly hear what I was saying. I said that there was no reference to industrial democracy in the disclosure provisions of the Bill.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I apologise if that is what the hon. Gentleman said rather than what I thought I heard him say. It is not 1537 a great point. It may have been a slip of his tongue rather than a slip of my ear. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) ought not to mutter away like that. He should come out and say in the open whatever irrelevancies he has to make.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) brought before the House a vivid example of the brutal effect upon workers of a sudden closure, particularly in a part of the country where there is not overmuch industrial employment. I think that the House was indebted to him for bringing the plight of those workers to its attention. My hon. Friend has explained why it is not possible for him to be here for my reply. At the same time, he appeared to feel that the disclosure provisions of a Bill of this kind would have helped the workers in the factory in Gains-borough about whom he was so rightly concerned.
Neither the Bill as it will stand, if amended, nor the Bill as originally drafted would have been of use to those workers. It would not have provided them with the information that they wanted in the timescale that my hon. Friend thought was necessary. But there is another Bill going through this House now which would provide those workers with the kind of information that they required—namely, the Employment Protection Bill. Under Clauses 88 and 89 of that Bill, every employer has a statutory duty to consult trade unions and to notify the Secretary of State if he proposes to dismiss as redundant 100 employees at one establishment within 90 days or 10 employees at one establishment within 30 days. If he fails to carry out that duty to consult the unions, he can be required to pay compensation to those who are dismissed and, within 90 days, the Secretary of State can require such further information as he considers necessary.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw will be relieved to know that the Government are providing for the kind of situation about which he was so rightly concerned. However, this Bill as drafted would not and was not intended to provide for such a situation.
My hon. Friend decried what he described as voluntary arrangements. My 1538 hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) also was not as contented as he might have been with voluntary arrangements. Both my hon. Friends implied that voluntary arrangements, as we now seek to have them, are different from what was intended by my right hon. Friend, the present Secretary of State for Energy, when he introduced the Bill earlier this year. But my right hon. Friend and his then colleagues repeatedly made clear that they have always sought to have voluntary arrangements. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw is Parliamentary Secretary to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. Therefore, he will be aware of the letters sent out to many companies and Members of Parliament by my right hon. Friend in which he said that the disclosure powers contained in Clauses 20 to 23 of the Bill were reserve powers which need not be used if the consultative arrangements which exist within a company already provide for the satisfactory provisions of this information.
My hon. Friend would also have been present on Second Reading when my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), then Minister of State, winding up for the Government, said:I emphasise that it is not the Government's wish to base relationships between workers and management in industry upon the use of compulsory information powers. Where a company has good arrangements for informing and consulting its workers through their trade unions on the formation of its plans, the use of compulsory powers would be irrelevant. Arrangements entered into on a voluntary basis are much more satisfactory than the use of a statute."—[Official Report, 18th February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 1246.]Again, my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw, and Motherwell and Wishaw, were members of the Committee. Therefore, they would have heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy repeatedly say,It has been made clear that these are intended to be reserve powers. … It will, of course, be a reserve power … this is only a reserve power."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 6th May 1975; c. 1403, 1431, 1503.]My right hon. Friend was there talking about the information disclosure powers in the Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), then 1539 Under-Secretary of State, again in Standing Committee, repeated,We are concerned only with a reserve power. … The compulsory disclosure provisions are a reserve power and if we are able to obtain the information voluntarily, which is far preferable from the Government's point of view, these powers will never be used. They will never be operated so long as there is complete willingness voluntarily to provide the information the Government need for their economic planning purposes."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 6th May 1975; c. 1472, 1444.]It has never been the intention that the Government should simply seize this information. It has always been the wish of the Government that the atmosphere in industry should be such that the information would be provided voluntarily. What we provided in the Bill as originally drafted was a back-up power. What we continue to have is a back-up power, even though we have varied the nature of that power.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley and the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Mr. Stanley) both spoke to the Opposition amendment to the Government amendment, which would link the disclosure provisions to planning agreements. The hon. Member for Bromsgrove and Redditch seemed to imply that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton, as Minister of State or otherwise, had insisted upon a link between planning agreements and the disclosure powers. If the hon. Gentleman had seen my hon. Friend on television in "Midweek" last week he would have heard him insist, when Mr. Vincent Hanna allowed him to say anything, that as far as he was concerned the disclosure powers and planning agreements had never been linked.
§ Mr. Hal Miller
I based my remarks on an article in the Guardian newspaper, written by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) in which his attitude was made quite plain. It was also quoted in Committee, and I gather that the Under-Secretary has familiarised himself with the proceedings in Committee.
§ Mr. Kaufman
The Conservative Party lives in the past. It goes back to records and quotations of months ago rather than to what has been said on recent dates—unlike the hon. Member 1540 for Arundel (Mr. Marshall), who misleads the House in every possible way by saying that the Government have entered into commitments and then wriggling out of it when corrected.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
Will the hon. Gentleman, with all the authority of a member of the Government, advise us how long we should rely upon their word before regarding it as out of date?
§ Mr. Kaufman
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for conferring upon me some authority. I have always regarded any weight that I carried as so exiguous as not to be worth mentioning.
I come now to the Opposition amendments, and I say flatly that they are not acceptable to the Government. They seek to link the information disclosure provisions to planning agreements. However, they do so in a way which is quite unacceptable. It would enable the powers to require information disclosure to be used only when a company has said that it is willing to conclude such an agreement. But an essential part of a planning agreement is that information should be disclosed to Government and to workers. It is therefore futile if the powers may only be used in relation to companies which are already prepared to do voluntarily what the powers would require by statute. It would confine the powers to companies where they are not needed.
Even in connection with planning agreements, the powers need to be wider than provided by this amendment. If a company refuses to enter a planning agreement—as it is free to do—the Government reserve the right to obtain information for the Government and for the company's workers. This is as we set out in the White Paper, to which Opposition Members appear peculiarly addicted. The Government said that the Bill wouldprovide reserve powers to require the relevant companies to provide the Government and the workers in the firms with the information needed to formulate and monitor a planning agreement.We made it clear that the provision of information to workers would be through trade union representatives. It is therefore necessary, as the Bill provides, for information to be disclosed not only with 1541 the consent of companies, but also if necessary without their consent.
I have discussed this amendment in the context of planning agreements. It is of course possible that the information disclosure provisions might be used in a context other than that of planning agreements: to discover, for example, how the plans of a particular company interact with others in a sector; so that the Government can introduce a Section 8 scheme; or perhaps to learn more about a key company about which anxieties are felt. This is marginally relevant to what my hon. Friend the Member for Basset-law was discussing. Then it would be totally inappropriate to make the use of the powers dependent on the willingness of a company to enter into a planning agreement.
It is for these reasons that we have separated them. It is for these reasons that we cannot accept these amendments. It is for these reasons that we ask the House to accept the Government's amendment, unamended.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)
We have had a wide-ranging debate on disclosure, and in this stage of our proceedings we move to consider a whole series of clauses dealing with disclosure. The Under-Secretary was good enough at the beginning of the debate to take the opportunity to state the Government's attitude to the new arrangements for disclosure.
The more that I listen to this whole complex of disclosure arrangements, the more difficult I find it to decide whether we are discussing the biggest non-event ever to come before Parliament or a major disaster. It is difficult to decide whether all these clauses really add up to anything at all or whether they will produce all the problems which many of us fear.
What is significant when one looks at the provisions is that there are five clauses. In one Government amendment, 15 words have been left out. In a new amendment, they have been replaced by 35 lines. The scale of the Government's amendment adds yet more complexity, and the amendments are all in relation to one sentence in paragraph 11 of the White Paper.
1542 Planning agreements themselves are covered by 11 paragraphs in the White Paper. They are dismissed in one clause in the Bill. This small sentence, slipped into the White Paper without very many people noticing it, has been the subject of all this contention and the subject of five of the most complex clauses to have come before Parliament for a very long time.
I have great respect for my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), who is one of the few Members to understand how these disclosure provisions will work. I am tempted to challenge any Government supporters who can claim to understand how they will work to rise in their places and be counted. I wonder how many of them could answer questions about the way in which notices will be served under Clause 21, and the rest of it. Indeed, I would admire the Secretary of State if he could say honestly that he understood the complexity of what is happening.
I have to declare an interest, past and present, in that I worked for years in manufacturing industry. I do not find it difficult to imagine how I would feel if I were back in industry and received a copy of this legislation with the message that this was now the procedure which had to be followed.
It is interesting to debate this matter today, bearing in mind that it was only yesterday that Government supporters below the Gangway rose in horror at the suggestion of a statutory approach to the control of wages and said how voluntary arrangements were so much more satisfactory. They fail to understand the obverse of the argument which is now being advanced. Our objection is that the Government are insisting on statutory enforcement without giving a voluntary system a real chance to work. Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he would allow a week for a voluntary system to work and that, if it did not, it would have to be statutory.
Today, those same Government supporters say that the only way these procedures can possibly work is with statutory reserve powers. They appear to be oblivious to any suggestion that in 1543 another provision, the statutory method may not be the best way.
I agree with the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray), who said that this was a real disincentive to the voluntary approach. If the Minister has read all the Official Reports and the Committee reports, as he claims to have done, he will know that I have frequently challenged the Government in Committee to give evidence of one occasion on which the Department has asked a company for information which would have been helpful within the context set out in this new clause, and in the Government amendment, and where the company has been unwilling to give it. It would be very helpful if the Minister would intervene at this point if he is able to do that. It may be unfair to put that question to him, but he will know that it was put to his predecessors in Committee and they were unable to give one example of information having been declined which could justify the taking of reserve powers, which the Government insist on doing.
It is generally known—I have admitted it—that when in office the Conservative Government were having informal planning discussions with major industrial companies, and it is no secret that companies were not unwilling to have these discussions, because there are many matters of common interest on which companies may seek information from the Government, and wish to discuss with the Government their plans for the future. In this situation there is an onus, which the Government have totally failed to discharge, to prove the need for such reserve statutory powers—because we all know that Governments have real powers of patronage order placement, and other procurement powers. In the present situation—some of us may regret the extent of it—Governments already have considerable powers without going for this statutory power. A point well made by the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw was that it will damage the voluntary relationship between Government and industry. He said if there is a voluntary situation Government and industry may agree but if, after that, they have to get into a formal situation, companies will say "If we have to get to the crunch, let us get to the formal 1544 situation" so that opportunities to develop a voluntary basis of confidence and trust, which is much the best way, are lost.
Sometimes the Government will want more information than they can get under the statutory obligation, and any company that is subject to statutory notice will make sure that it gives just that information and no more, which will damage the useful interchange which could take place to the benefit of the company and the Government.
§ Dr. Bray
If I gave the hon. Gentleman the impression he has quoted, plainly I misled the House. I said the voluntary notice introduced an unnecessary legal complication to the preliminary soundings and that when initiating disclosure into company or planning agreement discussions, as I put it, the Secretary of State might like to consider whether that preliminary context was not best kept entirely formal, so that when the statutory procedure was embarked upon it would be embarked upon as a stage, as the provision came from the Standing Committee on the Bill.
§ Mr. King
I am not sure whether that is an intervention in my speech or an attempt to rebuild a bridge with the Secretary of State, but he said in my hearing that the voluntary nature of the preliminary discussions would be damaging and that companies would be inclined to come to the crunch and get the formal notice. If I am incorrect in my understanding, I withdraw that.
I do not know how great is the Under-Secretary's understanding of industry. My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) suggested there were hordes of people able to provide this information. He knows that it will be a load on industry. The Bolton Committee on Small Businesses, set up under a Labour Government, reported that the amount of form-filling required was a major problem for small businesses. This is a problem for large businesses as well. The Under-Secretary must know that one of the big grievances of people working on the shop floor is the growth of office staff and unproductive overheads. By this disclosure provision hon. Members opposite will add to that unproductive overhead. The staff who will be involved in completing these forms will be an addition to the load. It is not an individual 1545 item. It may not be significant in itself but it is part of a cumulative load. Many workers on the shop floor complain that the number of office workers seems to grow. They may not realise that Government legislation is contributing to that.
We believe that this Government amendment is cosmetic. It does not make must difference, for the power remains at the total discretion of the Secretary of State, whether he does anything with it, whether he decides to act or not to act. We believe our amendment would have some small benefit. It would mean that what was said in the White Paper was actually carried out by the Government. It would actually mean that we had enabled the Prime Minister to keep his word to the House of Commons. That may not be thought important. It may be thought of as something we should not regard too highly. It may seem odd that we on the Opposition side of the
§ House should be left as the trustees of the Prime Minister's good word, but if one reads the White Paper and the Official Report, and the Prime Minister's clear pledge in the House of Commons, one sees that there might be an argument that standing by the Prime Minister's word had some justification and that there was some small case for supporting our amendment.
§ We happen to believe that the White Paper was right in the first place and that the present clauses are wrong. We happen to believe that the Prime Minister was right to say the White Paper should be followed, which is why we shall support our amendment in the Lobby.
§ Question put, That the amendment to the proposed amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 169, Noes 214.1547
|Division No. 264.]||AYES||[6.55 p.m.|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Glyn, Dr Alan||Mather, Carol|
|Arnold, Tom||Goodhart, Philip||Mawby, Ray|
|Boker, Kenneth||Goodlad, Alastair||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Beith, A. J.||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Benyon, W.||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Griffiths, Eldon||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Biffen, John||Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Mills, Peter|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grist, Ian||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hall, Sir John||Molyneaux, James|
|Bottomley, Peter||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Monro, Hector|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brittan, Leon||Hampson, Dr Keith||Moore, John (Croydon C)|
|Brotherton, Michael||Hannam, John||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Havers, Sir Michael||Neubert, Michael|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hawkins, Paul||Newton, Tony|
|Burden, F. A.||Hayhoe, Barney||Normanton, Tom|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Heseltine, Michael||Nott, John|
|Carlisle, Mark||Holland, Philip||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hooson, Emlyn||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hordern, Peter||Penhaligon, David|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||percival, Ian|
|Clegg, Walter||Howell, David (Guildford)||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch|
|Cope, John||Hurd, Douglas||Raison, Timothy|
|Cordle, John H.||Jessel, Toby||Rathbone, Tim|
|Cormack, Patrick||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)|
|Crouch, David||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kershaw, Anthony||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Kimball, Marcus||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Drayson, Burnaby||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Durant, Tony||Knight, Mrs Jill||Rocs, William (Londonderry)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knox, David||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Elliott, Sir William||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Emery, Peter||Lawson, Nigel||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, Colin|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Lloyd, Ian||Shersby, Michael|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Loveridge, John||Silvester, Fred|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Sims, Roger|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||McCusker, H.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Macfarlane, Neil||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Speed, Keith|
|Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Spence, John|
|Fry, Peter||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Marten, Neil||Sproat, lain|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Mates, Michael||Stainton, Keith|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)||Wlnterton, Nicholas|
|Stanley, John||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Townsend, Cyril D.||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Tugendhat, Christopher||Younger, Hon George|
|Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Stokes, John||Viggers, Peter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stradling Thomas, J.||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)||Mr. Richard Luce.|
|Tebbit, Norman||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Allaun, Frank||Golding, John||Park, George|
|Anderson, Donald||Gould, Bryan||Parker, John|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Gourlay, Harry||Parry, Robert|
|Ashton, Joe||Graham, Ted||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Grant, John (Islington C)||Prescott, John|
|Atkinson, Norman||Grocott, Bruce||Radice, Giles|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Reid, George|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Harper, Joseph||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Bates, Alf||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Hatton, Frank||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hayman, Mrs Helene||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Heffer, Eric S.||Rooker, J. W.|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Henderson, Douglas||Roper, John|
|Boardman, H.||Hooley, Frank||Rose, Paul B.|
|Booth, Albert||Horam, John||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Bradley, Tom||Hughes. Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Selby, Harry|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hunter, Adam||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Campbell, Ian||Janner, Greville||Sitlars, James|
|Canavan, Dennis||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Silverman, Julius|
|Cant, R. B.||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Skinner, Dennis|
|Carmichael, Neil||Johnson. James (Hull West)||Small, William|
|Carter, Ray||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Snape, Peter|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Cartwright, John||Judd, Frank||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Kaufman, Gerald||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Kelley, Richard||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Kerr, Russell||Stoddart, David|
|Coleman, Donald||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Stott, Roger|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Lamble, David||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Corbett, Robin||Lamond, James||Swain, Thomas|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Leadbitter, Ted||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Crawford. Douglas||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Thompson, George|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Thome, Stan (Preston South)|
|Cryer, Bob||Litterick, Tom||Tierney, Sydney|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lomas, Kenneth||Tinn, James|
|Davidson, Arthur||Loyden, Eddie||Tomlinson, John|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Luard, Evan||Tuck, Raphael|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Varley, Rt Hon Erie G.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||McCartney, Hugh||Walnwright, Edwin (Deame V)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds W)||MacCormick, Iain||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Delargy, Hugh||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Ward, Michael|
|Dempsey, James||Mackintosh, John P.||Watkins, David|
|Doig, Peter||Maclennan, Robert||Watt, Hamish|
|Dormand, J. D.||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Weetch, Ken|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||McNamara, Kevin||Wellbeloved, James|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Madden, Max||Welsh, Andrew|
|Eadie, Alex||Magee, Bryan||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Edge, Geoff||Mahon, Simon||White, James (Pollok)|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Marks, Kenneth||Whitlock, William|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Marquand, David||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Evans,Ioan (Aberdare)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Maynard, Miss Joan||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Mikardo, Ian||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||Millan, Bruce||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Flannery, Martin||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Woodall, Alec|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Woof, Robert|
|Ford, Ben||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Forrester, John||Noble, Mike||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Freeson, Reginald||Ogden, Eric||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Orbach, Maurice||Mr. James A. Dunn and|
|George, Bruce||Padley, Walter||Miss Margaret Jackson.|
|Ginsburg, David||Palmer, Arthur|
§ Question accordingly negatived1548
§ Amendment agreed to.1549
§ The Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Eric Varley)
I beg to move Amendment No. 77, in page 14, line 17 after 'undertaking', insert 'wholly or mainly'.
§ Mr. Speaker
With this we can also discuss Government Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 with Amendment (a) to subsection (ii) to leave out 'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'employee representatives', and Amendments (b) and (d) to (i) similarly worded; Government Amendments Nos. 80 to 82, with Amendment (a) to subsection (1E) to leave out 'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'all employees' and a similarly worded Amendment (b); Government Amendments Nos. 85 to 88; Government Amendment No. 97, with Amendment (a) to subsection (2A) to leave out 'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'employee representatives' and a similarly worded Amendment (b); Government Amendment No. 100; Government Amendment No. 177; Amendment No. 184, in Clause 22, page 15, line 36, leave out 'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'employee representatives'; Amendment No. 185, in page 15, line 36, leave out 'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'all employees and shareholders';
Amendment No. 170, in page 15, line 36, at end insert:
'or the senior elected representative of each category of employees in an undertaking where trade unions represent only a minority, or none, of the workforce';
and Government Amendment No. 104, in page 15, line 44, leave out 'person required to furnish it' and insert 'company or companies concerned'.
§ Mr. Varley
I will deal briefly with Amendments No. 77 and 78 and then turn to what may be regarded as the more controversial amendments. The effect of these first two amendments is as follows. The Government have stated that the information powers are intended to apply to manufacturing industries alone. In Committee it was pointed out that the phrase "engaged in manufacturing industry" might allow some marginal movement into manufacturing to lead to the use of the disclosure powers. The Government have, therefore, brought forward these amendments to restrict the information powers 1550 to undertakings which are "wholly or mainly" engaged in manufacturing industry.
We are conscious that this might, if narrowly interpreted, lead to some businesses which, on a commonsense basis, are undoubtedly manufacturing businesses being excluded from the powers. To guard against this, we are proposing elsewhere to amend the definition of "manufacturing" so that it includes activities which are a necessary part of the manufacturing business—for example, research and development on the products made within the business. I am confident that these provisions will do what we want; namely, confine the powers to manufacturing businesses.
We also wish to amend the Bill by referring to "a group of companies" rather than, as the Bill originally specified, a company and a subsidiary. This will cover the business which is carried on not by one company or one subsidiary but by a group of subsidiaries—perhaps co-subsidiaries of a foreign parent.
I will reserve my comments on the amendments to Government Amendments Nos. 79 to 83 until I have heard what hon. Members have to say in moving them. The effect of the Government amendments is not easy to grasp, and it would probably be most helpful for me to explain the procedure that will follow if these amendments are accepted. In part, they are technical, but they also represent changes to Clause 20 and are intended to make its provisions more flexible, worth while and certainly more effective.
The procedure will be that the Minister will act only in relation to an undertaking which makes a significant contribution to an important sector of manufacturing industry when he considers that information should be provided both to the Minister and to representatives of relevant trade unions. I know there are amendments to change this procedure, but it is the Government's intention that, if it appears to him that these conditions are satisfied, the Minister may issue a preliminary notice on the company or companies concerned. He will be able to consider making an order to use the disclosure powers unless he is satisfied that disclosure will be made voluntarily. The notice must be passed on to trade 1551 union representatives within the undertaking, and the company must provide the Minister with a list of those representatives. The Minister must make a statement to Parliament on what he has done.
After the preliminary notice, the Minister may make an order to bring a company or group of companies within the scope of Clauses 21 to 23 and to require the company to furnish him with information. He can do this only after at least three months have elapsed from the date of issue of the preliminary notice and after considering any representations made to him by the company and the trade union representatives. He may make an order only if he believes that voluntary arrangements will not provide information to the unions and the Government. The order would be subject to parliamentary control through a negative resolution.
I should like to concentrate on the changes we are proposing to Clause 20. We wish to emphasise—and this has always been the Government's intention—the need to encourage voluntary disclosure of information by making it clear that, if voluntary means fail, statutory powers may be applied. There will be a gap of at least three months between the service of the preliminary notice and the Minister being able to serve a notice requiring disclosure. The Government, companies and unions will be able to negotiate on how the disclosure of information might be developed by voluntary means. I believe the service of preliminary notices will stimulate discussions and that many companies which stress their willingness to provide information will use that period to translate their willingness into real action.
We also propose to write into the Bill the provision that an order requiring statutory disclosure should not be made unless the Minister believes voluntary means would not succeed. The Government have always stressed their desire to encourage voluntary disclosure of information. This is not just the desire of the new Ministers of the Department of Industry; it was shared by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy when he was Secretary of State 1552 for Industry, his former Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and the former Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), who is now an Under-Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Security.
Where a company has made arrangements to consult and inform its workers through their unions on the formation of its plans, the use of compulsory powers will be irrelevant. Arrangements entered into on a voluntary basis are much more satisfactory than the use of a statute.
We are also proposing tighter means of parliamentary control. Previously, Parliament could negative the lists of companies deemed to be eligible for information disclosure, but subsequently had no control over the exercise of the powers. We now propose that Parliament should be informed of any proposed use of the powers when a preliminary notice is served and subsequently to be able to control by negative resolution the exercise of those powers in the issuing of an order requiring information to be disclosed to the Minister. This matter was discussed at some length when I met the CBI and the TUC, and, although I cannot speak for the TUC, I believe they were favourably impressed by our discussions about some control at that end of the procedure.
There are provisions proposed in Clause 23 for further parliamentary control over the information to be disclosed in certain circumstances to trade union representatives. The Government believe this will enable Parliament to control the exercise of these powers much more effectively.
Previously the Bill referred to a person, a company or a subsidiary of a company. We wish to amend this to refer to a company or companies. This will make clear that information may be required from a company whose undertaking is carried on by a group of companies, from a holding company if this is a United Kingdom company or from subsidiaries of a group if the holding company is not a United Kingdom company and would, therefore, be outside the scope of United Kingdom legislation. I understand that this matter caused considerable debate during the Committee stage, and I hope our amendments will clarify the matter.
1553 I want to stress that information may be sought only for the purposes set out in Clause 20(1) and only about a manufacturing undertaking.
I have concentrated on the amendments in respect of their effect and purpose. It would be wrong to suggest that the proposed changes are such as to negate or drastically change the provisions of Clause 20 as originally drafted. We propose to emphasise the Government's wish to encourage voluntary arrangements when possible and to strengthen parliamentary control and overcome technical difficulties. But our policy of being able, where necessary, to disclose information is still in the Bill. It is absolutely important that it should remain there. In certain circumstances it is much better to have voluntary disclosure, and I think that discussions will take place with companies and trade unions about voluntary disclosure. However, where I am not satisfied that voluntary disclosure can be brought about I shall have no hestitation in using the mandatory powers in the Bill.
§ Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)
The Minister was making an important point about disclosure in connection with overseas investments. Will he clarify the point? Is he saying that it will not be necessary for disclosure to be made by a company which is manufacturing within the United Kingdom but has plans to undertake investment overseas?
§ Mr. Varley
Where the parent company is an overseas company we shall still require information from it about its subsidiary in this country in the normal way.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I was referring to the reverse position where the parent company is a United Kingdom company which operates mainly in the United Kingdom in manufacturing industry and has intentions, probably through one of its subsidiaries overseas, to invest overseas. Would it be necessary for the parent company to disclose its intentions, which might involve a transfer of capital across the exchanges from this country?
§ Mr. Varley
We might require that information, and that is not ruled out by the amendments. Such developments could have a considerable impact on the 1554 sectoral planning approach and for the trade unions.
§ Mr. Stanley
I first must declare an interest in an industrial company. I have declared that interest before in Standing Committee.
We recognised that Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 have been tabled essentially to meet an undertaking in Committee that the disclosure provisions would apply basically to manufacturing companies. We have no quarrel with them. They go as far as the Government are able, to achieve their point. However, the whole of this part of the Bill is qualified by line 5 of Amendment No. 76 which saysif it appears to him".In other words, it is wholly a matter for ministerial discretion as to whether or not the preliminary notice procedure and the subsequent procedures are applied to companies which are wholly or mainly involved in manufacturing industry.
If that discretionary power is exercised in a way which may appear strange to the companies concerned there is no right of appeal. We recognise, therefore, that the Bill now rests solely on the assumption that Ministers will operate these provisions in the way that the Bill says they will, but it puts no legal obligation on Ministers to do so.
The main amendments that we have tabled concern one of the most critical issues of principle on this part of the Bill, whether the rights to information extend to all employees generally or not. The Government have regularly justified these clauses in the name of industrial democracy, but their amendments and the Bill seem to take a very narrow view of democracy. Legal rights to information extend not to employees generally and not even to trade union members generally. They belong solely to representatives of relevant trade unions. Those representatives do not have to be employees, and no statutory obligation is placed upon them to pass on the information.
We regard this as wholly unsatisfactory and unacceptable and we have therefore tabled a series of amendments to achieve two basic objectives. The first is to make sure that the legal rights of information extend to all employees, regardless of 1555 whether or not they are trade union members. In addition, we believe that for technical reasons that right should also belong to all shareholders. Secondly, we have tabled amendments to ensure that where it is necessary for employees to be represented, for example, in making their representations to the advisory committee under Clause 23, all employees should be represented and not simply the trade union members.
We believe that we are talking about a basic right which is not peculiar in any way to membership of a trade union—a basic right that belongs to all employees—and we see no justification for putting a particular group—the trade union members—in a special position under the law.
The question arises whether shareholders should have the same rights to information which emerge under the disclosure provisions. It is a basic principle that if there is to be a fair market in the Stock Exchange there must be equality of information between all those who hold shares or wish to deal in them. The equality of information principle is basic to the operation of the Stock Exchange and all companies which want their securities traded there have to accept it.
The companies on the Stock Exchange enter into a listing agreement, and Chapter 2 of that agreement states categorically thatDirectors shall not divulge price-sensitive information in such a way as to place in a privileged position any person or class or category of persons outside the company audits advisers.Do the Government think it is right for this part of the Bill to rely on the provisions of the listing agreement, or do they believe it is necessary to go further and write into the Bill the same legal rights to information as are to be obtained by those who receive the information under Clauses 22 and 23?
We believe that it is insufficient to rely simply on the listing agreement. The very existence of these disclosure provisions will make it far more difficult than before for a company to decide what information should be released generally to shareholders and employees and what 1556 should not. There are fairly well-established ground rules for companies. They have a clear procedure for publicising their historic information in their report and accounts. If they wish to make an acquisition there is the clear framework for a prospectus, which must be made public, setting out what information is to accompany the acquisition proposal.
If a company wishes to raise additional capital, either equity or loan, it is accompanied by clear rules about the sort of information which must be made generally available. The Bill presents a technical problem, which the Government appear not to have thought through. It will open up a substantial area of new information which will be semi-public and released under the Bill. Some of that information may be price-sensitive. We have to consider the position of a company which, under the disclosure provisions, is obliged to release details of its capital expenditure programme.
The question is raised whether the information will be price-sensitive, and whether the directors should release it. This is a moot point, and there is no clear answer to it. Companies may be asked to release information about productivity which may come out in the form of productivity comparisons which can be made with other companies. It is a grey area, and it is arguable whether it is price-sensitive or not. Equally, a company will be obliged to produce forecasts of possible sales and exports over a period stretching into the future, and these, too, may or may not be considered price-sensitive. Real difficulties will be created here. It is not a politically contentious point, as we see it. It is essentially a technical matter. The problem is certainly solved by accepting our own amendments, where the rights of shareholders are put on the same basis as those of the other people who have a legal right to information under Clauses 22 and 23.
There is one further major reason why we strongly recommend these amendments to the Government. Unless they are accepted, it seems to us well-nigh certain that those who receive information—particularly if they are representatives only of trade unions—will be placed in a prospective insider trading position. Some of the 1557 information will be in some ways commercially sensitive, to a greater or lesser extent. After all, a company can get the information withheld only if it can demonstrate that its release will produce substantial injury to it. In other words, if a certain type of information, a certain quantity of information, is simply going to cause injury, as opposed to substantial injury, to the company concerned, there will be no ground, under the Bill, for not having it released; therefore, some information which has a commercial value to a greater or lesser extent will be released. As the Bill is now drafted, that information will go out not publicly but to a limited number of people. Under the Government's proposal it will go to trade union representatives, who will have no obligation to pass it on, but one would normally expect them to do so. The very existence of those provisions, concerning the passing on of information of limited value to a small group of people, would place the trade union representatives concerned involuntarily—I am sure against their own will—in a potential insider trading position.
The Government could deal with this problem, as it is familiarly dealt with in both the public and private sector, by writing into the Bill a clear prohibition on the trade union representatives receiving the information, or their families, in dealing in the securities of the company concerned until the information is made fully public. But we recommend strongly that the Government should adopt the other solution to that problem and choose instead to make the information immediately public as soon as it is released under Clause 22 or Clause 23.
That Opposition view is shared by the Stock Exchange. I should like to refer to a letter which the Secretary of State received from the Chairman of the Stock Exchange on the 20th June. The Chairman says:I am aware that an amendment (No. 792) to the Bill was put down at the Committee Stage which would have the effect of imposing a legal obligation upon companies to pass to their shareholders any information provided to trade union representatives under Clause 22. The purpose of this letter is to say that the Stock Exchange would urge the Government itself to bring in such an amendment. If all such information had to be passed on in that way the directors would be relieved of the burden of deciding which piece of information might be price-sensitive, and the trade unions 1558 from becoming involuntary insiders. An additional advantage would be that the shareholders of companies not listed on the Stock Exchange and therefore not subject to the council's requirements in this matter would be afforded protection.The interest of the Stock Exchange Chairman and his council is solely to ensure the preservation of a fair and orderly market, and I should have thought that his views would carry great weight with the Government in considering this amendment.
I now come to the major point of principle proposed by our own amendments—whether the legal right to information under this Bill should belong to all employees or whether is should go, as the Government propose, simply to those who are representatives of relevant trade unions. It is our view that there is a clear cut case in principle for the information to go to all employees, and we argue this on the basis that the information with which we are concerned here is information which is the right of all employees, whether they belong to trade unions or not.
We argue that the information provisions of this Bill are in no way germane solely to a trade union organisation or to trade union members. If it is right for a certain persons to have information about the affairs and activities of a company, it surely must be right that that person should have it regardless of whether he is a trade union member or not.
During the Committee stage two arguments were advanced by Government Ministers against an amendment. We thought that both arguments advanced were flimsy, but it is worth repeating them. The former Under-Secretary of State for Industry said during our Committee proceedings:The Government have made it clear in several debates that we believe that the trade union movement is the appropriate channel for the transmission of information. There are very good reasons for that. I shall spell them out, although I have indicated some of them previously. First, the trade unions are the appropriate organs for employees in terms of collective bargaining."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 20th May 1975; c. 1921.]I make just two comments on that line of argument. The first is that, though it may be thought by the party opposite that the trade unions are the appropriate organs for collective bargaining or the 1559 representation of employees, the fact remains—and it is indisputable—that there are a very large number of people at the present time who are not members of trade unions, and many who choose not to be members of trade unions. There are 12 million working men and women who at the present time are not members of trade unions, and they have as much right to be considered in this legislation as those who are.
Secondly, the reference to collective bargaining is, I suggest, totally irrelevant, because the one thing that we are not discussing here is information in a collective bargaining context. That has been dealt with in considerable detail in the Employment Protection Bill. We are talking solely about information outside the collective bargaining context. Therefor the argument that it is right that non-trade union members should be denied information, simply because of the collective bargaining functions of trade unions, cannot be advanced with any credibility in relation to this Bill.
The second argument that has been advanced is that there is nothing to stop a company giving information to employees who are not trade union members. What the Government are saying is that, just because it is open to a company to pass on information, if it so wishes, to those who are not members of trade unions, this is supposedly a legitimate argument for denying legal rights under the Bill to those who are not members of trade unions. If that argument is valid for those who are not trade union members, surely it has equal validity for those who are.
It could well be argued—we would not wish to argue it but this must be the logic—that if there is nothing to stop a company giving information to those who are members of trade unions, this is a justification for getting rid of these clauses altogether and not giving any further statutory rights. That line of argument would not be acceptable to Labour Members in respect of members of trade unions, and the same line of argument is equally unacceptable to us concerning those who are not trade union members.
I believe that the two major arguments advanced so far really do not begin to stand up. What is arguable, in rela- 1560 tion to the Bill as now drafted, is that it creates a thoroughly odious position of principle in which differential rights in law are being created between those who are members of trade unions and those who are not.
The former Secretary of State for Industry, now the Secretary of State for Energy, said, in a letter of the 25th February:I would point out that we have no intention in the Bill's disclosure provisions to establish any privileged group.I suggest that that is exactly what the Bill does. It does indeed establish a privileged group in law. It puts trade union representatives in a legally privileged position on a matter which is not particularly germane to trade unionists as opposed to those who are not trade unionists. So far the Government have shown no regard at all for the legal rights of those who are not members of trade unions. Under the Bill they are being relegated to the position of second-class workers in regard to rights to information.
We consider that the Government's approach is basically non-democratic. We shall therefore be pressing this group of amendments at every opportunity remaining to us.
§ Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)
I wish to speak to Amendment (a) to Government Amendment No. 79. It is on much the same lines as that of the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), but I do not agree with everything that he said. The Liberals want compulsory disclosure to be to employee representatives instead of each relevant trade union. I put the emphasis on "employee representatives" as opposed to all employees, because a round robin once a fortnight with the tea is not likely to start the sort of debate that we want on the shop floor.
We are talking about works councils, not exactly the sort of works councils that I knew when in industry, but works councils properly constituted and elected by all employees—I emphasise"all"—whether there were trade unions in the company, and whether there was a closed shop. They could develop into a useful alternative channel of information which would work in all situations.
We do not rule out a trade union-management exchange of information. 1561 That is likely to happen, and can be freely negotiated where applicable. Indeed, in many places where the trade union is strong it is obvious that the bulk of the people on the works councils will be the same as those who are now freely elected by the workers as their trade union representatives.
But some companies have many trade unions within them. Often a single trade union dominates. I am disturbed at the idea of sending information to the minor trade unions officially, because it might not receive the concentrated attention from them that I should like to see.
Some people working in our industry are not members of trade unions. I have always recommended workers to join their trade union. If they object because it is not doing what they want, the way to do something about that is to join. In many of our industrial complexes the section where most people are not members is the so-called white-collar section. For all that, the workers should have an avenue to obtain the information and to be able to question the management on it.
There are some areas in the country where there are virtually no trade unions. Half my constituency falls into that category. Outside the three big companies, active trade union membership is not to be seen. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says that the non-members claim the benefits. I assure him that the wage structure outside the trade union movement in Cornwall is very low compared with that inside. That is why I keep trying to persuade workers to join their trade union.
The real point here is one of basic attitudes. As a Liberal, I have essentially believed that information affecting the livelihood of a man or woman should go as a priority to that individual and not the trade union officials in a district office. I represent an area which is a little dubious about district offices. The district headquarters for many of the rade unions in Cornwall is Bristol. I sometimes think that it would ease our problems if they transferred to London, because it is easier to get from my area to London than to Bristol.
One of the great ironies of our democracy is that the individual has far more 1562 direct access to Government plans, many of which have little effect on his life, than to plans affecting the environment where he spends the vast proportion of his productive life, in his company or works. He has very few rights. The Government amendments will rectify that position, and we welcome that.
But a substantial percentage of the population whether in a company where there is virtually no trade union structure or in a part of the country where there are no trade unions, will have no more information than they have had hitherto. The amendments to the Government amendment could do a great deal to overcome that.
I am tempted to look to the European experience. In West Germany, Scandinavia and Holland there is experience going back over the years of a works council-type structure. It is interesting to see how those countries have gradually given those bodies more power and authority. They are now clearly recognised to be a useful part of democracy within Europe. To my knowledge, no political parties of any substance in those countries are now trying to remove such bodies from the scene. They are a useful part of democratic life, and are being developed as time goes on.
One of the areas that worry me most is that of confidentiality. Some people fear that a great deal of information will pass into the hands of people who will want it only for destructive purposes. But that has not been a problem in Europe for a very long time. There may be an odd occasion when it happens, but I understand that in Europe it has not happened in the bulk of cases. That is not surprising, because the person who would be breaking confidentiality is the person who would have most to lose from it, through loss of security or through his pay packet.
The real advantage of our amendment is that people will be directly responsible to their own electorate. They will be known to the electorate. They will be friends of the electorate. They will undoubtedly have tea with at least a section of that electorate each day. The proposal will encourage a far greater involvement than we see in industry today.
We have had debates on the advantages of postal votes for trade union 1563 officials. Where there have been postal votes the poll has rarely exceeded 30 per cent. I have worked in industry. On the odd occasion on which there has been industrial democracy, albeit on a matter as unimportant as whether the holiday should be in August or June, the poll has been way above 30 per cent. The real advantage of the amendment is that it would set up a system of direct daily contact between the employees and their representatives. With that information being passed by word of mouth, there would be a daily chance to examine one's representatives on the body and to discuss individual problems with them and send them back to the next meeting with an angle that had been properly developed during conversations in the time between meetings.
I may prefer some modifications to the provisions of this legislation. In theory, at least, we might have an opportunity to do that tonight. The legislation lays down the legal rights of employees to some information. Therefore, I welcome it.
I sometimes think that my party would be better off if we could think of a different phrase than "works councils". That phrase describes all sorts of things. I have even heard the word "poodle" used, which would not be very unfair. We are talking about something different. The endless discussion of the car park, the loo and the canteen is not the raw meat of a democracy we want to set up in industry.
This is an opportunity to bring democracy within a company's structure and to bring it within companies far nearer to those who are most affected by the decisions made. I look forward in the Division Lobby tonight to support from all corners of the House by the people who are interested in seeing a genuine development of democracy at the work place.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bethnal Green and Bow)
I share the passionate desire of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) to see the widest possible extension of genuine industrial democracy. Indeed, I have been working to that end for about 30 years. I first wrote and lectured on that subject before the end of the last world war, shortly after 1564 I was elected to the executive of my union, of which I am still a member. I have spent most of that period and that service working for genuine industrial democracy.
However, I tell the hon. Gentleman in all kindness and friendship that the course he is advocating is not genuine industrial democracy and does not work in practice. What he said sounded very attractive theoretically, but I am afraid he was very wide of the mark.
He held up as an example the West German mitbestimmungsrecht. If the Liberal Party is looking for a new word for "works council" perhaps I can offer it "mitbestimmungsrecht". It is a beautiful word. I invite the hon. Gentleman to go into any works' canteen in any engineering factory in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt-am-Main or Mainz and listen to what the men say about mitbestimmungsrecht and their representatives on the emasculated impotent bodies on which they are allowed representation. It is a great and absolute joke with them. The hon. Gentleman really does not know what goes on on shop floors if he says that we must have an inventive mitbestinunungsrecht—I shall refrain, in order to protect his feelings, from using the phrase "works council". We have to have an elected mitbestimmungsrecht to have daily contact and exchange of ideas between the representative and the worker.
I do not know of a single place on the Continent—and I have worked in many factories in more than one industry on the Continent where they have a mitbestimmungsrecht or works council, call it what you will—that has anything like the proper facilities for reporting back by representatives to the workers, or that has anything like real accountability by the representatives to the workers.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
As a matter of interest, when did the hon. Gentleman last work in a factory on the Continent?
§ Mr. Mikardo
Only a short time ago—about l½ years ago—when I was installing a line. I spent a lot of time talking to workers. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not trying to belittle the authority with which I speak. I can provide a lot of evidence, and I 1565 do not have to apologise to him. Moreover, I have been a life-long student of industrial democracy. I have spent a lot of time abroad and a lot of time talking to workers' representatives both in trade unions and outside trade unions. In all modesty I can claim that I know a little of what I am talking about—more than a lawyer does, anyway. The hon. Gentleman can do some research in his spare time from his legal practice to see if he can refute what I am saying.
I do not know of a single institution that operates under the sort of arrangement that the hon. Member for Truro was talking about and in which there is anything like an adequate system of reporting back or adequate and constant accountability by the representative to those who have chosen him.
§ Mr. Penhaligon
I also have worked in Germany as recently as 12 months ago. I had substantial difficulties with the language—there are times when I have substantial difficulties with the English language.
I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman has said. I certainly do not want to see the system that exists in Germany exist here. The set-up in the factory I visited—I admit it was only one factory—when compared with the conditions that I have worked in for the past 10 years of my life and when I started as an apprentice, leads me to believe that the German experience is a lot nearer, in potential form, to what I should like developed. That is the situation in which I have worked for the past 10 years, so I am not painting the German experience as a "paradise-come". I simply say that it is further along the road along which I wish to go than the system in this country at present.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I thank the hon. Gentleman for coming that far with me. Perhaps he will persuade his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) of the truth of what we are saying. Perhaps he can convince him not to rush in where angels fear to tread—not to rush into subjects he knows absolutely nothing about.
I take the points made by the hon. Member for Truro. That system is fossilised. It is not a step in the right direction. It is not a stage; it is as far as that system can go. The hon. 1566 Gentleman wants to make a new beginning in this country, on a much better road. His system has reached the end of that road. It cannot break out on to a new road. We want a better road.
The hon. Member is as keen as I am on accountability. I said that I did not know of a mitbestimmungsrecht where there is daily contact, but I know that any shop steward is constantly having his ears bitten by his members on the shop floor, and I am delighted that that is the case. This is the way real contact is established.
Whether there should or should not be disclosure to all employees or the trade unions is not really part of our debate today, but as the hon. Member for Ton-bridge, Mailing and the Stock Exchange—Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley)—dwelt on it perhaps I can take it up.
§ Mr. Stanley
I do not know if the hon. Member was suggesting that I had an interest in the Stock Exchange. If he was, he was incorrect. Perhaps he will withdraw his remark.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I was making no such suggestion. The hon. Gentleman should not be so thin-skinned. Surely we are entitled to relieve these long proceedings from time to time with a little wit? I hope the hon. Gentleman will not be so serious in the future. I have respect for him and I listened with great attention to many of his speeches in Committee, which I thought were by far the best speeches made by the Opposition Front Bench. With respect to him, however, he adduced a false argument. He said that it was no good treating the provisions of the Bill as having to do with collective bargaining. In saying that, he was making an elementary mistake, which many Conservative Members have made in this House. He assumes that collective bargaining is only about pay. It is not only about pay. It is about all sorts of other things, including, preeminently, security of employment.
Of course, a great deal of the information which will be disclosed under the provisions of the Bill is precisely about security of employment—disclosure of information on the question whether the company has plans to expand this department, to contract that department, to open 1567 a new factory here, or to close that factory there. That is very much collective bargaining.
Indeed, I go further. If one is moving towards the more ideal stage, at which the hon. Member for Truro and I are both aiming, I would say that if anyone wants a real definition of industrial democracy, it is a situation in which every single decision made in the place is negotiable, the subject of collective bargaining, no matter what it is about. If one accepts either that definition or anything approaching it, the argument that was adduced when the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing quoted the former Under-Secretary is a highly valid argument indeed.
§ Mr. Stanley
On a further point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think it would be for the convenience of a number of hon. Members on the Government side of the House, as my constituency has the strange quirk that nothing is pronounced in the way that it is spelt, if the hon. Member for Poplar and Bow, when thinking of "mauling" me, would get it right.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am happy to refer to the hon. Gentleman as the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing, as long as he will not refer to me as the hon. Member for Poplar and Bow, because Poplar is represented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore), the Secretary of State for Trade. My constituency is Bethnal Green and Bow. So we are about quits. We can call that one an honourable draw, with 55 overs played out.
If the hon. Gentleman would allow me to be serious, in between his interruptions, I should like to say that we have heard too much from Opposition Members trying to weaken the position of trade unions by conferring the benefits of trade unionism on those who are quick to grab the benefits but will not accept the obligations, including the obligations of paying the dues. The hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing spoke of this, and so did the hon. Member for Truro. For one reason or another, they do not wish to be members of a trade union.
That is fine, as far as I am concerned. They have every right to make their choice—as far as I am concerned. I have never been in favour of a closed shop 1568 imposed by the employer. I think that people should be free to join or not join, provided that those who choose not to join are not—as they always are—first in the queue to grab the wage increases and other benefits which are negotiated by the trade union to which they do not contribute at all.
Let us not have fine talk about people's principles. We have a name in the trade union movement for those who grab the benefits without accepting the obligations. It is not a very pretty name but it is a very applicable name. They are called "blacklegs". That is what they are. I hope that Opposition Members will not continue to make themselves constantly defenders of blacklegs.
The main point in this group of amendments is as between "voluntary" and "mandatory". It is that to which we should address ourselves, the main principle, rather than the etiolated details, as the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing described them, of the various amendments. It is the principle which is important.
The first thing I want to say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is that he will not convince us, up here on the top shelf, that what he is saying is right merely because it was also said by his predecessor and the two other Ministers who have now been unceremoniously chucked out of the Department. That does not make it right for us, because we knew all the time it was said that the voice was the voice of Esau but the words were the words of Jacob. We knew that the sound came out of an amplifier in No. 1 Victoria Street but that the words went into a microphone in 10 Downing Street. We are not kidding about that. We know it was true, and I am fairly sure it is still true. It does not matter whether it was the former or the present echo-sounding board. We want to look at the thing on the merits.
The fact is that the principal argument which my right hon. Friend used is not an argument because the matter is not in dispute. I do not believe that any hon. Member in any quarter of the House would challenge the proposition that it is always better to get things done voluntarily than to have to compel them to be done. Of course that is so. People do things with better grace, more efficiently and more completely when they do them 1569 of their own volition than when they are compelled. That is not in dispute.
If we were living in an ideal world we would never have to compel anyone. We would never have to have fall-back reserve powers or compulsion in anything at all. If we were living in an ideal world we would never have to have any Factories Acts because all owners of factories would voluntarily make sure that there were no safety hazards—no slippery or broken floors, no unguarded machinery, and no noxious fumes, and an adequate change of air. Of course, that is if it is done voluntarily. But as we do not leave it to be done voluntarily, the factory inspectors go around trying to persuade people, and their persuasion is the more effective because there are Factories Acts and reserve powers of compulsion.
It is better if industry does not emit into the surrounding air noxious fumes for all the residents around to suffer from, or noise or acid particles. Of course it would be better if they voluntarily made sure that they did not do that. But we still have laws to compel them to prevent that if they do not do so voluntarily. There is more voluntary action because there are reserve powers.
It would be much better if all right hon. and hon. Members, of their own free will, always drove their cars with due care and attention. That would be much better than being compelled to do so. But no one objects to powers residing in the Government to compel us to drive with due care and attention, and to punish us if we do not.
That is life as it is, so it is silly to draw this quite false dichotomy between "voluntary" and "mandatory" as though they were absolutes. There are no absolutes in this argument. One must hold a point of balance.
I believe that the Bill as it was originally intended, as its bones were set out in the Labour Party's programme, held the right balance between "voluntary" and "compulsory". That balance was manifestly shifted in the wrong direction in the terms of the Bill itself, it was shifted even further in the terms of the White Paper, and it has been shifted much too far in this group of amendments by my right hon. Friend.
1570 That is why I for one—I do not pretend to speak for anyone else in this respect—shall vote token-wise against one of the clearest amendments and, as I believe, the most noxious one, in order to record my conviction, so that the vote shall follow the voice, that the movement away from "mandatory" to "voluntary" to a different point of balance, as in this group of amendments, goes much too far.
I suspect the motivation of those who have pressed the Government to make this move. In the final issue, as we all know, it is not what is said in the Bill when it becomes an Act that matters. It is the attitude of the Secretary of State, and what he does about it, which will determine whether this measure is a real measure or a charade. Looking at the Notice Paper as we have it this week on Report, I fear that there is great danger of the Bill becoming a charade.
I do not need to say this to my right hon. Friend because he knows it. The Government half of the social contract is proposed in the Bill. It was outlined in the Labour Party programme. The Chancellor indicated yesterday that he would make tough demands on the other party to the social contract. However, the Government will not have the authority to do so if they renege on their own part of that contract.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
I was fascinated by the speech made by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), because he demonstrated once again the essential nature of committed Socialism—that a volunteer is someone who at best has a loaded gun at his back and acts willingly because it is not fired. At worst he is someone in chains with the gun at his back, dragged away, and compelled to go by means of what the hon. Gentleman would call "reserve powers"
I am equally fascinated by the Chancellor's concept of a voluntary incomes policy, according to which the nation is told "You have the following alternatives. Either you do what I ask you to do, or I will compel you to do it." When I was in the Army that was called volunteering. I always understood that that was a special use of the word "volunteer".
1571 It is nice to know that in the great world of social democracy, in which everything is open and seen, those who are to enjoy this Elysium will have the pleasure of enjoying a life in which what is not compulsory is forbidden. That seems to me to be the direction in which Socialism looks.
This is a political fact. In politics there is a circle between the tolerant and the intolerant. The more Left we proceed, the more we go to the Right, the greater the chance of a meeting.
The essential frightfulness of the philosophy of the Government is intolerance and the belief that they can tell people what they are supposed to do, for their own benefit, and compel them to do it.
The next hypocritical concept which arises in this selection of amendments is the idea of the great moment when all the people working in British industry will be given information. As a simple Scotsman I should have thought that if we wanted people to know something, we should tell them. I should have thought that that was reasonable. Under this Bill—for some remarkable reason which defies my simple nature—they will not be told. A member of a relevant trade union will be told. It does not matter that a member of a relevant, or any, trade union is not available. The information must go to one member of one trade union. Why? Does that demonstrate the desire of the ordinary man on the shop floor to be told about what is going on around him? It does not.
Why does the Bill include these words? Why is one person to be told? Why are the employees not to be told? The answer is that those who were parties to the social contract, a voluntary contract, wanted the information for themselves, to build their own power. That has nothing to do with social democracy.
The hon. Gentlemen opposite who sit below the Gangway do not care a two-penny piece whether any working person receives the information as long as those in the seats of power in the trade unions—who do not represent even a small proportion of our working people—have the information and the power. If 1572 the Government were interested in social democracy they would ensure that the information was made available to the employees.
According to this provision, the information will go to a member of a relevant trade union. Is there any reserve power, which the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow would like, which specifies that the union member must hand on that information? No, there is not. Is there any requirement that he should not edit, halve, exaggerate, or falsify the information before he hands it on? No, there is not. Is there any requirement that he should hand the information on to anyone? No, there is not. Is that social democracy—or is that power building and dictatorship?
The purpose of this provision is not to give power to the ordinary working man. It is designed to give power to people who are parties to a contract which they had no intention of keeping, which the Government now agree they did not and would not keep—people who could not be trusted without a statutory gun in their hands.
The ordinary person—whatever his station, work or profession—may take the view that information is kept away from him. Let him have that information. Let the Bill be simple and open and specify that any working person shall receive the information. It is hypocrisy to say that the information will go to the representative of a body which does not represent the work force, and to pretend that that is the way to make it available to the workers.
It is said that this provision is part of the social contract. However, the social contract had nothing to do with an agreement on wages. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is keen on the reserve power of the unions to put a blunderbuss at the head of the Labour Party and say "Do this, and perhaps we shall do what you want." The Government did as they were asked, and this is part of the result. Unfortunately, those with the blunderbuss ratted. The poor old Chancellor is voluntarily taking out his pathetic pea-shooter to see whether he can put it at their temples in the meantime. That is not the way to run human relations. That has nothing to do with giving information to human beings. That has 1573 no connection with human psychology, guaranteeing employment, or regenerating industry. That is merely a piece of mechanised power blustering.
There are those who believe that a "voluntary" system requires compulsion. But that is a false concept. However, if the Government are willing to say that the information should be given to all employees, not to the single person who has no duty to pass it on, I am sure that all hon. Members will be delighted.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) is a personable, attractive individual and outside the Chamber he is great fun to talk to——
The hon. Gentleman is an historical curiosity because he exemplifies the backward attitude which most Conservative Members have developed in their thinking over many years. The hon. Gentleman tries hard to understand the modern world of the trade union movement, but I am afraid that his efforts do not get him, the House, or the country very far. I shall not dwell on the arguments that he put forward.
I wish to take up what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), who has been in the House for many years and is a well-respected Member. I wish to take up what he said about the change that is involved in this series of amendments from the position in which it was mandatory for the Secretary of State to pass on information to representatives of the workers organised in the trade unions to a position in which the passing on of information is discretionary. Amendment No. 177 has arisen out of discussions between the CBI and my right hon. Friends in the Government. The change represents a retreat from the position taken up in the Bill before those discussions took place.
I agree with the hon. Member for Ton-bridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) that the White Paper was different from the Bill. I do not deny that. The method of disclosure of information provided for in 1574 the Bill was not included in the White Paper. Originally, the Green Paper provided that planning agreements were to be compulsory. That position of the Labour Party was developed to a minor extent in the programme. That position was changed. I do not deny that, and I was perhaps partly responsible for the discussions which took place about the change.
It is often said in the House that it is better for planning agreements to be voluntary than compulsory. A voluntary agreement is always better than compulsion. The important thing is that there was a change which occurred during discussions which I cannot mention because of the Official Secrets Act. I do not intend to end up in the Tower—I am a coward from that point of view—and I do not intend to be a martyr, certainly not on that matter.
As a result of that change, the compulsory disclosure of information was not attached to the planning agreements. In any case, one cannot get a planning agreement unless the company gives the information. If a company agrees to enter into a planning agreement the necessary information has to be available, so that the trade unions and the Government can involve themselves in the discussions leading up to the planning agreement.
The requirement for the disclosure of information was agreed, not by my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Industry, not by myself, but by the Government as a whole. Those who have been in government know that Bills are examined by Cabinet committees and Cabinets, and are accepted by the Government of the day before being presented in the House. The Government accepted the principle of the mandatory disclosure of information to the trade unions. We have now retreated from that position because of pressure from the CBI and the City, not from the trade unions. The trade unions have not pressurised my right hon. Friends to change the disclosure provisions. On the contrary, they were perfectly satisfied with the Bill as it stood on the question of disclosure of information.
§ Mr. Heseltine
This is the first totally honest description of the events of the past 12 months that we nave heard from anyone who is in a position to know 1575 what happened. Will the hon. Gentleman fill in the stage that he inadvertently missed out of his description? The Government moved from the Green Paper to the Bill via a White Paper in which it was clearly laid down that the compulsory elements of disclosure would be linked to the production of planning agreements. That was the point that was abandoned in the Bill.
§ Mr. Heffer
The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the element of the compulsory disclosure of information was originally connected with planning agreements. That proposal was dropped and it was agreed, rightly, that there should be compulsory disclosure of information but that it should not be related to planning agreements. That is right; I do not deny it. It is no good skating over the position.
Clauses 21, 22, 23 and 24 stand on their own, separate from planning agreements. In that sense they have nothing to do with planning agreements, but they could have. That is the important point, and it is that which the employers' representatives and Opposition Members are concerned about. If the information which is called for is passed, on a mandatory basis, to the trade union movement, my view is that many trade unions and workers on the shop floor will say "Our company has not been involved in a planning agreement but we can see the advantage of it, and we wish to use the information we have to pressurise the Government and the employers to get a planning agreement".
There is no doubt that it could he used in that way. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has rightly pointed out, the more information that workers in industry get the better armed they are to talk not only in terms of wages but in terms of their employment in the industry in which they are employed.
I have listened to some of the speeches of Conservative Members and they remind me of the chap in the Army who wrote to his mother "I am desperate, I want £5." His mother replied "I am all in favour of giving you a loan of £5, but not this week." The position is the same 1576 with Conservative Members. They say they want to give the maximum information to the workers in industry—but not this week, not next week, and not next year. The reality is that Conservatives, knowing that the workers could use the information to their own advantage, have no intention of coming up with the information that is required by the trade union movement and the workers.
That is the essence of our argument tonight. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has put his finger on the position. We are not arguing against the principles in the Bill. Indeed, we support the Bill and we want it strengthened. We are not running away from it. On the contrary, we want it to be the strongest possible Bill in the fight against inflation and for the extension of public ownership in manufacturing industry. We want the Bill to give workers the necessary information to advance their cause democratically within industry.
The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) referred to the situation in Germany and to what he called the European experience. Of course, that experience is not the same in every country in Europe. For example, workers' councils do not exist in every European country, although they exist in Western Germany. The most advanced country in Europe, in terms of industrial democracy, is Yugoslavia, but unfortunately there is not the political democracy that should prevail. In Yugoslavia there is a system of workers' councils. They manage and control industries at factory and at national levels. I think that we could learn from that experience. I am all in favour of their system of self-management.
Let us consider the German experience. It is a very different experience from that in Yugoslavia. I accept the argument that has been used many times in the House that we have not come to grips with the concept of workers' democracy. It is true that we have talked about it a great deal. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow did a magnificent job in chairing a committee in the Labour Party many years ago concerned with industrial democracy. Of course, industrial democracy is not the same thing as the management of industry. Industrial democracy can be 1577 an extension of collective bargaining, but that is not the same thing as self-management by the workers—whether they be blue-collar or white-collar workers—in the industry in which they work.
I accept the view that public ownership in itself solves nothing. Sometimes it merely gets rid of one set of bosses for another bureaucratic set of bosses. That, in itself, does not lead to change. That is why we have to learn the lesson that in manufacturing industry public ownership—this is what the Bill says—must be coupled with industrial democracy. In my book that means an extension of self-management by the workers, be they blue-collar or white-collar workers, and by management. That is what we have to do, and that is well beyond what the Liberal Party has been advocating. I accept that the Liberal Party advocated workers' councils way back in 1935. Indeed, it published a book on the subject, which I have read.
Incidentally, the Liberal Party was most enthusiastic about works councils in pre-Hitler Germany, which did not solve a thing in relation to the problem of fascism that was growing in Germany. That is not what we want. We want genuine democracy in industry. That is why we must have a form of self-management in industry.
I have wandered a little in dealing with democracy in industry, but I regard this as a matter of great importance. My main concern in this discussion is Government Amendment No. 177. We regard it as a retreat in the face of pressure from the CBI and the City. Many of us on the Labour benches are not prepared to accept that retreat. We should like the Government to withdraw that amendment, even at this late hour. If they are not prepared to do so, we shall vote against it.
§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)
It is a pleasure to be called to speak following the remarks of the former Minister of State, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). I have a considerable amount of sympathy with him. He had developed within the provisions of this Bill a medicine for industry. He feels passionately about the subject, and his passion came through in his speech. One can understand his disappointment 1578 that the medicine has been diluted to a form now barely acceptable.
My party shares the concern expressed by the hon. Gentleman. I should like to refer him to a book written by D. J. Davies entitled "Towards an Economic Democracy". That book was published 30 years ago but put forward many of the ideas with which the hon. Gentleman dealt.
I believe that hon. Members should follow up the hon. Gentleman's suggestions in regard to experience in Yugoslavia. That may not be relevant in the context of the Bill, but I am sure that we can continue our discussion of the subject when the industrial democracy legislation comes before the House at a later stage.
Two concepts are before us in this debate—first, the concept of the planning agreement ensuring that the necessary information is available to the Government, and, secondly, the concept of disclosure of information to employees of a company. To be realistic, if planning agreements are to bite and are to be meaningful, there will have to be some compulsory element. Companies will hold back information which is necessary for any Government to make planning agreements effective. Therefore, any weakening of powers of planning agreements would be unfortunate and would dilute the objectives of any Government.
The other element involves the disclosure of information to employees. I believe that in that respect the Government in this Bill have got the situation all wrong. I wish to see very much more disclosure than is provided for in these provisions. I tabled amendments in Committee on this subject and suggested further disclosure. Indeed, one of the amendments was carried and is part of the Bill now before us. We wish to see very much more disclosure of information, but we do not want to see centralisation of machinery involving a bureaucracy that is geared to the disclosure provisions.
There may be need for compulsory laws which are necessary to ensure that companies disclose information, but it would be wrong to bring all the information to a centralised arena—namely, to the level of the Government. It 1579 should take place in a natural environment within units of manufacture and not become embroiled in the central Government.
The disclosure of information is a good thing, and we would like to see more of it. It is of value not only to the companies themselves but to trade union organisations. There are companies in my constituency where the trade union organisation is much too weak. There are companies where the trade union organisation embraces less than 50 per cent. of the employees. From the management point of view, it might be better in such companies if there was a stronger trade union organisation, because the management would then know that it was discussing matters with people who represented a coherent voice. However, where this situation does not exist—sometimes through the fault of the trades unions themselves and sometimes through the fault of the employees who have not made sufficient advances—in all reality we must acknowledge that if the information provided by the disclosure clauses is of value elsewhere, surely it is also of value here.
Members opposite may say that this is a carrot to get people to go into trades unions and to build up the trades unions. That may be so, and over a period of years that may well develop. But what of the interim? Are we to leave these people without information in the interim period? If we believe in democracy and in fair play for people, surely those who have been unable to build up this sort of trade union structure should at least have the information, and, given the information, they may then want to build a better trade union structure, because they would then be in a position to negotiate with the information that they had been given.
From the point of view of fair play it is necessary to pass amendments to the Bill which provide for the dissemination of information not only to the trades unions and their representatives but, in cases where the trades unions are ineffective or in a minority or a nil situation, to representatives of the employees. That is the point of amendment No. 170, standing in my own name and the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Car- 1580 marthen (Mr. Evans) and my hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas).
We should welcome an extension of disclosure. I believe that many companies in this country have made a big bogy of the disclosure of information. They have made out that the passing of the minutest pieces of information can put them in mortal peril. That is a complete fallacy. There is not one of the larger companies, to which the Bill is perhaps largely geared, which does not have the facilities to interpret what its opponents are doing in terms of the cost structure of products, marginal costings, and so on. Any company with its head screwed on has a very shrewd idea of what its opponents are doing. It is a matter of keeping the information not away from competitors but from the employees who work within the concern. That is what the Bill should be overcoming.
One of the fears that we expressed on Second Reading and in Committee was the danger that elements of the Bill tended towards a centralisation and creation of a corporate State. That fear still remains with us. If we are to build up a centralised machinery for the disclosure of information, we shall be moving in a direction which, as I have indicated, we do not like. We also believe that the principle of building in, perhaps for the best motives, benefits for organisations such as trades unions, to give them the edge over those employees who are not in trade unions, will, whether we like it or not, create second-class citizens.
Hon. Members may say that those who, for lack of a better word, are "blacklegs" deserve to be second-class citizens. I see Labour Members nodding. I do not believe that that is what we should be enshrining in the laws of this country when passing a Bill of this sort. That is why we have tabled the amendment and why we shall support other amendments that seek to pass information not only to those who are members of trade unions but to all people who are employed in manufacturing industries because this information has a direct bearing on their livelihoods and future. They should have it as their right.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Marshall
I rise to support Amendment (b) to Government 1581 Amendment No. 79 in the names of my hon. Friends and myself. I am very pleased to follow the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) because tonight, we have again heard many of the arguments that were put forward in Committee, even from the Liberal benches. Therefore, it is not a purely partisan or indeed party line when it is argued that information should be made available to all employees. I welcome many of the comments which have come from the Labour benches, because they reflected at least the recognition that the Bill in so many ways has not got the position right. Indeed, one of our criticisms is that the whole apparatus is so inept that we are coming face to face with many of the gaps in the strategy underlining the Bill.
I turn specifically to the question of the way in which information ought to be made available to all employees. It has been made abundantly clear, whether we like it or not, that the Bill, as drafted, enshrines within it discrimination of two kinds. The first relates to the argument between employees and non-employees. There is no guarantee that information given to trade union representatives will be given to employees, because, as the Bill stands, it does not follow that those trade union representatives need be employees. Secondly, there is another privileged recipient—the non-employee who is a trade union representative.
That brings me to the second major form of discrimination which the Bill now enshrines in the whole argument between the trade union and the non-trade union employee. I do not wish to go over the arguments about the precise numbers involved. The Bill now concentrates more closely on manufacturing industry, and to that extent it could be said to have a more representative flavour in addressing its thrust, as it were, to trade union members. But we have been reminded that only about half the persons registered by the Department of Employment as qualifying for membership of trade unions are in fact members of such organisations.
Even if we take that figure to be imprecise, we cannot overlook the fact that there are substantial omissions from this list. We have the estimate made in Committee that one-third of ICI's employees—about 60,000—are not members of 1582 trade unions. We know, for example, that IBM is not unionised. My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) in Committee said that he had received representations from people representing 15,000 staff at Hawker Siddeley of whom 8,000 were not members of any union.
I agree with the hon. Member for Caernarvon that we cannot ignore these large numbers of people who, under the Bill as it is, are to become second-class citizens.
It is reasonable, in a constructive sense, to pose to all hon. Members the question: if this kind of information is to be made available, what do we do in the problem areas which will arise about those who receive that information via trade unions and the many who do not? Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that people should join trade unions. But that is not the simple answer to this problem.
I should like to make my position clear. I urge people to join trade unions. I want to see a smaller number of large unions. I want rationalisation of the trade union movement, but that will take a great deal of time. We all recognise that there are many structural difficulties in our industrial society which will not be improved by the practical effects of this part of the Bill.
I cannot cast aside the democratic argument. We should not dragoon employees into trade union membership to enable them to obtain access to particular information. In Committee, the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray), reflecting a fair point of view, said that this is a somewhat crude effort to bring this kind of information in a meaningful sense into the dialogue which he and his hon. Friends would like to foster. I think that "crude" is the word for it.
I therefore move to my final argument about this matter. We must look at the four main difficulties in the Bill as it stands.
First, as the Bill is before us now, it seems to me to reflect missed opportunities in many directions, but nowhere more than in this proposal. If we believe that the transfer of information has a positive part to play in "the regeneration" of British industry, surely we should be prepared to think in precise terms to whom that information should go and 1583 how it should be used. It has been said again and again in this House that that information will go to people on a most partial basis and on a most uncertain basis of selection. There is no guarantee that the people receiving it are necessarily representative. They may be in some cases. In other cases, they may be less so.
Let us take, for example, the steel industry. The typical steel company deals with about 19 unions. Think of the problem that that company would have in selecting which trade union representatives to whom to feed information. As a matter of simple selection, it would be extremely difficult. I visualise great difficulties and possible industrial disputes on the strength of it. If we consider this kind of practical difficulty, we see the way in which the very narrow view taken by the Government has not been thought through.
If we also take the argument that information should be available to all employees, we ought all to bend our minds to how that might be brought about. Although that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) was able to make fun about works councils and his unpronouncable German experience, we all recognise that, given the state of our industry as it is today, we should bend our minds to ways in which information which is agreed to be of value could be made available across the spectrum. This is a matter to which we have not yet begun to address our minds.
We cannot escape the feeling that there is bound to be a confusion of rôles as between the information made available to trade unions under the Bill and the rôle of the trade unions in wage negotiations. I know that Government supporters have argued this, but they cannot divorce the argument. If we take the view that information under the Bill, made available to specific trade unions, gives them access to privileged information, it would be less than human to expect that that information would not be used in the context of wage negotiations. Here again, there is confusion in the Government's mind between this Bill and other legislation which is going through Parliament—between this Bill 1584 and the Employment Protection Bill—and these are matters about which we must be clear in determining what we are doing when we talk about giving information to all employees.
§ Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the normal method by which industry transmits information on general matters is through the trade union movement? My experience has taught me that most matters connected with industrial relations are dealt with in that fashion. Therefore, it would be logical to pursue the same line with regard to information. Will the hon. Gentleman go a little further and tell me what, in the Bill, would prevent an employer passing on information to other people?
§ Mr. Marshall
I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but that is a totally negative approach. On the basis of the argument that I have been advancing, let me take the case of any company having to operate the Bill. First, it has to decide to which trade union representative—perhaps one of many, at plant level, regional level or national level—it is to make information available. The hon. Gentleman then suggests that, having been through a very difficult process with a great deal of difficulty and danger implied in it, the company should seek to consider in what other ways it should make this information available to whom. It is asking a great deal of companies to go through this further stage. I cannot help feeling that it should be within our power as Members of Parliament to create a better system than that.
§ Mr. Mikardo
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that he has not met the point put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden)? Earlier, the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) said that people ought not to need a gun at their backs. Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that because employers are not compelled by the Bill to disclose information to non-unionists they will not so disclose? If so, he had better make his peace with his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am not saying that at all. I am simply saying that in human nature, given the complexity of the Bill 1585 and the difficulty in deciding how to make it work, it is putting a great strain on human nature to assume that employers will bend their mind to giving to those outside the beneficial effects of information disclosure. My final point is that as the Bill now stands—if the Under-Secretary has something to say, if he will rise I shall be glad to give way to him. He has struck a slightly sour note in an otherwise constructive debate. I hope we are to have some constructive view from him, rather than his complex action of attacking the Opposition against pressure from behind.
§ Mr. Kaufman
The most constructive thing the hon. Gentleman can say at the moment is that his hon. Friend has not come anywhere near answering the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) and will not proceed credibly unless he does so.
§ Mr. Marshall
I shall not proceed on that point, as I am anxious about the guillotine and must make my final comment. In contrast to the Under-Secretary, the Secretary of State himself has been very fair in trying to brief members of the Standing Committee where the Government have sought to bring in changes at this late stage, I pay tribunte to his work in that respect. But he has made clear in another part of the Bill that we are concerned with estimates and not with precise areas of knowledge. We have therefore to recognise that this is not the kind of information which, in effect, can be handed over to trade unions or anybody else to be built on in a particularly powerful and effective way.
That finally brings me to the question mark about the whole of what seems to be a charade in the way the subject of disclosure of information has come before us in the Bill. It is because I have these major question marks and reservations against the Bill that I still feel we should be seeking for a wider disclosure of information, on an agreed basis, to all employees—which is why I support the amendment.
§ Mrs. Audrey Wise (Coventry, South-West)
I rise to echo the complaints by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) in relation to Government Amendment No. 177. I simply want to associate myself with his 1586 remarks. I was particularly struck by his grasp at the nettle of the quotation which has been repeatedly thrown back in his face about the desirability of voluntary rather than statutory arrangements. I wonder why we did not hear another quotation from the previous Under-Secretary at the Department of Industry which he made in Committee on this same point, which was particularly relevant not to planning agreements but actually to the disclosure of information.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), then Under-Secretary, talking of the right of workers and trade unionists to receive information, said:We believe that that is a right and not something that should be dependent upon the discretion of the Minister."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 15th May, 1975, c. 1851.]In saying that, my hon. Friend received the support of all his back-bench Friends.
It is strange that at this stage in the proceedings we are faced with this amendment, which is of considerable importance. The issue is not new. It was raised in Committee. It was raised by the Confederation of British Industry throughout the Committee proceedings from February to mid-June. My hon. Friends and I feel aggrieved that it is only on Report that this amendment has been brought before us and the assurances given by the then Under-Secretary about the Government's views have been tossed out of the window.
Representatives of the CBI said a most interesting thing to me and three of my hon. Friends when we went to discuss this point. I wonder whether they made the same point to the Government. They said "Of course, employers have been slow to disclose information, but they have now reformed and up and down the country workers are receiving information from employers. If the Government seek to make this disclosure mandatory, the employers will be so upset that they will go back on their new practice and will cease voluntary disclosure."
The CBI was telling us that the captains of industry, faced with this situation, would act out of pique. Although they had been persuaded that disclosure of information was a good thing, if the Government agreed with them and tried to 1587 bring all or many employers up to scratch the employers would say "Ah, no. It is all right if we do it voluntarily, but if you agree with us or encourage us or say that it must be disclosed, we will stop." I have always been a considerable critic of the way in which this country's industry is managed but I had never thought that management plumbed such depths.
Since we have all been aware of the attitude of the CBI during these months, my hon. Friends and I believe that we are correct in saying that for the Government to bring forward an amendment now rather than in Committee can only be described as a capitulation.
Yet the information for which we are asking makes up a cautious and unsatisfactory list. It is certainly not complete. I have no doubt that the new Ministers have had time to check the information which they will be seeking. I wonder whether they have noticed the significant omissions.
It is an odd sort of list. For instance, information will be asked about sales but not about product development or production volume. Surely sales depend on producing the right products in the right quantities? Information will be asked for concerning exports but not concerning imports. How can we judge the sense of company policies in relation to exports if we do not have information about import policies?
Workers are laboriously trying to collect information about imports. I do not want to scare the CBI too much, but workers are gradually waking up to the sort of manipulation of pricing policies and the other things that companies get up to. I know of highly skilled, knowledgeable workers who are collecting information about the imported components which are used by their companies—imported from overseas subsidiaries and probably not at the normal market price but at a price determined by whether the company wants to show a low or a high profit.
The Government are being excessively kind to companies by restricting their list of required information. My hon. Friends and I thought that at least when this cautious list of information was disclosed it would be given to the trade unions and that, to that extent, there was 1588 good in the Bill. Now we find that even this right is being whittled away and there is discretion at every stage. I do not believe that the Government have made any case for this change.
I had an interesting exchange yesterday with the Under-Secretary on the topic of amendments in another place. As the new clause which I and some hon. Friends have put down in relation to the disclosure of information may not be reached today, I suggest it would repay his scrutiny. Perhaps he will recognise the inadequacies in the Government's own list and consider an amendment on this topic in another place. Yesterday we saved him the trouble of moving an amendment in the other place on a register of financial interests for members of the National Enterprise Board. He could repay us by making their Lordships work on the list of items to be disclosed.
If the list is so cautious, why are we concerned about the introduction of yet another discretionary stage? The great merit of the clause as it stood, with the duty to disclose information to trade unions, was that for the first time work-people's representatives were being given some statutory rights in relation to information about their companies and their products.
Though the list is inadequate, we feel deep disquiet that these rights are being whittled away. The Government should be more concerned about the genuine disquiet on these benches rather than the disquiet expressed by the CBI. The Government are dependent on these benches and on the support of workers throughout the country. They do not, and never will, receive the support of the Confederation of British Industry.
The Opposition have shown a touching concern about workers' rights, but I wish they had remembered it yesterday when my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) moved a far-reaching amendment giving exciting rights to workers and allowing all employees the right to ballot about the kind of management structure they wanted. Where were the Opposition then? I am sorry to say they were in an unholy alliance with my own Front Bench to deny workers the right to be consulted.
§ Mr. Heseltine
The hon. Lady is talking about a denial of workers' rights, but 1589 yesterday did not her Chancellor of the Exchequer announce that he was about to take away the rights of free collective bargaining from the workers of Britain?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Order. The hon. Lady must not forward anything to the Chair.
§ Mrs. Wise
I was provoked. I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
We are not concerned, therefore, about the crocodile tears that the Opposition have been shedding about workers' rights. The Opposition displayed their true feelings on that subject yesterday, as they have done on other occasions. Many of us are more concerned about the capitulation to the CBI and about the whittling away of one of the few firm features of the Bill. I support the declaration by my hon. Friend the Member for Walton that we should oppose Amendment No. 177.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
I am glad to be able to take up the point raised by the hon. Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) in which she expressed astonishment and, if I understood her, a certain contempt for her Government's slavish obeisance to the CBI. It never ceases to astonish me that the great movement which now has the responsibility of government should go whoring after a body like the CBI under the delusion that it has any real title to represent the employer's side of industry just because it has hit upon the elegant device of bringing the nationalised industries into eligibility for membership.
§ Mr. Mikardo
The hon. Member is wrong in suggesting that Government are whoring after the CBI, because whoring produces some return.
§ Mr. Wainwright
Not always, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and certainly not in this case. It has not even been necessary to take precautions, because there is never any prospect of a productive return with a body whose claims to representative 1590 status are so hollow as those of the CBI.
When the great history of the latter-day Labour Movement is written it will be recorded that just as Ramsay MacDonald found it necessary to know all the duchesses in London as soon as he got into Downing Street, so the present Government have such a complex that they have to go rushing to make the acquaintance of the CBI before they feel entitled to administer the Department of Industry. This is not only faintly laughable in the end, if it goes unchecked, it may prove disastrous. All those who represent industrial constituencies must be aware that the title of the CBI to represent industry is extremely slender and in some parts of the country is plainly bogus.
One grows up in this place, so there is that to be said for it. I have grown up to the extent of not cherishing much hope that Labour Members below the Gangway are likely to support the Liberal amendment when it is called for a Division. As any amateur sociologist will discover on reading Hansard tomorrow, those Labour Members nearly all represent big towns, where it is reasonable to suppose—certainly in the case of the city of Leeds, where I have always lived—that the trade union movement is splendidly organised and does an excellent representative job.
It so happens—I do not know whether it is a coincidence—that the Liberal Members, with perhaps one or two exceptions, but I doubt even that, represent areas in which, on the whole, the trade union movement is, unfortunately, poorly organised, and in some cases non-existent.
In those circumstances, is it any wonder that we on the Liberal bench take the view that the trade union organisation in our areas is not adequate to bear the weight which will be placed on it if the Bill is passed with simply the Government's amendments in it. It is quite understandable to me that hon. Members representing the great cities and towns take a contrary view, based on their own long personal experience.
I am sorry to interrupt. The hon. Member may or may not be 1591 aware of the fact that I was born in a very small town, with a population of about 13,000, with a very weak trade union movement. When I was an apprentice, the shop stewards in the jobs in which I worked were elected on a minority basis, because at that stage they were not the majority, but they worked hard to get the whole of the workers into the union. It is on the basis of precisely that sort of experience that I regard this Bill as very sensible in terms of giving the information to trade union representatives.
§ Mr. Wainwright
I am grateful to the hon. Member for his intervention. The town to which he refers as his birthplace was fortunate in having in its midst the future hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton as a zealous, hard-grafting trade union worker. All I am saying is that unfortunately, to my regret, a great many small towns in this country do not have people with the energy, drive and determination of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton to build up their trade union movement.
I believe that I shall be forgiven for making a suggestion to Labour Members with whom I have sat in the Committee on those occasions when I was able to attend. It is that we might find common ground in the amendment—I hope it will be pressed to a Division—in the name of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis), because that amendment singles out for employee representative treatment only those concerns in which a majority of the workers are not in trade union membership. Surely that, at least, is fair to both of us from our respective experiences and background—that in cases where the trade union movement, unfortunately, is manifestly not in a position to accept the load to be imposed upon it by this amended statute, it should be proper for elected employee representatives to receive the information.
The alternative—which I hesitate to attribute to Labour Members—having heard them speak in a most well-informed way in Committee—is that they should be using this information part of the Bill as a form of privilege with which to encourage trade union membership. I am very reluctant to believe that Labour Members—most of whom, I believe, have worked very hard indeed and in an 1592 honourable way to build up trade union membership by making the unions efficient and by engaging the enthusiasm of their fellow workers—would now fall back on the dismal expedient of privilege. which used to be the sole prerogative of the benches to my right, as an easy means of building up trade union membership in the less populated areas.
I do not believe for a moment that the privilege of having the exclusive right to information will assist the healthy growth of trade unionism, which we on this bench want to see in the constituencies we represent. Therefore, I hope we shall succeed at least in accepting the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley).
§ Mr. Doug Hoyle (Nelson and Colne)
I have listened with interest to the ideas of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright). He is as aware as I am that things are changing, even in Colne Valley. I said in Committee that ICI, where many of the people of Colne Valley work, was not changing. But, thanks to a trade union organisation, the white-collar workers of ICI are at last joining trade unions. Things do change, if trade unions are there, and if their work goes on.
We must strengthen the hand of trade unions. That is why I am sorry when I look at the amendments before us and see what the Government are now doing. With my hon. Friends, I believe in the mandatory policy. We believe in it for many reasons. We are talking largely about manufacturing industry, where we are dealing with large multinational companies. As trade unionists, we have often found it almost impossible, and always extremely difficult, to obtain information about the activities of a multinational company. Therefore, we hope to see a strengthening of the provisions regarding information.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) was right when she said that what we have protested about it that the Bill does not go far enough in that direction. It does not ask enough questions. We want to know much more about transfer pricing. If we are to believe the Press, there was a suggestion last week that Chrysler United Kingdom, which has been reporting a loss of £17,700,000, may not have been making a real loss. As most of 1593 its sales overseas go to Chrysler subsidiaries, many of them going to Switzerland, the company may well have been deliberately selling those cars at a loss, which could place in jeopardy many of the jobs in this country.
Conservative Members may well say that that suggestion could easily be checked by looking at the Swiss company's accounts to see at what price the cars are being sold. But it is not as easy as all that. The Swiss company has filed no accounts since 1969. Therefore, we can see the difficulty of the Chrysler workers in trying to establish not just whether the company is being run efficiently but whether it is selling its products overseas at the right price. It seems to be artificially low in relation to that of other motor manufacturers.
We have been asked "Why do you need mandatory powers? These large companies will change their minds. They are only too prepared, if you will knock on the door and ask them for the information, to make it available to the employees and trade unions—indeed, to anyone who asks for it." I am sorry to say that they certainly have not yet changed their mind. My trade union, ASTMS, wrote to the multinational companies in the car industry on 21st April, because it was due to present information and evidence to the Trade and Industry Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee. It was said what it was doing and asked the companies to help with the provision of information.
The information was very basic. The union asked for details of Government money, including development grants, received by the companies, and asked whether they had received orders from the Government over the past five years. It also asked for the total value of their exports in money terms and the number of vehicles they had exported in the past five years.
The next question was a very important one in dealing with multinational companies, particularly when so often they are trading with subsidiaries in other countries. The union asked what were their imports over the past five years, including imports from subsidiaries overseas. Companies such as the Ford Motor Company are always boasting about their exports, but they rarely say what their imports are.
1594 The union also asked about research and development costs over the past five years. We may have a clause in the Bill requiring information en such costs. Such information is vital if we are to know a great deal about a company. All hon. Members would agree that the answers of the multinational companies provide the kind of information that the trade unions and employees of those companies should have, and one would believe—if we are to believe the new climate—that all of them would be forthcoming.
The letter was sent on 21st April. Up to date I should say, in all fairness, that Vauxhall has replied. It was willing to help but has not furnished any evidence in relation to any of the headings I have mentioned. Ford has been completely non-committal. I am sorry to say that Chrysler, one of the companies. I have mentioned, and BMC have not replied at all.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
For information only, was the information that was sought about research and development costs limited to the British company or was it for the research and development costs of the whole group of companies, which are in many countries?
§ Mr. Hoyle
It was addressed to the British company and related to the research and development cost here. Very often it is vital to employees in this country to know what research and development is being carried out—in other words, to know that new models are being developed. This gives them a feeline security. Very often if the research and development of new vehicles is being carried out in other countries, employees may get the impression that their employment in this country could be in jeopardy. Certainly in this case we were asking for the research and development costs in this country.
§ Sir Raymond Gower
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that information about research and development in this company alone might be unrealistic and might not give the full picture. In other words, the company in this country might well benefit from research and development carried out in other parts of the world.
§ Mrs. Wise
Since my hon. Friend wants to be absolutely fair to companies in this context, would he accept that after conversations with the CBI, to which I have referred, I was so struck by its claim that employers are now giving information to workers that I put out a call through my local newspaper asking either employers or workers to let me know the new structures, mechanisms or means being employed and the results of this information. I regret to say that no employer, worker or trade union communicated with me. Therefore, I could only conclude that somehow Coventry was being overlooked in this new climate.
§ Mr. Hoyle
In the light of the lack of reply from Chrysler, I am not at all surprised that my hon. Friend did not receive any telephone call. From what was said earlier we might be a little luckier on insider dealings, but certainly in relation to the questions we asked there were no replies at all. This is why we attach so much importance to the clause being mandatory and why it should be freely available to the trade unions. I emphasise—because the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) is present—that often trade unions are very strong in manufacturing industry. They often represent the bulk of the work force in that industry and carry out its negotiations. It is the use that can be made of this information that is so vital to protect the interests of the employees in those companies.
The hon. Member for Caernarvon was not present when my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Gaston (Mr. Loyden) said, when he interrupted an Opposition Member, that there was no reason at all why this information should not be given to employees. I hope that all the employers in Caernarvon, and in particular the small companies which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, set a lead for the country and give the information on a voluntary basis. If they do, they might bring their larger brothers into line. This could well be the case if people would volunteer the information.
As far as we are concerned, in the fact that it is not to be mandatory but to be on a voluntary basis we see only a weakening of the Bill. Some of my hon. Friends and I were fortunate with the Under-Secretary yesterday, who had wisdom and bowed to the powerful argu- 1596 ments we were putting up. I join with my hon. Friends in asking the Secretary of State, even at this stage, to listen to our arguments and to look again at this matter. I ask him to agree with the way we were going in Committee, that this should not be on a voluntary basis but mandatory. That would help the trade unions and their members in this country to do a job of work in providing security of employment to all trade union members.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
The debate has turned in the main upon the interpretation which hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government side of the House place upon this clause and these provisions for industrial democracy. The Opposition take a cautious view, that the clause, as drafted, is insufficiently clear in relation to the position of all employees. This has to do, perhaps, with the problems of management in companies as they exist. What we cannot forecast are the Government's proposals on industrial democracy.
One of the problems we had in Committee, for many hours, was that we were not aware of what the Government would be producing. Indeed, it was clear that in this Bill they were taking up certain thoughts which clearly stemmed from a certain policy on industrial democracy and weaving them into the Bill without a clear understanding—I think all members of the Committee understood that—of what their ultimate proposals for that policy would be.
Therefore, we have this dichotomy. It it not surprising that Labour Members should be seeking to develop their arguments on industrial democracy. However, I want to remind them that in the White Paper, and subsequently in the functions of the National Enterprise Board, it was stated that the objective would be to create industrial democracy and to encourage it organically. It was not suggested that there was to be a grafting of a structure upon British industry, but that encouragement should be given to the development of democratic processes.
It is for that reason, among many, that we feel so strongly about this amendment in relation to employees. We think it is right that all within a particular company 1597 should hear the information. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) had a point in saying that companies could, if they wished, pass on the information, and that there was nothing to prevent that in the Bill. But if that is generally so, there is no need for legislation. We must assume that the relevant trade unions need not be specified, because this is the normal channel through which management indicates matters to organised workers. Therefore, the provision of the specific phrase "relevant trade union" has a special meaning as far as the Government are concerned.
It is because in management today the decisions that management must take in relation to relevant trade unions are decisions of the utmost importance that they find it so difficult to be nit-picking in this area. My hon. Friend the Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall) drew attention to the difficulty managements will face in determining who are the representatives of the relevant trade unions. It is largely because at present the trade unions' structure is not organised in a way comparable with many management structures.
If, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) has said, Labour Members find difficulty in obtaining information on international companies or the inter-company dealings of an international group, they should set up an international trade union structure which would enable them to have this kind of information, and they should be able to have a structure which transcended the European boundaries. I trust that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne will believe that. I trust that he will be able to develop a real rapport with all employees within a group which a trade union structure is designed to serve.
§ Mr. Shaw
Certainly not. It is not a matter of having to rely upon a trade union structure to determine whether workers will lose their jobs. A company which decides or is encouraged to dis- 1598 close information to only a portion of its work force must recognise that there are problems of industrial relations which must be tackled. It is not a matter of trying to legislate to give information to one portion of the work force but not to another. We must encourage all sectors of the work force to come together, to believe that the life of the company depends on the search for joint objectives, and to work to that end.
We recognise that the Government have made a number of changes. The Opposition do not share the anxiety expressed by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite that these changes are mischievous in their intention. Those changes are designed to make this Bill more practical and to ensure that this section of the Bill on the disclosure of information has a sensible structure as opposed to one which is not sensible. That is why we feel strongly that the amendment to make all employees the recipients of information would be both sensible and practical. That is why we propose to press this to a Division.
§ Mr. Ivor Clemitson (Luton, East)
We have heard a number of eloquent pleas made by Government supporters in favour of the compulsory disclosure of information to trade unions. We have heard a number of objections from the Opposition to the principle of compulsion and the principle of disclosure to trade unions rather than to all employees. I find that that comes oddly from the Opposition. Even in the Section 56 of the infamous Industrial Relations Act 1971 a duty was imposed on all employers to disclose information. There was compulsion. Secondly, there was compulsion to disclose information to trade unions. Disclosure of information is a necessary part and precondition of industrial democracy, although we should be careful not to confuse the disclosure of information and the possession of information with industrial democracy.
Unfortunately there are cases in which employees and trade unions are in possession of a great deal of information but are impotent to do anything with it.
We have had an interesting discussion of the meaning of industrial democracy. We heard the ideas of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon), who expressed concern for the establishment of 1599 works councils. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) made an interesting contribution. He developed the idea that industrial democracy is a matter of developing collective bargaining. Indeed, he developed it to the point where every question was negotiable—in other words that collective bargaining should cover the range of concerns, decisions and activities within a company. I agree with him to a large extent.
I now refer to Clause 17 of the Employment Protection Bill, which imposes a general duty on employers to disclose such information as is required for collective bargaining. A compulsory duty is to be laid on employers to disclose information to trade unions. That provision refers to all information which may be required for collective bargaining. In the provisions of that clause there was not capitulation to the CBI or any other interested body. I hope that that principle will apply to this Bill.
Clause 17 of the Employment Protection Bill is potentially very wide. For example, it applies to all employers not just to large employers or to those who occupy a significant place in an industry. It applies not only to information about a particular company but to information about associated companies—not just subsidiary companies. It contains not an incomplete list of pieces of information which the employer must give to trade unions, but a general duty to disclose all such information as is required for collective bargaining.
I would not support any capitulation to the CBI. All I say is, let us not exaggerate the importance of this capitulation, if capitulation it be.
§ Mr. Varley
I thank the hon. Members who have spoken from both sides of the House for putting their views so forcefully. There is a fundamental difference of view between the two sides of the House. The Government side wish to encourage the development of strong and independent trade unions and are opposed to giving statutory rights to non-union representatives. That is the real reason why I cannot accept Amendment (a). That is a fundamental difference between us, and I cannot give way on that. We believe 1600 that trade unions are the proper means through which workers have an effective say in management decisions. To that end, in this Bill and in the Employment Protection Bill we aim to strengthen the rights of trade unions in collective bargaining and in discussions with companies.
The hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) was very persuasive, and I am sorry that I cannot go along with what he said. General anxiety was expressed by the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw) and other Opposition Members that if the Government accepted Amendment (a) we would not be giving much away. I put it another way. There is nothing in the Bill or in the amendments which we have put down to prevent information, whether acquired voluntarily or compulsorily, from being passed to employees or shareholders. If these arrangements are made, I expect that ways will be found to pass information to employees who are not yet members of trade unions, and to shareholders.
The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) gave the game away by suggesting that more employees should belong to trade unions. He said that in his area those who did not belong to trade unions were the low-paid workers. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the disclosure of information to employees and shareholders, and I should be alarmed if there were.
The hon. Member for Truro suggested that works councils, where they existed, should have this information because they were the most effective vehicle for representing the views of employees. I have had some experience of workers' councils. For example, when the coal industry was nationalised a consultative committee was set up that was separate from the trade union organisation. The committee had a very elaborate constitution. Representatives were elected from the work force but not on the basis of whether they were members of a particular trade union. After a couple of years it was found to be such a farce that it was decided that the only way of introducing effective powers into the consultative procedures, would be by enshrining the system within the trade union organisation. If the hon. Gentleman were to examine that experience he would find that to be the case.
1601 9.45 p.m.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) was right to point out that collective bargaining is not only about pay. I entirely agree. One of my tasks a few years ago was to delve into the Sankey Commission, which sat in 1919 to consider the nationalisation of the coal industry. At that time the national leaders of the Miners Federation of Great Britain were members of the Sankey Commission. One of its members, a Mr. Straker from Northumberland, was able to say in 1919 that the nationalisation of coal mines did not involve only pounds, shillings and pence but men who wanted to be free and wanted to take decisions. At that time they wanted information and disclosure.
It has been a source of deep regret to me that there has not been a greater movement towards industrial democracy or workers' control—call it what one will—within the mining industry. The fact that the coal industry has been nationalised for nearly 30 years and has one large dominant trade union—namely, the National Union of Mineworkers, which has 98 per cent. of the industry's work force within its membership—does not stop its members fighting among themselves like billyho. That ensures that they do not take more effective power and control inside the industry.
I think that there is scope for developing planning agreements not only in nationalised industries but in other industries. I refer to the planning agreement that I had with the coal mining industry when I was Secretary of State for Energy. One of the first things that I did was to call in the members of the trade unions to say "Can we have a planning agreement now?" After six months we were able to have one. As a result of that agreement the coal mining industry is the only growth industry that I can see in Britain at the moment. There are now 7,000 more people working in the mining industry, and production has increased. I hope that that kind of concept can be developed not only in the nationalised industries but in private industries.
I am convinced that the voluntary powers that we are proposing are better than the statutory powers that are proposed elsewhere.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
Surely the whole essence of the debate and the whole essence of the anxiety within the Labour movement is how to get information out of private industry. I agree that information from the nationalised industries is reasonably easy to obtain and that there is virtually an open book.
§ Mr. Varley
I agree. I was going to say that there is nothing that we are proposing to prevent information being obtained if it becomes necessary. It is true that in nationalised industries there is much more access to information. I am saying that trade unions within nationalised industries need to grasp it more quickly and use it more effectively. It is a source of regret to me that they have not done that so far.
§ Mr. Crawford
The right hon. Gentleman said that it is easy to get information from the nationalised industries. However, in Scotland we are finding it difficult to discover what the British Steel Corporation is planning for Scotland. I do not think it is true to say that it is easy to find out what the nationalised industries are doing.
§ Mr. Varley
It is easier to do so than in private industry. The hon. Gentleman knows that the matter that he has raised is being discussed and that in due course information will be given about the corporation's plans in Scotland. We believe that voluntary powers are preferable.
I come to the point made by a good many of my hon. Friends about the question whether mandatory powers are better than discretionary powers. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) gave the impression—I know that it was not his intention—that as the Bill stands without the amendments there is a degree of automaticity—in other words, that if nothing were done and no amendments were moved, there would be automatic disclosure. He knows that that is not true——
§ Mr. Heffer
I hope that I did not convey that impression. I was dealing with the question of passing on the information to trade unions. It was the duty of the Secretary of State to pass it on. Now he may pass it on at his discretion. That is the issue, and that is the only issue. 1603 Surely the Secretary of State knows that very well indeed.
§ Mr. Varley
I know that, and I want to make the situation absolutely clear. It would have been possible for me to leave the Bill entirely as it is and not to have tabled these amendments. I could have got into some kind of deal with the CBI or some other body.
It was said that I could have made the statement to those concerned "I do not know what you are concerned about. Before disclosure powers can be exercised, it will be at my discretion." That would have been a cynical view, and I do not think many of my hon. Friends would have agreed to such an approach. When I appeared in the Standing Committee the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) was that we should not do anything about the situation—in the words that we should not change anything, and that it was as good as a wink or a nod to the CBI that those powers would not be exercised. That would not have been a proper or fair way of dealing with the matter. We regard the present proposals as a much better method—in other words, to have reserve powers. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton went some way to meet this matter on Second Reading and it is not necessary to quote his words. Right from the beginning of the Bill these powers in respect of disclosure were always regarded as reserve powers.
The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) suggested that we need more disclosure and should have all these matters centralised in London. I thought that he missed the point to a great extent in respect of the disclosure provisions. These provisions do not mean that the information will all be collected in the Department of Industry. Where there is a voluntary arrangement, or even a compulsory one, the information may be required for sectoral planning purposes. There would be information between the company and its employees and it would not have to come to a central point as the hon. Gentleman suggests. Therefore, his fears are to a great extent unfounded.
§ Mr. Wigley
The Minister said that information would pass between the com- 1604 pany and employees. The point is that the information may pass only between company and trade union representatives, who may or may not be employees or who may not live in the vicinity, and therefore that information may not reach all the employees.
§ Mr. Varley
In the first instance, the information would be handed over to the appropriate trade union official. It would not involve the Government, but the company would hand over the information to shop stewards, regional officers or national officers. The company would decide to what trade union representative it handed the information. There is nothing at that stage to prevent the company giving that same information to employees who are not members of trade unions or shareholders. They can go ahead and take that step. I think that meets some of the hon. Gentleman's objections.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) suggested that these provisions were a capitulation to the CBI. That is not how the CBI sees the matter. It pressed many amendments on the Government, and I have seen one report suggesting that the CBI still takes some exception to the disclosure power.
I genuinely believe that the amendments meet the spirit of undertakings that were given by Ministers when the Bill was introduced and indeed throughout the Committee stage.
I believe that our amendments will encourage voluntary arrangements. The full intention of the Government, since the Bill was introduced, has been that voluntary arrangements were preferable to mandatory and compulsory arrangements. In many respects the amendments that I have moved will strengthen parliamentary control.
As the Bill stands at present—this matter was not mentioned by any of my hon. Friends—a Committee could prevent me, or any other Secretary of State, exercising these powers. It could prevent me from handing over information to trades unions. A Committee could overrule me, and it is therefore right that we should prevent that from happening. Certainly the amendments that we have moved overcome some of the considerable technical defects that would have had to be 1605 changed in any case, but in no way, where it becomes necessary, do they prevent disclosure. The disclosure provision remains enshrined in the Bill, and that is how it should be. I hope that my hon. Friends will support our amendments.
§ Mr. Heseltine
The Secretary of State for Industry, in summing up what we have heard in the course of an interesting and long debate this afternoon, has quite understandably been unable to deal with the heart of the dialogue that occupied the Standing Committee for 40 sittings and two days on Report. The heart of the dialogue is explained by the fury which was felt by the Opposition at the way in which the Bill differed from the White Paper.
Until today the whole argument has been that the Government had honoured faithfully the promises and pledges which the White Paper contained and that the Opposition were being hysterical or were deliberately distorting the position for narrow political ends.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), as characteristically as one would expect, has explained factually and accurately that everything that has been said on the Opposition side of the House is 100 per cent. true. That is the problem that the Secretary of State for Industry faces. The reality is that the dialogue, quite frankly, is not between the two Front Benches on this matter. The Secretary of State is doing the best he can to put forward the arguments that have been presented to him. He did not have time to influence their formulation. Indeed in the few days that he has been here he has done a perfectly honourable job trying to make the best of a bad job. He is trying to patch the flat tyre and push the cranky car forward in the hope that it will somehow scrape home to the end of this parliamentary Session. I do not blame him for that, and I make no recriminations whatsoever.
The reality is that the White Paper, upon which the Bill was supposed to be based, is in itself a deceit. It was never intended by the people who were the architects of the policy which is supposedly enshrined in the Bill that the reserve powers should be reserve in connection with planning agreements. It was always intended that the disclosure powers should be absolute in their own 1606 right and that the planning agreement association was a convenient electoral device put forward in order to quieten the electorate and give the Government an opportunity at least to pretend that there was some sort of respectability about what they had in mind. I praise the hon. Member for Walton because he has confirmed everything that we have always said.
If the debate is permitted to continue along the lines it has done for some hours, I want to address myself to the real argument.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Heffer
The hon. Gentleman is turning my argument on its head. My point was that the original proposal in the Labour Party's programme, particularly in the Green Paper upon which the Bill was based, was that the compulsory disclosure of information would go with compulsory planning agreements. Therefore, if we had compulsory planning agreements, we had compulsory disclosure of information. We then decided that we should aim for voluntary planning agreements. It was not always the intention that the information should be compulsory. The information aspect was added at a later stage. There was no dubiety on the part of either the Government or the Labour Party to kid the public in any way. This happens with many White Papers and legislation. The hon. Gentleman knows that all Governments issue White Papers and that, between the issue of White Papers and the Bills coming forward, extra information becomes available, further discussions are initiated, and, on occasions, there are slight divergences between the White Papers and the legislation.
§ Mr. Heseltine rose——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. I remind hon. Members that the guillotine falls at 11 o'clock. I hope that interventions will not be used as opportunities for making speeches.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I would not seek to challenge your interpretation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. But significantly the contribution made by the hon. Member for Walton was the most important that we had during the whole of this Report stage. I am grateful for the clarification that we have had. The hon. Gentleman has 1607 totally confirmed that from the beginning it was intended that there should be a compulsory system of disclosure of information. Whether that disclosure of information was in the package on planning agreements is irrelevant. There was always to be a compulsory system of disclosure of information.
The White Paper gave the impression that there would be voluntary planning agreements and that the disclosure element would be totally dependent upon voluntary planning agreements. That was the point at which the Bill wholly departed from the White Paper. The voluntary planning agreements occupied Clause 14, which was of no significance to anybody, and the compulsory disclosure powers are no longer reserve, but are a fundamental and, indeed, the overwhelmingly most significant part of the Bill in their own right.
That takes us back to the beginning of the dialogue that I want to have and from which I exclude the Secretary of State for Industry and the Under-Secretary, because they have not, and perhaps cannot be expected to have, understood the nature of the dialogue.
The nature of the dialogue surrounding the Bill is about power. It concerns where power is to be exercised in industry and in the Government's political relationship with industry.
The arguments of those who designed the Green Paper upon which these proposals were built—they are largely to be found sitting below the Gangway opposite—were always clear: that they sought to bring about a transfer of power in industry, first, from employees at large to the organisation of the trade union movement, and, secondly, from the wide disparate ownership power in the hands of the corporate society to a publicly-owned nationalised sector. That was the purpose of the exercise.
If anyone has not understood that point, he has not begun to realise that this discussion is restricted to a relatively limited number of people. It has been interesting to follow Press coverage of this issue, which, if we listen to the speeches by hon. Gentlemen opposite, is of wide and massive interest to millions of our fellow citizens. Yet the papers which are 1608 most widely read by those millions of our fellow citizens have hardly given a column inch of coverage to the deliberations on the Industry Bill. The reason is simple. They know that the rather erudite arguments put forward in support of the Bill are of very little concern to the people who are supposedly so passionately eager to see this legislation enacted.
If I may quote from a speech by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) at a Labour Party conference, I believe that the reality of this matter is clearly revealed. He said:To say that Party Conference after Party Conference has accepted a policy doesn't mean that the majority who voted for it believed in it. You can't say that people believe in something they don't understand. It wasn't nationalisation that would attract voters into the Labour Party. They would rather be tempted by promises of improved social services. Then, once they were in, they would vote and argue for steel nationalisation, even though they didn't know the first thing about it. You may call it bribery, hut it's the way to get people into the party, and if you want to convince people about nationalisation, go ahead and try, but you won't get any members.That is the essence of this dialogue, albeit nearly 30 years later.
This Government, with their promise of a social contract, with their promise of an 8½ per cent. inflation rate, with policies for Europe which suited any spectrum of opinion, offered to the British people a package of industrial policies which had no mirror in the genuine and legitimate aspirations of the overwhelming majority. Yet this Bill, which is the equivalent of the nationalisation which the Labour Party would not stomach in the 1940s, is now expressing the views of the Labour Party's Left wing about industry which are not accepted by the majority of people.
It is the Government's dilemma that they need the support of the group who designed this legislation to the point where they have to compromise with their views. But they need the support also of the majority of people who have to elect the Government. Therefore, they know that they cannot pursue the views of those on the Left of their party. The result is a compromise. We have neither a successful free enterprise economy, nor the alternative neo-Marxist economy which at least provides an alternative to what we 1609 have today. The policies that this Government are pursuing will have the disadvantage of destroying the one without achieving the other. That is why the pressures behind this Government from the Left are so harmful without making a positive contribution of the sort that they would like.
It is said that this group of amendments is a capitulation to the CBI. I quarrel with the idea that it has been a capitulation. There have been changes, but that they represent a capitulation is out of accord with reality. Far from the CBI, very large numbers of managers in British industry are restraining their articulation of what they believe in. What is missing is sufficient articulation from the managers of industry who understand why this legislation is likely to pose the threat that we have been saying that it will.
The reality is that, if anyone wants to understand why it is that managers of industry have become increasingly despondent about the theories upon which this legislation is built, he has only to study what has been said by the managers of Hawker-Siddeley, who have argued passionately in favour of being allowed to manage their own very successful company and whose employees have never shown any interest in moving from private to the public sector.
We now have a Secretary of State for Industry responsible for the nationalisation Bill which he has just dropped who, when asked on television last week what plans he had for that industry when he nationalised it, had to say that he had no plans and that that would be the purpose of the steering group when it was selected.
How is any manager or employee—any qualified engineer or any trained shop floor operative—supposed to have confidence in a Government whose spokesmen say that they have no plans for the industry other than that it will be transferred from the private to the public sector regardless of the consequences that may follow?
It would be understandable if people who had listened to this debate believed that the issue between the two sides of the House was that of disclosure. It is not. That was part of the platform of the Conservative Party at the last election. We said that there should be a standard of disclosure of information backed by 1610 the law in which, in the last resort, companies would be compelled to practise the best forms of disclosure of information. Therefore, that is in no way an issue in this debate. Everbody believes that the right kind of information disclosure in the right way is a necessary part of the functioning of an efficient economy today, but where the issue lies is not whether we should disclose because we agree on that, but to whom we should disclose and in what way.
I was disappointed, in listening to the Secretary for Industry to hear him reply, when asked why they had chosen disclosure only to trade union representatives "That is our opinion; that is what we believe in". Not a single reason was given other than that was the policy of the party to which he belongs. The approach of the hon. Member for Walton seemed more reasonable because he was arguing for flexibility. In Yugoslavia there is a great deal of industrial disclosure but no political freedom, and that cannot be dissociated from the total industrial disclosure. There is a different system in Germany, which we all understand. In this country we have a range of different methods of disclosure of information.
I believe there is as yet no proven method of knowing which is the best way of involving workers in the company for which they work. The great need, therefore, is for a period of flexibility and experimentation in which pressures are maintained to ensure that progress is made, but an arbitrary method might have the effect of actually reducing the flow of information and intensifying the bitterness that might follow if the situation were mishandled. Anyone who believes we are talking about a desire to give people more information has only to cast his mind back to a debate that we had in this House very recently in which the Ryder Report on British Leyland was published, for the benefit of the House, in a version of some 70 pages when the number of pages in the original report amounted to 200.
If there is any occasion for the disclosure of information, surely it should be in circumstances where the public are expected to contribute about £2.8 million, and yet in area after area where this Bill mandates that unions should be entitled to information, the Ryder Report 1611 strikes out that very information because it is regarded as commercially sensitive, which proves beyond doubt that there is no possible consistency in the arguments being advocated on the strict disclosure of information. If that were the argument and it was possible for the Secretary for Industry and his colleagues in the Government to give today a general directive to nationalised industries to practise tomorrow the kind of disclosure procedures written into this legislation, we would then be able to see whether in reality that would achieve the kind of end-product or improvement in worker involvement that hon. Members opposite are promising. Why do not they do that? Why have they not done it over 20 or 30 years? It is because in reality they consider it has relatively little to do with the objectives which led to the production of these proposals.
I want to make a further point on the decision to give information only to union representatives. I was asked by representatives of the staff at Hawker Siddeley and British Aircraft Corporation if I could explain to them—they numbered many thousands of people—why the Secretary for Industry would not talk to them and yet was prepared to spend a great deal of his time talking to unions representing thousands of other people. If I can be assured that there is any moral or political justification for singling out a man who happens to have a union ticket and turning him into a first-class citizen, when the rest of the people who do not join unions are turned in some way into second-class citizens simply to suit the political convenience of the interests of the Labour Party. I would be interested to hear those reasons.
The reality of the situation is that the Government are giving unions privileges they would in no way ask the unions to measure with responsibilities to meet them. If one genuinely believes in worker participation or employee participation, why cannot we involve all employees or workers, as opposed to doing what the Government do in saying, "We will allow the law to affect only the union representatives"?
§ Mr. Heffer
May I put a factual point? The hon. Gentleman must know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary 1612 of State for Energy did on at least one occasion meet representatives of the staff association to which he has referred.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I would hesitate to lay charges that I could not substantiate. I was assured by the represenatives of the staff association that I saw—and there are many associations—that they had not been able to gain the audience which the hon. Member suggests they did. As I rose to answer that question the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow referred to me, in what I think was a significant sedentary intervention as "the blacklegs' QC." I had intended to take up that observation which the hon. Member made in his speech when he said that those who take advantages which have been earned by the unions without joining the unions are blacklegs.
As I understand it, that is not the definition of "blackleg". As I understand it a blackleg is a man who does not strike when his union wants him to strike. But that is a question of semantics. What I absolutely contest is the concept that a man who joins a union is entitled to regard himself as being in some way morally superior to those of his colleagues in a firm who do not.
§ Mr. Heseltine
Anyone who can refer to a non-union member as a blackleg, which is what the hon. Member did, is revealing an attitude of mind, on intolerance, which is totally unacceptable to anyone who knows what freedom means.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am sure that I did the hon. Gentleman a service by interrupting him at this point since his blood pressure was getting a bit too high for the good of his health. No one said that everyone who did not join a trade union was a blackleg. I will tell the hon. Member what I said and he can read it in Hansard tomorrow. The hon. Member ought to get out of this persistent habit of his of putting words into people's mouths. What I said was that a man who does not bear the obligations of unionism and who is the first to hold out his hand for the benefits that the unions are negotiating is a blackleg—and so he is.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I can well understand that the hon. Member did not approve of my putting into his mouth words which he had used at the Labour Party conference. It must have been extremely embarrassing for him to have them quoted in the House. He gave the clearest possible indication that he took the view that anyone who is not a member of a union should he regarded as a blackleg.
§ Mr. Heseltine
When I was talking earlier the hon. Member described me as "the blacklegs' QC". That proves beyond doubt that he thought I was arguing the case of those people.
The argument is clear. We are in favour of disclosure. None of the political parties, to my knowledge, is against it. All will act in favour of it—the Liberal Party, the National parties, and preeminently the Conservative Party. [Interruption.] I am prepared to give hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House a certain amount of publicity, but not for nothing. It is important that we should clearly understand that we are not debating whether there should be disclosure. That is beyond question. There should be. We all support that.
What is at issue is whether that disclosure should be made to union representatives who may or may not be within the firm concerned, who may or may not have a loyalty to that firm, who may have superior loyalties to firms which have a larger union membership. Above all, the issue is whether that information should be 1614 given to people who in every conceivable case could be considered to be motivated by political reasons completely apart from the interests of union members in a given company.
The arguments are overwhelming. By treating British industry in this way we are putting it at a disadvantage from which it will undoubtedly suffer. It will greatly reduce the prospects of people investing in jobs in this country when they have the choice of going to Europe where no Government would dream of treating industry in this way. By trying to create two classes of citizens, one union and one non-union, we are acting positively to divide the nation in a harmful and regrettable way. For all these reasons I would strongly recommend my hon. Friends to vote against the Government amendment and to support our amendment to the proposed amendment and the Liberal amendment to the proposed amendment.
§ Mr. Wigley
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you confirm that a separate Division will be permitted on Amendment No. 170?
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 78, in page 14, line 18, leave out 'which' and insert:
'(b) that a group of companies is carrying on in the United Kingdom an undertaking wholly or mainly engaged in manufacturing industry,
and if it also appears to him—
(i) that the undertaking'.—[Mr. Varley.]
|Amendment proposed: No. 79, in page 14, line 21, leave out 'or that a subsidiary of any person is carrying on such an undertaking' and insert:|
|5||(ii) that it is desirable, for the purpose of obtaining information of that description, that the company or companies concerned should provide the Government and a representative of each relevant trade union with any such information relating to the undertaking, may serve a preliminary notice on the company or companies concerned.|
|10||(1A) In this Act—|
|"company or companies concerned" means—|
|15||(a) where it appears to the Minister that the condition mentioned in subsection (1)(a) above is satisfied, the company carrying on the undertaking, and|
|(b) where it appears to the Minister that the condition specified in subsection (i)(b) above is satisfied—|
|(i) the group's holding company, if that company is registered in the United Kingdom, and|
|(ii) all the companies in the group, if the holding company is not registered in the United Kingdom; and|
|"preliminary notice" means a notice—|
|20||(a) stating which of the conditions specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) above appears to the Minister to be satisfied in relation to the undertaking;|
|25||(b) informing the company or companies concerned that if the Minister is not satisfied that such information relating to the undertaking as is specified in paragraph (ii) of that subsection will be given voluntarily both to him and to a representative of each relevant trade union he will consider making an order under this section; and|
|(c) requiring them—|
|30||(i) to give a representative of each relevant trade union a notice of the service of the preliminary notice within 14 days of the date on which it is served; and|
|(ii) to give the Minister, within such reasonable time as may be specified in the preliminary notice, a list of representatives of relevant trade unions to whom he has given the notice mentioned in paragraph (i) above.|
|35||(1B) When a Minister serves a preliminary notice, he shall lay before each House of Parliament a statement that he has served it, specifying the company or companies concerned and the date on which it was served.|
|(1C) Subject to subsection (1D) to (1F) below, when a Minister has served a preliminary notice,'.—[Mr. Varley.]|
Amendment proposed to the proposed amendment (a), in line 6, leave out
'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'employee representatives'.—[Mr. Penhaligon.]
§ Question put, That the amendment to the proposed amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 186, Noes 203.1617
|Division No. 265.]||AYES||[10.20 p.m.|
|Arnold, Tom||Carllsle, Mark||Elliott, Sir William|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Emery, Peter|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Churchill, W. S.||Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)|
|Baker, Kenneth||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)|
|Beith, A. J.||Clark, William (Croydon S)||Eyre, Reginald|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Benyon, W.||Clegg, Walter||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Farr, John|
|Biffen, John||Cope, John||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cordle, John H.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Cormack, Patrick||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bottomley, Peter||Crawford, Douglas||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Crouch, David||Fry, Peter|
|Brittan, Leon||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Drayson, Burnaby||Goodhart, Philip|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Durant, Tony||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Burden, F. A.||Dykes, Hugh||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Sims, Roger|
|Gray, Hamish||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Grist, Ian||Marten, Neil||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Grylls, Michael||Mates, Michael||Speed, Keith|
|Hall, Sir John||Mather, Carol||Spence, John|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mawby, Ray||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Sproat, Iain|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mayhew, Patrick||Stainton, Keith|
|Hannam, John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Stanley, John|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Mills, Peter||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Miscampbell, Norman||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|Henderson, Douglas||Monro, Hector||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Montgomery, Fergus||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Holland, Philip||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Stokes, John|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Morgan, Geraint||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Hordern, Peter||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Mudd, David||Tebbit, Norman|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Nelson, Anthony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Neubert, Michael||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Hurd, Douglas||Newton, Tony||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Kendon S)|
|Jessel, Toby||Normanton, Tom||Thompson, George|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Nott, John||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pardoe, John||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Kimball, Marcus||Parkinson, Cecil||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Percival, Ian||Viggers, Peter|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Raison, Timothy||Wakeham, John|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Rathbone, Tim||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Knox, David||Reid, George||Watt, Hamish|
|Lamont, Norman||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Latham, Michael (Melton)||Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Welsh, Andrew|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Rifkind, Malcolm||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Lawson, Nigel||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Lloyd, Ian||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Loveridge, John||Sainsbury, Tim||Younger, Hon George|
|Luce, Richard||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Shelton, William (Streatham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|MacCormick, Iain||Sheraby, Michael||Mr. David Penhaligon and|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Silvester, Fred||Mr. Richard Wainwright.|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Allaun, Frank||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Anderson, Donald||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Harper, Joseph|
|Ashton, Joe||Deakins, Eric||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Proston N)||Dean, Joseph (Leeds W)||Hatton, Frank|
|Atkinson, Norman||Delargy, Hugh||Hayman, Mrs Helene|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Dempsey, James||Hooley, Frank|
|Bates, Alf||Doig, Peter||Horam, John|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dormand, J. D.||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Duffy, A. E. P.||Hughes. Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dunn, James A.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Boardman, H.||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Booth, Albert||Eadie, Alex||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Edge, Geoff||Hunter, Adam|
|Bradley, Tom||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Evans,Ioan (Aberdare)||Janner, Greville|
|Buchan, Norman||Evans, John (Newton)||Jeger, Mrs Lena|
|Buchanan, Richard||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Campbell, Ian||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Flannery, Martin||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Cant, R. B.||Ford, Ben||Judd, Frank|
|Carmichael, Neil||Forrester, John||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Carter, Ray||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Kelley, Richard|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Freeson, Reginald||Kerr, Russell|
|Cartwright, John||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Clemitson, Ivor||George, Bruce||Lambie, David|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Gilbert, Dr John||Lamborn, Harry|
|Cohen, Stanley||Ginsburg, David||Lamond, James|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Golding, John||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Corbett, Robin||Gould, Bryan||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Gourlay, Harry||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Graham, Ted||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Loyden, Eddie|
|Cryer, Bob||Grant, John (Islington C)||Luard, Evan|
|Davidson, Arthur||Grocott, Bruce||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Prescott, John||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|McCusker, H.||Radice, Giles||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|MacFarquhar, Roderick||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Tierney, Sydney|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Tinn, James|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Roderick, Caerwyn||Tomlinson, John|
|Maclennan, Robert||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Urwin, T. W.|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|McNamara, Kevin||Rooker, J. W.||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Madden, Max||Roper, John||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Magee, Bryan||Rose, Paul B.||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Mahon, Simon||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||Ward, Michael|
|Marks, Kenneth||Sandelson, Neville||Watkins, David|
|Marquand, David||Sedgemore, Brian||Watkinson, John|
|Marshall, Or Edmund (Goole)||Selby, Harry||Weetch, Ken|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Meacher, Michael||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||White, James (Pollok)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Sillars, James||Whitlock, William|
|Millan, Bruce||Silverman, Julius||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Skinner, Dennis||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Small, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Molloy, William||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Snape, Peter||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Munay, Rt Hon Ronald King||Spearing, Nigel||Woodall, Alec|
|Noble, Mike||Spriggs, Leslie||Woof, Robert|
|Oakes, Gordon||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Ogden, Eric||Stoddart, David||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian||Stott, Roger|
|Padley, Walter||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Palmer, Arthur||Swain, Thomas||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Park, George||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Mr. Laurie Pavitt.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
Amendment proposed to the proposed amendment (b) in line 6, leave out
'a representative of each relevant trade union' and insert 'all employees'.—[Mr.Stanley.]
§ Question put, That the amendment to the proposed amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 187, Noes 200.1623
|Division No. 266.]||AYES||[10.35 p.m.|
|Arnold, Tom||Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Eyre, Reginald||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Fairbairn, Nicholas||Kitson, Sir Timothy|
|Baker, Kenneth||Farr, John||Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Beith, A. J.||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Knox, David|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lamont, Norman|
|Benyon, W.||Fookes, Miss Janet||Latham, Michael (Melton)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Lawrence,Ivan|
|Bitten, John||Fry, Peter||Lawson, Nigel|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Glyn, Dr Alan||Lloyd, Ian|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Goodhart, Philip||Loveridge, John|
|Brittan, Leon||Goodlad, Alastair||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Brotherton, Michael||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||MacCormick, Iain|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Gray, Hamish||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)|
|Burden, F. A.||Grist, Ian||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Grylls, Michael||Marten, Neil|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hall, Sir John||Mates, Michael|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mather, Carol|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mawby, Ray|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hampson, Dr Keith||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Hannam, John||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Clegg, Walter||Havers, Sir Michael||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Hawkins, Paul||Mills, Peter|
|Cope,John||Henderson, Douglas||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Cordle, John H.||Heseltine, Michael||Monro, Hector|
|Cormack, Patrick||Holland, Philip||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Crawford, Douglas||Hooson, Emlyn||Moore, John (Croydon C)|
|Crouch, David||Hordern, Peter||Morgan, Geraint|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Howell, David (Guildford)||Mudd, David|
|Drayson, Burnaby||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Durant, Tony||Hurd, Douglas||Neubert, Michael|
|Dykes, Hugh||Jessel, Toby||Newton, Tony|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Normanton, Tom|
|Elliott, Sir William||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Nott, John|
|Emery, Peter||Kershaw, Anthony||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Kimball, Marcus||Pardoe, John|
|Parkinson, Cecil||Skeet, T. H. H.||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Penhaligon, David||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Percival, Ian||Speed, Keith||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Raison, Timothy||Spence, John||Viggers, Peter|
|Rathbone, Tim||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Sproat, Iain||Wakeham, John|
|Reid, George||Stainton, Keith||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stanbrook, Ivor||Warren, Kenneth|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Stanley, John||Watt, Hamish|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)||Stradling Thomas, J.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Royle, Sir Anthony||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Sainsbury, Tim||Tebbit, Norman||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Temple-Morris, Peter||Younger, Hon George|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Shersby, Michael||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Silvester, Fred||Thompson, George||Mr. Richard Luce and|
|Sims, Roger||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)||Mr. Michael Roberts.|
|Allaun, Frank||Forrester, John||Marks, Kenneth|
|Anderson, Donald||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Marquand, David|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Freeson, Reginald||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Ashton, Joe||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||George, Bruce||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Atkinson, Norman||Gilbert, Dr John||Meacher, Michael|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Ginsburg, David||Mikardo, Ian|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Golding, John||Millan, Bruce|
|Bates, Alf||Gould, Bryan||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Gourlay, Harry||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Graham, Ted||Molloy, William|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Boardman, H.||Grant, John (Islington C)||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King|
|Booth, Albert||Grocott, Bruce||Noble, Mike|
|Bradley, Tom||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Ogden, Eric|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian|
|Buchan, Norman||Hatton, Frank||Padley, Walter|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hayman, Mrs Helene||Palmer, Arthur|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Heffer, Eric S.||Park, George|
|Campbell, Ian||Hooley, Frank||Parry, Robert|
|Canavan, Dennis||Horam, John||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cant, R. B.||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Prescott, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hughes, Rt Hon C (Anglesey)||Radice, Giles|
|Carter, Ray||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cartwright, John||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Hunter, Adam||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Coleman, Donald||Janner, Greville||Rooker, J. W.|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Roper, John|
|Corbett, Robin||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Cryer, Bob||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Selby, Harry|
|Davidson, Arthur||Judd, Frank||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Kaufman, Gerald||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Kelley, Richard||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kerr, Russell||Sillars, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Silverman, Julius|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lambie, David||Skinner, Dennis|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lamborn, Harry||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Lamond, James||Snape, Peter|
|Dempsey, James||Leadbitter, Ted||Spearing, Nigel|
|Doig, Peter||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dormand, J. D||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lomas, Kenneth||Stoddart, David|
|Dunn, James A.||Loyden, Eddie||Stott, Roger|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Luard, Evan||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Swain, Thomas|
|Edge, Geoff||McCartney, Hugh||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mackintosh, John P.||Tierney, Sydney|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Maclennan, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Tomlinson, John|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||McNamara, Kevin||Urwin, T. W.|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Madden, Max||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Flannery, Martin||Magee, Bryan||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ford, Ben||Mahon, Simon||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Ward, Michael||Whitlock, William||Woof, Robert|
|Watkins, David||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Watkinson. John||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Weetch, Ken||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Wellbeloved, James||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|White, Frank R. (Bury)||Wise, Mrs Audrey||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|White, James (Pollok)||Woodall, Alec||Mr. Thomas Cox.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 80, in page 14, line 22, leave out
'that person is a person to whom'.
No. 81, in page 14, line 23, at end add
'to the company or companies concerned'.
No. 82, in page 14, line 24, leave out from beginning to 'shall' in line 26 and insert—
'(1D) A Minister shall not make an order under this section before the end of a period of 3 months from the service of the preliminary notice.
(1E) A Minister shall not make such an order unless it appears to him that the company or companies concerned will not voluntarily furnish the information to him and to a representative of each relevant trade union.
(1F) Before making an order a Minister shall give the company or companies concerned and a representative of each relevant trade union an opportunity to make representations to him concerning it.
(1G) An order'.—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]
Amendment proposed: No. 83 in page 14, line 27, at end insert—
'(1H) The question what is a sector of an industry for the purposes of this section shall be determined by the Minister serving the preliminary notice.'.—[Mr. Kaufman.]
§ be taking the vote on Amendment No. 170?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We shall take the Division when we reach that amendment, if the guillotine has not fallen before then.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment proposed: No. 84, in page 14, line 28, leave out subsection (4).—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]
§ Mr. Mikardo
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have now moved on to a group of amendments beyond the group headed by Amendment No. 77. We had a firm undertaking that within that group there would be a separate vote on Amendment No. 177.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am sure that the hon. Member has been a Member of the House long enough to know that we do not jump all over the Notice Paper. Whenever we reach the appropriate number, we come to that amendment.
§ With Amendment No. 84 we are also taking Amendment No. 126, page 29, line 31, leave out Schedule 3.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 149, Noes 220.1627
|Division No. 267.]||AYES||[10.50 p.m.|
|Anderson, Donald||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Golding, John|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Deakins, Eric||Graham, Ted|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Delargy, Hugh||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Bates, Alf||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Grocott, Bruce|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dempsey, James||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Doig, Peter||Harper, Joseph|
|Boardman, H.||Duffy, A. E. P.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Booth, Albert||Dunn, James A.||Hatton, Frank|
|Bradley, Tom||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Hayman, Mrs Helene|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Eadie, Alex||Hooley, Frank|
|Buchanan, Richard||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Horam, John|
|Cant, R. B.||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Hughes, Rt Hon C (Anglesey)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Evans, John (Newton)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Cartwright, John||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Hunter, Adam|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Ford, Ben||Janner, Greville|
|Coleman, Donald||Forrester, John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Corbett, Robin||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Freeson, Reginald||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||George, Bruce||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Gilbert, Dr John||Judd, Frank|
|Davidson, Arthur||Ginsburg, David||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Lambie, David||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Tinn, James|
|Lamborn, Harry||Oakes, Gordon||Tomlinson, John|
|Lamond, James||Ogden, Eric||Urwin, T. W.|
|Leadbitter, Ted||O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Padley, Walter||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Palmer, Arthur||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Park, George||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Luard, Evan||Parry, Robert||Ward, Michael|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Watkinson, John|
|McCartney, Hugh||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Weetch, Ken|
|McCusker, H.||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Wellbeloved, James|
|MacFarquhar, Roderick||Roper, John||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Ross, William (Londonderry)||White, James (Pollok)|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Whitlock, William|
|Maclennan, Robert||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|McNamara, Kevin||Sillers, James||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Magee, Bryan||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Woodall, Alec|
|Mahon, Simon||Spriggs, Leslie||Woof, Robert|
|Marks, Kenneth||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulhnm)||Wrigglecworth, Ian|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Stoddart, David||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Stott, Roger|
|Meacher, Michael||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Mr. Laurie Pavitt and|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Tlerney, Sydney||Mr. J. D. Dormand.|
|Allaun, Frank||Fookes, Miss Janet||Luce, Richard|
|Arnold, Tom||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Ashton, Joe||Fry, Peter||MacCormick, Iain|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Macfariane, Neil|
|Atkinson, Norman||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)|
|Beith, A. J.||Glyn, Dr Alan||Madden, Max|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Goodhart, Philip||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Goodlad, Alastair||Marten, Neil|
|Benyon,W.||Gould, Bryan||Mates, Michael|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Mather, Carol|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Sower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Mawby, Ray|
|Bitten, John||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gray, Hamish||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Grist, Ian||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Bottomley, Peter||Grylls, Michael||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Hall, Sir John||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)|
|Bray, Or Jeremy||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Brittan, Leon||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter|
|Brotherton, Michael||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hampson, Dr Keith||Monro, Hector|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hannam,John||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Havers, Sir Michael||Moore, John (Croydon C)|
|Burden, F. A.||Hawkins, Paul||Morgan, Geraint|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Henderson, Douglas||Mudd, David|
|Campbell, Ian||Heseltine, Michael||Nelson, Anthony|
|Canavan,Dennis||Holland, Philip||Neubert, Michael|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hooson, Emlyn||Newton, Tony|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Noble, Mike|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Howell, David (Guildford)||Normanton, Tom|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Nott, John|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pardoe, John|
|Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Hurd, Douglas||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Cope,John||Jessel, Toby||Penhaligon, David|
|Cordle, John H.||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Percival, Ian|
|Cormack, Patrick||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prescott, John|
|Crawford, Douglas||Kelley, Richard||Raison, Timothy|
|Crouch, David||Kerr, Russell||Rathbone, Tim|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)|
|Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Kimball, Marcus||Reid, George|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Drayson, Burnaby||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Durant, Tony||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knight, Mrs Jill||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Edge, Geoff||Knox, David||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lamont, Norman||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Elliott, Sir William||Latham, Michael (Mellon)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Emery, Peter||Lawrence,Ivan||Booker, J. W.|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Lawson, Nigel||Rose, Paul B.|
|Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Litterick, Tom||Royle,Sir Anthony|
|Farr, John||Lloyd, Ian||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Loveridge, John||Sandelson, Neville|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Loyden, Eddie||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Selby, Harry||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)||Wakeham, John|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchln)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Shersby, Michael||Stokes, John||Watt, Hamish|
|Silvester, Fred||Stradling Thomas, J.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Sims, Roger||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Tebbit, Norman||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Skinner, Dennis||Temple-Morris, Peter||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Snape, Peter||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Spearing, Nigel||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Speed, Keith||Thompson, George||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Spence, John||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Younger, Hon George|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Sproat, Iain||Townsend, Cyril D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stainton, Keith||Tugendhat, Christopher||Mr. Ian Mikardo and|
|Stanley, John||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Mr. Giles Radice.|
|Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Viggars, Peter|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ It being Eleven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded pursuant to Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) and the Orders [12th May, 18th June and yesterday] to put forthwith the Questions on the amendments moved by a Member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Bill to be concluded at Eleven o'clock.
§ Mr. Speaker
May I explain to the House precisely what I am going to try to do to save the time of the House? The first amendment on which I have been asked to allow a Division is No. 177. I shall now put the Question on the Government amendments up to Amendment No. 177.