HC Deb 18 March 1975 vol 888 cc1440-1
8. Mr. Brittan

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the current working of the law on picketing.

Mr. Foot

The matter is still being considered.

Mr. Brittan

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House the assurance that whatever changes are made in the law of picketing he will not give pickets the legal right to stop people who do not wish to be stopped, as the overwhelming majority of people think that that is a right that should be reserved to the police?

Mr. Foot

The hon. Gentleman raises a question that we have discussed on previous Bills, and no doubt will discuss again when the Employment Protection Bill is before the House. I ask him to wait for that Bill. I hope that he will not have to wait very long.

Mr. Flannery

Does my right hon. Friend agree that many Labour Members are disturbed about the law on picketing? Does he further agree that any law which allows unlimited sentences, even life sentences, on pickets, is necessarily bad. and that it is time we had legislation that set right the entire law on picketing in favour of the pickets?

Mr. Foot

The important question that my hon. Friend raises is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is considering possibilities of a change in the law on the subject. The aspects of picketing law which would fall within the Employment Protection Bill are the provisions which would protect peaceful persuasion on picket lines. That is what we shall discuss when we have the Bill before us.

Mr. Hayhoe

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his answer to the supplementary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) will cause considerable alarm, because the implication is that the Employment Protection Bill will contain measures to change the law on picketing, and a change along the lines described earlier would be wholly unacceptable to many people?

Mr. Foot

My reply did not say what the hon. Gentleman attributes to me. I asked the House to await the Bill. I do not know why that should cause such alarm.

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