HC Deb 27 January 1976 vol 904 cc267-377

4.28 p.m.

Mr. James Prior (Lowestoft)

I beg to move, That, pursuant to the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, the House suggests to the Lords the following Amendments to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, leave out paragraph (a). Clause 2, page 1, line 22, at beginning insert— '( ) At end of section 5(3) of the principal Act (Rights of workers as to arbitrary or unreasonable exclusion or expulsion from trade union) there shall be inserted the words "providing that he has first sought to resolve the matter by using the internal procedures of the union or, where appropriate, the Trades Union Congress"' Section 5 of the principal Act of 1974 conferred two rights on a trade unionist or worker who was expelled or excluded from a union. First, it afforded him a legal right not to be excluded from membership or expelled from a trade union and second it gave him a remedy, namely a swift and efficient recourse to an industrial tribunal. This Amendment Bill seeks to delete those rights. That is one of the main objections that we have to the Bill.

We have discussed the matter on a number of occasions during the passage of the former Bill, and there is not now a great deal new to say. We are today suggesting an additional amendment.

The worker who is excluded or expelled from a union needs to have a properly constituted legal body to which he can submit his case. Throughout the course of this prolonged discussion we have taken that view. I can do no better than to quote Lord Salmon, who said in another place: If Section 5 is struck out of the Act, this would strike at the very root of a principle which all my life I have done my best to defend—the principle that the law of England will always protect individual liberty and the basic right of every man not to be unreasonably or arbitrarily prevented from earning his living. It protects every man against any threats or any abuse of power, from whatever quarter those threats may come."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10th March 1975; Vol. 358, c. 25–26.] I am sure that few hon. Members do not agree with that principle. Yet we are removing these rights from the worker and replacing them by a right to be heard by a committee set up by the TUC. There will not be many such cases because few workers are expelled or excluded from a union. When reading the Official Report of debates in another place I noticed that Lord Lee of Newton said that he had been responsible for many years for 30,000 workers, and that he had not come across any such case.

We have always believed that the best way of dealing with the matter would be by giving the right to a properly constituted tribunal. I do not suggest that this view is a reflection on the impartiality of the trade union movement. I believe that the movement is capable of doing the job and that it would do everything in its power to see that the committees were properly constituted and gave a fair and reasonable answer.

I should like to examine in more detail the great responsibilities which the committees will have. We are dealing with the livelihood of a person. We are not just taking away the right to work in one job and conferring on that person the right to work in another job. If a man loses his union ticket he has lost his livelihood. That is not comparable with the number of other cases where there is a right to go to a tribunal. For example, a man claiming unfair dismissal can take his case to a tribunal which decides on appropriate remedies. At least a man claiming unfair dismissal can get another job, but under this arrangement, if a man loses his job he loses his trade union ticket and is unable to get another job. To quote Lord George-Brown: You cannot tell a man in the docks, or a lorry driver in my own union who wants to operate as a container lorry driver, that he can go and take a lorry driver's job anywhere else. The answer is that he cannot do so. We are pushing things too hard and we are ending by being very mean to the fellows who want to protest."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10th March 1975; Vol. 358, c. 63.] We all remember the man who lost his union ticket and ended up scraping the barnacles off Brighton pier. That case might appear slightly entertaining now, but at the time it was serious.

Many moons ago the Secretary of State said that he recognised that a committee or tribunal would be necessary for this purpose. We believe that at that time he fully expected to introduce a proper provision into the Bill. But obviously the TUC told him that it felt that this was unnecessary. Some people, including Lord Houghton, think that for better or worse, the matter became caught up in the arrangements reached over the social contract.

We are left with a committee appointed by the TUC. That would be valuable to the individual after he had exhausted all internal union procedures, but first the review body would have to have discussions with the union and the individual to try to solve the problem. That could take a great deal of time. If there were no agreement the review body could recommend whether or not the individual was to be readmitted to the union. That would take an enormous length of time and there is no saying whether the union which had expelled or excluded the individual from membership would be prepared to take him back. There is no legal means of insisting that the union reinstates that person. That seems an unsatisfactory way of dealing with what is admittedly a small but important issue.

We have tried to meet the Government's previous objection to our proposals in this matter by inserting the words: providing that he has first sought to resolve the matter by using the internal procedures of the union or, where appropriate, the Trades Union Congress". We believe that that goes a long way to meet the objections of the Government and TUC to our previous amendment. We are now saying that all the procedures of the union have to be used first. Only after they have been completed could a case be taken to the tribunal. That would seem to us to be entirely satisfactory.

We have thought very deeply about this. We are not setting out to be offensive to the TUC or to the trade union movement, but we believe that there are deep principles involved.

We recognise that the closed shop is regarded by employers and unions and union members as being the way in which they can best conduct their affairs. It is above all for that reason that we believe that there should be proper legal opportunities open to the individual who feels that under those circumstances he can or might suffer.

The Conservative Party attaches enormous importance to these safeguards. They are safeguards of a minor nature but they are extremely important to any individual concerned. Moreover they are important in respect of the whole attitude that the House and the trade union movement adopt towards the rights of the individual.

I personally believe, and I am certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends agree with me, that the trade union movement will benefit from being seen to take into account at all times the particular rights of the individual and by not needing to look over its shoulder to see whether anyone is trying to undermine its position. It has now reached a position of power and influence so great that it is totally unnecessary for it to feel that by granting legal rights to an individual it is in any way undermining its position amongst its fellow workers or in society generally.

However, hon. Members have rather different duties to perform. We believe that this is a case where the individual's rights should be respected by giving him an opportunity to take a case to the tribunal if he so wishes. That was the whole basis of our amendment when we considered the 1974 Bill. This is a case not of the Government wishing to put the trade unions above the law, but their genuinely believing that the trade unions can organise these matters better than the law. All we are saying in our amendment is that we should let the processes go through but at the end of the day, if they do not succeed, we should then give the last resort right to the tribunal. I do not believe that we could have a more reasonable position than that. I do not believe that I could have put our case in more reasonable and less hysterical language than I have done.

By our amendments to the Bill we are genuinely trying to seek a position in which our industrial relations law can rest for a considerable period. I do not believe that these matters are best decided in this House. However, I do believe that we have a duty to keep a balance between what is right for the trade union movement and what is right for the individual.

Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that there are about 10 million people who are not members of trade unions and about a million trade unionists who are not affiliated to the TUC. Again, they do not even have the right at present to take a case to a TUC committee or review body. Therefore, they, too, are being denied any rights.

We believe that what we have written into our amendment is the very minimum required in the circumstances. I believe that my right hon. and hon. Friends will wish to support me on the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said in his very reasonable and persuasive speech, although the matters in issue here may not arise frequently they nevertheless raise questions of fundamental importance. There is no doubt that the repeal of Section 5 of the 1974 Act will remove from the individual worker a right of substance, indeed of dual substance—the declaration of principle in subsection (1) and the machinery to enforce it in subsection (3). There is no doubt that as a matter of law and practicality the protection thus afforded is, or can be, real and effective.

First, there is the right to put the case to an industrial tribunal, a body combining the qualities of objectivity, impartiality and experience in these and related matters. The extent and scope of its experience can be seen from the catalogue of its jurisdiction contained in paragraph 16 of Schedule 1 to the 1974 Act. If not like Sam Weller's knowledge of London—extensive and peculiar—it is at any rate extensive and specialised. Therefore, the declaration of such a tribunal must of itself be of value. However, it does not end there. It is no mere pious or abstract declaration taking effect only in the context of general well-meaning exhortation. On the contrary, it is a declaration to be adopted, observed, followed and implemented. If it is not so implemented, recourse can be had to the High Court and an injunction will issue under subsection (3). I have no doubt that these matters constitute an effective remedy.

On 9th December 1975 the Secretary of State said that it would be ineffective or inappropriate and a pyrrhic victory because One cannot expect a man to love his neighbour if the neighbour has set the dog on him."—[Official Report, 9th December 1975; Vol. 902, c. 246.] No doubt that is true. We cannot make people love their fellow men by judicial processes any more than we can do so by Acts of Parliament. However, the injured or threatened worker is not seeking a declaration of love. He is not asking for a guaranteed place in the affections of his fellow trade unionists. All he is asking for is the retention of his membership card. Although that may seem an earthy thing compared with the affection of his fellows, it is, after all, what counts.

With or without the love of his fellow workers, in a vast number of cases the membership card—their number will obviously increase with the spread of the closed shop principle—is a worker's passport to employment, the sine qua non of his capacity to earn his bread and butter and that of his family.

Therefore, it is no light act to take so real and valuable a protection from a worker when we are concerned with not only his union membership—an important thing in itself—but with his chances of livelihood. This is sought to be justified partly on the ground that the remedy will not be effective. However, as I have said, that is based on the false premise that the section seeks to enjoin love whereas it seeks only to ensure membership. No doubt many workers would prefer the disapprobation of the union hierarchy and of their fellow rank and file to the deprivation of their livelihood. A worker cannot resent his fellow members dissembling their love if they want to do so, but he can say that the law should not allow them to kick him downstairs.

It is said that this remedy is not necessary because of the common law right and because of the trade union tribunal. With regard to the common law rights, I counted up, I hope correctly, that during the Secretary of State's speech on 9th December he said no fewer than seven times that there was no derogation from common law rights. For the right hon. Gentleman, with all his vivid and varied vocabulary, to say the same thing seven times was in itself an exceptional circumstance. However, he did not identify the rights or analyse their sufficiency. It is true that he made one very significant admission. He admitted their insufficiency to the extent that they do not extend to exclusion—they deal only with expulsion. The reason for their inadequacy lies in the nature and limitation of the common law rights. They are rights not specifically arising in a trade union context. They are rights, in effect, deriving from the British notions of fair play and the concept of natural pustice—namely, that once a man is admitted to the sodality of his fellows, he should not forfeit those rights without a fair hearing and regard to the rules. The case of Lee versus Showman's Guild in 1952 established that a domestic tribunal, judging a case of expulsion under its rules, must observe the principles of natural justice and may not condemn a man unheard. If it misinterprets the rules, as a matter of law the courts can correct it. But that is as far as it goes.

If the Government's proposal to repeal Section 6 is adopted, the rules will be wholly and solely the concern of the unions. Therefore, they can be drafted to permit expulsion for any cause, however arbitrary it may seem, with no remedy for the expelled member except a hearing in accordance with those same rules. The common law will not give adequate protection if recourse to the tribunal is not open.

The other suggestion to which my right hon. Frend referred concerned the trade union committee or tribunal. I see two basic weaknesses here. The first is enforcement. There are no powers of enforcement. Let us assume that a trade union inquiry found in favour of the individual and the union concerned refused to implement that finding. That is not an extravagant hypothesis. That would be a pyrrhic victory, to adopt the Secretary of State's language.

The second weakness is this: what guarantee is there that a trade union non-statutory tribunal would come to the same conclusion—on the same facts as an objective statutory tribunal? It depends on the rules and procedure which it adopts, and as to that we know nothing. It depends who will be the legal authority appointed to preside, and as to that we know nothing either.

In my view the Trades Union Congress, admirable as it is in its functions, is not a body for trying issues or persons. We do not want to go back to the concept of private courts. Many years ago I played a modest part in getting rid of private courts on the management side of industry when I assisted in putting the Restrictive Trade Practices Act on the statute book against the opposition of the then Labour Opposition. We got rid of private courts. I should not wish to revert to them in this other context now.

The right rôle for the trade unions is undoubtedly that spelt out in the proviso to the amendment: to make resort to union procedures a condition precedent to seeking an enforceable declaration from an industrial tribunal. That is obviously sensible. In effect, it is an illustration of the general truth that no one should go to law except as a last and necessary resort and until he has exhausted all possibilities of conciliation and accommodation. The amendment puts that in clear and practical terms.

To deny the citizen his basic rights on the ground that such matters must be reserved for private courts and closed corporations is not the language of democracy or the rule of law. It is the negation of freedom and fairness. As such it should be resisted.

Mr. Esmond Bulmer: (Kidderminster)

I support my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) in his plea for natural justice. I am sure that it will be accepted on both sides of the House that no man should be judge and jury in his own defence. Clearly the trade unions, by insisting that the law be enacted in this form, are in danger of doing themselves a grave disservice and of laying themselves open to the accusation of acting secretly behind closed doors and even of setting up secret courts.

I want to put one point to the Secretary of State. Recently the Home Secretary thought it right to bring forward proposals for dealing with an analogous situation in the police force, because many people—not least Labour Members of Parliament—thought it wrong that police officers should investigate complaints against their colleagues. The Daily Telegraph reported: Mr. Jenkins has sensibly decided that the independent element should be introduced at a much earlier stage. His scheme is complex, but it is based on the establishment of a strong independent commission which, it would appear, would have the function of deciding, in the light of preliminary investigations by the police themselves, whether any complaint should be pressed to the point of disciplinary proceedings or simply dismissed. Both members of the public and police officers would have the right to appeal against the decisions of this commission, and such appeals would normally be considered by one of the commission's members who had not hitherto been involved in the case. Most important of all, an appellant, whether from the police or from the general public, could apply to the commission for the right to have disciplinary proceedings heard by a tribunal including two independent commissioners as well as an officer from a different force. On the face of it, Mr. Jenkins has struck a fair balance between two essential principles. His scheme offers some protection to the police against the badgering to which they are increasingly subject, but it would also import a real element of independence into the judgment of police behaviour. To import a real clement of independence into the judgment of trade union behaviour is what we seek to do.

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, East)

I rise to follow the excellent speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer) because I share his doubts about the real independence of the committees which will be set up by the TUC.

Like my hon. Friend, I am mystified how the Government can speak with one voice on the Police Bill, on which they consistently argue for a genuine independent element to be inserted into tribunals hearing cases which will decide the livelihoods of police officers, and when they come to this Bill can speak with a completely opposite voice and deny that such genuine independence should be inserted into tribunals hearing and deciding whether a man's livelihood should be preserved because of a dispute with a trade union. It is an astonishing example of double standards. I ask the Secretary of State and his right hon. Friends to consider the extraordinary juxtaposition of those two arguments, which are being put forward on two Bills currently being presented by the Government.

I have been serving on the Police Bill Committee, where I have heard Labour Members, one after the other, use almost the identical arguments deployed by Conservative Members during the long debates on this part of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill. In particular, Government supporters in the Police Bill Committee have said that they wish to cast no aspersions on the fairness of the police but they think it essential that an independent body, which is seen to be independent, should hear cases which decide the future of police officers.

How can the Secretary of State reconcile what he will no doubt say and has been saying for many months with what the Home Secretary has said? I do not believe that he can do so. Are we to have one law for the trade unions and another for the police and everyone else? These double standards cannot be justified. The fact that any attempt to justify them is to be made is, to me, ultimate proof that the right hon. Gentleman has taken on the rôle of Dr. Faustus and has sold his soul to the trade union movement. I strenuously oppose the line that he has taken throughout our debates.

5.0 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Michael Foot)

I have recognised myself in many rôles but not in that of Dr. Faustus. However, if I am Dr. Faustus, I do not recognise the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) as Helen of Troy.

As the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said, we have discussed these matters several times before. Our recent debates go far to justify the claim that there is nothing new under the sun. Despite the efforts of some hon. Members to say something fresh on the subject, it might be difficult. I shall do my best, on arguments not dissimilar from those that we have had before, to give answers that are fresh in some degree. But it is inevitable that we cover much of the same ground.

I must interpolate, in the mildest way possible in view of the extremely moderate tone adopted by the right hon. Member for Lowestoft, that the more this debate is similar to our previous debates, the less justifiable it becomes under the procedure of the Parliament Act and the proposals that we make here now. I am not trying to limit debate, but obviously those procedures were designed to enable the Bill to go to the House of Lords in a form that covered the previous discussions and did not extend beyond them. I hope that that can be taken into account as well. However, I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman has sought to initiate this discussion in a way that promotes the fewest animosities. As a matter of temperament and for other reasons, I naturally welcome such an approach.

I entirely agree that the fact that only a few people might be involved does not mitigate the importance of the principle. If injustice were to be done to a small number, it is right that the House should take that into account. It was John Lilburne who said that what could happen to anyone could happen to everyone. That is the basis of our democracy, preached by the Levellers long before it was understood by most of the rest of the community. I certainly subscribe to it and I do not question that it is right for the House to have spent a long time on this discussion, because it might involve the liberties of individuals.

We believe that our way of protecting those rights is better than what the Conservatives propose, particularly because we have had so recent an example of their attempt to protect rights by those methods. We think that, so far from protecting the individual, they seriously damaged those rights. The right to combine effectively is also an individual right; Conservative Members sometimes misunderstand that. It is the grave invasion of that individual right to combine effectively, incorporated in the 1971 Act, which has led to all the discussions that we have had since and which, we believe, has injured the atmosphere in many of these relationships, and perhaps the position of individual trade unionists as well as the general interest of the trade union movement. We therefore ought to repudiate the existing situation on that account.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)

The Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 has been on the statute book for 16 months. Can the Secretary of State give us even 16 examples of how, in those 16 months, Section 5 has hindered collective bargaining agreements or the rights of individuals to organise or not to organise?

Mr. Foot

As I said at the beginning of our debates, we always thought that cases might arise under Section 5; that was why we wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft has said a number of times that there have not been many cases and, therefore, we should not worry. There have, however, been some cases, I think, and there could be others. Some cases have been mentioned in the House. I do not want to pronounce on them and, indeed, I have no right to do so at this time, but that provision would allow such cases to arise and we think that there is a better way of dealing with the matter.

However, that is not our only reason for opposing the amendment. It is necessary to study these matters clearly, because Conservative right hon. and hon. Members, including the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), have not addressed their minds to some of the other aspects to which we have referred. I certainly congratulate the Opposition on having produced the amendment in a somewhat different form. It thus takes into account one, but only one, of our objections to Section 5 of the 1974 Act. By doing so the Opposition come somewhere near justifying their use of the suggested procedure under the Parliament Act, if it is to be invoked, by claiming that they have a series of new issues to raise.

But I cannot persist with these compliments too far, since in one particular the Opposition continue to table amendments in a form which they know to be unacceptable for good legal reasons. Our fundamental objection to Section 5 is that it singles out unions and their members for special liability in law rather than relying on common law and available non-statutory remedies.

The reason why I referred to the non-erosion of the common law so frequently previously was, no doubt, the frequent interruptions on that same subject and the frequent charges which have been made. But I am glad to have the confirmation of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East that what I said seven times is correct. That is of great assistance in repudiating charges which might come from other quarters. At least they will not be repeated in this House now that I have the right hon. and learned Gentleman's authority for saying that what I have said seven times is right.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that there was not an erosion of the common law rights as such, but what I did not agree with was his assessment of its significance, which was the more important aspect of the matter.

Mr. Foot

I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point. I was accepting, gratefully I hope, the first part of what he said, because the charge was that we had eroded common law rights. I am gratified to have the confirmation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who knows so much about these matters, that that is not the case. I differ from the right hon. and learned Gentleman over the interpretation of what follows but I am glad to have his confirmation that what I have said seven times—now, I suppose, nine times—is true.

Our fundamental objection, as I said, is that Section 5 singles out unions and their members for special liability in law rather than relying on common law and non-statutory remedies which are available, and hence brings in enforcement procedures and sanctions which have proved unworkable and disruptive in practice. We want to help the individual who has a genuine grievance against a union, not just to provide him with a paper remedy which might worsen his chances of obtaining or keeping union membership or a job.

Secondly, we are genuinely concerned about the drafting of Section 5, particularly subsection (5). I must reiterate for the tenth time that there is no question of this subsection being needed to preserve common law rights or of its repeal restricting those rights. Express statutory authority would be needed to diminish common law rights in any way.

Our objection to the subsection has nothing to do with the common law position. It relates to the unwanted side effects of the drafting upon legal immunities for action in restraint of trade which have existed since 1871.

Briefly, the danger is that the statement in subsection (5), that Nothing in this section or section 2(5) above shall prejudice … the common law rights of a person will undermine the legal immunity given by Section 2(5) to trade union members in respect of purposes of their union that are in restraint of trade, and may undermine the legality and enforceability of union rules that are in restraint of trade. This could remove long-standing immunities across a far wider field than actions at common law concerning expulsion from a trade union, which in any case are based on other grounds for challenging a union's rules or their application. We believe that this is an example of the way in which the Opposition have neglected the other rights which they may be invading by the remedies that they seek to suggest.

An additional factor, apart from the deficiencies of Section 5, which now has to be taken into account is the TUC's willingness to set up an independent review committee with a legally qualified chairman to consider exclusion and expulsion complaints. To retain statutory machinery on top of that would be condemning the machinery and the TUC's genuine efforts to meet what it recognises as a legitimate point of concern before that machinery has had a chance to prove itself in action.

I cannot easily understand the Opposition's refusal to try out new measures, particularly in view of our repeated assurances that we shall take alternative action if that proves to be necessary—our measures, in place of those which the Opposition operated and which proved defective in practice but which they now want to revive.

Mr. Patrick Mayhew (Royal Tunbridge Wells)

What is the answer to the point that has been repeatedly made about the divergence between the Government's policy in this regard and their policy with regard to the Police Bill?

Mr. Foot

I shall come to that point shortly, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will permit me.

What I wish to establish first is our attitude to the other objections to this Section 5 as the Opposition wish to reinstate it, our objections on some other grounds, and our regret that the Opposition have not understood the importance of the proposal which the TUC has made. I shall make a few comments on that and on the comments made by other speakers in the debate.

What the Opposition now propose is on one sense worse than the position reached when the Bill was previously considered. Let me remind Opposition Members that both Houses of Parliament had accepted that Section 5 should be repealed without replacement. That is the constitutional position at present. The Opposition no longer appear to recognise the force of the Donovan Commission's support for a union-based tribunal to consider complaints. I am not quite sure whether the reference to "internal procedures" in their amendment is meant to refer to the exact form of the tribunal which the TUC is proposing.

Naturally, I welcome the recognition that union procedures should be used. I trust that the Opposition no longer believe that they would unnecessarily delay matters. However, can they not recognise that adding a statutory complaints procedure capable of further appeal to the High Court on top of union complaints and appeals machinery and any appeals body of last resort which the TUC may set up; and in addition to common law remedies is inviting further appeals against the union procedures decisions from individuals who have not got their way, and that this is at least a reflection on the way that the unions and the TUC would go about conducting their affairs?

It is no good saying that if the union machinery functions properly, there will be no appeals to industrial tribunals or the courts. The insistence on a statutory right of further appeal will produce the very situation in which an individual may find himself permanently excluded from membership, not only because of resentment by unions, but, more probably, because the individual involved will be looking beyond the union machinery to his statutory rights and will not try to reach any agreed solution. The Opposition have not raised any new consideration in debate on these clauses that has not been fully debated previously or that calls for measures different from those we have proposed and what has been accepted by both Houses of Parliament.

5.15 p.m.

The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East started his reference to the independent committee which the TUC is proposing by saying that he had thought that we had reached some agreement originally that we were going to introduce the form of legislative or legal tribunal that he would have preferred and that the TUC had objected and that I had merely bowed to what the TUC said. That is not the situation at all. There has never been any concealment from the House about what occurred in the whole of these discussions. That is why we have read out quite clearly the propositions with which the TUC came forward. The Government have always taken the view, as I have, partly as a result of what was said in the Donovan Report, that in closed shop situations there have to be some protections, and we wanted to look for the protection which would be most likely to succeed.

Of course, one possibility is the establishment of a legal tribunal. No one disputes that. However, it has all the disadvantages to which I have already referred, and it had great disadvantages in the eyes of the TUC. Therefore, we urged upon the TUC that it should consider the matter afresh in the general discussions that we had.

We made it clear throughout our discussions that we were not negotiating with the TUC in any sense but were having discussions with it and that what would be decided would be decided by Parliament. However, as a result of those discussions the TUC came forward with its proposal for establishing this tribunal, this independent review body, of its own. When the TUC made the proposal, it was certainly not withdrawing some right. One hon. Member spoke as though we were considering here the TUC wishing to establish some secret court and withdrawing some right that previously existed.

What the TUC came forward with was a proposal not that each trade union would be judge in its own cause, in its own position and its own dispute. The trade union movement as a whole is to establish a review body to survey the activities of different unions.

Anyone who knows anything about the trade union movement will know that for historic reasons the individual unions have been quite jealous in protecting their individual procedures and their individual position. None the less, in view of the Donovan Report and all the discussions that have taken place subsequently and the desire of the present Government that we should have some protection in this field, the TUC came forward with a proposal not for saying that each union should be judge in its own cause, but to ensure that there was some trade union surveillance over the whole scene. The more that that surveillance becomes established and the more it is known to exist, the more it will ensure that these cases, few as they are already, will be fewer still.

Certainly it was in that spirit of trying to protect the position of the individual as well as protecting the position of the trade union movement as a whole that the TUC made its proposition. I believe that the House would be wise to accept that proposition in the spirit in which it was made. It certainly was not made in any grudging, mean or restrictive manner. It was made by the General Council and approved by the Congress because they thought that it was the right approach to the matter in the interests of freedom.

Sir Raymond Gower (Barry)

Does the right hon. Gentleman concede, however, that there are some advantages with a body which is more detached and less involved over a body set up by the TUC? Can he not see some disadvantages here, even with the best will in the world? I do not make the comparison with the Police Bill that some of my hon. Friends have made, because there is another element there—the public. However, I feel that the right hon. Gentleman is underestimating the advantages of a legal tribunal that is detached and not involved or biased.

Mr. Foot

I understand the hon. Gentleman's case. I am not saying that there is no case for a legal tribunal. I accept that there is a balance of argument.

To reply to the analogy of the police, I think that the hon. Gentleman has hit upon exactly the right point. The police deal with the public at large and the application of the law at large. It would be a ridiculous state of affairs to argue that there should not be any method of independent review in such cases. I entirely agree with my hon. Friends who have been arguing that case in the Committee on which the hon. Member for Thanet, East has been sitting.

We are here concerned with a union dealing with its members. That is very different from the police dealing with the public under the law of the land. It is a misapprehension to try to compare the two procedures.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman in the sense that no one is disputing that this is a proper matter for debate and argument. If it is found after this procedure has been set up under our proposals that it does not prove satisfactory in protecting the individual, Parliament will have to reconsider the matter.

I have never denied the original proposition on which all these debates have been conducted. It is a proposition that is reinforced by the relevant passages in the Donovan Report. I accept that if closed shops are to grow, some protection must be provided. The protection which the Opposition have sought to provide and which they sought to place in the 1971 Act—I notice that the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) shakes his head, but if he reads Section 65 of the 1971 Act he will see the origin of Section 5 which is now incorporated in the Bill. It has a direct lineal descent. We do not think that it was a successful method. We believe that there is a grave disadvantage because these proposals are now tied up with the operation of that Act.

The operation of the 1971 Act and the encouragement that was given to breakaway unions under it gave an impetus to the establishment of closed shops. It may be that more closed shops are being established because of the experience of many people under the 1971 Act. We are rejecting the legal machinery apparatus which has been proposed under Section 65 and retained under Section 5 in a somewhat different form, and which would still be retained by the amendment even though it provides a further qualification. We are saying that there is a better method and that it cannot ensure merely that when a case arises, the matter shall go to the independent review body.

It may well be that a person who takes his case to the tribunal will have a better chance of reinstatement if he wins his case than he would have under any of the procedures proposed by the Opposition. A complainant suffers the loss of his job. The procedure that we wish to have adopted would offer a better chance to more individuals to get back their jobs. In such cases the TUC would say "We think this chap was wrongly treated and we, the trade union movement, recommend to one of our unions that it reconsiders the matter and takes back the person who has suffered the injury". We think that this method gives some of the small number of people involved a better chance of reinstatement.

We do not put forward this proposal so that the matter shall be neglected. We do not say that this debate is not of importance. We say that the methods suggested by the Opposition, having been tried and having failed because they involve a series of other implications, should be rejected and that we should give this procedure a fair chance. Let us not start off on the basis that the TUC is approaching the matter in a grudging spirit. In fact, the TUC is seeking to provide a genuine remedy for individuals who might be unjustly treated. It is on those grounds that we think it right for the House to accept our proposal not merely in the interest of trade unionism but in the interests of freedom itself.

Sir Raymond Gower

I take this opportunity to add to my intervention. I submit that ultimately any individual in almost any sphere should have the right of recourse to an impartial tribunal, define it as the right hon. Gentleman will. With the best will in the world, I cannot accept that the TUC can devise a system which gives the complete detachment and impartiality which is so desirable.

Let us remember that these are delicate cases. By their very nature they are likely to cause matters to be distorted, possibly even in the minds of those who set up this machinery. I plead with the right hon. Gentleman not to imagine that this is a sphere in which some separate system is justifiable.

I remember well the action that was taken by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends to get rid of what I felt were in many ways most undesirable private courts which obtained not only in certain industries on the management side, but in certain distributive trades. They involved the enforcement of covenants and matters of that kind. I thought that their removal was a great step forward. It is truly regrettable that the Government have the remarkable idea that there is one sphere in which the broad principles of a statutory independent tribunal shall not penetrate. They seem to take the view that there is this sphere alone in which some other procedure must obtain. They believe that this is the one sphere in which we can safely leave the individual to a separate procedure.

I do not think that that is correct. A citizen of this country should be able to have recourse to the courts in all respects. The individual should have that final right. Whatever their failings, our courts have established standards which have been admired internationally.

Mr. Patrick Mayhew

I cannot hide my disappointment at the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman sought to answer the point raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer) and Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken), the point of which I reminded him by means of an intervention. When the right hon. Gentleman came to deal with the matter, it was only to say that inquiries into complaints against the police and inquiries of the type we are considering in the trade union context are quite different. He said that inquiries into complaints against the police were different because they involved a policeman alleged to have done wrong in the course of administering the law of the land to an ordinary member of the public. I do not see that the distinction is fundamental or even important.

In each case we are concerned with an investigation into an alleged wrong. There is, indeed, the distinction that in a trade union inquiry of the sort with which we are dealing the wrong may very well be infinitely more serious than many wrongs alleged to have been suffered by an individual complaining against the police. In the trade union context the wrong often amounts to an individual losing his ability to earn his living.

I shall explore briefly the nature of the Government's argument concerning the police that they are pushing forward today. They say that they do not make any aspersions against the integrity of police officers, still less against the integrity of senior police officers who investigate such complaints. But they think that on the whole justice will be better seen to be done if an independent tribunal is substituted for the present arrangements.

That is what is wrong with the Government's argument. Under the present police procedure, in most cases a senior police officer, often a chief constable, is brought in from a totally different force. But there is a distinction when he comes to make his finding and recommendation. If he makes a disciplinary recommendation, it is in practice treated as binding on the police officer who is being investigated. In the case that is now before us, there is to be no sanction if a union into which the TUC has made an investigation, under a procedure of which we as yet know nothing, disregards a finding and—to put the matter vulgarly—if the trade union against which a finding is made puts up two fingers to the TUC. If that happens, there is nothing that can be done.

5.30 p.m.

What is wrong with the right hon. Gentleman's argument in rejecting our proposals is that the Gvernment's attitude is inconsistent. When dealing with the police their view is "One cannot rely on the procedure affecting the police, however strong our confidence in their integrity." In this case they take the view "We can rely on the TUC to set up its own procedure and to operate it effectively."

The Secretary of State was also defective in his argument that our proposals should be rejected because they tended to make the trade unions a special case. Such a procedure, he said, does not apply anywhere else. Yet if the procedure does not work, the Government will, he says, themselves intervene. Indeed, the TUC procedure itself will make the unions a special case. In this respect, too, the right hon. Gentleman's argument falls flat.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East was right to say that there was much reminiscent of St. Faustus in the position of the Secretary of State. But I believe that the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that the trade unions had not introduced the procedure in a grudging, reluctant, or restrictive way. They have no need to do so: they already have what they want and they are only concerned to put a cosmetic gloss on the procedure.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

I wish to take up the analogy that has been drawn between the proposed procedure and that adopted when investigating complaints against the police. The Secretary of State for Employment said that the difference was that the police complaint procedure involved the public, whereas the trade unions would be dealing with complaints made by members.

As I understand the situation, Section 5 of the 1974 Act relates to the situation of persons who may be excluded or expelled from membership. The end result for the individual may be that he will find himself no longer a member of a trade union, and in that sense he will become a member of the public at large. The only difference is that because of action taken, he may lose his livelihood.

No doubt the view one will get from reading the Secretary of State's remarks in Hansard tomorrow will be that the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about possible resentment caused within the unions if these matters cannot be handled within the TUC procedure and internally within the unions, with an opportunity for the matter to be taken further to an independent tribunal. By the same token, is it not possible that a police officer may resent the fact that a member of the public can go to independent arbitration in pursuing a complaint? Therefore, should we not expect an individual policeman to be somewhat resentful vis-à-vis an ordinary member of the public who may take advantage of an independent review?

We have not yet seen the TUC review body and we do not know its terms of reference. That body may work in exactly the same way as the Labour Party National Executive Committee works when it reviews cases of members who might be expelled. So far as I can understand the analogy, such an investigation might be restricted to cases concerned with whether the rules have been operated. The crucial difference arises in cases where, as a matter of natural justice, a person accepts the existence of union membership agreements. However, Section 5, considered with the impact of union membership agreements, creates dangers for the individual.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

I wish to make a brief intervention. I wish to apologise to the Minister since I missed the earlier part of his speech.

I have spent the greater part of my life in personnel work and I regard these provisions as among the most important we have discussed in the House. I am sorry to see so few hon. Members present, particularly on the Government side, when we are discussing matters touching the liberty and livelihood of millions of people.

If I understand aright the arguments advanced by the Secretary of State for Employment they amount to the plea that where possible the Government wish to give a right of redress to ordinary people. We know that similar considerations arise in the Police Bill. In that instance the Government are going to great lengths to see that justice is seen to be done. We are here concerned with an even more important consideration—namely, a man's livelihood, which of course may put at risk the interests of his wife and children.

It appears that the Secretary of State believes that trade unions are more important than the barons of old who had the right to be charged in their own House. That situation—perhaps alas—has been changed. Now the new barons are the trade unions. They are to be above the law and are to be judge and jury in their own cause. It is absurd that at the end of this whole façade we shall find that there is no redress against a recalcitrant union. What happens when after the case is taken up by the TUC, the union is found to be wanting? So far as I can see, nothing will happen. It is rather like being seen by the Chief Whip.

I am deply disappointed that the Secretary of State for Employment, who has been such a great defender of the people's liberties, has taken the present course.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Brentford and Isleworth)

Of all the provisions of a very bad Bill the present provision, which seeks to remove a vital safeguard of individual liberty, is probably the worst, the most squalid and the meanest.

In our many debates on this subject no case in logic, in practice, or in fairness has been made out for eliminating the right of appeal to an independent tribunal against arbitrary exclusion or expulsion from a trade union. The overwhelming weight of argument supports our amendment. This has been true of our past debates and it is equally true today.

Arguments have been linked with the complaints procedure in respect of the police. My hon. Friends the Members for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer) and Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) have made interesting contributions on that topic. The analogy with the police is fair, and it demonstrates that different standards are being pursued by the Government in the two kinds of complaint. It is indefensible for Her Majesty's Ministers to adopt such an attitude.

The Secretary of State acknowledged the weighty contribution by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). I wish that the Secretary of State would listen to that contribution and act upon it. My right hon. and learned Friend's words were of immense importance in relation to common law rights and natural justice. His contribution buttresses the views expressed in another place by Lord Salmon who, in an extremely powerful speech, said: It is impossible to consider Section 5 in isolation. If Section 6 goes"— Section 6 will be the subject of the next motion that we shall be considering— the rules of a Communist dominated trade union—if ever such a union came into being—could be amended to allow the Executive to do what it likes, irrespective of the rules of natural justice. That was the point made by my right hon. and learned Friend. Indeed the repeal of Section 6 might well be regarded as a mandate to make such an Amendment. If this should happen, the common law, in my considered opinion would be entirely powerless to protect the working people of this country against oppression. Those words come from one of the most senior and well-respected legal luminaries in the land. In the face of that most powerful statement, the Government are proceeding without even attempting to argue their position. All they have done is to repeat again the rather formalised drafting which, no doubt, has been prepared by some backroom legal worker. No doubt it sets out the position with accuracy, but in only the most limited sense and without appreciating the subsantial issues involved.

Lord Salmon concluded: I beg your Lordships not to allow Section 5 to be swept away,"— If he were here, he would be asking hon. Members to support our suggested amendment— because it is in the end the only effective protection which the ordinary man on the shop floor would have in the circumstances I have postulated. If it goes, it could well herald the beginning of the end of individual liberty".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10th March 1975; Vol. 358, c. 28–29.] These are observations which cannot be lightly set aside. I am sorry that the Secretary of State and the Government have not been prepared to find a way of meeting the reasonable point of view put in this House and outside, a view which has attracted much support from people of other parties and of none.

The Secretary of State criticised the fact that arguments on this matter were being repeated, but surely it is not unreasonable for us to repeat arguments which we believe to be soundly based and very important. The Government have managed about turns in other matters. Why can they not do an about turn on this issue?

The Secretary of State said that the right to combine effectively was involved. As ever, he misrepresented the 1971 Act by saying that it jeopardised that right. He is not sustaining the right to combine, but the right for individuals to be compelled to combine. If, having joined in combination with others, they are then arbitrarily expelled, they will have no right of independent appeal. The right to appeal to an independent tribunal has existed in its present form for 18 months. It has not been used very often, but lack of use is no argument for its elimination.

Experience has taught us a much more important lesson. The existence of this right has not led to the difficulties forecast by the Secretary of State in such emotive terms in earlier debates. The dire consequences which he forecast with such certainty have not happened. The Government were wrong. Why do they not have the spunk to admit their error and to accept the amendment?

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Foot

Lord Salmon's remarks will be dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on the next amendment. They refer more particularly to that amendment. However, I should not like the occasion to pass with anyone imagining that the Government accept what Lord Salmon said.

We think that he used hysterical language, and the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) confirmed that when he referred to Lord Salmon talking about individual liberty being destroyed in this country if this protection were not sustained. The hon. Member then had to admit that this supposed protection had been in existence for only 18 months. Presumably individual liberties had been in jeopardy before that.

We are not restoring a position which is unknown to the law and liberties of this country. We are restoring a situation which prevailed before 1971. It is a hysterical language to say that individual liberty was in jeopardy all that time because this form of tribunal inherited from the 1971 Act was not in operation. We are not merely restoring the situation; we are making one notable addition in the interests of freedom. We are adding the independent review body.

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)

We are not making any such addition. Parliament is not making the addition. We are living in hope that an outside body will do so.

Mr. Foot

The hon. Member's hopes would already have been realised if it had not been for the interference of another place. The body would already have been established.

The Government are not proposing any derogation from the liberties of this country which existed before 1971. We are living in the hope and expectation that we shall soon have—and we have undertaken to secure—the addition of an independent review body established by the trade union movement. It will be the same kind of body as that suggested in the Donovan Report.

The trade union movement adopted many of the Report's suggestions of its own accord during the two or three years following its publication. A proposal was made in the Report similar to that which the trade union movement proposes to adopt as an additional protection and precaution. In the light of that situation, anyone who uses the kind of language used by Lord Salmon is misleading the people of this country in a grotesque manner, and even eminent lawyers in another place should be more careful of their language.

Mr. Prior

I think that it was Solzhenitsyn who said about this country recently: It is not your freedom I mind, but the way you surrender it step by step. This is exactly what we have been doing over the past few years. If the Secretary of State thinks that the position in Industrial

trial relations in this country is the same as it was a few years ago, he is not living in the world in which he should be living. Basic individual liberties are affected in this matter.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 254, Noes 280.

Division No. 37.] AYES [5.50 p.m.
Adley, Robert Freud, Clement McAdden, Sir Stephen
Aitken, Jonathan Fry, Peter McCrindle, Robert
Alison, Michael Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. McCusker, H.
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Gardiner, George (Reigate) Macfarlane, Neil
Arnold, Tom Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) MacGregor, John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Awdry, Daniel Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Baker, Kenneth Glyn, Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Banks, Robert Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Madel, David
Bell, Ronald Goodhart, Philip Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Goodhew, Victor Marten, Neil
Benyon, W. Goodlad, Alastair Mather, Carol
Berry, Hon Anthony Gorst, John Maude, Angus
Biffen, John Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Biggs-Davison, John Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Mawby, Ray
Blaker, Peter Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Body, Richard Gray, Hamish Mayhew, Patrick
Boscawen, Hon Robert Griffiths, Eldon Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Peter Grist, Ian Mills, Peter
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hall, Sir John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Braine, Sir Bernard Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Moate, Roger
Brittan, Leon Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Molyneaux, James
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Hampson, Dr Keith Monro, Hector
Brotherton, Michael Hannam, John Montgomery, Fergus
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bryan, Sir Paul Hastings, Stephen Morgan, Geraint
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Havers, Sir Michael Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Budgen, Nick Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bulmer, Esmond Hayhoe, Barney Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Burden, F. A. Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mudd, David
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hicks, Robert Neave, Airey
Carlisle, Mark Higgins, Terence L. Nelson, Anthony
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Holland, Philip Neubert, Michael
Churchill, W. S. Hooson, Emlyn Newton, Tony
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hordern, Peter Normanton, Tom
Clark, William (Croydon S) Howell, David (Guildford) Nott, John
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Onslow, Cranley
Clegg, Walter Hurd, Douglas Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Cockcroft, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Osborn, John
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Cope, John Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Paisley, Rev Ian
Cormack, Patrick James, David Parkinson, Cecil
Costain, A. P. Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Pattie, Geoffrey
Crouch, David Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Penhaligon, David
Crowder, F. P. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Percival Ian
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Jopling, Michael Pink, R, Bonner
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kaberry, Sir Donald Price, David (Eastleigh)
Drayson, Burnaby Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Prior, Rt Hon James
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kershaw, Anthony Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Dunlop, John Kilfedder, James Raison, Timothy
Durant, Tony King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rathbone, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John King, Tom (Bridgwater) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kitson, Sir Timothy Rees-Davies, W. R.
Elliott, Sir William Knight, Mrs Jill Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Emery, Peter Knox, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Eyre, Reginald Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lane, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Fairgrieve, Russell Langford-Holt, Sir John Ridsdale, Julian
Fell, Anthony Latham, Michael (Melton) Rifkind, Malcolm
Finsberg, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Lawson, Nigel Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Fookes, Miss Janet Lloyd, Ian Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Loveridge, John Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Fox, Marcus Luce, Richard Royle, Sir Anthony
Sainsbury, Tim Stanbrook, Ivor Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
St. John-Stevas, Norman Stanley, John Wakeham, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Steel, David (Roxburgh) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Stokes, John Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Shepherd, Colin Stradling Thomas, J. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Shersby, Michael Tapsell, Peter Wall, Patrick
Silvester, Fred Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart) Walters, Dennis
Sims, Roger Tebbit, Norman Weatherill, Bernard
Sinclair, Sir George Temple-Morris, Peter Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Skeet, T. H. H. Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Winterton, Nicholas
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Townsend, Cyril D. Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Speed, Keith Trotter, Neville Younger, Hon George
Spence, John Tugendhat, Christopher
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) van Straubenzee, W. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sproat, Iain Vaughan, Dr Gerard Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Stainton, Keith Viggers, Peter Mr. John Corrie.
Allaun, Frank Duffy, A. E. P. Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)
Anderson, Donald Dunnett, Jack John, Brynmor
Archer, Peter Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Armstrong, Ernest Eadie, Alex Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Ashley, Jack Edge, Geoff Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Ashton, Joe Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Judd, Frank
Atkinson, Norman Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Kaufman, Gerald
Bagier, Gordon A. T. English, Michael Kelley, Richard
Bain, Mrs Margaret Ennals, David Kerr, Russell
Bates, Alf Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Bean, R. E. Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Kinnock, Neil
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Lambie, David
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lamborn, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Lamond, James
Bishop, E. S. Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Flannery, Martin Leadbitter, Ted
Boardman, H. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Booth, Albert Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Ford, Ben Loyden, Eddie
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Forrester, John Luard, Evan
Bradley, Tom Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Freeson, Reginald McCartney, Hugh
Buchan, Norman Garrett, John (Norwich S) MacCormick, Iain
Buchanan, Richard Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) McElhone, Frank
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) George, Bruce MacFarquhar, Roderick
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Gilbert, Dr John McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Ginsburg, David Mackenzie, Gregor
Campbell, Ian Golding, John Mackintosh, John P.
Canavan, Dennis Gould, Bryan Maclennan, Robert
Cant, R. B. Gourlay, Harry McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Carmichael, Neil Graham, Ted McNamara, Kevin
Carter-Jones, Lewis Grant, George (Morpeth) Madden, Max
Cartwright, John Grant, John (Islington C) Magee, Bryan
Clemitson, Ivor Grocott, Bruce Mahon, Simon
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Coleman, Donald Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Marks, Kenneth
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Harper, Joseph Marquand, David
Concannon, J, D. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Conlan, Bernard Hart, Rt Hon Judith Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Corbett, Robin Hatton, Frank Maynard, Miss Joan
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hayman, Mrs Helene Meacher, Michael
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Crawford, Douglas Heffer, Eric S. Millan, Bruce
Cronin, John Henderson, Douglas Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Hooley, Frank Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Cryer, Bob Horam, John Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Molloy, William
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whit[...]h) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Moonman, Eric
Dalyell, Tam Huckfield, Les Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Davidson, Arthur Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Davies, Denzil (Llanell[...]) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Newens, Stanley
Deakins, Eric Hunter, Adam Noble, Mike
Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Oakes, Gordon
Delargy, Hugh Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Ogden, Eric
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) O'Halloran, Michael
Dempsey, James Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Doig, Peter Janner, Greville Orbach, Maurice
Dormand, J. D. Jeger, Mrs Lena Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Ovenden, John
Owen, Dr David Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Padley, Walter Sillars, James Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Palmer, Arthur Silverman, Julius Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Park, George Skinner, Dennis Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Parker, John Small, William Ward, Michael
Parry, Robert Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Watkins, David
Pendry, Tom Snape, Peter Weetch, Ken
Perry, Ernest Spearing, Nigel Wellbeloved, James
Prescott, John Spriggs, Leslie Welsh, Andrew
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Stallard, A. W. White, Frank R. (Bury)
Price, William (Rugby) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) White, James (Pollok)
Radice, Giles Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Whitlock, William
Reid, George Stoddart, David Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Stonehouse, Rt Hon John Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Stott, Roger Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Robertson, John (Paisley) Strang, Gavin Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Roderick, Caerwyn Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Rodgers, George (Chorley) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Rodgers, William (Stockton) Swain, Thomas Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Rooker, J. W. Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Rose, Paul B. Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Rowlands, Ted Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Sandelson, Neville Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Woodall, Alec
Sedgemore, Brian Thompson, George Woof, Robert
Selby, Harry Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Tierney, Sydney Young, David (Bolton E)
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Tinn, James
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Tomlinson, John
Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C) Torney, Tom TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Tuck, Raphael Mr. James A. Dunn and
Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Mr. Laurie Pavitt.

Question accordingly negatived.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Brittan

I beg to move, That, pursuant to the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, the House suggests to the Lords the following Amendment to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill: Clause 1, page 1, leave out lines 10 to 15. The amendment seeks to delete from the Bill a provision repealing the requirement that the rules of a trade union or employers' association must comply with certain basic requirements. Before coming to the substance of my argument I wish to say a word about two peripheral matters that have arisen during the debates.

The first matter is the strange doctrine that the Secretary of State appeared to be propounding during the last debate that we were entitled only to put forward new matters for the consideration of the House this time round and that the intervention of the House of Lords in the last Session circumscribed our right to deal with the Bill. The Secretary of State should know that that is a constitutionally false doctrine for which there is no warrant. What the other place has done has had the effect of requiring this legislation to be put forward de novo in a way which entitles the Opposition fully to argue every point. The moment when we shall cease arguing those points is not when a novel constitutional doctrine of that sort is propounded by the Secretary of State but when we are persuaded by the arguments which he puts forward, and we have a long way to go before that moment comes.

My second peripheral point concerns the attack on Lord Salmon made in the preceding debate, an attack which is relevant to this debate as well because Clause 6 at least as much as Clause 5 was dealt with by the noble Lord in his speech. It is obvious from the intemperate language that the Secretary of State felt it proper to use about Lord Salmon that what the noble Lord said elsewhere stung the Secretary of State and his point went home. Those who have relied upon Lord Salmon for the protection of their rights have found that those rights have been well and truly protected. Those who have had to rely on the Secretary of State for the protection of their rights have found that they have no rights. It is on that basis that I put forward the amendment.

The powers of the trade union movement are great and are accepted to be great, and nobody objects to their being great. The amendment seeks to recognise that, at the same time, there is a degree of responsibility incumbent upon the trade union movement in accordance with the size of its powers, and that it is reasonable that there should be very limited requirements concerning the rules of trade unions, not as to content but as to subject matter.

Whatever myths the Secretary of State may seek to create relating to other matters, the idea of limited legal requirements for the subject matter of trade union rules is not an invention of the Industrial Relations Act 1971. It dates back fully a century before that Act to the 1871 Act. Paragraph 648 of the Donovan Committee's Report conveniently sets out the requirements that were in existence largely as a result of the 1871 Act. The relevant part of the paragraph is as follows: The current requirements as to the rules of a registered trade union are that they should 'contain provisions in respect of' certain matters, which are in short:

  1. (a) name and place of business;
  2. (b) objects, purposes for which funds may be applied, conditions of any assured benefits, and any fines and forfeitures;
  3. (c) manner of making and altering rules;
  4. (d) appointment and removal of a general committee of management, a trustee or trustees, treasurer and other officers;
  5. (e) investment of funds and periodical audit;
  6. (f) inspection of the books and names of members by persons having an interest in the funds;
  7. (g) manner of dissolution."
When the Donovan Committee continued to look at the provisions for trade union rules, it came to the conclusion that, accepting that the degree of supervision required by the rules that Parliament had already enacted should continue, it was not sufficient and it was necessary to lay down further requirements as to the subjects which trade union rules should by law be required to deal with. They are set out in the Donovan Report. The effect of the amendment is to write within the body of the statute law the 1871 requirements as to trade union rules and to add to them, and to keep added to them, the further requirements that Donovan recommended, which are to be found in the 1974 Act.

It was said in the course of the debates last Session that it was unnecessary to add to the 1871 requirements the recommendations of the Donovan Report because the trade union movement, as a result of publication of the Donovan Report, had itself specified, at the Croydon congress, requirements as to the subjects to be covered by trade union rules which went beyond the Donovan Report and were more stringent than the Donovan Report.

It seems to us that is not a sufficient argument against the implementation of the rules recommended in the Donovan Report, because there are two points that arise. First, it seems to us that there should be a fall-back position. The trade union movement has advanced—we accept, recognise and welcome that advance—as a result of the recommendations in the Donovan Report.

It is, however, possible for institutions, even great institutions, to fall back and to retreat, and we think it reasonable that the statutory fall-back of the requirements specified in the Donovan Report should be included and retained, irrespective of the fact that the trade union movement seeks to impose more stringent requirements on its members' rules.

Secondly, what is the position concerning unions which are not members of the TUC? There is no possibility of obliging them to have requirements more stringent than those recommended by Donovan merely because the TUC makes a recommendation to that effect. It is surely in the interests of trade unionism as a whole that the requirements at least of Donovan as enacted in the 1974 Act should be retained.

The other arguments—put forward principally, if my recollection is right, by the Minister of State—was that if one enacted, or allowed to remain on the statute book, requirements as to rules such as are to be found in the 1974 Act, which fall short of the more advanced requirements imposed by the Trades Union Congress, the effect of that would be that the rules required by the statute would become a norm and that the more stringent requirements that the TUC sought to impose would not be followed.

We find that an extremely difficult argument to support. We do not see any reason at all why a body that is proceeding in an advanced way, as the Minister of State has described, would wish to fall back on a statutory position.

There are many cases in which a statute prescribes a minimum and in which the best practice of the organisations concerned goes well beyond what is provided by the statute. It is a century-long accepted procedure for this House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to lay down minimum requirements as to trade union rules, and, indeed, as to the rules of employers' associations, which under Section 6 are treated in exactly the same way.

In deciding how far we should go—not in prescribing the contents of the rules but in prescribing the matters with which the rules should deal—we have to draw a balance. On the one hand it is accepted that the union rule books have much improved in recent years, but against that we have to take into account the fact that the rôle of the trade unions—and the importance, therefore, of their having proper rule books—has increased and is still increasing.

We believe that, when that balance is drawn, the requirements set our in Section 6 of the 1974 Act are not unduly onerous, are not unfair and, indeed, are not unreasonable. The question to be asked is whether they are an undue intervention in trade union affairs or whether they act as a minimum standard, supporting the trade union movements attempts to impose superior rule books, so to speak, and providing a fall-back.

6.15 p.m.

What is the basis of the objection to the requirements of the l474 Act? Let us see what the 1974 Act requires that is regarded as being so objectionable. The rules must specify the name of the trade union or employers' association, its address and its objects. I do not believe for one moment that that could be regarded as anything other than an innocuous requirement.

The rules must make provision as to the purposes for which, and the manner in which, any property or funds are to be applied or invested. That is a protection for the benefit of members against possible misuses, which can occur in any human institution. It is not an onerous requirement imposed by Parliament at the expense of the trade union movement.

Here, as in all other matters, the rules that Parliament requires are not that the funds should be handled in any particular way, or that they should be used for any particular purpose, but merely that the trade union or employers' association should be required to specify in its own rules, in exactly the way it wants, what those purposes are and how the property is to be applied or invested The union or employers' association has the widest possible discretion. All that it has to do is to lay down in its rules, for the benefit of its owns members, what the rules relating to these matters are to be.

The 1974 Act, which the Government would seek to repeal in this respect, provides in Section 6(4) that If any financial benefits are to be available for members of the trade union or employers' association out of its property or funds the rules must make provision as to the amounts of those benefits and the circumstances in which they are to be available to members. That, surely, is no more than a requirement to ensure elementary financial probity.

The Act then goes on to require that The rules must specify the manner in which any rules … can be made, altered or revoked. Is not that, too, an elementary constitutional provision? It does not say that the rules have to be altered by a two-thirds' majority. It does not prevent a union, if it is so minded, deciding that the rules can be changed by the casting vote of the chairman exercised on a Tuesday morning on Bridlington beach. Anything like that is permissible. All it requires is that the union should say—so that its members can know—how the rules can be changed. The members are not then taken by surprise by some clique that has managed to get hold of the union, abstract the rules and arrange for them to be changed in some hole-in-the-corner way.

I am not suggesting that that is likely to happen. All I am saying is that the requirement is designed to prevent that by making it known, above all to the members concerned, what are the rules relating to that matter.

The next requirement is that The rules must make provision for the election or appointment of officers and for the manner in which officers can be removed from office. The same comment applies but even more vividly. Let it be observed that with an institution as important as a trade union it might be thought not unreasonable that Parliament should require that officers should be elected, but there is no such requirement. It is perfectly open to a union to appoint officers. The requirement is only that the rules of the union must state whether the officers are to be elected or appointed and how they can be removed from office. The decision as to what should be done is, as in all these matters, left to the union itself.

The rules must make provision for the election of a governing body and for its re-election at reasonable intervals". There are elementary provisions about notification of vacancies, the making of nominations, canvassing and eligibility for voting. These again are matters the details of which are not laid down by the statute, but there is a requirement that the rules of the union must deal with them.

To take the question of eligibility for voting, it might have been argued that, if this was an interventionist statute seeking to stop the unions operating in the way they wished, the least that it should say was that all members of a trade union should be eligible to vote. However, it says only that the rules have to lay down, as the trade union may wish, who should be eligible for voting. These are not fetters. They are a minimum framework.

It is difficult to see how it can be argued that companies should operate within the tightly defined limitations of the Companies Acts but that these very loose requirements should not be applied to the trade union movement. That is an extremely difficult argument to understand at a time when the trade union movement is playing such a great rôle.

It is all very well for Ministers to repeat the arguments put forward in a previous debate about the internal policing of these matters by the TUC. What would Government supporters say if a Conservative Government suggested repealing the Companies Acts and leaving the policing of the affairs of companies to a committee set up by the CBI? The suggestion has only to be mentioned for us to envisage the howls of indignation with which the Labour Party would rightly greet such a proposal. However, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. At a time when the trade unions are being given increased responsibilities, including safety at work under the Employment Protection Act and now the proposals for participation, we do not believe that it is harsh, onerous or unfair to insist upon these requirements remaining on the statute book. They provide a minimum framework which this House ought to retain.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

The hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) asks why what he regards as not very onerous matters to be laid down in a statute should be objected to by Government supporters, and he goes to refer to the Companies Acts and to make comparisons between how companies should behave and how trade unions should behave. What he misunderstands completely is the long history of democracy in the trade union movement, which far too often is cast aside by the Opposition trying to pretend that trade unions are monolithic organisations dominated by one or two people at the top of them whereas those of us who have experience of the trade union movement know that there is a very long history and a long involvement of ordinary members in the trade unions.

I should at the outset declare my interest. I am a Member who is sponsored by the AUEW, and I am very proud to be so. Although it is necessary for me to declare this interest and although it is not a direct financial interest, since any money involved goes to my constituency party, I claim that I am not changed in my views because I am sponsored, because I was a member of the AUEW and because I was active in that union before coming to this House. My views are formulated by the conviction of the necessity for trade unions and not by any monetary gain, however far removed it may be in my case.

The AUEW was first organised as a trade union in 1826. I do not intend to take the House through its history since them. However, hon. Members must understand that trade union rule books are extremely well drawn and are laid out in detail. In my union there is a clear procedure, which is simple for anyone to follow, about how to attempt to change the rules and how to proceed in the event of there being any challenge by a union member against the executive or against any rule of the union and his feeling that he has been badly treated. Every second year ke have a rules revision conference, though it can meet from time to time in between. The members of that body making the rules are elected directly in their own right according to the electoral constituencies in which they stand.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the way that voting in my union takes place. I shall refer later to postal ballots. Some people, however, in raising the challenge about branch balloting, have suggested—among them some of the pundits in the Press who are always saying how unions should be run—that officers and those who hold other posts in my union are elected by a show of hands at branch meetings. That is not so. There is a proper ballot in which members have to sign a register to show that they have received voting papers. They mark their papers, those papers are put into a ballot box, and they are counted at the end of the meeting. Every member has to be told when voting is to take place.

Candidates are entitled to have printed in a booklet supplied by the union their views on union affairs and, if they wish, on political matters. Members have an ample opportunity to see what candidates stand for and to take part in the voting. I agree that the level of voting is not as high as I should like to see, but that does not destroy the fairness of the procedure for changing the rules, and it is laid down clearly in the union's rule book.

Sir Edward Brown (Bath)

Although the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) is giving all honesty to the practice of the union branch to which he himself belongs or belonged, will he not admit that there are branches in the same organisation which have cheated and which have appeared before the courts only in recent months?

Mr. Hughes

It was my intention to come to that in a moment.

We have this procedure where the rules revision committee changes or is entitled to change the rules. Then we have a procedure whereby an individual member who feels aggrieved has a right of appeal, first to the executive, and then, if he is dissatisfied with the executive's ruling, he is entitled to take his case to the final appeal court. That court is composed of union members who are also elected, and it is a very great honour for someone to be elected to the final appeal court. People who are elected to it take their duties very seriously.

Anyone going through the various sittings of the final appeal court will discover that, more often than not, the court rules in favour of the member. This is a tremendous protection which we have in the union against arbitrary behaviour by an official, by a branch or by some committee of the union.

But no rule book is perfect. We have seen how, with the best will in the world and with the most detailed rule book, the rules can be misinterpreted even by the executive, which naturally has the duty laid upon it to interpret them. We have seen the way in which the executive's interpretation of the rules has been challenged in the courts and changed. That is not to say, however, that the rules have not been honestly drawn or that they have been dishonestly interpreted.

I come, then, to the question of branch balloting as opposed to postal balloting. It is argued that, despite what in my opinion is a first-class practice, some branches can break the rules and, indeed, that some branch officials have been taken to court for breaking them and have been found guilty. That is right, and it is right that any member of the public should have the opportunity to use the common law for his protection if he feels it necessary. I do not quarrel with that.

6.30 p.m.

It is when we come to postal balloting that we begin to see why trade unions fear the intervention of the 1974 Act which lays down minimum requirements and broad general guidelines. The Act does not say that an official must be elected in a particular way, but it lays down a broad framework. The question of postal ballots arose in a most controversial manner. If that had not been so, no one would have been concerned about it.

There was concern about the way in which the AUEW executive interpreted its functions in postal ballots and about the position of the president with respect to his casting vote. What transpired had nothing to do with whether postal ballots were good or bad. It was concerned with whether there ought to be a requirement that trade unions must elect officials by postal voting.

When that issue was discussed in a more sober atmosphere, the suggestion was changed and people said that it would be a good idea for the Government to make money available so as to encourage the trade union movement to use the system of postal voting. The most important thing in the trade union movement is not only that the ordinary rank-and-file members should take part in trade union organisation at factory level—in the election of shop stewards—but that they should also be encouraged in every way to attend branch meetings and participate in day-to-day discussion of trade union and industrial affairs. In short, they should play their part in branch life. No one would pretend that activity in branch life is perfect.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

Would my hon. Friend not agree—I speak as a former trade union educationist—that the consequence of an increase in branch activity would be that the portion of the trade union membership which votes Conservative would cease to do so because it would better understand the history of the Labour and trade union movement?

Mr. Hughes

I shall not be tempted to follow my hon. Friend's argument, although I agree that the more education that is given, he it political, social or simply education, the more people will understand what the trade union movement and the Labour Party are about.

How do we get people to give up their spare time in the evening, after a hard day at work—possibly working overtime—to take part in trade union branch life? How can they be made to realise that the trade union is not the executive or some amorphous body but that the trade union is only as strong or as weak as the members who take part in its activities? While postal balloting might increase the numbers of those who took part in a ballot, it would mean a weakening of trade union branch and factory life. It might be asked why this should necessarily lead me to believe that these sections of the 1974 Act should be repealed.

The history of the trade union movement is the history of a struggle for recognition, not just by employers but by Parliament. The movement was born in struggle. It had to gain recognition as a legitimate body. Memories die hard in the movement. It is all too easy to pander to the public imagination by making irrational and extreme statements about trade union officers, be they shop stewards, branch officials, district secretaries, executive members or full-time officials. Such statements will always get the headlines.

The trade union movement is rightly afraid because the 1974 Act showed that at some time or another a Government might come along and, rather than merely laying down outlines, would begin to dictate to the trade union movement how best to organise its affairs. There is legitimate controversy in the trade union movement—I have heard this subject discussed at branch meetings and weekend conferences—about whether it is better to have elected officers or appointed officers. Some argue that the appointed official is freed from the stresses and strains of having to accommodate opinion within his branch or district. If he wants to take a particular line which is not one which the people in his area want, if he believes that his members should return to work or should come out on strike, if he is a full-time official he has more authority in putting forward his view.

I take the contrary view. I take the view that an elected official, if he is a good, honest official, will be elected irrespective of the views he puts forward. The trade union movement has a respect for honesty. The movement is desperately afraid that some Government in the future will say that it must elect its officials or appoint its officials and that it must decide such and such by a certain method of election. The movement is afraid that a Government will decree that no official can be properly elected unless he receives a certain percentage of the ballot. We have seen all of these issues developed in the Press.

If the trade union movement is to grow in strength and play in our affairs the part which I believe we all want it to play, the best thing to do is, as far as possible, to remove any framework of law. I accept that it can never be entirely withdrawn. As I understand it, this suggested amendment would not remove from a trade union the legal responsibility to produce accounts and so on.

It is extraordinary that it should be thought necessary to specify in legislation the benefits which should be paid to trade union members. Any trade union rule book will tell a member exactly what benefits are paid, right down to the death benefit. Every trade union lays down how much money shall be collected and how it will be donated to a political fund. Every trade union has its superannuation funds organised in such a way that, so far as is possible, there is no question of malpractice. There is no law anywhere governing any sphere of trade union activity, company law, local authority work or even parliamentary work, which can guarantee that there will never be any malpractice. No one is arguing that the law should be entirely removed from trade union affairs.

We say that the best way in which the trade union movement can flourish and play a constructive rôle in society is by allowing members of the movement to play a part in the affairs of the trade unions and to govern their own affairs. The trade union movement is perfectly capable of looking after itself and of taking care of any official, elected or otherwise, who does not abide by the rules.

Mr. Walter Clegg (North Fylde)

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) has made an interesting contribution to the debate. He obviously speaks from great personal and practical experience. He stressed the gravamen of his party's argument, which is that the trade unions are democratic institutions and, therefore, another democratic institution like the House of Commons should think hard before interfering with them. This argument has some merit. I cannot go all the way with the hon. Member, however, because while the structure of the unions, as defined by their rule books, may be democratic we are not entirely convinced by experience that they are democratic in practice.

We should consider the interaction between the law and the unions in this light because the power of the unions is great. There are people who think that it is too great. Great power must always be accompanied by great responsibility. Parliament cannot stand on one side and leave great organs of power to regulate themselves. There must be controls by Parliament on the trade unions just as much as on companies and professions. My own profession—that of a lawyer—is much regulated by Acts of Parliament.

Mr. Bidwell

The lawyers have a closed shop.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Despite the regulation which the hon. Gentleman mentions, recent evidence suggests that lawyers are not very good at policing themselves.

Mr. Clegg

Unlike the bodies referred to in the last debate, at least we have an outside person on our complaints tribunals—a provision which was made in the last Solicitors Act and which I supported.

We are asking for very little. We are merely setting out guidelines. It would not be a bad thing if the Government accepted the amendment. It would show that they are not entirely against the law having some control over the way in which unions are run. The kernel of the argument must be that, where power exists within the State, the duty of the House is to see that that power is used beneficently. Alas, the powers of the trade unions are not always so used, despite the rule book. There are rotten apples in every barrel. The manipulation of the rule book causes concern to Parliament.

It would be better if Labour Members accepted more readily that Parliament has a real interest in the matter. Today, however, there have been arguments about the differences between the police complaints tribunal and the trade union complaints tribunal. The Government argued that there was public interest in the police when there were complaints. Equally there is public interest in the trade union movement. It has been given great powers by recent Acts, and people want to see those powers exercised well for the benefit of both the movement and the country. For these reasons, I urge the House to accept the amendment.

6.45 p.m.

Sir Raymond Gower

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg). Nearly all the views expressed by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) were wholly admirable. I join in the praise of the hon. Gentleman. He has obviously been a sincere, sound, good trade unionist for most of his life, and we commend him for that. In his speech, however, he enunciated a remarkable proposition. He said that because the trade union movement is basically democratic, because his experience of it has been generally good and because most trade unions are run on sound lines, there is no reason why there should be any minimum requirement—which is all that we are seeking—within our law.

On that argument we might say that we did not need to legislate for many aspects of our national life. We could say that most limited bodies are run well and that there is no reason to introduce any legal requirements for their activities. British trade and industry have been highly regarded. It was once said that British quality was the best in the world and that the Englishman's word was his bond and, therefore, no legal requirement was necessary. [An. HON. MEMBER: "What about the word of a Scotsman?"] It might have been said of a Scotsman too.

Mr. Robert Hughes

My limited understanding of the law is that verbal contracts are not binding in England whereas they are in Scotland.

Sir Raymond Gower

The point I was making was that in many spheres of our national life the best practitioners, the best companies and the best people in any activity, trade or profession have set certain fine standards. But Governments of all parties have deemed it correct to legislate, not necessarily to the standard of the best. Indeed, in many cases the best companies, firms and individuals will do better than the law requires. All we are asking for is a simple minimum requirement.

The hon. Gentleman's argument, if pursued ad absurdum, is that we do not need legislation for local authorities because they are free, democratic institutions. On that basis we would never need Bills dealing with local government. The hon. Gentleman's argument would be that because local authorities do so well on a democratic basis Parliament does not need to interfere. Britain has been a fine democratic country but we have required the sanctions of the law despite our democratic instincts. I hope that Ministers will think along these lines. There is no reasonable cause for assuming that there is one part of our public or economic life—the trade union movement—which can be exempted from this requirement, but that is what is being said.

The Minister implied in the earlier debate that the right of combination should be made sacrosanct. He went further, because he really said that the possible abuse of the right of combination should be regarded as sacrosanct. We do not want that, but we want the right of combination.

In this country memories are often too long. We are no longer necessarily the best in the world in any of these spheres. Other countries have been more ready to forget. There have been much worse hardships in competing countries on the Continent, such as greater unemployment and economic problems. They are now prepared to look to the future without these nasty reflections. As a nation it behoves us to forget the struggles of 100 years or more ago and to embark together on seeking greater achievements for the future than those of which we have been capable recently. It would be foolish to assume that our recent performance, whether due to defects of management, trade unions, the Government or anybody else, has been satisfactory. Our performance as a nation has so many imperfections that we should look at the moats in our own eyes whatever part of the community we may be in.

I hope that the Minister and those who, quite naturally, are proud of the good things in the trade union movement and in the industrial life in which they participate will be prepared to think it reasonable that Parliament should accept these minimum requirements, because the law, which has sometimes been described by Labour Members as undesirable, is ultimately the only fair and impartial custodian of freedom. That is as true for trade unionists as it is for any other person in the community.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)

I wish to make some brief observations. I should like the Minister to tell us whether any of our neighbours in Europe, especially France, Belgium, Germany and Holland, have arranged their affairs concerning major trade unions without any type of control or the insertion of any code of law for the control of trade unions. We have heard nothing of the situation which obtains among our friends in the EEC or in the United States of America on matters of this kind.

Section 6 of the 1974 Act did nothing more than seek to introduce and codify reasonable rules of natural justice and to invite the inclusion of certain provisions in trade union rules. Under subsection (9) trade unions had to comply with seven provisions including the notification of vacancies, nominations, the canvassing of election addresses, the eligibility for voting and the procedure. Those matters were merely designed to introduce rules to conform with natural justice. It is, of course, required that someone should oversee those matters.

Section 8 of the 1974 Act laid down that the Registrar of Friendly Societies had certain powers to ensure that the provisions were carried out satisfactorily. The legislation now before us will remove those requirements and enable trade unions to be completely above the law. It is this aspect which worries so many British people. I should like to know whether there is a precedent for such action from the United States of America or a major country in Europe. Or are we going out on a limb and becoming the only country which has no effective control and puts the unions above the law?

I have listened carefully to this and other debates on this subject. As a major European Power, we have not looked at the position which obtains in other countries.

Mr. Bidwell

I believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman will discover that we have a quite close affinity with the Scandinavian countries in our approach to this matter.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I should not have thought so, but no doubt we shall hear if that is the case.

What we are particularly concerned about is the position of our partners in the EEC. The United States of America would provide a valuable precedent. However, before this matter is concluded perhaps we may hear something about this aspect, whether we are going out on a limb on our own and, if so, why we have elected to do so.

Mr. Bidwell

In 1971 the Conservative Government introduced massive industrial legislation. We leapt from what was held to be the least regulated trade union law or form of law, in which there was little legal interference in industrial affairs, to the most massively oppressive system of all time. A great deal was borrowed from the United States. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman understands that. Indeed, as a consequence there was such a reaction that the Conservative Government were defeated and a Labour Government were elected. That was what it was all about.

Mr. Rees-Davies

That is merely saying that if we went too far we must now take the opportunity not only of reversing what has passed but of going further than we need to go. I think that there should be a correlation, if at all possible, of reasonable control, as a matter of law, of the trade union movement and reasonable assurances that the trade unions will comply with the rules of justice which are enforceable by law not only in this country but in major European nations. We have not heard about this aspect, and it is by way of an addendum to the wholly admirable speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends that I raise this matter.

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

The effect of the amendment is to require a large number of specified matters to be included in the rule books of trade unions and employers' associations and to invoke sanctions for failure to comply with the requirements.

The hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) cited part of the section of the Donovan Report which deals with trade union rules to show that we have had within the law of our land for a long time a number of special requirements concerning the content of union rule books. He might have advantaged the House if he had gone on to quote the Donovan Report's comments in the following paragraph. It says: We think that the requirements can and should be revised with a view to ensuring better safeguards for individual members, but, without imparing the freedom which trade unions ought to enjoy to frame rules to meet their own circumstances. It is more in the spirit of those comments that the Government take their stand on this issue than on the basis that we should continue the practice of including in the rule books special provisions for trade unions.

It is no part of our argument that the statutes of the land should not have specific and detailed provisions as to the administration of trade unions. I shall go on to show that in fact we are maintaining the view that there should be specific and detailed provisions in the law as to the administration of trade unions. Therefore, I do not think it behoves me to show that there are any other countries in the EEC which have no requirements within their law as to the administration of trade unions. We think that the form of legal control which is suggested in the amendment is unnecessary and to some degree harmful.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I think the Minister will agree that there are specific provisions in each of the EEC countries and the United States of America which have the sanction of law and which are enforceable through the courts. Those provisions ensure that proper rules are laid down in respect of trade unions.

Mr. Booth

Yes; I am not challenging what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying. I shall demonstrate that there are specific and detailed requirements in our law relating to the administration of trade unions and that it is the view of this Government that there should be such requirements.

7.0 p.m.

Schedule 2 to the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 contains eight pages of detailed and specific provisions on the way that trade unions should be administered. They lay down not broad headings but precise and detailed requirements as to the annual returns which unions must make, the qualifications for appointment of auditors, their removal, functions, and so on. Any union which fails to meet these precise and detailed requirements is subject to the sanction provided in Section 12 of the Act.

It is no part of our case that there should not be a detailed and precise requirement that unions should be above the law. We have never challenged the argument that unions have special responsibilities and should therefore be subject to special provisions in law. What we challenge is that there would be any advantage in adding to those detailed and precise provisions a number of broad headings and saying "You must make rules which correspond with these headings. If not, you will be subject to a special sanction." That is the proposition on which the amendment is based.

The TUC, as has been acknowledged, attaches considerable importance to the quality of union rule books. It regards the need to have clearly defined rules as an essential feature of a trade union's internal government. That was why the TUC responded to the Donovan recommendations about trade union rules. I do not accept the framework in which this was referred to by the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby, who stated it in such a way as to imply that all union rule books were seriously deficient and that since the Donovan Report was issued a lot had been done to put them right. I I hope he did not mean that.

The principles enunciated by the TUC as guidance for unions in framing or revising their rules at rules conferences were embodied in the rule books of most—not all—unions before the Donovan recommendations. It is interesting that no hon. Member has given an example of a current deficiency in a union rule book under any of the headings mentioned in the section covered by the amendment.

The TUC did not state that unions must make rules to correspond with a number of headings. It issued advice on the basic principles which should be embodied in rule books concerning admission, discipline, expulsion and the election of people to office. Those are important principles. The authority of the TUC made it possible for those principles to be enunciated.

It is noticeable that in Section 6 of the Act—this was readily acknowledged by the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby—no principles are enunciated. There are not precise requirements. There is merely a list of headings.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) demonstrated clearly that most unions have procedures for revising their rules at frequent intervals. I have had the honour to be a delegate of the Wallsend branch of the Draughtsmen's Association to one of the association's rules conferences. The rules conference was better attended than this debate, and interest in and knowledge of the union's rules was of a very high order. That conference demonstrated to me that the rules of that association were being changed to meet the specific requirements of the membership. It was not enough that the rules would meet various headings. It was important that the association's rules should reflect the experience and problems of the membership and enable it to work within a framework which reflected that experience.

The amendment may be held by some to restrict the freedom of trade unions to make their own rules. To the extent that it is held to do that, it may run contrary to Article 3 of ILO Convention 87, which makes it clear that unions are required to have the right to draw up their own rules in full freedom. The appropriate paragraph states: Workers' and employers' organisations shall have the right to draw up their constitution and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes. Public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict the right or impede the lawful exercise thereof. The law of the land shall not be such as to impair, nor shall it be applied so as to impair, the guarantees provided by this convention.

Mr. Rees-Davies

The Minister must be careful. I am prepared to bet that neither the ILO nor his advisers have advised him that there is any conflict between that position and the law as it stood. The right hon. Gentleman is going wildly astray. Under the law as it stood in 1974 there was an obligation to provide certain basic principles of natural justice. When the right hon. Gentleman was a glasshouse man, or whatever it was, he was entitled to add many other provisions which his membership wanted to have added. The 1974 Act set out certain provisions with which every union ought reasonably to comply. However, unions could add further provisions of their own. The Act did not inhibit the guarantee of freedom of the rights of unions to put into their own rules whatever they wanted. The right hon. Gentleman must be careful not to mislead the House. I intervene because we are now departing from the commonly accepted practice in other countries.

Mr. Booth

I am being extremely careful not to mislead the House. I am not going against any advice which I have received from legal authorities in my Department. If the effect of carrying the amendment is not in any way to impede, restrict, limit or circumscribe the freedom of unions to make their own rules in their own way without interference from the law, I suggest that it is of no great consequence.

We have taken it upon ourselves as a Parliament to make detailed provisions—the detailed provisions in Schedule 2—which require union funds to be administered in a particular way. If under these headings we were to write in specific directions, we should be in danger of cutting right across the basis of the ILO Convention to which I have referred.

I want now to deal with the effect of the common law on what we are doing if we delete Section 6. I hold that it is completely fallacious to suggest that we are wiping out a common law right by taking out Section 6. That section, in so far as it refers to rules of natural justice, is completely superfluous. No union member is disadvantaged by the removal of this section in bringing a case based upon a contention that his union, in its framing or application of rules, has not worked in conjunction with the principle of natural justice.

The reference to natural justice is utterly superfluous and unnecessary for that purpose. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North said, unions have never sought to restrict the rights of their members to use the common law if those members believed that their union's action would cut across the principle of natural justice.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Surely the point is that the right of natural justice would give a worker who was excluded or expelled from a union a right to a hearing but that the hearing would be as to whether the union had proceeded in accordance with its rules. If the rules are arbitrary, the fact that a member has a right of hearing by natural justice is of no advantage to him. That was the thinking behind Lord Salmon's speech in the other place.

Mr. Booth

As I understand the position, the requirements of natural justice under common law are not as limited as the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. If a union neglected the requirements of natural justice in the framing of its rules, a member of that union would have recourse to common law to challenge the union. Therefore, the amendment would not in practice confer on union members any rights that they did not already possess in respect of the application of natural justice under the common law.

Up to now the debate has not dealt with the sanction introduced by the amendment. That is a pity, because the sanction is unique. Although there is not much new that one can say in this debate, it is a pity that something new which can be said has been totally neglected by the advocates of the amendment.

The effect of the sanction has been changed since we last debated this matter by the passing of the Employment Protection Act. The sanction is based on the proposition that, if a union or employers' association does not comply with Section 6, the Registrar is required to strike it from the list. The main effect of being struck from the list before the passing of the Employment Protection Act was to remove the tax advantages of a union's benevolent funds. I always thought that that was incongruous because Section 12 provides for fines for not meeting other requirements of the Act, but this was a particular and peculiar one introduced in Section 8(6) in respect of a failure to comply with Section 6.

With the passing of the Employment Protection Act, however, the amendment would mean that a union could not be certified as independent, so that in certain slightly different circumstances it would be denied a number of the rights which flow from such certification under the Employment Protection Act. Also, a union struck from the list in those circumstances could not have recourse to the recognition provisions of the Employment Protection Act, which could be crucial for some unions. Union members in those circumstances would not have the rights to time off or to perform their duties as provided for in the Employment Protection Act.

Mr. Brittan

Will the Minister say which of the provisions in Section 6 he thinks it is reasonable that a union should not comply with while at the same time enjoying the rights under the Employment Protection Act?

Mr. Booth

I am not prepared to do that. As I have said, all these headings are perfectly valid as headings. I do not object to them as heading for rules. Most unions choose rules which would fit these headings. Outwith the particular and specific requirements of Schedule 2, however, unions should be free to determine the requirements of their rule books. I therefore hold that this penalty, if applied to matters which are only matters of heading, would be particularly inapt, would be unduly severe and would introduce a totally unnecessary legal control. I therefore ask the House to reject the amendment.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)

Once again, the Minister has taken a series of ill-assorted points which neither separately nor together make any sort of case for what he is asking the House to do. He says that he does not quarrel with the principle of detailed regulation and refers to Schedule 2, which contains regulations far more detailed than anything in Section 6 of the Act. The argument for that is: if it is right to have regulations as detailed as there are in that schedule, what can be wrong with this measure of regulation?

The Minister might also have said that everything in Schedule 2 came straight out of Schedule 5 of the Industrial Relations Act 1971. So much for his oft-repeated legend that this Bill is to get rid of everything in that Act! In fact, Schedule 1, too, though badly tinkered with, preserves other provisions useful in that Act. It is hypocritical to speak in that way, as well as being such a very bad argument.

Then the Minister argued that it was contrary to the ILO convention. Is he suggesting at this late stage that that is something to which the House should have regard? Everything in Section 6 was recommended by Donovan. Is he saying that the Donovan Commission had thought of that? Is he saying that he has been advised in terms that there is a danger that this provision is contrary to the ILO convention? I ask him to have another look at that.

I would also ask him to have another look at what he said about common law rights. I am sure that the Minister will find it interesting to have another look at the intervention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). Previous experience of the Minister in Committee convinces me that it is not his habit to want to take a bad point. If he takes further advice on those two points, I think that he will find that they are bad. I hope that his right hon. and hon. Friends in another place will not be tempted to rely upon them.

The hon. Gentleman's last point was that there was conjoined with Section 6 a right to strike someone off for noncompliance. Of course there is. What is the good of such provisions without penalty? He then told us some of the awful things that would happen to someone who did not comply. But what he did not say was that it would be easy for everyone to comply with them, that anyone who was prepared to fulfil his minimum obligations, and what I think the Minister would regard as minimum obligations in this respect, need not fear any of the perils to which he referred. So that, too, is a bad argument.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) made a speech that was more in point on this occasion. Many of us could have agreed with almost everything he said. But it is a pity that he was not in Committee with some of us on this Bill. If he had been, he would have realised that in his speech tonight he was fighting many battles that were fought long ago and the need for which exists no longer.

Many of us subscribe to many of the views that he expressed. Most of us want to see the maximum freedom for people to combine to regulate their own affairs. That is why Section 6 is framed in the widest possible terms—so as to leave the greatest degree of trust to the individuals who are either elected or appointed, or whatever it is, to give effect to these provisions. I shall not elaborate on that because my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr.

Brittan) did so very clearly in presenting this suggestion to the House.

I should like to take up another phrase used by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North. He talked about removing the framework of the law. Those were his words, but I do not think that he meant to get rid of the framework of the law altogether. I think that he probably meant that it should be removed to the background so that it played a less prominent part in industrial relations affairs.

Most of us on the Opposition Benches would agree with that. We regard the law as something at the end of the road, something there to be prayed in aid only if and when everything else has failed. But it has to be there. We must recognise that there are occasions when, sometimes with the best will in the world, people cannot agree about something important to them, and in a civilised society the purpose of the law is to be there at the end of the road so that, if and when all else fails, the parties have a tribunal, the court, to which they can go and a law which the court can interpret and implement in order to resolve the difficulty.

Section 6 is exactly in that category. It could not trouble anyone who gives any responsible consideration to the rules of his union. It is there only as the end of the road, so that on the occasion when someone is not willing to fulfil even those minimum responsibilities, there is something that can be done about it.

It is for that purpose and in that spirit that this amendment was put forward in the first place and carried into the Act. We regard it as a very pig-headed step by the Minister and not in any way supported by his argument that he should now be trying to take these useful provisions out of the Act. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for the suggested amendment.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 250, Noes 281.

Division No. 38.] AYES [7.23 p.m.
Adley, Robert Banks, Robert Body, Richard
Aitken, Jonathan Bell, Ronald Boscawen, Hon Robert
Alison, Michael Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Bottomley, Peter
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Berry, Hon Anthony Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)
Arnold, Tom Biffen, John Boyson, Or Rhodes (Brent)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Biggs-Davison, John Brittan, Leon
Baker, Kenneth Blaker, Peter Brocklebank-Fowler, C.
Brotherton, Michael Holland, Philip Osborn, John
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hooson, Emlyn Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Bryan, Sir Paul Hordern, Peter Paisley, Rev Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Howell, David (Guildford) Pattie, Geoffrey
Budgen, Nick Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Penhaligon, David
Bulmer, Esmond Hurd, Douglas Percival Ian
Burden, F. A. Hutchison, Michael Clark Peyton, Rt Hon John
Carlisle Mark Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pink, R. Bonner
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Churchill, W. S. James, David Price, David (Eastleigh)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Prior, Rt Hon James
Clark, William (Croydon S) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rathbone, Tim
Clegg, Walter Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Cockcroft, John Jopling, Michael Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cope, John Kaberry, Sir Donald Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Cormack, Patrick Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Corrie, John Kershaw, Anthony Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Costain A P. Kilfedder, James Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Crouch David Kimball, Marcus Ridsdale, Julian
Crowder F. P. King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rifkind, Malcolm
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Kitson, Sir Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Knight, Mrs Jill Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knox, David Ross, William (Londonderry)
Drayson, Burnaby Lamont, Norman Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lane, David Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Dunlop, John Langford-Holt, Sir John Royle, Sir Anthony
Durant, Tony Latham, Michael (Melton) Sainsbury, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lawson, Nigel Shelton, William (Streatham)
Le Marchant, Spencer Shepherd, Colin
Elliott, Sir William Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shersby, Michael
Emery, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Silvester, Fred
Eyre, Reginald Lloyd, Ian Sims, Roger
Fairbairn, Nicholas Loveridge, John Sinclair, Sir George
Fairgrieve, Russell Luce, Richard Skeet, T. H. H.
Fell, Anthony McAdden, Sir Stephen Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Finsberg, Geoffrey McCrindle, Robert Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fisher, Sir Nigel McCusker, H. Speed, Keith
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Macfarlane, Neil Spence, John
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles MacGregor, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fookes, Miss Janet Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sproat, Iain
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stainton, Keith
Fox, Marcus McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stanbrook, Ivor
Freud, Clement Madel, David Stanley, John
Fry, Peter Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Marten, Neil Stokes, John
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mather, Carol Stradling Thomas, J.
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Maude, Angus Tapsell, Peter
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mawby, Ray Tebbit, Norman
Glyn, Dr Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Temple-Morris, Peter
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mayhew, Patrick Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Philip Meyer, Sir Anthony Townsend, Cyril D.
Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter Trotter, Neville
Goodlad, Alastair Miscampbell, Norman van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gorst, John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Moate, Roger Viggers, Peter
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Molyneaux, James Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Monro, Hector Wakeham, John
Gray, Hamish Montgomery, Fergus Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Griffiths, Eldon Moore, John (Croydon C) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Grist, Ian More, Jasper (Ludlow) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Grylls, Michael Morgan, Geraint Wall, Patrick
Hall, Sir John Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Walters, Dennis
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Weatherill, Bernard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Wiggin, Jerry
Hampson, Dr Keith Mudd, David Winterton, Nicholas
Hannam, John Neave, Airey Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nelson, Anthony Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Hastings, Stephen Neubert, Michael Younger, Hon George
Havers, Sir Michael Newton, Tony
Hawkins, Paul Normanton, Tom TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hayhoe, Barney Nott, John Mr. Cecil Parkinson and
Hicks, Robert Onslow, Cranley Mr. W. Benyon.
Higgins, Terence L. Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Allaun, Frank Ashley, Jack Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Anderson, Donald Ashton, Joe Bain, Mrs Margaret
Archer, Peter Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)
Armstrong, Ernest Atkinson, Norman Bates, Alf
Bean, R. E. Golding, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Gould, Bryan Moyle, Roland
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Gourlay, Harry Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Bidwell, Sydney Grant, George (Morpeth) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Bishop, E. S. Grant, John (Islington C) Newens, Stanley
Blenkinsop, Arthur Grocott, Bruce Noble, Mike
Boardman, H. Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Oakes, Gordon
Booth, Albert Harper, Joseph Ogden, Eric
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) O'Halloran, Michael
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Hart, Rt Hon Judith O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Bradley, Tom Hatton, Frank Orbach, Maurice
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hayman, Mrs Helens Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Ovenden, John
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Heffer, Eric S. Padley, Walter
Buchan, Norman Henderson, Douglas Palmer, Arthur
Buchanan, Richard Hooley, Frank Park, George
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Horam, John Parker, John
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Parry, Robert
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Pavitt, Laurie
Campbell, Ian Huckfield, Les Pendry, Tom
Canavan, Dennis Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Perry, Ernest
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Mark (Durham) Prescott, John
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Roy (Newport) Price, William (Rugby)
Cartwright, John Hunter, Adam Radice, Giles
Clemitson, Ivor Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Reid, George
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Coleman, Donald Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Concannon, J. D. Janner, Greville Roderick, Caerwyn
Conlan, Bernard Jeger, Mrs Lena Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Corbett, Robin Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Rooker, J. W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) John, Brynmor Rose, Paul B.
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Johnson, James (Hull West) Rowlands, Ted
Crawford, Douglas Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Sandelson, Neville
Cronin, John Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Sedgemore, Brian
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Jones, Barry (East Flint) Selby, Harry
Cryer, Bob Jones, Dan (Burnley) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Judd, Frank Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Kaufman, Gerald Shore Rt Hon Peter
Dalyell, Tam Kelley, Richard Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Davidson, Arthur Kerr, Russell Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Kilroy-Silk, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Davies, Denzil (Llaneill[...]) Kinnock, Neil Sillars, James
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lambie, David Silverman, Julius
Deakins Eric Lamborn, Harry Skinner, Dennis
Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Lamond, James Small, William
Delargy, Hugh Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Leadbitter, Ted Snape, Peter
Dempsey, James Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Spearing, Nigel
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spriggs, Leslie
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Litterick, Tom Stallard, A. W.
Duffy, A. E. P. Loyden, Eddie
Luard, Evan Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Dunn, James A. Lyon, Alexander (York) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Dunnett, Jack Lyons Edward (Bradford W) Stoddart, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McCartney, Hugh Stonehouse, Rt Hon John
Eadie, Alex MacCormick, Iain Stott, Roger
Edge, Geoff McElhone, Frank Strang, Gavin
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) MacFarquhar, Roderick Strauss, Rt Hon Dr Shirley
Ellis John (Brigg & Scun) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Summerskill Hon Dr Shirley
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Mackenzie, Gregor Swain, Thomas
English, Michael Mackintosh, John P. Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Ennals, David Maclennan, Robert Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) McNamara, Kevin Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Madden, Max Thompson, George
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Mahon, Simon Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Mallalieu, J. P. W. Tierney, Sydney
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Marks, Kenneth Tinn, James
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marquand, David Tomlinson, John
Flannery, Martin Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Tomney, Frank
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Torney, Tom
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Maynard, Miss Joan Tuck, Raphael
Ford, Ben Meacher, Michael Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Forrester, John Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mikardo, Ian Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Millan, Bruce Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Freeson, Reginald Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Ward, Michael
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Watkins, David
George, Bruce Molloy, William Weetch, Ken
Gilbert, Dr John Moonman, Eric Wellbeloved, James
Ginsburg, David Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Welsh, Andrew
White, Frank R. (Bury) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) Wrigglesworth, Ian
White, James (Pollok) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E) Young, David (Bolton E)
Whitlock, William Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Williams, Alan (Swansea W) Wise, Mrs Audrey TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch) Woodall, Alec Mr. J. D. Dormand and
Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Woof, Robert Mr. James Hamilton.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Hayhoe

I beg to move, That, pursuant to the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, the House suggests to the Lords the following Amendment to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill: Clause 1, page 1, line 19, leave out paragraph (e). The issue of the closed shop has been central to many of the debates that we have had on the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act and on the amending Bill in the previous and present Sessions. It is a highly emotive subject.

Some trade unionists see the closed shop as a lever to increase their industrial power and to make their negotiating strength greater. There are also trade unionists who see it as a weapon which may be used against the free rider, the strike breaker or the scab. To other trade unionists the closed shop is a highly important matter. Equally, it is seen by unwilling trade union members, those who have been compelled against their wishes to become members of a trade union, and by many people outside the trade union movement—and perhaps some of them do not have too great a knowledge of the movement—as at best an unattractive and as at worst an unacceptable aspect of trade unionism.

The emotions for and against the closed shop are easily aroused. I think that generally such emotions are harmful in the context of industrial relations. In retrospect there seems little doubt that the action that my party took when in Government in 1971 in seeking to outlaw the closed shop was not as effective as some of its supporters had hoped in helping individual freedom and the libertarian principle. It aroused undue and very strong feelings among some trade unions. It was certainly misrepresented as being a total attack upon the closed shop, though I do not think that it was.

In the interests of trying to find a way out of the difficulties that I have described we have taken the view that perhaps we struck the wrong balance in the 1971 Act. We have sought in successive debates to try to find some reasonable and acceptable compromise which can be broadly agreed. Such a compromise may not be completely acceptable to the strong trade unionist or to the person who puts individual liberty above all else. However, we have sought some reasonable working compromise to remove the closed shop issue from the centre of political controversy. What we have attempted in that direction has been well worth while.

I am extremely sorry that the Government have not been prepared to move from the position that they adopted when in Opposition at the peak of the emotive reaction against the 1971 Act. The decisions then taken between the Labour Party Executive and the leaders of the TUC seem to have run right through our debates about the closed shop. The Government have stuck rigidly to that original, extreme position. In effect they are saying that the individual may be compelled under threat of dismissal and without compensation to join and to remain a member of a trade union unless he has objections to membership of any and every trade union on the ground of religious belief.

This is an incredibly narrow chink of hope for the conscientious objector, and only a rare brand of person would meet that qualification on the ground of religious belief in regard to trade union membership in general. It is not the kind of conscientious objection that was suggested by the Donovan Commission. The Royal Commission's Report said that reasonable safeguards should be associated with the closed shop and provided by law, and they should include conscientious objection. A deeply-held personal conviction may be good enough for a Labour Member of Parliament to defy a three-line Whip and thus place in jeopardy the existence of the Labour Government. It was good enough also for the noble lord, Lord Houghton, a former senior Labour Minister and a past chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who thought such a test reasonable. However, the test of a deeply-held personal conviction is not good enough for the Secretary of State for Employment. He wants a narrower concept.

The present discussion relates to those who have reasonable grounds for objection to compulsory membership of a particular union specified in a union membership agreement. Again, in this proposal we are in line with the Donovan Report. On the topic of the closed shop being brought into the work place where it has not existed before, paragraph 563 of the Donovan Report mentions the difficulties that can arise when existing employees who have worked in that firm for many years and who are not members of unions are suddenly confronted with this attempt to compel them to become members. The Report emphasises that a more difficult case arises when an employer dismisses an existing employee who refuses to join a trade union following the introduction of a closed shop.

Our view—again it follows Donovan—is that the employee should be able to succeed against the employer so long as he can show that he has reasonable grounds for refusing to join the union. That is precisely what our amendment says of an individual who is not a member of a union. Let us take as an example a man who has worked on the railways for many years and who may have good reasons for his not being a union member. He can now be confronted with the fact that he either has to join a union or will be dismissed—dismissed without compensation and, presumably, with loss of pension entitlement and many other aspects associated with dismissal. Such a person may be close to the end of his working life.

Therefore, the Government are imposing a brutal penalty on individuals who find themselves in such circumstances. However, if the Government accept our proposed wording—in other words, if the Act is left as this House passed it in 1974—and if an individual can convince an industrial tribunal that he was acting on reasonable grounds, he would at least be entitled to compensation. The only issue with which we are concerned in a strictly legalistic sense in the suggested amendment relates to what constitutes fair and unfair dismissal in the context of the closed shop and the possibility of obtaining compensation.

I believe that the Government should think again about the situation. These provisions have now existed for 18 months and I do not think they have caused great difficulty. If the Government believe they have failed they must put the facts before us, but I repeat that no great difficulties have been caused by the present wording of the Act. Indeed, the wording may be helpful in protecting the individuals who have become known as the Ferrybridge Six. I do not wish to enter into the merits of that case because it is a matter to be considered by an industrial tribunal from which a decision is expected, according to this morning's Press, some time next week. It is a pity that the tribunal's decision was not known before today's debate. I am sorry that the tribunal was not able to proceed at a faster pace. It would have been valuable to know the results.

7.45 p.m.

Equally, if there is a long delay in determining whether individuals are entitled to national insurance benefits for the six-week period, surely the determination by an insurance officer should be made swiftly. Therefore I hope that there will be no undue delay. It is a little unfortunate that we are now debating these important matters without knowing the decision of the insurance officer or that reached by the industrial tribunal.

It is satisfactory that the industrial tribunal is to be the body on which the Government place responsibility, but the Government are giving the tribunals enormous responsibility. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) referred earlier in the debate to the provisions of the schedule to the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974, but a great raft of other responsibilities is laid upon those tribunals by the Employment Protection Act. There is little doubt that industrial tribunals will make sensible, reasonable and pragmatic judgments because they are able to examine complex situations and to take a reasonable view. I should be happy to leave the question of judgment of reasonable grounds to an industrial tribunal. I believe that they are well equipped to make sensible decisions on the matter.

The Government are letting a golden opportunity slip by. They regard this as a chance of shifting the closed shop issue away from the centre of party controversy. They should try to reach a compromise more broadly acceptable to Labour Back Benchers—of whom there are few present at the moment, but many of those Back Benchers would be prepared to go along with a compromise. There might be some hon. Members below the Government Gangway who would resist such a compromise. That would only endorse our view about the merits of our proposals.

I am sure that there would be relief in the country, and, indeed, within industry, if our proposals were accepted. Even in many trade unions there would be satisfaction if a reasonable compromise could be reached which did not restrict, undermine, or demolish—all the emotive terms which the Secretary of State for Employment is wont to use on these occasions—and involving the concept of the right to combine and the ability to work together with people of one's own choice. It should be possible to find a broadly acceptable way out of this dilemma.

I ask again why the Government do not accept our sensible compromise. Can they not, even now, see the value of proper safeguards? I think they are mad to miss this golden opportunity. It may not recur for some time. Their intransigence in refusing to agree to reasonable safeguards, is keeping the closed shop issue at the centre of political controversy as a damaging growth on the side of industrial relations. Even at this late stage, could they not think again and agree to an extension of the safeguards to the individual, other than the extremely narrow grounds of religious belief to which they have been attached so strongly for so long?

Sir D. Walker-Smith

As with the earlier proposal to delete Section 5 from the 1974 Act we are now discussing a proposal that removes vital and valuable protection from the individual worker against the loss of his livelihood. If this protection is taken away a worker is left with no effective alternative protection.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brent-ford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) made clear in his admirable speech that where a closed shop agreement is in operation there could be no effective challenge by a worker to dismissal from employment and forfeiture of his livelihood if he declined to belong to a specified union. The dismissal would be fair beyond all legal argument because the statute would clearly say so. Every employer would naturally come under increasing pressure to take action by way of dismissal whenever this situation arose in the context of a closed shop. No matter how reputable, public-spirited and conscientious in its members' interests a union may be, if it is not the specified union within an agreement its virtues and the preferences of individual workers would count for nothing.

No doubt we shall again have the argument that the statute, as amended, will not derogate from common law rights. I concede that this is true. If an individual is dismissed for refusal to join a specified union he can sue for wrongful dismissal in the courts, even though his recourse to the industrial tribunal will have been taken away. But the House must consider how much practical use such action would be to a worker. His action will arise in contract and, therefore, he will, at best, get damages for breach of that contract assessed on the length of notice due to him under his contract of employment. He will not get reinstatement because courts do not grant specific performance for contracts of personal service. His contract of employment, under which he can sue in the courts, will reflect the union membership agreement.

The 1974 Act says: Union membership agreement means an agreement or arrangement which … has the effect of requiring the terms and conditions of employment of every employee of that class to include a condition that he must be or become a member of the union or one of the unions which is or are parties to the agreement … When he sues under his contract of employment he will be suing under a contract which will bind him to the closed shop agreement.

Like the person expelled or excluded from a union, a worker dismissed for insisting on his preference for an unspecified union, even if otherwise wholly excellent, will have no effective remedy if he is deprived of recourse to an industrial tribunal.

Mr. Booth

I do not wish to challenge what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just said, but perhaps I could draw his attention to Clause 2(3) of the Bill which amends the words he was quoting. The words of requiring the terms and conditions of employment of every employee of that class to include a condition that he must will be replaced by the words in practice of requiring employees for the time being of the class to which it relates (whether or not there is a condition to that effect in their contract of employment) to". This will allow union membership agreements to specify whether they would apply to the employee in question.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I do not think that is a very valuable amendment. It is left to the agreement to determine the matter. The individual worker, if stripped of his right to go to a tribunal, will not, I think, have any effective remedy left.

That will be the situation of people in the position of the Ferrybridge Six. They have their remedy now because the 1974 Act is still in force in the form in which it was passed by Parliament, against the wishes of many Labour Members. In the form now proposed, these people will have no such rights. An exactly similar case today, however reasonable and conscientious, will go by default if the Government's proposals are carried. People in this situation will become the Tolpuddle Martyrs of the future, with the added poignancy that their fellow trade unionists, far from according them help and sympathy, will be accessories to the fact, like Saul of Tarsus in the stoning of St. Stephen. It is not inappropriate to refer to martyrdom in this context, because in connection with Tolpuddle it has become part of the hagiology of the trade union movement. It is not an extravagant use of language to say that to deprive a man of his livelihood is to put him to economic martyrdom.

8.0 p.m.

We find a strange and striking paradox. We in the twentieth century believe that insistence on belonging to any particular religion or sect is unthinkable and the use of pains and penalties to secure such conformity even worse. Yet, however perverse and odious such persecution was, those who were inflicting it for religious reasons in former days were doing so not because they conceived it to be in their own advantage, but in the mistaken belief that it was in the interests of the victim and his ultimate salvation. After all, Mary Tudor burnt Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley at the stake in the belief, however repugnant it may seem to us, that she was saving them from worse and more lasting conflagration thereafter.

However, insistence on the closed shop conformity, the imposition of penalties for non-conformity and the deprivation of rights, does not purport to be in the individual interest of those affected. It is simply and solely to facilitate the collective arrangements as being easier and more convenient if everyone is shepherded into the same pen. I understand that, and I recognise the possible administrative and practical advantages of a single, collective identity in the context of collective bargaining. I recognise also that there may be those whose motives for resisting membership of a specified union might not be conscientious. However, there are others whose motives are and that distinction would be precisely a matter for the tribunal.

The present wording of the Act gives no automatic right to resist dismissal on the grounds of refusal to become or remain a member of a specified union. It must be shown that the grounds of objection to belonging are reasonable in each case, and each case will be judged by reasonable and objective men and women in the tribunal. However, if no such right or remedy exists, whatever reasonable grounds of objection there might be, a person would be dismissed.

Where would he go in those circumstances to secure other employment? That is the vital question. He will find it progressively more difficult, as the practice of closed shop agreements extends, to find alternative employment at which to earn his bread.

A matter which became very topical a few months ago concerned the position over unemployment benefit in such circumstances. A good deal of heat was engendered in this matter and the Secretary of State entered into the correspondence columns of The Times. I shall not put this matter in any strong or heated way, simply in an analytical and interrogatory way. Sufficient case was made of it by The Times to justify inquiry. The withholding of unemployment benefit for a period is governed by Section 14 of the Social Security Act 1973. That is a different statute. When the Secretary of State wrote his letter on the matter he said in effect that they were different statutes, different provisions, and different tribunals, and that never the twain shall meet. He disposed of it in that way. However, the problem clearly arises. Under Section 14(2) of that Act A person shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit for such period not exceeding 6 weeks … if … he has lost his employment as an employed earner through his misconduct, or has voluntarily left such employment without just cause". To be dismissed because he does not belong to a closed shop is not in the ordinary use of the word "misconduct". However, can it not be argued that conduct which has justified dismissal which Parliament has specifically said in terms is fair dismissal is tantamount to misconduct? It cannot be said that he left voluntarily, because he was dismissed. Could it not be argued that a person who is fairly dismissed with just cause is in a similar case to one who leaves voluntarily without just cause?

After the initial position fresh problems will arise. The person is also disqualified from benefit after he has neglected to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of suitable employment o[...] after a situation in any suitable employment has been notified to him as vacant and he has, without good cause, failed to apply for it. Take the case where the employment is suitable in every respect except that it carries the obligation to belong to a closed shop. If the Government proposal is carried may it not become impossible for the dismissed worker to say that the alternative employment offered is not suitable on the grounds that he has a conscientious objection or a reasonable objection to belonging to the specified union? He would find it difficult in the terms of the Act as proposed to be amended.

The House has the duty to ask how the tribunals under the Social Security Act are to interpret these provisions in Section 14 concerning unemployment benefit if the Government proposal is carried. At least the tribunals should know what Parliament means the position to be in such a situation, but according to the right hon. Gentleman they will not be told because it is a different Act and that is someone else's concern. And so the position is that, without guidance, the local insurance tribunals will encounter difficulties with the obvious possibility of different tribunals coming to different conclusions on the same facts. Perhaps the test case will come through the National Insurance Commissioner on a point of law to be decided by the courts. The courts will then have the duty to decide what Parliament intended. It will be a very difficult duty when the Government themselves, in proposing the amendment, seem to have no idea what they intend Parliament to mean in respect of the unemployment benefit situation under the 1973 Act.

We therefore come to the reluctant and regretful conclusion that there is—and to this extent at any rate The Times was right—the clear possibility that a worker who is dismissed for refusing to belong to a specified union in a closed shop agreement may be prejudiced in his rights to benefit as well as in his prospects of employment. If that is so it will be turning this minority of independent-minded men into latter day Ishmaelites, with every man's hand against them. That is surely repugnant in a community such as ours with a long tradition of tolerance.

Closed shop arrangements no doubt have their advantages and qualities, and no one today would dissent from that. They no doubt make collective bargaining easier, and that is a good thing and a practical advantage. Similarly, large and dominant trade unions have in collective bargaining advantages of a practical nature which we should all recognise. Certainly, these large and dominant unions—which will become the specified unions in the closed shop agreements—and the TUC have a giant strength. It should be used gently, with due regard to the rights of individuals and nonconformists who have reasonable grounds for not wishing to belong to a trade union. As Shakespeare put it in "Measure for Measure":

  • "O! it is excellent
  • To have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous
  • To use it like a giant."

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

It is extremely difficult to follow the reasoning behind the speeches we have heard from the Opposition Benches. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) closed by quoting Shakespeare. I begin by quoting the title of Shakespeare's play "Much ado about nothing", which seems to be the Opposition's attitude. Apparently, the mere fact that an individual is told that he should belong to a certain union results in all these extraordinary complications—the determination of to which union he should belong, the possibility of his losing his job, the operation of the local insurance tribunal, what will happen when the commissioner decides the case, and whether it will go to law. This simple issue has been taken everywhere except to the House of Lords by a test case.

That is an absurd approach to the problem. I have belonged to a trade union for nearly 40 years and I have been in closed shop employment. None of the grotesque fantasies expressed by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East ever arose. The system must have been worked out by an inventive genius. An individual in any shop or factory who gets the benefit of trade union organisation should pay for it. Union members contribute weekly—I still do—towards the staff, the office and the payment of full-time organisers to protect the interests of working people and to achieve decent working conditions by labour agreements. It is morally wrong that individuals who refuse to make that contribution should get the benefit of those agreements without paying a halfpenny towards the cost. I am surprised that Opposition Members should advocate such a course.

Mr. Hayhoe

Time and again from the Opposition Benches in Committee and on the Floor of the House we have made clear that the changes we propose would not be for the benefit of the free rider. We have tabled amendments to cover that. I do not want the hon. Gentleman to go ahead with his speech on a misconception. We do not seek to support the free rider, the guy who wants the benefits of union membership but who is too mean to pay his dues. That person does not have our support.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Dempsey

The speeches we have heard from the Opposition Benches tonight have not given that impression. I have been the chairman and secretary of my trade union and in all my experience I have never known anyone refuse to join the trade union, not even those who belonged to a strict religious sect. I have heard of instances when, on grounds of religious conviction, one or two people have opted out, but arrangements were made for them to make a contribution equal to the union dues to the charity of their choice.

Mr. Prior

We support the hon. Gentleman entirely in what he says. Why is he making this attack on us? We have been saying precisely that over months and years.

Mr. Dempsey

I am attacking the two speeches that I have heard tonight and that sought to convince hon. Members that by encouraging the closed shop they were introducing tendencies to be abhorred, tendencies not belonging to our democratic traditions. The argument started with a person being dismissed from his employment and it culminated in a test case before a commissioner to decide whether he was eligible to receive unemployment benefit. I have never known that to happen.

Why should not we have a closed shop? A closed shop is an arrangement by which every worker in the establishment contributes to the union, or to a noble cause, and enjoys the benefits of trade union organisation. We have operated such a system in which every individual belonged to the trade union, with the exception of those with religious convictions. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East wishes to encourage people to give all sorts of reasons for not belonging to a trade union. That is an unacceptable argument.

It has been said that an individual should decide for himself which union to join. I cannot imagine anything more ludicrous than for a shop assistant to apply to join the NUM or for a miner to apply to join the shop assistants' trade union. In each undertaking a certain type of job is done or a certain type of service provided. There is an association of work-people to cater for each type of employment. If there is any difficulty about deciding to which union a person should belong, he has recourse to the trade union machinery. There is also a dispute committee of the TUC in England and Wales and of the Scottish TUC. That body intervenes. It is a matter between the relevant unions. A decision is reached about to which union the person should belong and the matter is solved without recourse to the grotesque complexities of which we have heard tonight.

The Government's proposition is realistic, whereas the amendment is unrealistic. I have never known anyone to be dismissed for not belonging to a trade union. I have never known anyone to be face to face with the possibility of losing unemployment benefit. That problem has never arisen in my experience, and it should not arise if there is responsible leadership from the trade union movement on the one hand and the employers on the other.

Good will and understanding in matters of that sort can result in the closed shop principle being embraced not only by the trade unions, but by the employers. I have had the experience in my lifetime of employers appealing for a closed shop to ensure, for example, the convenience of wage negotiations and negotiations for improvements in conditions of work. Employers have wanted the closed shop to prevent fragmented negotiations between one section and another, negotiations that would devour essential management time that should have been devoted to production, looking for orders and expanding the business.

I have known employers to appeal to heaven in their efforts to have one trade union covering all their workers so that one set of negotiations could solve problems and enable management to get on with its business. That has been my experience of the closed shop in practice.

The closed shop was operating before I started work, and I was only a young boy when I joined a trade union in those conditions. It is still operating in the same way after nearly half a century, and we have never lost one day's production from industrial action. In my lifetime as a trade unionist I have never known what it is to be involved in a strike.

My experience indicates that the closed shop should be welcomed by industry, by the trade union movement, by the Government and by society. Properly handled, properly operated and properly managed, it would be a boon for this country.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)

We in the Conservative Party agree with the hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) about the need for maximum good will and understanding on both sides of industry, but the hon. Member appeared to be taking us into a land of eccentricity when he suggested that we were somehow drafting amendments that would result in shop assistants trying to join the miners' union, or vice versa. I do not think that the hon. Member has followed our arguments closely enough.

This is about the eighth time in some 15 months that we have tried to explain to the Government our desire to ameliorate this rigid rule about joining a particular trade union. Every time we debate this subject I am reminded of what hon. Members opposite used to say when we were putting forward our 1971 Act. They said then that in this country we needed loose, informal arrangements between the Government and the TUC and loose arrangements within the TUC rather than the rigid rules and the military type discipline that the Conservative Government—according to those hon. Members—were putting forward. Yet here we see a very rigid rule on the subject of having to belong to a particular trade union.

Is there really so much feeling within the trade union movement against the principle that someone with reasonable grounds of conscience need not belong to a particular trade union? Are trade unions not prepared to live with a few people on the factory floor who will not join a particular union because they have a genuine conscientious objection to doing so? Surely all industrial experience shows that unions will tolerate that situation, that there can be peaceful co-existence.

Why force the pace? Why create trouble by bringing forward this new condition? The hon. Member said that he had never heard of anyone being kicked out of a job for refusing to join a particular union. In today's Financial Times there is a headline, "Petition on BR Writer". The report states that: About 50 union members from British Rail Eastern Region"— not members of a national housewives' league or some such body— are today sending a petition to Sir Richard Marsh, BR's chairman, in protest at the threatened dismissal of a white-collar employee who refuses to join a union under the industry's closed shop agreement. The employee involved, Mr. David Blackwell, a feature write for BR's staff journal, is awaiting further action by the management following a recent verbal warning that he faced dismissal for failing to join one of the three rail unions in line with the agreement that came into effect last August. Mr. Blackwell has an address in South Bedfordshire and has approached me as his Member of Parliament. As I understand it, he is willing to join the Institute of Journalists. But the most important aspect of this vital piece of news in today's Financial Times is that one of the organisers of the petition has said that the purpose was to show what the 'grass roots' union members felt about forcing employees to join a closed shop. This situation has not existed on British Rail for years, and we on the Conservative side cannot understand why the Government insist on forcing the pace and creating a great deal of trouble for themselves.

There are three reason why somebody might object to belonging to a particular union. He might not like its policy at the time. He might know of a case where the union had failed to carry out its agreement and obligations to an individual member. He might object to the union's party-political affiliation. These can all change. Unions may decide to support a particular political party in the future which is not to the liking of a member or a person who is expected to join.

We have said again and again that this is a Government who tell us that they are preaching tranquillity. We have a Prime Minister who is trying to combine the réles of President Eisenhower and Mr. Baldwin with a policy of "Take it easy, nothing drastic, safety first." Yet this Government will not agree to a very modest change in their proposals concerning the closed shop.

These proposals will cause trouble and encourage people to challenge unions on them. Where there has been industrial peace when people have not belonged to a particular union because of a genuine conscientious objection, why disturb that peace? Why risk trouble? The Government are putting industrial peace at risk by their insistence on these propsals. They are utterly unnecessary and the Secretary of State should think again.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

We are really concerned in this debate with how wide a conscience clause should be in the circumstances discussed.

Paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 1 to the principal Act resulted from a Liberal amendment in this House. It was the right kind of compromise, which is so often necessary in modern industrial conditions, between the interests of the group and the interests of the individual—the freedom of the group and the freedom of the individual.

There is a very heavy onus on the Government to justify the change they propose in the principal Act. What mischief are they trying to remedy? This paragraph has been in operation in the principal Act for 18 months. Has it caused any difficulty? From what quarter does the pressure arise? The provision in paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 1 should be permitted to remain, for the simple reason that otherwise there is a risk of a grave personal injustice being done. It is not that the risk is widespread. I do not think it is.

With great respect to the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), who adumbrated the view that a man might be deprived of his unemployment benefit if he were sacked in these circumstances, I could not follow his reasoning. I should have thought it would be difficult for any tribunal to hold that a man had been dismissed for misconduct in these circumstances, or had voluntarily given up his employment.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman was on firmer ground when he suggested that a man might be deprived of unemployment benefit which he was already receiving if he was offered alternative employment which had an additional requirement. However, I did not follow to the same conclusion as did the right hon. and learned Gentleman the first part of his argument.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I did not conclude that it could be construed as misconduct or as voluntarily leaving. In fact, I said expressly that, in the ordinary meaning of the language, clearly it was not. But it might be argued in the future that there was an analogous situation and that it was not clear. I quite agree that the second position is the more dangerous; that is to say, it would be held that a man had refused suitable alternative employment because he was not prepared to join a closed shop.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Hooson

I am glad to see that we are not very far apart in our understanding of the position.

To revert to the main argument, however, it seems to me that it is very much like the case of a conscientious objector in war time, when it is always argued that a conscientious objector is being carried by those who are prepared to fight to defend their country. There are those who have always argued against the rights of a conscientious objector. There are others who say that any rights should be restricted to those with religious objections and so on.

It has been argued by Government supporters with regard to the position here that there should be a very narrow conscience clause restricted to those who have a conscientious objection to belonging to a union on religious or some other grounds. I do not see why that should be. I can conceive of circumstances in which a person genuinely has an objection to belonging to a certain trade union. Why should he be deprived of employment on those grounds and then be unable to recover damages by way of compensation before a tribunal?

There is a heavy onus on the Government. If they are anxious for industrial peace—and they have moved a considerable distance in convincing right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches of the need for a closed shop in modern industrial conditions in many circumstances—I think that they are pushing it in trying to reverse this provision in the principal Act.

On those grounds I shall support the amendment.

Mr. Booth

The effect of this amendment would be to retain a provision in our law for unfair dismissal compensation to be paid to anyone dismissed for noncompliance with a union membership agreement if he satisfies an industrial tribunal that he has reasonable grounds for objecting to membership of a particular trade union.

This provision has been operating for some time and we can make a judgment about whether it is effective for the purposes for which it was added to our legislation. I have to tell the House that of all the cases which tribunals have considered under this provision in only two have they found that the applicants have had reasonable grounds for objecting to membership of a particular union and in neither of those cases have the tribunals decided that the persons concerned should be re-engaged or reinstated in their previous employment.

I disagree slightly with the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe), because we are concerned not only with whether there should be financial compensation but with unfair dismissal cases generally and, in the specific case covered by the amendment, with whether a person should be reinstated in his employment. Paragraph 17(2) of Schedule 1 lays a duty on the tribunals to consider whether re-engagement is practicable in a case under consideration and whether to order that there should be reinstatement. However, it is now quite clear that a great number of people have been encouraged to go to tribunals in the belief that they may persuade them that they have reasonable grounds for objecting to being members of a particular union and have been disappointed.

I suggest that human considerations show that that is not surprising. I doubt whether anyone would take the view that his reasons for objecting to belonging to a particular union were unreasonable, or whether any hon. Member arguing in favour of or against this amendment would regard his reasons as being anything but reasonable.

This provision has therefore had the ill-effect of encouraging people to seek the protection of the tribunal rather than comply with the conditions of the union membership agreement. By the time those individuals discover that the tribunal will not endorse their view that their grounds for objection are reasonable, they have lost their job and are unable to recover it. Further, in all but two cases they have been unable to receive financial compensation.

Mr. Hooson

The Minister has referred to two cases in which it was found that there were reasonable grounds. Out of how many cases was that? When he says that the provision has encouraged people to go to the tribunals, may we know how many have gone?

Mr. Booth

I have not got the precise figures, but I shall try to obtain them. My impression has been that over the past 12 months or so we have seen the application of the union membership agreement much more widely and rapidly than ever before, possibly, in our history. It is reasonable to suppose that the number of cases that have come forward in the past 15 months has been more than would generally be the case. I think that it has been a fair test period.

Mr. Hayhoe

If the Minister says that it is two cases out of 30, 40 or 50, that will not seem too bad a score. If it is two cases out of 10, we shall want to consider that. There needs to be a balance in these matters. If we are providing a remedy that has been effective in a significant percentage of cases, it seems that it would be desirable to continue providing it.

Mr. Booth

I now have the number. I have been advised that the number of complainants who have gone to the tribunals is 40. My point is that not one has been successful in obtaining reinstatement or re-engagement. That is significant. The provision is such that by the time the complainants discover the ruling of the tribunal, they are without a job. In the overwhelming majority of cases, if this test period gives us any guidance, they are without financial compensation, too.

Mr. Hayhoe

The Minister emphasises that the recommendation has not been for reinstatement or re-engagement, but there is a certain disingenuousness about that argument. He knows perfectly well, because we went over the matter time and again during the passage of the Employment Protection Act, that—as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) has pointed out—there is no obligation for an order to be made reinstating someone, and ensuring that there is specific performance of a contract of employment. All that is involved is that in certain circumstances, if an order for reinstatement is made, higher compensation may be paid. It is on the financial side that we ought to be looking. Perhaps those who go to the tribunal seeking a remedy in these circumstances are looking for some financial compensation.

Mr. Booth

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. If hon. Members are concerned only about financial compensation, it is strange that they have approved the provisions of Section 106 and paragraph 17 of Schedule 1 laying upon tribunals a specific duty to consider whether it is practicable, in accordance with equity, for the complainant to be reinstated or re-engaged.

I put it to the hon. Member that in subsequent debate on the Employment Protection Act we gave further consideration to the circumstances in which it would be practicable to give effect to reinstatement or re-engagement. The House has been concerned about it. If as a House we formed the judgment that we could not ultimately enforce this and that in such circumstances the best course would be to give greater compensation, I do not believe that that would be because the majority felt that in any circumstances it was not desirable to attempt in so far as was practicable to ensure that in certain circumstances the decision of an industrial tribunal should result in someone being reinstated or re-engaged. That is an important consideration and the House has shown that it wishes to be able to find the solution in law if that is possible.

We must also consider the undesirable side effects of the provision. Employers and trade unions can avoid its difficulties by following a pre-entry rather than a post-entry closed shop. The House should give no encouragement to employers or trade unions to form pre-entry rather than post-entry closed shops or vice versa. I have always maintained that the law should be neutral over whether there should be a closed shop.

The measure should do nothing to encourage the formation or non-formation of a closed shop, but should leave it to the trade unionists and employers to decide. They are in the best position to judge whether it is desirable to have a trade union membership agreement in their employment circumstances and in their premises. If they so decide, they are the best people to know how it should apply and whether people should be excluded or included. Our attitude on the amendment is consistent with that position. Even if the words reasonable grounds for objecting to membership of a union were included within the union agreement and those involved were seeking to comply with the legislation, they would still cause difficulties in interpretation, difficulties which have faced the tribunal and resulted in only two out of 40 complainants obtaining protection.

I have been asked to refer to the position of the Ferrybridge Six. It is a fair point that if the Bill is passed without the amendment, a defence now available to people in that position will be removed. We do not yet know when the industrial tribunal will finally reach a decision and publish it. There has been a long and complex hearing of the unfair dismissal case. It has raised a number of difficult points which the unclear state of our law has not helped.

There is no question of the decision being deliberately help up. Tribunals are completely independent. My right hon. Friend has no power to intervene. Tribunals have spent some time in reaching a decision on several cases in the past year. Therefore, this case is not peculiar in taking this length of time.

There have been questions about when the insurance officer's decision will be known. He will announce his decision when he is satisfied that he has the full information necessary to make it. I understand that he has found some people from whom he has sought necessary information not always to be forthcoming with it. There may be an appeal to a commissioner about that. If I or my right hon. Friend were to announce to the House the sort of decision which we wanted the national insurance officer to reach on an application for unemployment benefit, and if he heeded our words and made his decision accordingly, it would be a bad way of making law and amending the social security legislation.

Mr. Hayhoe

I agree that law should not be made by Ministers in the way the right hon. Gentleman has just described. But can he tell us the current unemployment benefit position of the individuals concerned? I understand that these individuals who have been dismissed for not conforming with a closed shop agreement are being denied unemployment benefit. Of course one recognises that as the procedures will be implemented throughout the matter may be put right at a later stage.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Booth

My understanding accords with that of the hon. Gentleman. I understand that they are not receiving unemployment benefit or, as far as I know, supplementary benefit, but I should have to check to confirm that. However, that was the position when I last inquired.

I should like to point out that the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth misrepresented the Government when he said that we had stuck to an extreme position and were seeking to impose a brutal penalty by advising the House to reject the amendment. He is wrong to say that. We have not stuck to an extreme position. We have listened carefully to all the representations made to us on this issue and we have taken on board the importance rightly attached to the effects on individual employees of the making of union membership agreements.

We have amended and modified the legislation and proposed amendments seeking to obtain a different solution to the problem from that advocated by the Opposition amendment. We have sought to find a solution in terms of enabling those who make union membership agreements—in so far as those agreements affect unfair dismissal compensation—to make them as flexible as possible, to exclude or include individuals and, even after they have made those agreements, to vary them by tacit agreement. That is one of the proposals before the House.

If hon. Gentlemen care to consider the amendment to paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 1, which complements the Government amendment to Clause 2(3), they will see that, by removing the reference to "all employees" and inserting employees for the time being in the wording giving guidance to the tribunals in determining whether there is a union membership agreement applying to dismissed employees, we are adding flexibility to closed shop agreements and the way they are or are not enforced by employers. Moreover, we are encouraging the tribunals not to take a rigid line on what constitutes a valid membership agreement.

By deleting the reference to "all employees" we are implying that if an occasion arises when an individual who appears to be covered by a union membership agreement is not a union member but is not dismissed, that does not necessarily invalidate the union agreement. By inserting the words "for the time being" we are intending to lay stress on the current practice concerning who is covered by a union membership agreement.

Therefore, it will be possible, whatever the original arrangement or agreement at a particular place of employment, to acknowledge that it has become tacitly accepted that certain individuals do not need to join. Those who have reached that tacit agreement will not be invalidating the union membership agreement but updating it and the tribunals will he entitled to take account of that. The two amendments to which I have referred are, I hope, the last of a great many that the Government have brought forward to amend the definition of union membership agreements and other provisions of the Bill to enable union membership agreements to work flexibly.

The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) asked whether unions would live with a situation where a few people were not willing to join. My experience is that in the vast majority of cases they will live with that situation. That is one of the reasons why there are closed shop agreements which ignore or exclude people who have been in firms for a number of years and which require only certain provisions to apply to those who joined the firm after a specific date. It is also one reason why the majority of employers and trade unions have determined not to operate closed shop or union membership agreements.

The Government believe that this is a matter for employers and trade unions. We believe that we should take a neutral position and not seek to continue a provision that will encourage people to think that they can make a successful challenge on the ground that they have some reasonable objection to union membership in a way that often results in their being not only disappointed but out of a job. We believe that if this provision were to be changed, it would militate against the provision that the law does not seek to deter employers from signing membership agreements by making them liable in many cases for compensation for unfair dismissal. We seek to maintain a neutral position and it can be achieved by rejecting the amendment.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)

I last took part in a debate in this Chamber on the closed shop and its effect on a few individuals about nine months ago. I realise that the Minister has been round the course several times. Therefore, I make no criticism that he seems a little jaded as he is going over fairly familiar ground.

I hoped that when the right hon. Gentleman intervened something new might come from him. Although he referred to two minuscule alterations which he believed the Government had made, in essence I found that he was sticking to the position, which I regard as extreme, to which he was adhering nine months ago.

However, nothing new appears ever to occur to the Minister and no argument appears capable of deflecting him. For instance, I was astonished when the right hon. Gentleman used as argument that only two people have succeeded before tribunals. When it was pointed out to him that that figure was meaningless unless it was related to the number of applications to tribunals, he turned to those advising him and made no secret of the fact that the figure of 40 total applications came as a complete surprise. Despite the fact that it made his quotation of only two successful claimants almost meaningless, the right hon. Gentleman carried on as though it had no effect on his argument.

Contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman asserted, however, two successful claimants out of 40 shows that the provision which was written into the legislation in the last Session of Parliament in the period of the minority Government causes no inconvenience to tribunals, causes no major upheaval in industrial relations, is not actively being challenged by many people and is not causing a dramatic change in the trade union movement. However, the Government are determined to try to reverse it.

Mr. Booth

Will the hon. Gentleman at least allow that the figure of 40 is of no significance whatsoever unless it is considered against the background of the number of union membership agreements made within the period? I am relating the figure of two—who received only financial compensation, not reinstatement—to a period in which there had been significant developments in the formation of union membership agreements.

Mr. Clarke

I shall relate the 40 to the number of possible claims which might be pending, some of which are within my knowledge, which is a relevant consideration. I realise that the extension of union agreements was bound to follow the Government's declared intention. The opportunity to challenge agreements where individual rights are interfered with is being used modestly, is sometimes being used successfully by a few claimants and should be tolerated by the Government because it is causing no disruption to anybody.

Perhaps I should make it clear, since it has been challenged, that I and my hon. Friends believe that we know the value to the trade unions of the closed shop agreement because it can be a valuable addition to bargaining power, and that we know the value to many major employers of satisfactory closed shop arrangements with the obvious and sensible negotiating unions. I also appreciate the legitimate anger of trade unionists about the pure "free rider", the man who determines to opt out of union membership and avoid paying his dues while intending to take advantage of union negotiations on his behalf. In those circumstances a proper closed shop can be a valuable addition to industrial relations, as long as it is exercised with common sense, the tolerance for unusual cases and the respect for individuals which should command universal support in the House.

A few years ago I might have been persuaded that, if the Government had their way, such was the usual common sense of industrial relations that one could rely on the fact that few people would try to persecute a worthwhile and deserving individual under this protection. If the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) were in a dominant position in the trade union movement still, I might have been content to leave to men such as he flexibility and discretion not to prosecute individuals.

In recent months and years, however, I have begun to fear that the kind of immunities that the Government intend will lead to abuse and, in a few cases, to real persecution of individuals. The principle of solidarity is being used to browbeat sensible and reasonable people.

Another feature of the closed shop agreement as it may be enshrined in this legislation is that it can be used to maintain a monopoly bargaining position for unions which would otherwise lose members in an industry because they had ceased to command the respect and support of a large numer of members who wanted to look for alternative representation.

The matter on which I wish to dwell to illustrate this is the present and worrying example of the attempt to exterminate the Electricity Supply Union. The Ferrybridge Six case is before a tribunal, so that one cannot go further into that. But I would not want the House to be led into the belief, as some people may be outside, that only six members of that union at one Yorkshire power station are affected. In fact, the right to work of several dozen people is in jeopardy and the personal liberty of several hundreds is being put at risk at this moment.

I say that not to put forward grotesque fantasies, as the hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie suggested, but because of the experience in Nottinghamshire in and around my constituency. At Ratcliffeon-Soar in my constituency is the largest coal-fired power station in the United Kingdom. Nearby at Wilford is a smaller, old-fashioned coal-fired station. The ESU was strong at both. Of the total work force of 480 at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, 240 were members of the ESU. About 300 men work at Wilford, of whom 50 were members of the ESU. Of those 290 members, about half were also members of one of the other unions in the industry. Therefore, far from being free riders, they belonged to one of the signatory unions to the present agreement but, in addition, were prepared to pay for additional representation by the ESU.

9.0 p.m.

They were untroubled until trouble came to a climax at Ferrybridge in November last year. Since that time the position of the ESU members, in the last few months particularly, has deteriorated very rapidly indeed. The majority of the ESU members who were not dual members have now been interviewed by the management, and all have been warned of their default of contract.

What has happened is that the vast majority of men, with their work put in jeopardy, have agreed to surrender their ESU cards, and a high proportion of those who were not dual members have agreed to join one of the signatory unions. However, about 35 to 40 of the men have decided that they will have to join a signatory union but have applied to join a signatory union other than the union to which they originally belonged before they took out ESU membership.

Their applications were sent in. Some members actually received membership cards and began to pay subscriptions to the union they now wish to join. However, since 11th December all those applications have been suspended pending an inquiry into previous union membership.

What happened was that a signatory union official sent off a letter of complaint referring to a minute of the NJIC meeting which makes it clear that it was the intention of the signatory unions that all members who had left a signatory union should return to the particular union which they had left and should not be allowed even to exercise the choice of joining another signatory union which was party to the new agreement that is being enforced and insisted upon.

Therefore, hundreds of men have had their freedom to belong to the ESU ended. Most have fallen in with going back to their former trade union. About 35 to 40 are at present at risk of losing their jobs, not because they do not want to pay subscriptions and not because they do not want to join a union which is a party to the industry's agreement but because they have the temerity to seek to belong to another union that is party to the agreement but is other than that to which they had previously belonged.

I assure Labour Members who may feel that those 35 or 40 men are in some way unreasonable or unusual and cannot be tolerated that almost without exception they are long-standing trade union members, and most of them have been Labour voters for all their adult lives; some may even remain so following this legislation. But they are perfectly ordinary, reasonable trade unionists who are being persecuted in anticipation of the legislation which this House is being asked to pass.

That is disgraceful. I do not think that this was in the Government's mind when they brought this proposal forward, but they are blinding themselves to the fact that that kind of use will be made of the provisions that they are proposing to enact.

Often when hon. Members make a direct attack on the closed shop in industry they are accused of being naïve about industrial relations and of not having any real feel or experience about these matters. I believe that it is Labour Members who are being naïve about the fact that they feel they can rely on traditional trade union values and what they believe to be the common sense of the trade union movement to apply in every case, so that they can be confident that no sensible, reasonable individual will be persecuted as a result of what they do. I believe, however, that they will have disciplines applied to them that are out of all proportion to any affront they have offered to the trade union movement in the past. It is a disgrace that this should be done to those in my constituency and others who are members of the ESU who risk losing their livelihoods.

This kind of discrimination can occur in relation to many other matters. Discrimination of this kind on grounds of sex, race and religion would be regarded as an intolerable disgrace by 99 per cent. of hon. Members. But discrimination on the grounds of a sensible political decision and a sensible industrial decision which happens not to be agreed with by the dominant trade unions in the industry is now to have the approval of the present Government. I cannot believe even at this stage that Labour Members ought to allow themselves to press that sort of opinion on the House.

Mr. Bulmer

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for not having heard what he said, but I understand that he did not make any concessions.

I should like to put to the Minister the position of a constituent of mine who came to this country a number of years ago because he had a great respect for its traditions of concern for the liberty of the individual. He now finds himself in a position in which he feels that he will lose his job because he is not prepared to join a trade union.

My constituent wrote me in these terms: I am a very strong believer in unions, but unions should be so good and attractive that every worker would want to join, not have to be forced to become members. To join a club, the rule book of which I don't like or believe in, is ludicrous. I find it absolutely unbelievable that you can approve the idea of anyone being forcibly made to sign a form which makes the secretary of whichever union they join their political spokesman … Union funds are used to sponsor MPs and for countless other political purposes. All union secretaries attend Labour Party conferences every year voting and speaking, not representing themselves but on behalf of the union. Sir, no one has the right to speak on my behalf on political matters without my consent. My political spokesman is my MP, and that applies to every person in the country. Union leaders were elected to represent working men of all political beliefs in the matter of industry …".

Mr. Bidwell

The hon. Gentleman is reading absolute nonsense. The trade union general secretaries who attend Labour Party conferences are few and far between. Not all TUC unions are affiliated to the Labour Party. Why does the hon. Gentleman read this letter as representing the truth? It is written by an amateur and it is obviously being presented by another amateur.

Mr. Bulmer

This man is my constituent and he feels that he is about to lose his job. Labour Members are usually very concerned if their constituents are about to lose their jobs—

Mr. Bidwell


Mr. Bulmer

The hon. Gentleman says "Rubbish". Is he not concerned?

Mr. Bidwell

Read on.

Mr. Bulmer

My constituent will be interested to read the hon. Gentleman's intervention. My constituent has come to this country ready to learn, but I believe that he has a point. I believe that the House should listen to what he has to say.

The letter continues: Union leaders were elected to represent working men of all political beliefs in the matter of industry and its relationships, not … to interfere in other matters of government. It then states: From an early age I was a member of the Socialist Youth movement as my parents and their friends were members of the Social Democratic party. He was by birth a Sudeten German.

He then describes how National Socialism took over in his country and the problems with which he was faced. He writes: In 1939 when I was about to start my first job, I was asked whether I was a member of the Hitler Youth. As I was not, there was no job for me. Now, it could be the unions who will be telling me to either join their ranks or else be thrown on the 'scrap heap' no matter how good a worker I am or how skilled in my job I am. Can you please tell me where the difference between the two lies? What can I say to my constituent? Perhaps the Minister will answer for me. Here is a man who has seen and suffered the evolution of the corporate State in what is about its nastiest form. He can see the powers of the State increasing and expanding into every facet of life. He senses quite accurately how powerless the individual is if he chooses to resist. To where can he turn for shelter? To plead conscience or to show reasonable grounds is a defence that the Government are determined to strip away. Ministers who are so fond of quoting Donovan when it suits them choose to pass by on the other side.

If the House decides to allow access to a tribunal neither to a man who refuses to join a trade union on reasonable grounds nor to a man who believes that he has been wrongfully expelled it will be abrogating its responsibilities. The Labour Party feels that it has much to gain from extending the power of trade unions. By extending their powers it will have a greater income and a greater leverage in industry and will be able to provide a rougher ride for its political opponents. If, however, it greatly strengthens their powers, has it not a parallel duty to protect the rights of individuals from the abuse of such power? Even the New Statesman has felt that it has to comment on the rise of the know-nothing Left.

My constituent has sometimes had a great deal of difficulty in making his point. Perhaps he has experienced that difficulty because he comes from another country. He is told to shut up as he is a bloody foreigner if what he says is unpopular. We in this House cannot put this matter aright overnight.

My constituent continues: Before closing I would like to make one more reference to your belief that all or more union members should participate in branch meetings and its business. If you worked on the shop floor you might understand better into which categories workers fall. A relatively small percentage is organised and all out to destroy. Another small percentage see where it is all leading because they have sufficient political knowledge but are powerless because they cannot use the same forceful methods as they have not the support of the leadership. At least 65 per cent. are either too frightened, too apathetic or have no knowledge of union business or politics. Should the fact that they either do not want to, or genuinely cannot, take part give the destroyers a 'blank cheque' to do what they like with the lives of the rest? My constituent is writing about the factory in which he works. It the House is not prepared to defend him he must look elsewhere, and probably the best place to which to turn is to other members of trade unions. Recent research has revealed that one-half or more of workers thought that it wrong that workers should be compelled to belong to trade unions, 66 per cent. thought that they had too much power and 50 per cent. thought they were controlled by extremists. That is a large slice of trade unionists.

My constituent is probably being pessimistic about the present situation, and I hope that that proves to be the case. I believe that the right way to see that extremists are not over-powerful is to ensure that all who work in a firm are involved to an increasing extent in decision-making. If unions are allowed to conduct their elections and to have their meetings in company time and the management makes every effort to educate personnel, these problems will go away, but this will require a great deal of hard work.

If this happens, perhaps at the end of the day we shall arrive at the desirable situation where politics is left to the politician, management is left to management and decision-making is left to those who are involved in the enterprise in the formulation of which trade unionists will rightly have an expanding rôle. Until that time, I believe that this amendment will be necessary.

Mr. Prior

I wish briefly to reply to the debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer) did not need to apologise for having been absent at the beginning of the debate. If other hon. Members had attended these debates as regularly as has my hon. Friend, we should have had a much fuller Chamber. Over a long time my hon. Friend has shown a constructive and understanding attitude about what happens on the shop floor. He was entitled to make out the case of his constituent.

We have had some interesting and powerful speeches from the Conservative Benches. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) takes a great interest in this subject, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke). I know that my hon. Friend has great difficulties in his constituency with the 35 or 40 members of the ESU who wish to join a union which is subject to a union agreement but which is not the union to which they previously belonged.

I do not believe that these problems will just go away. I have been trying to make the Government understand—and also to bring my party to such a position—that since we admit that we went too far in one direction, the Government in turn should admit that they are now going too far in the other. No doubt we shall see other examples in the coming months of the kind of case mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) and others mentioned other problems. I repeat that those problems will not just go away. There will always be a number of people with deeply held convictions that they should not belong to a particular specified union. The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) said that there was a closed shop in his union which some people did not wish to join. They had paid their union dues to a charity, everybody was happy about the situation, and they had forgotten about it. That is the right way to work out these things. It is far better in many industrial units to have collective union agreements, but there must always be proper provision for the individual who refuses to join a union on grounds of conscience or deeply-held conviction.

9.15 p.m.

Surely this is our job. However, it is not only our task to protect the individual; we must also create an atmosphere for industrial peace. The Opposition and the Liberals have gone a long way to reach a sensible position. I believe that that is recognised by the trade union movement and the TUC leaders. The Government are in grave danger of creating for themselves the sort of problems we created for ourselves on a previous occasion.

That is why I have been seeking as far as is humanly possible to reach a position in our debates in which politicians can stand aside and leave industrial relations alone. I regret that we are again embarking on a branch of the law that will not enable peace to be created. The Minister said that he did not wish to encourage complaints to take cases of unfair dismissal to industrial tribunals, because in only two cases out of 40 in recent months had they been successful. Whether it is two people out of 40 or 20 people out of 400, they should have this right. If we do not give it to them, we shall still have problems. That is why we feel so strongly about this issue.

If hon. Member opposite had read the debates in the House of Lords, they would see that eminent people like Lord Houghton and Lord George-Brown had said that in modern times it should surely be possible for trade unions, in their overwhelmingly strong position, to accept that there will always be a few people who will take a different view. Do they need this overweening power? The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie did not think so. Nor do we. That is why we shall vote for our amendment and hope that the Government will have second thoughts about rejecting it.

Mr. Booth

The Opposition are asking the House to perpetuate the situation in which the Ferrybridge Six case arose. That is what would happen if the amendment were passed. The test by which an industrial tribunal considered the unfair dismissal claim by the Ferrybridge Six would remain for tribunals to consider in similar circumstances. It is highly undesirable that this test should continue to be the one applied by tribunals to this type of unfair dismissal case. The test is whether an individual is reasonable in his objections to refusing to belong to a particular trade union.

It would be wrong of me to comment too closely upon the way in which the tribunal will examine a claim such as that of the Ferrybridge Six on these grounds. The claim of the ESU to have the right to represent its members in the electricity supply industry was considered by the National Industrial Relations Court. It came to a clear conclusion on whether it was an appropriate union to represent its members in that industry.

When the ESU applied in 1972 for bargaining rights for Ferrybridge, the court rejected its claim almost without hesitation and approved the existing bargaining machinery as adequately covering the Ferrybridge workers. The chairman of the court said: There is no evidence that the ESU has the resources in experience or finance which a union needs if it is to sustain an effective role. At that time the union had a membership of 7,000. Today it has only a few hundred members. A claim for bargaining rights would not fall to be made under the provisions of the Employment Protection Act after 1st February when the appropriate commencement order takes place.

While it was proper to debate the Opposition's grave objections to various aspects of the closed shop, that should not influence the issue on this amendment. Here we are concerned with whether we want to continue in our law a provision which exists in circumstances which have given rise to the case of the Ferrybridge Six.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 240, Noes 287.

Division No. 39.] AYES [9.22 p.m.
Adley, Robert Gorst, John Mills, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Miscampbell, Norman
Alison, Michael Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Moate, Roger
Arnold, Tom Gray, Hamish Monro, Hector
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Griffiths, Eldon Montgomery, Fergus
Baker, Kenneth Grist, Ian Moore, John (Croydon C)
Banks, Robert Grylls, Michael More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bell, Ronald Hall, Sir John Morgan, Geraint
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Benyon, W. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Biffen, John Hampson, Dr Keith Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Biggs-Davison, John Hannam, John Mudd, David
Body, Richard Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Neave, Airey
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hastings, Stephen Nelson, Anthony
Bottomley, Peter Havers, Sir Michael Neubert, Michael
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hawkins, Paul Newton, Tony
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hayhoe, Barney Normanton, Tom
Brittan, Leon Hicks, Robert Nott, John
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Higgins, Terence L. Onslow, Cranley
Brotherton, Michael Holland, Philip Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hooson, Emlyn Osborn, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Hordern, Peter Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Howell, David (Guildford) Parkinson, Cecil
Budgen, Nick Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Pattie, Geoffrey
Bulmer, Esmond Hurd, Douglas Penhaligon, David
Burden, F. A. Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival Ian
Carlisle Mark Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Pink, R. Bonner
Churchill, W. S. James, David Price, David (Eastleigh)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Prior, Rt Hon James
Clark, William (Croydon S) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rathbone, Tim
Clegg, Walter Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Cockcroft, John Jopling, Michael Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cope, John Kaberry, Sir Donald Renton Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Cormack, Patrick Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Corrie, John Kershaw, Anthony Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Costain, A. P. Kilfedder, James Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Crouch, David Kimball, Marcus Ridsdale, Julian
Crowder, F. P. King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rifkind, Malcolm
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Kitson, Sir Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Knight, Mrs Jill Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knox, David Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Drayson, Burnaby Lamont, Norman Rose, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
du Cann Rt Hon Edward Lane, David Royle, Sir Anthony
Durant, Tony Langford-Holt, Sir John Sainsbury, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Latham, Michael (Melton) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lawrence, Ivan Shelton, William (Streatham)
Elliott, Sir William Lawson, Nigel Shepherd, Colin
Emery Peter Le Marchant, Spencer Shersby, Michael
Eyre, Reginald Lester, Jim (Beeston) Silvester, Fred
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sims, Roger
Fairgrieve, Russell Lloyd, Ian Sinclair, Sir George
Fell, Anthony Loveridge, John Skeet, T. H. H.
Finsberg, Geoffrey Luce, Richard Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fisher, Sir Nigel McAdden, Sir Stephen Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) McCrindle, Robert Speed, Keith
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Macfarlane, Neil Spence, John
Fookes, Miss Janet MacGregor, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sproat, Iain
Fox Marcus McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stainton, Keith
Freud, Clement McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stanbrook, Ivor
Fry, Peter Madel, David Stanley, John
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Marten, Neil Stokes, John
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Maude, Angus Stradling Thomas, J.
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Glyn Dr Alan Tebbit, Norman
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mawby, Ray Temple-Morris, Peter
Goodhart, Philip Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Goodhew, Victor Mayhew, Patrick Townsend, Cyril D.
Goodlad, Alastair Meyer, Sir Anthony Trotter, Neville
Tugendhat, Christopher Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
van Straubenzee, W. R. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek Younger, Hon George
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Wall, Patrick
Viggers, Peter Weatherill, Bernard TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wainwright, Richard (Colne V) Wiggin, Jerry Mr. Anthony Berry and
Wakeham, John Winterton, Nicholas Mr. Carol Mather.
Walder, David (Clitheroe) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Allaun, Frank Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Anderson, Donald Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Litterick, Tom
Archer, Peter English, Michael Loyden, Eddie
Armstrong, Ernest Ennals, David Luard, Evan
Ashley, Jack Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Ashton, Joe Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McCartney, Hugh
Atkinson, Norman Ewing, Harry (Stirling) MacCormick, Iain
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) McCusker, H.
Bain, Mrs Margaret Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McElhone, Frank
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Bates, Alf Flannery, Martin McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Bean, R. E. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackenzie, Gregor
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Foot, Rt Hon Michael Maclennan, Robert
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ford, Ben McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John McNamara, Kevin
Bishop, E. S. Fowler Gerald (The Wrekin) Madden, Max
Blenkinsop, Arthur Freeson, Reginald Magee, Bryan
Boardman, H. Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mahon, Simon
Booth, Albert Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur George, Bruce Marks, Kenneth
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Gilbert, Dr John Marquand, David
Bradley, Tom Ginsburg, David Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Golding, John Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Gould, Bryan Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Gourlay, Harry Meacher, Michael
Buchan, Norman Grant, George (Morpeth) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Buchanan, Richard Grant, John (Islington C) Mikardo, Ian
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Grocott, Bruce Millan, Bruce
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Campbell, Ian Harper, Joseph Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Canavan, Dennis Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Molloy, William
Cant, R. B. Hart, Rt Hon Judith Molyneaux, James
Carmichael, Neil Hatton, Frank Moonman, Eric
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hayman, Mrs Helene Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cartwright, John Healey, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Heffer, Eric S. Moyle, Roland
Clemitson, Ivor Henderson, Douglas Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Hooley, Frank Murray, Rt Mon Ronald King
Coleman, Donald Horam, John Newens, Stanley
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Noble, Mike
Concannon, J. D. Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Oakes Gordon
Conlan, Bernard Huckfield, Les Ogden, Eric
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) O'Halloran, Michael
O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Corbett, Robin Hughes, Mark (Durham) Orbach, Maurice
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ovenden, John
Crawford, Douglas Hunter, Adam Owen, Dr David
Cronin, John Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Padley, Walter
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Paisley, Rev Ian
Cryer, Bob Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Palmer, Arthur
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Park, George
Cunningham, D. J. (Whiten) Janner, Greville Parker, John
Dalyell, Tam Jeger, Mrs Lena Parry, Robert
Davidson, Arthur Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pendry, Tom
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) John, Brynmor Perry, Ernest
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Johnson, James (Hull West) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Prescott, John
Deakins, Eric Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Price, William (Rugby)
Delargy, Hugh Jones, Dan (Burnley) Radice, Giles
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Judd, Frank Reid, George
Dempsey, James Kaufman, Gerald Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Doig, Peter Kelley, Richard Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Dormand, J. D. Kerr, Russell Robertson, John (Paisley)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Kilroy-Silk, Robert Roderick, Caerwyn
Duffy, A. E. P. Kinnock, Neil Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Dunlop, John Lambie, David Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dunn, James A. Lamborn, Harry Rooker, J. W.
Dunnett, Jack Lamond, James Rose, Paul B.
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Eadie, Alex Leadbitter, Ted Rowlands, Ted
Edge, Geoff Lee, John Sandelson, Neville
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Sedgemore, Brian
Selby, Harry Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Welsh, Andrew
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) White, James (Pollok)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Whitlock, William
Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C) Thompson, George Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Tierney, Sydney Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Sillars, James Tinn, James Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Silverman, Julius Tomlinson, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Skinner, Dennis Tomney, Frank Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Small, William Torney, Tom Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Tuck, Raphael Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Snape, Peter Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Wise, Mrs Audrey
Spearing, Nigel Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V) Woodall, Alec
Spriggs, Leslie Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd) Woof, Robert
Stallard, A. W. Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Walker, Terry (Kingswood) Young, David (Bolton E)
Stott, Roger Ward, Michael
Strang, Gavin Watkins, David TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Watt, Hamish Mr. David Stoddart and
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Weetch, Ken Mr. Laurie Pavitt.
Swain, Thomas Wellbeloved, James

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Percival

I beg to move, That, pursuant to the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, the House suggests to the Lords the following Amendment to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill: Clause 2, page 2, line 7, leave out subsection (2). Here we are dealing with whether a certain person should in certain circumstances be relieved of the normal provisions of the law.

It is often said that in the view of the Opposition the unions say that they should be above the law. However, we do not say that. We recognise—and we paid tribute to them again last week—that on the whole unions do not seek that position. But there are some respects in which the Government at least seek to put them in that position, whether or not they want it.

There are many circumstances in which a person who suffers injury because of the act of another is entitled to claim damages from that other person. Here we are dealing with whether certain people in certain circumstances should be relieved of that obligation, which rests upon all the other members of the community.

As the Secretary of State knows, my basic proposition is that the law should be the same for everyone and that if anyone says that it should be different for certain people, the onus is upon that person to justify it. If the Government say that certain people should be under certain obligations, it is for the Government to justify that. If, at the same time, people say that they should be free of certain obligations, it is for them to justify that. The right hon. Gentleman, with his customary candour, will be the first to concede that we are dealing with that second position—in other words, with who should have immunity.

In our amendment we have sought to put the matter back as near as can be to the position which obtained before 1971. I say that because no one can ever put anything back precisely. Even on our proposals the immunity would be much wider than ever before because of the extension of the definition of "trade dispute". But, even allowing for that, we seek to put the matter back as near as can be to what it was before 1971. We accept that even with our amendment the immunity is considerably wider than it was then. We do not seek to avoid that consequence.

The difference between the position as it would be if the Government had their way and the position as it would be if we had this amendment is that if the amendment is not carried the immunity accorded to people in the situation that we are discussing would be very much wider than if the amendment were accepted. It would be very much wider because our amendment limits it to contracts of employment whereas the Government want to extend it to all kinds of contract. It would be very much wider because the Government want to include interference with contractual relations. It would be very much wider because the effect of the Government's proposals and subsection (3) is that even intimidation would be protected. There would be protection even in the case of the tort of intimidation.

That is the difference between us. We say that it is for the Government, or the unions if it is they who are asking for this, to establish the need to go even wider than would be the case in our amendment and to go as wide as the Government propose.

Let me deal with the arguments put forward earlier by the Government. The Government say that they are merely putting the situation back to what it was pre-1971. That is wrong. They say that all they are doing is correcting the interpretation which the judges placed on the law pre-1971. Again, that argument will not hold up. It seems to be supposed that this principle applies only to trade unions. It does not. It applies across the whole spectrum of the law.

Of the cases that have been decided following the case of Imperial Hotel v. Cousins, four of the five cases that immediately spring to mind have had nothing to do with trade unions. The Government and the trade unions must be careful not to fall into the error of saying that the decision was inconvenient, therefore it was wrong and therefore the judges are to be blamed and must be put right. This is what Professor Wedderburn always says. It is a dangerous approach to the law.

The Government's proposals are not necessary to clarify the law. Some of the clarification said to be necessary in the Donovan Report has already been effected by the courts. The Government cannot obtain any support for this from the Donovan Report. Although the Donovan Report said that the immunity should be extended to all kinds of contract, it also said that it was only to apply to registered unions and therefore to the officers of the unions acting in the course of their duty. Likewise, no support is to be gained for the Government's proposals from the Industrial Relations Act 1971.

I greatly regret having to rush this argument but there are two further points I must make. Why is this so important? It is important because we are talking about people who have been injured by the acts of someone else. This is only relevant to that basic hypothesis. These are not all big people able to look after themselves. Often they are trade unionists, members of other unions. Often they are wholly innocent people who are minding their own business and who have become mixed up in a dispute and who may be absolutely ruined by the action of those who seek to rely on this immunity. It is important that we get the balance right.

I have a great admiration for the man who fights for his rights and who is prepared to pay for doing so. I do not have so much admiration for the person who tries to get his rights by causing harm to someone else. That is what happens in the case of secondary action. I do not deny the usefulness of this provision to a trade union wishing to further its claims. It is extraordinarily useful to have this immunity. The question is how much should be given at the expense of other members of the community who are equally entitled to look to the House for protection.

It is our case that our amendment would give wide immunity, quite sufficient to enable those who have a job to do to do it. We say that the Government go far beyond what is necessary and that it is for the Government to justify that extension. Unless and until they can do so, the House should resolutely refuse to approve what is proposed by the Government and should instead vote for the amendment.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

The hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) has tried to put the onus on us to justify special legal treatment. Many hon. Members could give different examples to justify the provision. I want to give one which is pertinent and specialised.

The main justification for the legislation is that it would give trade unions legal protection to extend the rights of workers and continue their struggle for improved benefits. The House must recognise that the British workers have been using their power, influence and strength not only for their own members, but for international workers. That is important in the context of international solidarity.

My example, which shows that it is necessary to have the subsection because it will protect the workers and allow them to advance the rights of trade union members, concerns ships not belonging to traditional maritime countries but flying flags of convenience. Liberia, Panama and Cyprus are among those countries which have no traditional maritime interest and which offer tax avoidance, cheap labour and a lack of safety legislation.

The fleets flying flags of convenience have doubled in size every 10 years. By 1974 they constituted 25 per cent. of the world's shipping tonnage. They exploit labour from cheap sources in Africa and various other places. The seamen, with no one to protect them, are sailing on rotten hulks of ships similar to slave vessels and some face starvation. They are paid low wages and have very little heating. British workers have a responsibility for these men who have no organised strength with which to bargain.

The safety of the ships is also to be questioned. Liberia loses ships at three times the average rate of the OECD countries, Panama at six times the rate and Cyprus at eight times the rate. When these unsafe vessels go missing with complete crews, there is often no inquiry.

It may be argued that a problem like this should be solved by the international community, because the nation State concerned has failed to tackle the problem and many ships do not go back to that country. But very little is done internationally by Governments to improve the conditions of the seamen involved and most conventions are ignored. The action that has proved successful is that of trade unions showing their international solidarity.

The International Transport Federation, representing 80 countries and 320 organisations, met in London today to coordinate the campaign against flags-of-convenience ships. Such shipowners are forced to pay reasonable wages, to provide good conditions, to prevent the exploitation of thousands of seamen, and to observe reasonable and minimum standards. Over 800 ships have had such standards forced upon them—and "forced" is the word. We forced them to pay £200 a month as the average European wage when many were paying only £20 to £80 a month. The Federation has been able to force shipowners to pay £1½ million in back pay to the seamen this year. Trade union action and intervention internationally on behalf of those workers requires the protection of the subsection.

The trade union movement internationally must be able to say to the shipowners that they will not allow a ship to leave port if its standards are not satisfactory. That is the justification for the subsection. We say to the dockers and the dock gate men "Do not allow this ship to leave port". In doing so we shall be in breach of the present legislation under which actions are protected only if they come under a contract of employment.

However, a commercial contract is involved here. Third parties are involved. If the seamen, the dock gate men or the dockers refuse to allow the ship to leave, they break the law and induce the breach of a commercial contract. That action is for tort under the present legislation. There is an example in today's Journal of Commerce. The owners of the Panamanian vessel "Camellia" have been forced to pay £50,000 to Pakistan seamen, who have been exploited at a wage of £80 a month. By joint ITF and NUS action in Lancaster we have forced the company to pay the average wage of £200 a month. That is just one further example of exploitation.

Nationally and internationally, Governments do not impose conditions on these ships. We act with international solidarity, but we break the law. This Manchester action itself must almost be breaking the law, but, clearly, no one pursues the law because greater problems are created by going through the courts.

Therefore, we need this provision. We hope that it will be passed tonight and that we shall continue to improve the wages and conditions not only of workers in this country, but internationally. We think that it is morally right to have these provisions. Indeed, if we are not given them by law, we shall continue to act in this way, because we think we are morally justified in improving the conditions of those workers unable to protect themselves.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

I shall be brief. The speech we have just heard is the best argument against the Government's proposals that could have been made. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) has said that he and his union members have a right to have the law bent in such a way that they can interfere with international shipping by retaining ships in British ports.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting him, but I do not know whether he is aware that there is a desire to have a vote on this matter after the Government's reply. It cannot take place after 10 o'clock.

Mr. Lewis

I understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It appears that strong-arm methods should be used to secure the hon. Gentleman's purpose. If this type of situation is accepted and pursued by his union in this country, what will happen if people abroad say the same thing, for other reasons, about British ships when they go into foreign ports? We are creating a situation which can reflect upon ourselves and upon the seamen employed on British ships whom the hon. Gentleman is trying to help.

Mr. Booth

The effect of the amendment would be to delete from the Bill the provision giving immunity against tort liability to actions in breach of any contract, or interference with the performance of a contract, in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. I believe that the excellent and timely example given by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) of the reasons why some actions by the trade unions would inevitably bring about breaches of commercial contracts as well as contracts of employment might well be considered by the House.

If the amendment were carried, the immunity for trade unions engaged in industrial disputes or employers engaged in lock-outs would be limited to the immunity from breach of contract. Moreover, either could be liable to a tort on a breach of commercial contract. It is important that the law should be made clear on this point.

I have listened carefully, as always, to the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival). The view that he expressed tonight is totally at variance with that taken by the Donovan Commission. When examining this matter, the Donovan Commission came to the conclusion that there was a legal protection against a breach of commercial contract if one could thread through the very tortuous provisions of our law.

Donovan also took the view that in practice many would not know how to do this and could be caught on a tort for having breached a commercial contract. Therefore, Donovan came to the conclusion that the law should be changed to give immunity against breach of any contract. The Donovan Commission was divided and there was a minority view on whether the protection should exist only in the case of official strikes by registered unions.

The issue whether immunity against breach of contract should be limited only to the contract of employment was appropriate for consideration under Section 96 of the 1971 Act. That section provided that officials of registered trade unions concerned in official disputes were protected from breach of both the contract of employment and the commercial contract.

I accept that a case has to be made to show that there is inequity in maintaining the position in law where only the contract of employment is covered. That can be demonstrated by considering different disputes. For example, if the dispute described by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East were an official dispute carried out by a registered union it would inevitably bring about breaches of commercial contracts. Other disputes may be carried through without any fear of creating inequity in the law. Therefore, in some cases unions would have to undergo the risk of having a tort action brought against them if the amendment were carried, because that is the only way that certain disputes can be pursued.

We should reject the amendment to remove the inequitable position to which I have referred and troublesome legal doubts. I ask the House to reject the amendment.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 241, Noes 288.

Division No. 40.] AYES [9.57 p.m.
Adley, Robert Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Moore, John (Croydon C)
Aitken, Jonathan Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Alison, Michael Gray, Hamish Morgan, Geraint
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Griffiths, Eldon Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Arnold, Tom Grist, Ian Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Grylls, Michael Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Baker, Kenneth Hall, Sir John Mudd, David
Banks, Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Neave, Airey
Bell, Ronald Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nelson, Anthony
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Hampson, Dr Keith Neubert, Michael
Benyon, W. Hannam, John Newton, Tony
Biffen, John Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nott, John
Biggs-Davison, John Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Body, Richard Havers, Sir Michael Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hawkins, Paul Osborn, John
Bottomley, Peter Hayhoe, Barney Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hicks, Robert Parkinson, Cecil
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Higgins, Terence L. Pattie, Geoffrey
Braine, Sir Bernard Holland, Philip Penhaligon, David
Brittan, Leon Hooson, Emlyn Peyton, Rt Hon John
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Brotherton, Michael Howell, David (Guildford) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Prior, Rt Hon James
Bryan, Sir Paul Hurd, Douglas Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hutchison, Michael Clark Rathbone, Tim
Budgen, Nick Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bulmer, Esmond Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Burden F. A. James, David Rees-Davies, W. R.
Carlisle, Mark Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Churchill, W. S. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Clark, William (Croydon S) Jopling, Michael Ridsdale, Julian
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rifkind, Malcolm
Clegg, Walter Kaberry, Sir Donald Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Cope, John Kershaw, Anthony Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Cormack, Patrick Kilfedder, James Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Corrie, John Kimball, Marcus Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Costain, A. P. King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Royle, Sir Anthony
Crouch David King, Tom (Bridgwater) Sainsbury, Tim
Crowder, F. P. Kitson, Sir Timothy Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Knight, Mrs Jill Shelton, William (Streatham)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Knox, David Shepherd, Colin
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Lamont, Norman Shersby, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lane, David Silvester, Fred
Drayson, Burnaby Langford-Holt, Sir John Sims, Roger
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Latham, Michael (Melton) Sinclair, Sir George
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan Skeet, T. H. H.
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawson, Nigel Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Le Marchant, Spencer Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Speed, Keith
Elliott, Sir William Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Spence, John
Emery, Peter Lloyd, Ian Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Eyre, Reginald Loveridge, John Sproat, Iain
Fairbairn, Nicholas Luce, Richard Stainton, Keith
Fairgrieve, Russell McAdden, Sir Stephen Stanbrook, Ivor
Fell, Anthony McCrindle, Robert Stanley, John
Finsberg, Geoffrey Macfarlane, Neil Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Fisher, Sir Nigel MacGregor, John Stokes, John
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stradling Thomas, J.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fookes, Miss Janet McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Tebbit, Norman
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Madel, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Fox, Marcus Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Freud, Clement Marten, Neil Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Fry, Peter Maude, Angus Townsend, Cyril D.
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Trotter, Neville
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mawby, Ray Tugendhat, Christopher
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mayhew, Patrick Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Glyn, Dr Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony Viggers, Peter
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mills, Peter Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Goodhart, Philip Miscampbell, Norman Wakeham, John
Goodhew, Victor Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Goodlad, Alastair Moate, Roger Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Gorst, John Monro, Hector Walker Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Montgomery, Fergus Wall, Patrick
Weatherill, Bernard Wood, Rt Hon Richard TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wiggin, Jerry Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton) Mr. Carol Mather and
Winterton, Nicholas Younger, Hon George Mr. Anthony Berry.
Allaun, Frank Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) MacCormick, Iain
Anderson, Donald Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) McCusker, H.
Archer, Peter Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McElhone, Frank
Armstrong, Ernest Ewing, Harry (Stirling) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Ashley, Jack Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Ashton, Joe Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mackenzie, Gregor
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Maclennan, Robert
Atkinson, Norman Flannery, Martin McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McNamara, Kevin
Bain, Mrs Margaret Foot, Rt Hon Michael Madden, Max
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Ford, Ben Magee, Bryan
Bates, Alf Forrester, John Mahon, Simon
Bean, R. E. Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Freeson, Reginald Marks, Kenneth
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Garrett, John (Norwich S) Marquand, David
Bidwell, Sydney Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Bishop, E. S. George, Bruce Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Gilbert, Dr John Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Boardman, H. Ginsburg, David Meacher, Michael
Booth, Albert Golding, John Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Gould, Bryan Mikardo, Ian
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Gourlay, Harry Millan, Bruce
Bradley, Tom Grant, George (Morpeth) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Grant, John (Islington C) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Grocott, Bruce Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Molloy, William
Buchan, Norman Harper, Joseph Molyneaux, James
Buchanan, Richard Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Moonman, Eric
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Hart, Rt Hon Judith Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hatton, Frank Moyle, Roland
Campbell, Ian Hayman, Mrs Helene Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Canavan, Dennis Healey, Rt Hon Denis Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Cant, R. B. Heffer, Erie S. Newens, Stanley
Carmichael, Neil Henderson, Douglas Noble, Mike
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hooley, Frank Oakes, Gordon
Cartwright, John Horam, John Ogden, Eric
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) O'Halloran, Michael
Clemitson, Ivor Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Huckfield, Les Orbach, Maurice
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Hughes, Mark (Durham) Ovenden, John
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Owen, Dr David
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Roy (Newport) Padley, Walter
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hunter, Adam Paisley, Rev Ian
Corbett, Robin Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Palmer, Arthur
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Park, George
Crawford, Douglas Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Parker, John
Cronin, John Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Parry, Robert
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Janner, Greville Pavitt, Laurie
Cryer, Bob Jeger, Mrs Lena Pendry, Tom
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Perry, Ernest
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) John, Brynmor Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Dalyell, Tam Johnson, James (Hull West) Prescott, John
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Price, William (Rugby)
Davies, Denzil (Llanell[...]) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Radice, Giles
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Reid, George
Deakins, Eric Judd, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds W) Kaufman, Gerald Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Delargy, Hugh Kelley, Richard Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Kerr, Russell Roderick, Caerwyn
Dempsey, James Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Doig, Peter Kinnock, Neil Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dormand, J. D, Lambie, David Rooker, J. W.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamborn, Harry Rose, Paul B.
Duffy, A. E. P. Lamond, James Ross, William (Londonderry)
Dunlop, John Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Rowlands, Ted
Dunn, James A. Leadbitter, Ted Sandelson, Neville
Dunnett, Jack Lee, John Sedgemore, Brian
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Selby, Harry
Eadie, Alex Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Edge, Geoff Litterick, Tom Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Loyden, Eddie Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Luard, Evan Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Lyon, Alexander (York) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
English, Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Ennals, David McCartney, Hugh Sillars, James
Silverman, Julius Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Whitlock, William
Skinner, Dennis Tierney, Sydney Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Small, William Tinn, James Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Tomlinson, John Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Snape, Peter Tomney, Frank Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Spearing, Nigel Torney, Tom Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Spriggs, Leslie Tuck, Raphael Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Stallard, A. W. Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Stoddart, David Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Stott, Roger Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Woodall, Alec
Strang, Gavin Walker, Terry (Kingswood) Woof, Robert
Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Ward, Michael Wrigglesworth, Ian
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Watkins, David Young, David (Bolton E)
Swain, Thomas Watt, Hamish
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Weetch, Ken TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wellbeloved, James Mr. James Hamilton and
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Welsh, Andrew Mr. Thomas Cox.
Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Thompson, George White, James (Pollok)
Question accordingly negatived.
That the Third Reading of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill may be proceeded with at this day's sitting, though opposed, until Twelve o'clock.—[Mr. Pendry.]