HC Deb 18 March 1976 vol 907 cc1553-601

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 21, at end insert— (2) In paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 1 to the principal Act there shall be inserted after the word 'objects' the following words: ' on grounds of sincerely held personal conscientious conviction not motivated by hope of financial gain or material advantage or'.

3.55 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

I hope that it will be convenient for me to deal with this matter briefly. Then, having heard the debate, I hope that I shall be permitted to reply.

The House may have thought, as I did, when we discussed this Bill on a previous occasion that that would be the very last time that the measure would come before this House. I took that view because I felt that either the House of Lords would agree with the Bill as we returned it to that place on the last occasion or we would" proceed to place the Bill on the statute book under the provisions of the Parliament Act. However, neither eventuality has occurred and the Bill is back before us. The House of Lords did not decide to throw out the whole Bill but decided to limit to one small amendment the changes that it wished to make. It is an important amendment and it stands on its own. Therefore, the Bill has returned to the House of Commons in that way.

If we again send the Bill to the House of Lords, my expectation and hope is that the House of Lords will then, at last, accept our decision. I hope that the Bill will become an Act of Parliament without our having to invoke the Parliament Act. That would be the most convenient procedure for all concerned, and I hope that that will occur.

Although this amendment which comes to us from the House of Lords is a minor one, I am not suggesting that it does not raise an important question. We have discussed on many occasions the so-called conscience clause. Our differences with the Opposition flow from no disrespect for the claims of conscience but from the fact that we do not believe that respect for conscience can be put in the statutory form sought for it by the Opposition. For that reason, we have on many previous occasions turned down proposals on this score.

Lords Amendment No. 1, which was moved in another place by Lord Hailsham, seeks to add the words: on grounds of sincerely held personal conscientious conviction not motivated by hope of financial gain or material advantage or…". The effect would be to make the dismissal of a person who refused to join a closed shop automatically unfair—that is to say, compensatable—if a tribunal found that he genuinely objected, on grounds of sincerely-held personal conscientious conviction, other than religious convictions, which are already covered, to being a member of any trade union whatsoever.

We believe that if such a provision were written into the Bill it would be most obscure. It is a good deal more obscure than many of the other so-called conscience clauses proposed on previous occasions. It would set many difficult and awkward problems for the courts to decide, and nobody could be certain how they would decide them. The tribunals would have many difficult questions to determine. For example, they would have to determine whether a conviction was sincerely held, whether it was personal and whether it was conscientious. They would also have to decide the relationship between personal conviction and conscience, and individual motives and many other questions would arise. We believe that the amendment goes very wide indeed in allowing exceptions from the closed shop by those who oppose the political sympathies of unions, who oppose any form of strike action or who believe that membership of a union is incompatible to them.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Have not the recent events in Barnsley given the right hon. Gentleman some anxiety about this matter?

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Foot

I think that matters affecting the events in Barnsley would be more appropriately raised in our next debate when we discuss provisions affecting the Press. If questions are put to me then, I shall be happy to answer them. But the events in Barnsley have nothing to do with this aspect of the question under discussion. What is more, no provision which has been proposed would have dealt with the situation in Barnsley.

I hope that that point will not be accepted as a valid one, because the wording proposed to be added would mean opening up a very wide possibility of closed shops or union membership agreements being nullified, which in turn would mean much greater difficulty and confusion in the establishment of such agreements. It would also mean that the individuals concerned would be unlikely to know for certain what were their rights, how they would be protected and what would be the outcome of any court action.

Therefore, we do not believe that that is the right way to deal with the problem. That has been our view throughout. In many respects, the wording of the amendment—which, incidentally, is not the same as the wording in the Labour Party's Standing Orders, which in any event deal with a quite different range of subjects—is a good deal vaguer and more obscure even than the wording which has been proposed on previous occasions. We think, therefore, that the objections to it are all the stronger and that it would be quite wrong for this House to accept such wording to try to deal with the matter.

However, I wish to underline strongly, because it partly indicates what I said at the beginning of my remarks, that the Government have been eager right from the beginning to ensure that the union membership agreements that we have are flexible and that they deal with all these questions as satisfactorily as possible. I repeat that we cannot deal with these matters satisfactorily in a statute but that we can deal with them in many of the agreements which will be made between employers and unions under the provisions of our legislation.

In practice, prior to the Industrial Relations Act the great majority of closed-shop arrangements were operated on a flexible basis. Individuals who were known to have strong personal objections to joining a union were mostly ignored, by tacit agreement between unions and management, even if there were written agreements which did not make exceptions for conscientious objectors, for example. That was the general rule and the general practice which prevailed prior to the Industrial Relations Act.

The fact that a "union membership agreement" had to be defined for the first time in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, because of the unfair dismissal legislation that we were incorporating, led to some anxiety on the part of employers that if they operated flexible arrangements of this kind it could be held that there was not a valid closed shop agreement or that it was not properly operated to require the dismissal of non-members as provided for in the legislation. The decision in the case of the Ferrybridge Six, where the tribunal held that there was not a closed shop operating in practice because a number of employees had not been compelled to join a recognised union, confirmed these fears.

The Amendment Bill therefore aims to restore the possibility of employers and unions making written exceptions for particular groups of employees like conscientious objectors on any grounds whatsoever and, in addition to written exceptions, agreeing in practice not to require other individuals to join a union if they accept their reasons for declining to join, without risk that they will be held not to have a closed shop agreement if they do so. The Bill therefore offers encouragement to more flexible arrangements which will enable individuals with valid objections to union membership which are accepted by unions and employers to stay in employment. The question of whether they receive compensation for unfair dismissal need not then arise.

We think that that is a better way of dealing with the problem if it can be secured in that way.

The Bill aims to introduce this fresh flexibility by two main changes. First, a new subsection has been added to Section 30 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, where "union membership agreement" is defined, which makes it clear that employees in the identifiable class to which a closed shop agreement relates may be identified by the parties to the agreement by reference to any characteristics or circumstances whatsoever. That is in Clause 3(4) of the Bill. This particularly affects written agreements and puts beyond doubt that an agreement may relate, for example, to all employees in a particular grade other than those who object to union membership on grounds of conscience. Some new closed-shop agreements—for example, at Burton's Tailoring, the Yorkshire Bank and British Rail—already include conscience clauses of this nature and other exceptions. This clarification should encourage others to follow suit.

The second way in which the Bill aims to introduce this flexibility is that the definition of "union membership agreement" has been amended so that an agreement will comply with the definition if it has the effect in practice of requiring employees to belong to a specified union. Both the definition and the provision relating to unfair dismissals in paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 1 have been amended to delete references to every employee or all employees having to belong to a union and to substitute references to employees "for the time being" in the class of employee required in practice to belong to a union.

These changes, which we have discussed on numerous occasions, should help, especially with informal "custom and practice" arrangements under which the unions and employers accept that certain individuals or groups with strong objections to joining a closed-shop union should not have to do so. They allow for toleration in practice of the individual objector even where no formal conscience clause is written into any agreement.

I believe that this is the right way to deal with the problem in the interests of industrial relations and in the interests of the individual persons concerned. If we were to adopt the course which the House of Lords recommended, we would lose all the advantages which we hoped to gain from the careful way in which we tried to draft this legislation, and we would invite a number of cases to occur in which arguments would go to the courts about what was to be provided under the so-called Hailsham clause. No one would know exactly what would be the outcome, no one would know how much this right led to fresh industrial troubles, and no one would know what protections were provided for the individuals concerned.

I hope that the House will now at last accept the Bill and that it will go on to the statute book and be in operation very soon. I also hope that all concerned—everyone in the trade union movement especially—will seek to apply the legislation in the most tolerant and liberal manner. The legislation seeks, justly in my opinion, to give proper rights to workers who combine together to insist upon their rights. That is one essential freedom.

We seek to combine that essential freedom—which the Industrial Relations Act attempted to remove—with protection for the individual which will really work. That is what we are seeking to do, and it is in that spirit that I ask the House once again to pass this legislation and to send it to the other place in the hope that, like so many other Bills, it will eventually reach the statute book.

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)

In supporting the Lords in their amendment, I must say that the Secretary of State seemed more subdued than usual. Perhaps that might be because of his impending hope of a higher office. He appeared to be somewhat distressed that the House of Lords should carry on looking at the legislation. One of the strange things about conscience is that it has a habit of refusing to lie down. That is what has happened in this legislation and that is why we make no apology for the fact that we are once again returning to the consideration of the degree of protection that an individual conscience can and should receive.

The Secretary of State argued on the basis of a false premise because he spoke in terms of exceptions from the closed shop. The clause is not concerned with such exceptions at all. If the Lords amendment were passed it would be open to unions and employers to negotiate closed shop agreements of the toughest and most restrictive kind. If unions had the industrial power and desire to compel employers to enter into such agreement and if employers thought it was in the interests of industrial peace, there is nothing in the Lords amendment which would in any way limit the operation of such a closed shop. An amendment relating to that proposal cannot be any kind of attack on closed shops or trade union rights.

The amendment would not limit the operation of a closed shop but it would allow, in slightly wider circumstances than otherwise, a person who is dismissed in a closed shop situation to claim compensation for that dismissal. He would be entitled to such compensation not from the union because he would have no redress against the union. He would not get his job back in most circumstances and he would be entitled to compensation from the employer.

4.15 p.m.

If anybody should be concerned about the proposal, it is the employers and not the trade unions. But we have had no representations from the CBI or any other employers' interests that they are against conferring on employees the right to compensation if they are dismissed because they have refused to join a trade union in a closed shop situation—refused because of a sincerely held personal conscientious conviction and with no hope of financial gain or material advantage.

No question of industrial disorder arises. The most that could be said is that there is an indirect connection between the amendment and the closed shop. It could be said that if employers had to pay compensation for unfair dismissal they would be less likely to enter into closed shop agreements. But if an employer felt that it was in his interest to respond to industrial pressure to enter into an agreement, he would be able to do so. All the hares raised about sequestrating union funds do not arise. The question is whether an individual should be entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal if he refuses to join a union on the grounds of religious belief or on the wider grounds that Lord Hailsham persuaded their Lordships to insert into the legislation.

We are arguing in favour of the wider wording which would entitle an individual to compensation. We believe that it is out of date to confine an objection to union membership to the extremely narrow concept of religion. It is strange that the Labour Party, with its history of honourable support for freedom of conscience even for atheists and non-believers, should cease to take that view. It now wants to confine itself to supporting only religious objections when compensation is involved.

There are examples showing that the Government have accepted that an objection to union membership leading to compensation need not be on purely religious grounds. The Minister of State said during consideration of Lords Amendments to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill, We do not argue that there may not be grounds for excluding persons, other than religious believers, from closed shop agreements. He went on to say that he believed that the legislation was sufficient to provide protection but that those exceptions should be worked out and agreed upon by those whose consciences and beliefs are involved, so that a workable basis for toleration is established."—[Official Report, 15th October; Vol. 897, c. 1392.] The Government are not saying that the limitation should be so narrow as to confine it to those who object on religious grounds. They are saying only that it should be applied in a different way, not by legislation but by agreement between the unions and the employers, so that the individual concerned would not be required to join the union in the first place and therefore the question of compensation would not arise. It appears that there is more agreement on the broad principle than the Government would like us to believe. There is therefore no room for an attack on the House of Lords in general or on Lord Hailsham in particular as if they were seeking to engage in some kind of spoiling operation or reopening old wounds. We believe that it is possible to devise a reasonable test going beyond the question of religious belief.

The Secretary of State put his head down into his brief and gave us details about the Ferrybridge case and talked about the desirability of maintaining flexibility in the operation of closed shop agreements. He tried to show that the legislation makes it possible to have a closed shop agreement which need not be as rigid as before. But that is not the case. Before Ferrybridge it was possible to have a closed shop which was not properly enforced because it was not universally enforced. It was not universally enforced because in many cases exceptions were allowed. Individuals were perhaps known to have what the unions call "odd views" on these matters and union leaders were able to allow a person not to join the union because his views were known to be sincere. The Ferrybridge case has established that union membership agreements must be adhered to if they are to have any legal consequences.

In their legislation the Government are enabling a union membership agreement to contain exceptions and exclusions and it is possible that these could cover grounds of conscience which are wider than religous grounds. Even in the Government's amended version of the legislation, the exceptions on grounds of conscience or profession have to be spelt out and defined in the agreement. We argue that it is just as easy and desirable to extend them in the statute to include grounds of conscience as it is to spell them out in the union membership agreement.

It seems to me that if one is talking about the opportunity for discord, if one is talking about the opportunity for disagreement and strife, there is surely every bit as much scope for disagreement and strife if the union membership agreement prescribes an exception, and then there is argument whether that exception applies in a particular case, as there is if it is the statute that provides the exception. It might be argued that, because the statute is to operate on a nation-wide basis, there is much more scope for finding out through a series of decisions what the actual meaning of the words is in practice than if one has a whole host of individual union membership agreements, each of which could be a fruitful source of dissent.

Mr. Foot

I am not seeking to comment obliquely on what the hon. Gentleman has said. I was not seeking to discuss Ferrybridge at all. I was discussing the relationship of what was said in the Ferrybridge case to this aspect of the matter. What was illustrated in Ferrybridge was exactly what we had said from these Benches—that the obscurity and confusion in which that part of the Act remained gave rise to some of those difficulties. We think that some of those difficulties will be removed precisely by the legislation we are now putting through.

Mr. Brittan

As the Secretary of State must surely realise, the point I was making in relation to Ferrybridge was a much narrower and a much more precise one than he has sought to answer. I was not defining the legislation generally. It is not in question in this amendment. This amendment is not the one on which Ferrybridge relied. Ferrybridge is important in an indirect way because Ferrybridge showed that it will be necessary in future to spell out any exceptions in union membership agreements. Irrespective of whether they are defined in such a way under the Government's legislation, they will have to be spelled out.

One is left in the position that it is essential to ask ourselves the question—do we throw our hands up in the air and say that we have to narrow the test simply to a question of religion in this curiously old-fashioned and limited way, or can we expand it more widely than that? If so, is it possible to have a viable test which can be applied in practice?

I suggest that the example in industry does support the proposition. There is the fact that there has been an agreement at Burtons, referred to by Lord Houghton, and the fact that there have been negotiations about an agreement at Vauxhall, which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel). In those cases it has been possible, and thought capable of determination, to have a clause in the agreement which goes wider than just religion. If that is possible, it is possible in legislation as well.

In the remainder of my remarks I seek to show other examples in which a test has been applied, or recommended, which goes wider than the question of religion and does not lead to the obscurity, or the open doors, or the endless argument that the Secretary of State put forward as the sole objection to the House of Lords amendment. Let us start with the Donovan Report. The Donovan Report recommended certain protections against exclusion and expulsion from unions. Donovan also referred in this connection to conscientious objections. He was a lawyer and he was talking in precise terms. He did not argue in favour of confining the exceptions just to religious exceptions. He thought it was viable.

It might be said that that was merely a Report, but it was a very authoritative Report. Let us, in any event, turn to what is on any view a firm legal document, Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. I want to make it quite clear I am not for this purpose seeking to argue—although it is arguable—that what the Government are proposing is in breach of that Convention. Again I seek to make a narrower point, because that Convention says that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. If that means anything at all, it must mean that conscience and religion are different things and that they are things which are sufficiently different and yet sufficiently precise for it to be capable for them to be determined, if necessary by a court of law, and for a distinction to be made between conscience and religion—otherwise the Convention has no meaning. I am sure that the Secretary of State would not wish it to be thought that a Government of which he is a member is happy to continue to adhere to a Convention which would be as obscure and meaningless as that.

From the commonsense point of view, quite apart from the law, it is difficult to distinguish between conscience and religion. I cited on a previous occasion the example which often happens of people who have dropped their belief in the religion in which they grew up but who retain a certain residual conscience derived from the historic legacy. An example would be somebody brought up as a member of the Plymouth Brethren who had lapsed in his former religious faith but had retained, as a legacy of it, a belief in not joining associations of a kind which would include trade unions. Such a person could not be said to have a religious objection but he would have a conscientious objection, an objection in the sense that he objected to joining, not because of some prudential argument balancing convenience but because of a fundamental belief, possibly an irrational belief, but certainly a fundamental belief. This is therefore a distinction that may be made.

Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)

Surely that is not altogether an appropriate example. If a person lapses from a religion he is still, generically speaking, a member of that religious faith. There are a good many people in Northern Ireland who claim to be Catholics or Protestants and who are designated as such and for practical purposes are so regarded even though they no longer attend mass or religious services.

Mr. Brittan

I do not agree with that, because I would have said that a person could not be thought to be a member of that religion if he no longer held its tenets. It may be that in countries where religions have formed the basis for political and social divisions, the former adherence to religion is sufficient to require the person concerned to be regarded to be within one community rather than the other. If one applied the legal test, such a person could not be said to be a member of that religious faith any more, but he might still have a belief on grounds of conscience which derive from the legacy of the religion to which he once adhered. The point I am making is that there is a distinction that can and ought to be drawn.

The Secretary of State referred to the Standing Orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I certainly bow to him in his knowledge of them. They may have changed and they may change again but, as I understand the matter, there was a time when the relevant Standing Order read, The Party recognises the right of members to abstain from voting in the House on matters of deeply-held personal conscientious conviction but this does not entitle members to cast votes contrary to a decision of the Party meeting. If that means anything, it means very much the same as this amendment—and it was at a time when Government Whips were feared men, whom Back Benchers defied at their peril. The question whether the decision that they took in those far-off, bygone days, was governed by that exception in Standing Orders was very appropriate. Whoever drafted those Standing Orders had in mind the concept that this was a precise definition which was capable of examination and scrutiny to sec whether the Member concerned should receive a warning or worse or should be regarded as having exercised his legitimate rights as a loyal member of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I say that not just to pull the right hon. Gentleman's leg although, a slight move in that direction, I hope, is pardonable, but to make the serious point that a responsible body has come to the view that this discretion is viable. So it is.

4.30 p.m.

I then come to the final example of the concept of a conscientious objection being regarded as viable—an argument which in previous debates has, understandably, been misunderstood. But I think that we have explained that we do not wish to insult the trade union movement in any sense when we refer to the example of conscientious objection in time of war. One does not say that refusing to join a union is in any way comparable with not wishing to join the army in time of war, but in considering a matter which on any view was as serious at the time as the question of union membership, Governments of the day were perfectly happy for tribunals to decide whether someone was a conscientious, not a religious, objector.

In the last war, 47,000 people were held to be conscientious objectors—not all of them, by any means, religious objectors. On another occasion, I cited a passage from a book by a professor who was chairman of the tribunal which considers these matters. He instanced the fact that many people who were held to be conscientious objectors were so on grounds other than religion.

Therefore, we say that this is a viable test. We recognise the fear and the lack of desire of the Government that anything should encourage the free riders, the people who wish to have the benefits of union membership without the liabilities. It is for that reason that Lord Hailsham's amendment includes the words: not motivated by hope of financial gain or material advantage". I therefore hope that it will be accepted that the amendment is in no sense spiteful or disruptive but is designed to give a fraction more scope to the still small voice of conscience and that that is a legitimate objective.

The Government say that it is not possible or viable to ask a tribunal to consider whether this test has been met. I would answer that if the test can be applied by tribunals considering conscientious objection in time of war, it can certainly be applied to industrial tribunals. Anyone who has been involved with the law knows that questions of a man's sincerity and honesty are daily considered by the cours. The question whether someone really believes something is not novel. We do not believe that this suggestion is wrecking or unviable and it is certainly not intended as a threat to the trade union movement.

We believe that today, when the power of the unions is so great, when by permitting a member to join or to stay in a union they can have so great an effect on employment, it is right that we should slightly widen the circumstances in which the individual, on grounds of conscience, can gain protection, or at least compensation, from his employer. We believe that the trade union movement is strong enough and big enough to withstand this tiny extension of individual freedom. It would be a scandal and a disgrace if the Government were so affeared of the consequences that they refused on hidebound grounds of principle to accept this tiny advance.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

The importance of this occasion, I think, was matched much more accurately by the mood and the phrases of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) than by that of the Secretary of State. Perhaps understandably, the right hon. Gentleman was giving an unaccustomed impersonation of Mr. Harold Macmillan on a relaxed day. This is an important matter and I hope that the level of the debate can be raised to match its importance.

I do not wish to go over familiar arguments but would like merely to remind the House once again of the enormous significance to ordinary working people in many lines of employment of the powers which this Bill gives to the unions. I can best do so by quoting a document with which the Secretary of State may be familiar, although others may not—a leaflet issued by the Association of Polytechnic Teachers last year on the subject of the closed shop.

That leaflet said in part: Public discussion of the dangers inherent in the Bill has been restricted almost exclusively to the issue of freedom of the press, and attempts by this Association to point out similar dangers in education have met with little response, although sympathetic comment has appeared in The Times and the Daily Mail. Many teachers still maintain that the Closed Shop could not happen in Education, but they should note the position of the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions, reported in The Times Higher Educational Supplement of November 14th. ATTI stated that they have been in favour of compulsory union membership since 1970: Existing plans suggest that individual local education authorities would be approached about compulsory union membership in areas where ATTI already has 75 per cent. membership. The leaflet goes on to list the disadvantages of a closed shop under seven heads, of which I want to draw attention now to only the first and the second. The first says: It would mean a loss of personal liberty. The freedom to belong or not to belong to a trade union of one's choice is arguably more important than academic freedom, and perhaps as important in the long term as freedom of speech. The second says: It would threaten freedom of education. If all lecturers had to belong to one trade union, that union would have the power to control educational policy. That is a serious argument and many of us on this side take it seriously.

There is, therefore, some encouragement to be drawn from later developments, particularly those reported in the ATTI News Bulletin of February this year, which said: The closed shop will not be introduced for teachers in the five London (ILEA area) Polytechnics. The removal of the threat to impose a closed shop is made clear in an agreement between the Committee of Directors of London Polytechnics, the ILEA and the ATTI … The London Joint Committee of the Association of Polytechnic Teachers had made representations … on the Conditions of Tenure document for the London Polys which contains the welcome paragraph. The article then quoted the relevant clause for each polytechnic, to which I shall have to add some qualification: Teachers in the Polytechnic are not only permitted but encouraged to join an appropriate teachers' association or trade union. Teachers in the Polytechnic have the following rights in respect of trade union membership and activities:

  1. (a) the right to be a member of such trade union as the teacher chooses;
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  3. (b) the right not to belong to a trade union;
  4. (c) the right where a teacher is a member of a trade union to take part in its activities at appropriate times and to seek election to office in the union and to hold office in the union."
That seems to me a good trinity of rights which should satisfy every reasonable aspirant to trade union membership and every consciencious objector to union membership.

I should dearly wish to hear the Secretary of State say that the exceptions which he says his Bill provides would always take a form as concrete as that. Whatever he may say about the technical provisions of the Bill, there is a great need to provide much more reassurance and protection to the many people who are deeply worried about the effects of the Bill on their own personal liberties. If the right hon. Gentleman is in doubt about that, I invite him to ask the BBC whether he can see again the "Man Alive" programme which dealt revealingly with these matters. I make that point only because it must be made.

I would add only one other point, more by way of a caution than anything else. In considering the powers which this Bill is to vest in the trade unions, it may occur to the Secretary of State that they are not wholly dissimilar from the powers which circumstances vested in the mediaeval Church. They are monopolistic powers, or can be used in a monopolistic way, undeniably. The Secretary of State may well remember that in the case of the mediaeval Church the most important monopoly that was acquired, or was claimed to be acquired, was the monopoly of salvation, and that the sanction which it employed in exercising that monopoly was excommunication. In the end the fact that there was such power corrupted the institution itself, and the fact that it claimed such a monopoly led to the downfall of the institution in the form in which it existed in its international or Roman manifestation.

I do not want to stretch the comparison too far, but I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it would be ironic indeed if the monopolistic powers in this legislation were used by modern unions in such a way as to deny employees the right to work and if the sanction used to enforce that was forced unemployment, which is an undeniable consequence of the closed-shop philosophy when applied in a rigorous, unimaginative and brutal way.

Probably the Secretary of State will agree that, in considering any power, one has always to recognise the possibility of its being abused and that absolute power might well be used in a most brutal way. Before this legislation leaves this House, it is most important that we should once again sound a very serious warning against the consequences which could flow if all the mild words and the blandishments that we have heard from the Government side turned out to be a cloak for a brutal and utterly onerous imposition upon the rights of ordinary men to believe what they wish and to work where their skills take them.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)

I share the Secretary of State's surprise that we should find ourselves discussing this subject again. I had rather feared that our last debate would be the last before the Bill reached the statute book and I am grateful to another place for giving us a further opportunity. I do not apologise for taking part again, for we are dealing with a very important and sensitive subject—how to maintain a minimum of personal freedom in the context of the closed shop in industrial relations. It is absolutely essential that Parliament gets that right, and I do not believe we shall do so if this Bill reaches the statute book in the form preferred by the Government.

In case the Secretary of State should misunderstand me when he intervenes later, I had better make clear that I accept the case for the closed shop in industrial relations when entered into voluntarily by employers and trade unions which have quite legitimate industrial reasons. All those who accept that case also realise that there are a few instances where hardship is actually caused to individuals who for some personal, sincere reason find it impossible to join either any trade union or the particular trade union or unions which are parties to the closed shop agreement.

In this debate we are discussing a division between the two sides—and it still remains—over the definition of which of those people should be entitled to compensation if actually dismissed because of their inability to join a union. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) made crystal clear—and it is important that this should be understood—both sides, Government and Opposition, accept that there is a category of people entitled to compensation if they lose their jobs. It is the definition of which those people should be that is dividing us, and, as my hon. Friend made clear, the Government are, for some peculiar reason, taking a very narrow view of the definition based on religious scruples alone. We say, and another place has said, that one is entitled to a more flexible view and in consequence we seek another definition of a sensible, non-financial, sincere motive at least to the extent of enabling someone who has lost his livelihood to go to a tribunal and to get compensation from the employer.

4.45 p.m.

I have to admit that I prefer the definition written into previous legislation, I believe on a Liberal amendment during the period of minority Government that compensation should be available—that is the practical effect—to anybody who objects on any reasonable ground to joining a trade union. That definition has proved unacceptable to the Government. Attempting to resolve the deadlock, the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, has successfully moved an amendment which he believes is based on the Standing Orders of the Labour Party, which is the amendment we are discussing.

We are told by the Secretary of State that this is not an accurate reproduction of those Standing Orders but I am sure that if that is so we would all willingly accept from the Government an amendment to make sure that the text fairly and exactly reflects those Standing Orders in their present form. But something should be produced by the Government, who should not rely only on religious belief. It should be noted that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said on behalf of the Government in another place: So we put in religious belief because it can be identified, based on scripture."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24th February 1976; Vol. 368, c. 634.] That seems to me an extraordinarily narrow definition of a workable concept of conscience. Agnostics are not to have their personal scruples respected. Indeed, personal convictions seem likely to be restricted to those small minority sects who rely very much on scriptural interpretation. I speak with no disrespect for their personal convictions but it is absurd for the Government to insist that entitlement to compensation should be retained for Plymouth Brethren or Jehovah's Witnesses but is not open to anyone else who may have his own personal convictions of a non-scriptural or non-religious kind.

Mr. Lee

How does the right hon. Gentleman anticipate that one can adequately define a non-religious conscientious objection in this context in a way that will not exclude the phoney or bloody-minded person using it merely as an opportunity for ideological purposes and taking advantage of it?

Mr. Clarke

The definition which another place has written in seeks to exclude those acting for financial or phoney motives, but the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) defends the Government with the only argument they have used. They say that it is not workable but they have not designed any other definition that can be applied exactly. I will not repeat the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby who pointed out that the Donovan Commission thought such a definition would be workable. He quoted the European Convention on Human Rights, to which this country is a party, and the equivalent situation which arose when dealing with conscientious objections to military service in time of war.

But in practice when considering workability Government speakers have used the point that conscience is well recognised in the best closed shop agreements themselves in a way that parties to those agreements believe is practicable. I quote from the closed shop agreement of the Central Electricity Generating Board which contains this particular passage: An employee who is consequently notified that his employment is to be terminated as a result of failure to comply with the conditions … shall have a right of appeal against such termination to the independent body specified … on the grounds of conscience, unreasonable refusal or termination of trade union membership subject to the employee notifying his Board of his intention to exercise this right within seven days of notification to him by the Board of their intention to terminate his contract of service. One looks to see which independent body is to examine these matters of conscience: The independent body referred to in Clause 271 shall consist of one or more persons appointed for the purpose by the Department of Employment and Productivity, assisted by two assessors (without voting power), nominated respectively by the Electricity Boards and Trade Unions' Members of the NJIC. The decision of the Independent body shall be final and binding on the employing Board the Trade Union and all employees.' So it is considered workable for a nominee of the Secretary of State to decide an issue of conscience when it is referred to him under that agreement but apparently the Secretary of State believes that his own industrial tribunals, which are used to dealing with similar matters, are incapable of deciding if legislation from this House refers the same question to them. Surely the industrial tribunals should be allowed to decide matters of conscience in a fair way.

The situation within the CEGB leads me to the case of the Ferrybridge Six, a matter which has given rise to so much difficulty.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

Will my hon. Friend confirm that existing agreements will not be overruled should the decision of another place be overruled? Perhaps my hon. Friend will make that clear.

Mr. Clarke

I have not considered that matter. I imagine that the terms of closed shop agreements will remain the same. I imagine that they will be unaffected by this legislation. Closed shop agreements which failed to make provision for acts of conscience will be overtaken by this legislation. It will give to aggrieved persons in industry, where a closed shop agreement does not have a consicence clause, the right to go to an industrial tribunal, a right which they otherwise would not have.

The Ferrybridge Six case has illustrated the dangers of closed shop agreements. Difficulties arise if the law does not adequately cover the issue that is involved. The tribunal that considered the Ferrybridge case had a chance to consider the effect of the existing reasonable grounds provision, but it ducked the issue and went on to find that the dismissals were unfair for other reasons. It based its judgment on a finding that the closed shop agreement was not in practice being enforced throughout the in- dustry. The consequence of that finding is that it is now being enforced vigorously throughout the industry.

The tribunal had the opportunity of establishing some case law on what reasonable grounds might be. Unfortunately, it was so intimidated by or fearful of the political controversy that was being aroused by this legislation passing through the House that, having considered what constitutes reasonable grounds, it put its findings into a sealed envelope and allowed no one to see them. That was an extraordinary procedure to be followed by a quasi-judicial body. As far as I am aware, even the parties to the appeal were not allowed to see the tribunal's findings. They might have been extremely useful in illustrating the nature of reasonable grounds.

Mr. Foot

When the hon. Gentleman talks about the tribunal being politically intimidated, what does he mean? What justification has he for saying anything of the sort?

Mr. Clarke

I am not saying that anyone put pressure on the tribunal to adopt the procedure that it followed, or that the Government instructed it to place its findings in a sealed envelope. I believe that the tribunal felt embarrassed to give a judgment when the issue was of such controversy and when legislation was passing through the House. That is my understanding. On its own volition it decided not to give the public or anyone else the opportunity to consider what would otherwise have been a judicial pronouncement.

I feel that the tribunal adopted a grossly unsatisfactory procedure. If a court of law put part of its judgment in a sealed envelope and did not allow anyone to see it, there would be a tremendous fuss, not least from the Government Benches. However, no one has bothered about the action of the tribunal, a body which in some respects is answerable to the right hon. Gentleman.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover and Deal (Mr. Rees) and myself have asked Questions of the Department of Employment. On one occasion the Minister of State replied to a Written Question: It would appear from the decision of the industrial tribunal which heard the case of the Ferrybridge Six that the contents of the sealed envelope were not considered by the tribunal to be relevant to its decision; and that the tribunal considered that it would only become relevant if the decision were to be reversed by an appellate tribunal. However the envelope has not at any time come into my possession nor into the possession of any member of my Department. The envelope is in the custody of the tribunal and the question of who is permitted to see its contents, and any question of publishing those contents, are matters for the tribunal or for any appellate body to whom the tribunal provided the information. Industrial tribunals are independent judicial bodies and, except for the specific requirements imposed by procedural regulations, they are free to regulate their own procedure. It would not be proper for me to attempt to influence their procedure in particular cases.—[Official Report, 1st March 1976; Vol. 906, c. 448.] With the greatest respect, I think that the right hon. Gentleman ran away from the problem at the fastest possible speed. There are instances in which he and his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General intervene like a shot to influence the procedure of tribunals if they begin to behave improperly or in a non-judicial manner.

It is clear that the Minister of State has not had the envelope come into his possession. More important, he has taken no steps to try to get it into his possession or to make it available to the House and the public. The envelope and its contents would be exceedingly important in enabling us to carry on an informed debate about how reasonable grounds, or conscientious grounds, for not joining a union might be applied in practice.

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

As the hon. Gentleman has referred to my Answer, will he concede that the contents of the envelope may reveal more than we know about the tribunal's decision—namely, why those who appealed may not be entitled to benefit? It may not be in the interests of the Six for me to secure the contents of the envelope and to make them available, quite apart from my decision that it is improper for any Minister to interfere with the practice of a tribunal.

Mr. Clark

With great respect, I do not believe that that is the Minister's main reason for wanting the contents of the envelope to be kept secret—namely, that it may compromise the position of the Six. That is not a reason that was put forward by the tribunal. I believe that the tribunal did not want to be involved in the political debate. That is understandable, but that is not a proper attitude for a judicial body to take when deciding an important matter of this kind.

A tribunal has had to consider reasonable grounds in a major case, and I believe that the Minister would be doing a service to the House if he insisted on obtaining the contents of the envelope and publishing them. We could then see what problems might arise in practice. The case is of huge importance.

It has been suggested that the Ferrybridge Six are six isolated men who are entirely concerned with their own problems. As distinguished a trade union leader as Clive Jenkins gave the impression on a recent radio programme that the Six are concerned only with their own positions, but in my constituency there are hundreds of men whose fate depends on the Ferrybridge decision. They are former members of the Electricity Supply Union.

In my constituency the most arbitrary procedure is being applied to many former members of the ESU at the power stations at Ratcliffe on Soar and Wilford. They are trying to enter the closed shop agreement and, in the process, to join one of the four signatory unions in the CEGB agreement. However, some of them are finding that their applications are not being accepted. It is being insisted that they must apply to join the union of which they were previously members before they left to join the ESU. They are not being allowed the elementary liberty of choosing which of the four signatory unions they might wish to join within the closed shop agreement so as to protect their employment.

The application of the closed shop agreement is applied in various ways and in an arbitrary manner from place to place according to the decision of the local shop steward. At Ratcliffe on Soar the Transport and General Workers' Union, which seems to be the preferred union of most of my constituents, has accepted all applications for membership. At the Wilford power station 27 men applied to join the Transport and General Workers' Union. They were accepted and their paid their subscriptions. However, after the Ferrybridge case and the tribunal's decision they were told that their membership had been reconsidered. They have been rejected and their subscriptions have been returned. Once more, they face the prospect of dismissal along the lines of the Ferrybridge Six. They wait anxiously to see whether they are entitled to compensation.

The present shambles has resulted from the dismantling of the previous legislation. It surely would be preferable for the Government to define the conscience grounds that might apply in a closed shop agreement. In the CEGB, and in the power stations in my constituency, the closed shop agreement is not being applied in a reasonable manner. The Secretary of State has expressed the hope that all concerned will apply it in a tolerant manner, but in practice it is not being applied in that way.

The right hon. Gentleman cannot rely on hopes. Let him adopt what has been suggested in another place. If the Government have their way the Bill will reach the statute book in a form which is punitive, discriminatory and unfair. Individuals will be denied compensation when they should obtain it because they have lost their jobs as a result of honest and sincere beliefs.

The problem surrounding the ESU is only the beginning. There will be the problem of professional workers who will be unable to join trade unions in certain industries because the unions' policy conflicts with their professional judgment and standards.

This House should above all be—in fact, this is normally the case—a respecter of conscience and honesty. It should try to give protection to those who hold conscientious and honest beliefs. The history of the trade union movement is full of the protection of the men of conscience against interference and discrimination. It is quite wrong suddenly to reverse this situation and begin to support intolerance and arbitrary power in the trade union context simply because that happens to be the political prejudice of the government of the day.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire South)

I imagine that the Secretary of State is beginning to have nightmares about the Bill. It has been to and fro so many times. That nightmare is probably equalled only by his fear of even more unemployment in this country.

I had hoped that the Secretary of State would attempt to answer the two central questions raised by Lord Hailsham when he put forward this amendment in another place. They were whether we protect a Plymouth Brother by giving him a right to compensation against his employer but not a respectable Agnostic, or whether, if they are acting sincerely and on conscientious grounds, we put the two on the same footing and whether we are going to protect an employer against paying compensation to a conscientious worker who does not happen to be actuated solely by religious belief."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24th February 1976; Vol. 368, c. 628–32.] It is around this narrow, central point that we have argued for so long.

When the Secretary of State spoke earlier, he was in a conciliatory mood and spoke about his hope that trade unions would be tolerant and flexible in working these arrangements. In the Financial Times of Monday of this week, however, reference was made to a private TUC circular sent out by Mr. Len Murray. According to the Financial Times, All unions in the TUC have been advised by Mr. Len Murray, TUC general secretary, to tighten their running of closed shops where they exist, in order to prevent individuals making successful claims of unfair dismissal against employers. Later the article says: The circular warns that employers will be reluctant to enter into 100 per cent. union membership agreements or accept them tacitly if there is any prospect of dismissed workers securing compensation". But a worker will secure compensation from his employer. There would be no raiding of union funds or snatching or grabbing of union property. If the amendment went through, the employer would have to pay if the individual concerned could show reasonable grounds of conscience.

The circular from the TUC makes an even more important point. It says that problems of enforcement were most likely to occur where two or more unions organised for the same group of workers in a closed shop. The Financial Times says: Here common policies and practice would be especially important, the circular says. If two unions operated in a closed shop and one dropped out for some reason, its members might not wish to join the union which took over operation of the closed shop. There could be instances of individuals objecting to join a particular union on conscientious grounds because of that union's conduct or attitude to industrial problems, international trade or tariffs. The amendment merely seeks to ensure that where there are such difficulties an individual would have the right to compensation from the employer.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) mentioned professional conscience. I hope that the Secretary of State saw a letter in The Times this week from Mr. Tony Dummett, Chairman of the Council of Engineering Institutions. He said: because of the polarisation of private industry into employers on the one hand and shop floor or white collar unions on the other, professional people are being forced to join unions that neither represent their interests nor are able to respect their code of conduct. If there were a professional code of conduct, could not that be accepted as a genuine ground of conscience for refusing to join a particular trade union?

If the Hailsham amendment were accepted, how difficult would it make things for trade unions? Would it lead to industrial smash-ups, difficulties and arguments? I do not think so. Our tribunals are sufficiently skilled to find out whether someone is motivated by financial gain or personal advancement or whether a man has a genuine conscientious objection to joining a union.

We are seeking only the tiniest of tiny concessions from the Government. I do not believe that it would cause strikes, difficulties or disruptions. It would be easier for employers to make closed-shop agreements, and the amendment would protect them from people who put forward silly grounds for not joining a union. Employers would have nothing to fear.

I do not know why Len Murray sent out that circular and got into such a state about what might happen to employers. He should have sent out a circular saying that the Hailsham amendment was sensible and reasonable and would not lead to industrial difficulties.

Mr. John Page

I should like to begin my mentioning the unmentionable—the late Industrial Relations Act. Had the February 1974 General Election not taken place, the Industrial Relations Act would have become part of our industrial scenery. It would have been willingly accepted by trade union leaders and members, by employees who were not members of a trade union and by employers. They would have accepted it because of its innate fairness and because it gave trade unions more powers to go alongside more responsibilities. This argument has not so far been used in the debate. We have had this debate on repeated occasions, and it is difficult to find new aspects which have not been touched on already.

The Government and some of their potential Prime Ministers are on trial today because of the conscience clause of the Parliamentary Labour Party which is reflected in the amendment we are discussing.

I accept that the Government's proposition is put forward from sincerely-held personal and conscientious convictions, but would it be possible for the Secretary of State or his hon. Friends to say that in putting it forward they were not motivated by hope of financial gain or material advantage—financial gain from the paymasters and part owners of the Labour Party, and material advantage to the Government in standing to attention and saluting smartly when they receive their orders from Mr. Len Murray, who is, of course, the real generalissimo?

It is the Government who are on trial. The case has been heard in the House of Lords and dismissed. One of the judges was a very distinguished member of the Labour Party, Lord George-Brown. He found the proposition on the closed shop and the presentation of it—among other matters, admittedly—the last straw that he could no longer bear, coming from the party he had known and loved and served so well.

Whatever happens to the vote on the amendment, no divine right is given to trade unions to impose the closed shop on any group of employees or on any company. The closed shop may be imposed only after an agreement has been freely reached by employers and the totality of their employees. Incidentally, it is still felt by many employers that if they pay £6.20 instead of the £6 limit they may find themselves being marched towards the guillotine. But, of course, this is not the case.

It is most important that members of trade unions and employees throughout the country should know that a closed shop can be imposed only after there has been agreement between themselves and their employers. It is because of that fact, perhaps, that the Government are taking these steps this afternoon. They may wish to give a little more strength to the trade unions in the bargaining position they now hold.

Very few people feel at present that the power of the trade unions is too weak. Quite a number feel that the balance is weighted rather too strongly in favour of trade unions, groups of trade unions and groups of workers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) mentioned a report in the Financial Times of last Monday. It would not be possible to refer to a report in the Financial Times of today because it was not printed. A group of compositors who are members of the National Graphical Association exercised a form of censorship on that newspaper because they disapproved of what was to be printed. That is a dangerous situation. The newspaper printing industry has one of the tightest closed shops and, as a report indicated yesterday, some of the greatest overmanning.

In his speech the Secretary of State for Employment used the argument that if the Bill were left as it stands, unamended, there will be a fear that the effect of the closed shop might be nullified. That is an almost too far-fetched argument to be accepted at the present time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) presented a most interesting, well-argued and unanswerable case on the religious aspect. I am surprised that hon. Members on the Government side should give so little opportunity for atheists and agnostics in matters of conscience. Very often the conscience of the non-religious is given a good run in the House. Why should it not be given a sensible run in relation to this Bill?

5.15 p.m.

Concerning the position of professional people, I should like the House to envisage a case in which a number of doctors employed by local authorities, following agreement between the local authorities and the employees' organisation concerned, could be compelled to become members of NALGO. If there were a dispute between NALGO and the local authorities, a doctor would be compelled to put his Hippocratic oath into his case with his stethoscope and to put aside the principles he adopted at the time of his registration.

I remind the House of the case of the professional engineers at Rolls-Royce, Bristol, whose work was blacked. Although they were members of their professional body, UKAPE, pressure was applied to force them to become members of DATMS.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the tolerant and liberal way in which he would like to see the Act applied. Surely he must realise that there are a good many intolerant and illiberal people and that we do not always find liberal attitudes in dealings between trade unions and employees in a firm.

On those grounds, and in particular on the ground of the conscience clause to which hon. Members on the Government side have subscribed in their parliamentary work, I hope that the Secretary of State will not reject the amendment.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

I agree with the comments of the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) that there are far too many intolerant and illiberal people in the country—even in the Liberal Party. I did not, however, agree with the hon. Member's observation concerning a connection between the Government's views on this matter and the payments given by the trade union movement to the Labour Party—or, indeed, a connection with Generalissimo Murray, as I think he was described earlier in the debate.

I do not think that it is necessary to be paid by the trade unions to do exactly what they say. Only three weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Front Bench spokesman on employment indicated in their speeches that when the time came they would be an even better poodle to the trade unions than this Government has been. We wait with interest to see them jump through the hoop for Generalissimo Murray in the future. No doubt when that time comes they will ditch all the arguments about conscience that we have heard this afternoon.

Mr. John Page

I want to spring to the defence of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior). I happened to hear their speeches. I am sure that if I send him copies of the speeches the hon. Gentleman will, with his characteristic tolerance, liberality and honesty, agree that they bear no relation at all to what is suggested.

Mr. Pardoe

I have read the entire speech of the Leader of the Opposition. I have not read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, although I have read a very extensive Press report of it. I do not think, therefore, that the argument really applies in my case.

In case the Secretary of State or his hon. Friend raise the matter, I admit immediately that the Liberal record on the question of conscience cannot perhaps, be defined as entirely consistent. In the principal Act a Liberal amendment inserted what might be called a reason clause. It was not acceptable to the Government, and certainly we fall back on the conscience clause as perhaps more narrowly defined. My right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), in one of our earlier debates, on this matter, said on behalf of the Liberal Party that he believed in the Government's charter and thought that it might settle the matter.

In another place my noble Friend Lord Wigoder said: If this Amendment were to be considered in a vacuum—simply on its own merits—it would meet with the enthusiastic support of my noble Friends on these Benches."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24th February 1976; Vol. 368 c. 639.] He went on to argue that the rigours of the Parliament Act meant that they should not go on opposing the matter time and time again. That was why my noble Friends abstained on the last occasion.

However, I am not confined by the Parliament Act and therefore I am sure that the Secretary of State will agree that I can put forward my arguments. In case there is some further confusion in the Secretary of State's mind, let me assure him that what I say today is, of course, the definitive version of the Liberal Party's view of this matter, although I recognise that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have the right to object on grounds of conscience, reason, religion or any other darn fool thing they can think up.

We must make it absolutely clear that we are considering not a man's right to join or not to join a union but the narrower issue whether he should have the right to sue his employer for wrongful dismissal if he refuses to join a trade union in a closed-shop situation and thereby loses his job. We are dealing with the argument about conscience and religion.

It was implicit in the speech by the Secretary of State that one of the Government's main arguments is the difficulty of defining conscience. What about the difficulty of defining religion? I wonder how the Secretary of State defines religion in this context. Religion can be very wide. It involves not just a few sects, as some Conservative Members seem to think.

I am a member of the Church of England. There are many good reasons for being a member of that Church but perhaps the best reason of all is that one can never be quite certain what it implies one believes in. There are wide differences between the Low Church and the High Church. Therefore, as a good member of the Church of England, I dare say that I could find excellent scriptural doctrinal reasons for not joining trade unions generally, or a particular trade union.

One does not have to be a Voltaire to believe that certain types of religion are little more than superstition. The Secretary of State will understand that reference, even if the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) does not understand it. I wonder what Voltaire would have said to the Government's proposition that a man should be entitled to sue on the grounds of super- station but not on grounds of sincerely-held conscience arrived at by reason.

One objection to conscience that was raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth in an earlier intervention was that it was a net of too wide a mesh, and that therefore too many people would be able to get through it. So be it. There is no doubt that in the past some—we have no idea exactly how many—ne'er-do-wells and totally useless people were able to avoid military service in this country, America, or wherever, on the ground of conscientious objection. However, some people will be able to get through the net on grounds of religion and some will not be what many people would regard as worth while in that connection. Therefore, the abuse and the fear to which the hon. Gentleman has referred are worth while, because we must set them against the greater good of allowing the liberty of conscience.

The Government have not made out their case for balancing the dangers of allowing this "wide-mesh" net of conscience against religion. They should be prepared to accept the dangers implicit in the word "conscience" and accept the amendment. I certainly propose to support it.

Mr. Tony Newton (Braintree)

I wish to make a brief contribution to the debate. I freely and frankly admit that I have been prompted to do so by a letter that I have received from one of my constituents. I have chosen to refer to one letter not because there are not many other letters that could be quoted but because this one is particularly compelling and relevant to the arguments that are being put forward. It is not a letter from a crank with red capital letters all over the place and great underlinings. It is not a letter from somebody who has not considered the matter. It is a letter from someone who is an articulate and educated young woman who feels so strongly on this matter that she took the trouble to write a careful, thoughtful and long letter to me. Therefore, I shall not attempt to quote it all. However, I should like to refer to it briefly in the course of my speech.

The letter starts by referring to the "fear" which this Act has instilled in my constituent. That is something that the Secretary of State and his hon. Friends should bear in mind.—[Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will listen to what I have to say. If they had listened to what ordinary people said about the proposed legislation and not only to the views of the mandarins of the trade unions, we might have had a more sym pathetic approach to some aspects of the discussion during the past few months. My constituent goes on to say—

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

The reason the hon. Gentleman is getting the horse's laugh is that those of us with long experience of these matters, inside and outside the House, recall that the Conservatice Government upheld the principles of the closed shop in their legislation in 1971.

Mr. Newton

We are not arguing about the principles of the closed shop—

Mr, Pardoe

Perhaps we should.

Mr. Newton

As the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has said, perhaps we should do so. However, primarily we are arguing about the grounds on which certain limited exemptions may be made allowing compensation when dismissal takes place in those circumstances.

My constituent says: Personally, I am employed at the moment as a secretary … However, nothing would induce me to join any trade union, and I am resolved and resigned to the dismissal that I shall receive. If the fact that I will not join a union means that I will be unable to obtain further employment—then that is how it will be. I am lucky, I am a young married woman who intends, anyway, to have a family within the foreseeable future; dismissal from my employment therefore just advances my family plans a little. However, my husband and millions like him, are not so lucky. She then goes on to refer to her husband's problems, and in the end she says that she suspects that he will be forced to agree to join a trade union. She says: But that does not mean mental compliance, and the conflict of conscience is agonising! At the end of her letter she says: I don't know your personal, or professional views on this matter, but I appeal to your humanity. Please oppose this movement towards oppression". The Secretary of State, Labour Members and especially the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) will no doubt say that my constituent's fears are exaggerated or that she is wrong to feel the way she does. However, the point is that she does feel like that as a result of a Bill which this Parliament is proposing to pass. I did not seek to become a Member of Parliament and would not wish to continue to be a Member of Parliament if I thought that our debates, discussions and consequent legislation were creating that kind of worry, anxiety and of fear of the law.

Mr. Lee

I have no doubt that the letter is written in a serious tone, but does the writer at any stage enlarge upon the basis of her conscientious objection? Does she define it in any way?

Mr. Newton

I listened to the hon. Gentleman's earlier intervention in one of my hon. Friend's speeches, and it seemed to me that he did not meet—nor has any other Labour Member—the fundamental point advanced by my hon. Friends the Members for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) and Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), that we find it perfectly possible as a society—and, indeed, under legislation in the case of conscientious objection to military service—to deal with broad grounds which none of us can define in detail but which we have found it possible to establish machinery to assess.

5.30 p.m.

Two factors stand out for me in these debates, and the Secretary of State's arguments have done nothing to meet them. First, the provisions that the Government say are impossible in this context are possible in many other contexts of our society, including some cases which are laid down by law. I have heard nothing that suggests to me that it would not be possible to apply those provisions in this area. The Secretary of State has failed to meet the argument that all these difficulties will arise in the case of every closed-shop agreement and the conscience clauses. These problems of interpretation exist and the Secretary of State's argument amounts to his saying "I do not want the provisions confined to religious objection. I am happier to see wider grounds, but I want to leave that to other people to sort out in individual cases".

It is not good enough for Parliament to pass a law that the Secretary of State regards as unsatisfactory and then to leave it to a host of private bodies outside to make their own rules to cover a vital matter of this sort. That is an unsatisfactory way of making legislation.

The second factor is that I know well—I suspect that Labour Members know it too—that if legislation containing these sorts of proposals had been brought forward by the Conservatives in any other sphere of activity in our society the National Council for Civil Liberties would be remonstrating on our doorstep, the Tribune Group would be shouting "Fascists" across the Chamber, and the Secretary of State for Employment would be leading the van of the protests. It is intolerable that we should be expected to assent to proposals which, simply because they deal with trade unions, are acceptable but which no one on either side of the House would accept if they dealt with any other aspect of our nation's affairs.

Mr. James Prior (Lowestoft)

This is the twelfth or thirteenth time that we have debated this amendment, and each time we debate it our case seems to improve and the Government's case seems to weaken. I was extremely interested to hear the views of the Liberal Party. Perhaps it would be unwise to try to give the Liberals too much advice. They seem to jump with the speed of light on to every bandwagon before reading the speeches of their opponents. When the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) and one of his colleagues made speeches about what Conservatives had said about their attitude to the closed shop one would have guessed that they had studied what we said with great care. It transpires, however, that the hon. Member has not even read my speech, but that does not stop him arriving at far-reaching conclusions, which no doubt he will change tomorrow.

Mr. Pardoe

I read the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and I read a long Press report of what the right hon. Gentleman said. Is he saying his speech so totally contradicted what his Leader said that I needed to read both of them? Do they never agree in what they say?

Mr. Prior

When the hon. Gentleman is making such accusations he should at least study the speeches carefully before he resorts to print. If I can give him any advice—no doubt this is the trouble with the Liberal Party, the whole way along—it is that his party is always moving to wards the sound of gunfire but as soon as they get near the guns they start to retreat. I only hope that the definitive view of the Liberal Party on this issue will last a little longer than the definitive view of the Liberals on most other issues. This afternoon my hon. Friends have expressed a number of important and strongly-held views on the subject of the closed shop. The issue boils down to this. We know that a certain number of union leaders do not want the law to be brought into this activity, yet they contradict themselves, because in many other respects they have accepted the law. They have accepted the Employment Protection Act, which involves the law to a greater degree in trade union and employment affairs than any other Act has ever done. They have accepted the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, which also involves the law in a great many cases. Yet they say that they do not want the law involved in the question of conscience and the closed shop. That is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, which we cannot accept.

The Liberals are worried about the free rider, the crank, and the odd man out. Generally speaking, they have dealt reasonably tolerably with these people in the past. Donovan said: Our impression from the evidence we have heard is that trade unions in the main respect genuine conscientious objections, and are usually content if the objectors agree to pay to some charitable body the equivalent p OI union dues". But the Commission found that it was liable from time to time to cause substantial injustice to individuals from which they have no effective means of redress". It is this that concerns my hon. Friends and me. The Secretary of State has admitted that this situation exists, because he says that he hopes—and I agree with him—that unions and employers will write in to union membership agreements conscience clauses which are fair. The right hon. Gentleman has gone that far with us, but he objects to having that written into the Bill because he says there cannot be a precise enough definition. Most of the lawyers to whom I have spoken say that the words "on any reasonable grounds "can be perfectly fairly interpreted by the courts. The word "reasonable" is commonly used in the law. The common law can be interpreted by common lawyers in a perfectly sensible and reasonable way, and therefore I cannot accept what the Secretary of State says. If the conscience clause in a union membership agreement has to be interpreted, surely it would be much better if the House of Commons laid it down in the Act.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), in an excellent speech, dealt at some length with the Ferrybridge Six. I agree with what he said. I do not understand why the Industrial Tribunal has not given its views on the reasonableness of the case. It would have helped us in our debates and it would help us to come to a proper decision in these matters. On the other hand, I do not go so far as my hon. Friend in believing that the Secretary of State or the Minister of State would have been right to intervene and ask for those views. I am not certain they have any powers to do so. It would be wrong for them to interfere, but the Tribunal was wrong in not giving its views.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) mentioned the case of professional people who have an objection to joining a union because it conflicts with their professional etiquette. That should be properly taken account of in a conscience clause. For these reasons, too, it seems that the law as the Government wish it would be wrong.

I want to make our position absolutely clear. All Conservative Members who have spoken this afternoon recognise that the closed shop will exist in a number of industries and that it makes in many respects for good industrial relations. However, throughout the passage of this Bill and the previous Bill we fought for a proper conscience clause. We proposed some ourselves. We supported the Liberals on others. We are now trying a new conscience clause which conforms closely to the Labour Party's conscience clause—which the Chief Whip will know all about.

If we find, as we anticipate that we shall find, that the arrangements which can be made under union membership agreements are not satisfactory, it will be the duty of a future Conservative Government to ensure that effective provision is made. We cannot leave the situation in any doubt. It is important and right that this House decides a matter of individual conscience in favour of the individual. There is no doubt that a future Conservative Government would take action in this respect.

Until this afternoon I had hoped that the Secretary of State would agree to write that into the Bill. I am glad that he said what he did about writing it into union membership agreements. However, that will not go far enough. I understand the willingness of the TUC to move in the direction of writing a clause into a union membership agreement. However, greater interests are at stake here. My hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) portrayed this well in his remarks. Conservative Members cannot be satisfied at leaving the matter where it is. I hope that the Secretary of State will appreciate that we do not believe that he protects the rights of the individual in a difficult situation—a situation which Donovan recognised. My hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) dealt at length with the question of conscientious objection. He was concerned whether cases relating to military service had been fairly decided. It is right that there should be a conscience clause written into the Bill.

For those reasons I ask all hon. Members to join us in striking a blow for liberty, which will not strike at the root of the closed shop or at the root of the trade union movement. The trade union movement is quite strong enough to withstand the effects of a conscience clause. In the past few months I have urged people to join a union and to play a part in a union. No one can accuse us of trying to undermine unions. However, there are issues of deeply-held personal conviction which we in this House should protect. A conscience clause and a closed-shop situation is one of them.

Mr. Foot

If the House will permit me to reply again, I shall try to do so briefly, although brevity is no sign that I do not treat the debate with proper respect. In no sense do I complain that the debate was proposed in a spiteful manner by the other place. However, we have debated the matter on a number of occasions. That is a statement of fact from which I am sure the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) would not dissent, because he has participated in many of these debates.

5.45 p.m.

The proposal of the House of Lords is an even worse way of dealing with the problem than those we previously rejected, one of which was advanced by the Liberal Party. The advantage of this debate is that we have the definitive view of the Liberal Party at least on one question. I hope that the same will happen on future occasions, although whether it will be the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) who makes such definitive utterances I do not know. I was fascinated to hear that he has joined the Church of England for the same reason as he joined the Liberal Party, namely, that he was not required to believe in anything of any significance. If we were to devise a conscience clause on that basis it would have to be very wide.

That is the dilemma of this debate. As the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said, many forceful speeches have been made by Conservative Members. However, in my opinion one half of their speeches cancelled the other half. All were very good but they left a complete negative at the end. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) argued that this was only a small amendment, which would not make much difference to the industrial situation. He asked why such a narrow amendment of this kind could not be accepted because it would not make any difference—it would not open up great opportunities for people to destroy the closed shop. However, the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) made a powerful speech and spoke principally about the Ferrybridge Six. If he was in order in making that speech and referring to Ferrybridge and if the situation at Ferrybridge were to be allowed under this kind of provision, it would need to be a very wide provision because it would have to say that the whole Ferrybridge operation could be supported by this sort of clause.

That brings me to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman and his tame lawyers, who told him that all these matters could be easily settled. I am glad that he withdrew any suggested criticisms of industrial tribunals. I am specially glad, because in another place Lord Hailsham upbraided me for not having intervened to instruct the insurance authorities how to behave. When I suggested that the matter was sub judice Lord Hailsham said that it was a most extraordinary affair for me to shelter under any damned silly sub judice argument. I am not saying that he used those words, but that was the tenor of his remarks.

Both I and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State have behaved perfectly properly towards industrial tribunals. I am glad that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft has restored the situation. He and his lawyers have said that the matter can be settled quite easily and that on reasonable grounds there is no difficulty. However, this was one of the special difficulties as regards the Ferrybridge judgment. Paragraph 62 says: The next and extremely difficult problem is as to what constitutes an objection 'on any reasonable grounds'. There is no guidance whatsoever from Parliament on what constitutes such grounds and we all three strongly resent being given the task of deciding this question. It is contrary to the conventions of the constitution of this country, as I understand them, for a judicial body to have to decide such a question which carries political and controversial implications. Parliament should say what are reasonable grounds …". The Tribunal was echoing in slightly different words only what I said in opposition to the very amendments and clauses which the Opposition advanced. The Ferrybridge case took place under the quite obscure legislation which came from another place and which we were foolish enough to allow through in this House. We seek to make that legislation clearer.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The Secretary of State seems to quote that passage with approval. Does he not agree that if Sir John Donaldson, in his days in the Industrial Court, had uttered a similar passage and said that the next part of his judgment was a matter of some political controversy and therefore he would place it in a sealed envelope and not allow the parties or party to know what the envelope contained, he would have been the first Member of this House to leap up and suggest that the Attorney-General or the Secretary of State responsible should do something about a judicial body that behaved in that way.

Mr. Foot

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not inviting me to repeat my comments on the trigger-happy Donaldson, because I got into some trouble when I did that before. Some rebukes were passed on to me, not from members of the Government but from the national Press and institutions of that nature. They said that I should not criticise Donaldson in such a manner. I marvel at my moderation—like Robert Clive—in the case of Lord Donaldson. However, I learned my lesson, as we all have to learn. I must be very careful of what I say about industrial tribunals, and I shall not be tempted, even by the hon. Gentleman, into passing judgment upon them now. It would be quite wrong to do so.

What I am illustrating is that the tribunal which had to deal in this important matter with the same legislation that we passed through this House came to the same view that we came to about it, namely, that the legislation was obscure, unworkable and that the tribunal was not able to operate it in the way that it thought satisfactory.

Mr. Brittan

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to confuse the House. However, there are in the Chamber hon. Members who were not present at the beginning of the debate. I am sure that he would want to confirm that whether or not that is a fair criticism of that legislation, the industrial tribunal was expressing no view on the clause that we are now debating and on which he is replying.

Mr. Foot

I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman. It has hardly been necessary for me to intervene in the debate at all, because hon. Members are so brilliant at contradicting one another. What the hon. Gentleman does not appreciate is that he has just knocked one of his hon. Friends through the ropes and said not merely that his speech was wrong but also that it was out of order.

Mr. Brittan

I am content to leave questions of order to the Chair, but I was hoping that the Secretary of State would answer the debate on this amendment rather than seek to obscure the issue by saying that some other amendment, part of some other legislation, was or was not a good thing.

Mr. Foot

If the hon. Member for Rushcliffe, who raised the matter of Ferrybridge, was in order—apparently he was, because he was not pulled up by the Chair—I was entitled to say that presumably he was relating it to this clause, and therefore this clause, far from being narrow, was very wide. It was on that ground that I was quoting what the tribunal said, and explaining why we could not proceed in that way.

Opposition Members contradict one another, but the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby has brilliantly contradicted himself. He referred to the European Convention on Human Rights. He suggested that what we were doing was in contravention of that convention, or that it might be held to contravene it. I thought that the hon. Gentleman was citing the convention in order to upbraid us for having been in some way neglectful about its possible provisions.

Mr. Brittan

If that is really what the right hon. Gentleman thought I was saying he must have suffered a temporary attack of deafness. I said that it was arguable that we were in breach of the convention. I was seeking to show that the convention made a distinction between conscience and religion. It was for that purpose, and that only, that I cited the convention. If the convention can conclude that there is a viable legally enforceable distinction between conscience and religion, so can this House.

Mr. Foot

The convention was applying it particularly, as the context reveals, to military service. Indeed, when the convention was drawn up, special provision was made to make it clear that it was not expected that the clause would apply to anything like the closed shop. Therefore, that is why I say that by citing the convention the hon. Gentleman is injuring his argument. In 1951, when the convention was drawn up, the Conservatives drew the distinction that we draw between conscience as applied in these circumstances and conscience as applied in relation to military service. Opposition Members say that the analogy fits altogether and we say that it does not.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly draw the attention of the House to the precise point in the convention where that distinction appears?

Mr. Foot

If the hon. Lady studies the debates that took place when the convention was drawn up, in 1951, she will find that the closed shop was perfectly legitimate when the convention was signed. There were discussions about what it would mean. Therefore, it was specifically stated in those terms in order to ensure that it would not be regarded as ruling that the closed shop should be unlawful.

Perhaps I may conclude by saying that in my view the House has reached the best way of trying to settle this matter. That is to say, we have examined carefully the ways in which these provisions may operate. Mr. Len Murray certainly had to take action after the Ferrybridge judgment, because under that judgment, if it stood, indeed the operation of the closed shop, or the operation of union membership agreements, would be in a state of great obscurity. The Ferrybridge judgment made it necessary for Len Murray to write in that sense. He was basing his suggestions to unions on what had occurred there.

What we are seeking to do is to make the law itself clear about this matter, to put the law into a state in which it does not give rise to ambiguities and not where we judge whether there should be a closed shop)—or a union membership agreement, as we prefer to call it—in

one circumstance. We prefer to leave that matter to the employers and workers in the industry concerned. None of the fears and horrors that hon. Members like to portray can occur unless the employers also agree to the proposition. That is the simple fact.

What we also want to secure is that when arrangements are reached in different industries, in different circumstances and between different sorts of employers and different unions, they shall all take into account the kind of considerations that we had in mind when we made this agreement as flexible as possible. I hope that they will take them into account.

I hope that once again the House will vote on this subject as it has voted on 20 previous occasions. It does not mean in any sense at all that we are voting against liberty or the protection of liberties. What we are seeking to do, and just what right hon. Members of the Opposition failed to do, is to combine individual liberties with the protection of other liberties and the recognition that the right of association is also one of the essential liberties for the people of this country. It is for the protection of two liberties that we on the Government side of the House fight.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 298, Noes 253.

Division No. 92.] AYES [5.58 p.m.
Abse, Leo Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Allaun, Frank Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)
Anderson, Donald Buchan, Norman Davidson, Arthur
Archer, Peter Buchanan, Richard Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)
Armstrong, Ernest Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)
Ashley, Jack Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Ashton, Joe Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Deakins, Eric
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Campbell, Ian Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Atkinson, Norman Canavan, Dermis Delargy, Hugh
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cant, R. B. Dell, Rt Hon Edmund
Bain, Mrs Margaret Carmichael, Neil Dempsey, James
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Carson, John Dormand, J. D.
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Carter, Ray Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Bates, Alt Carter-Jones, Lewis Duffy, A. E. P.
Bean, R. E. Cartwright, John Dunlop, John
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Clemitson, Ivor Dunnett, Jack
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bidwell, Sydney Cohen, Stanley Eadie, Alex
Bishop, E. S. Coleman, Donald Edge, Geoff
Blenkinsop, Arthur Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)
Boardman, H. Concannon, J. D. Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Conlan, Bernard Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) English, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Corbett, Robin Ennals, David
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Bradford, Rev Robert Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Bradley, Tom Cronin, John Evans, John (Newton)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Cryer, Bob Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lipton, Marcus Rose, Paul B.
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Litterick, Tom Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Flannery, Martin Loyden, Eddie Ross, William (Londonderry)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Luard, Evan Rowlands, Ted
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyon, Alexander (York) Sandelson, Neville
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Sedgemore, Brian
Ford, Ben Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Selby, Harry
Forrester, John McCartney, Hugh Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) MacCormick, lain Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) McCusker, H. Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Freeson, Reginald McElhone, Frank Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mackenzie, Gregor Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mackintosh, John P. Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
George, Bruce Maclennan, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Gilbert, Dr John McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Sillars, James
Ginsburg, David McNamara, Kevin Silverman, Julius
Golding John Madden, Max Skinner, Dennis
Gould, Bryan Magee, Bryan Small, William
Gourlay, Harry Mallalieu, J. P. W. Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Graham, Ted Marks, Kenneth Spearing, Nigel
Grant, George (Morpeth) Marquand, David Spriggs, Leslie
Grant, John (Islington C) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Stallard, A. W.
Grocott, Bruce Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Stott, Roger
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mason, Rt Hon Roy Strang, Gavin
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Maynard, Miss Joan Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Hardy, Peter Meacher, Michael Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Harper, Joseph Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Swain, Thomas
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mendelson, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Millan, Bruce Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Hayman, Mrs Helene Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Molloy, William Thompson, George
Heffer, Eric S Molyneaux, James Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Henderson, Douglas Moonman, Eric Tierney, Sydney
Hooley, Frank Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Tinn, James
Horam, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshow) Tomlinson, John
Howell, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Torney, Tom
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Moyle, Roland Tuck, Raphael
Huckfield, Les Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Urwin, T. W.
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Newens, Stanley Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ogden, Eric Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) O'Halloran, Michael Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hunter, Adam Ovenden, John Ward, Michael
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian Watkins, David
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Owen, Dr David Watkinson, John
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Padley, Walter Watt, Hamish
Janner, Greville Paisley, Rev Ian Weetch, Ken
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Palmer, Arthur Weitzman, David
Jeger, Mrs Lena Park, George Wellbeloved, James
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Parry, Robert White, Frank R. (Bury)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Pavitt, Laurie White, James (Pollok)
John, Brynmor Peart, Rt Hon Fred Whitehead, Phillip
Johnson, James (Hull West) Pendry, Tom Whitlock, William
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Perry, Ernest Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Phipps, Dr Colin Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Kaufman, Gerald Price, C. (Lewisham W) Williams, Sir Thomas
Kelley, Richard Price, William (Rugby) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Kerr, Russell Radice, Giles Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Lambie, David Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Lamborn, Harry Reid, George Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Lamond, James Richardson, Miss Jo Wise, Mrs Audrey
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Woodall, Alec
Leadbitter, Ted Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Woof, Robert
Robinson, Geoffrey Wrigglesworth, Ian
Lee, John Roderick, Caerwyn Young, David (Bolton E)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Lever, Rt Hon Harold Rodgers, William (Stockton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Rooker, J. W. Mr. David Stoddart and Mr. Peter Snape.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roper, John
Adley, Robert Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)
Alison, Michael Benyon, W. Braine, Sir Bernard
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Berry, Hon Anthony Brittan, Leon
Arnold, Tom Biffen, John Brocklebank-Fowler, C,
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Biggs-Davison, John Brotherton, Michael
Awdry, Daniel Blaker, Peter Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)
Baker, Kenneth Body, Richard Bryan, Sir Paul
Banks, Robert Boscawen, Hon Robert Buchanan-Smith, Alick
Bell, Ronald Bottomley, Peter Buck, Antony
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Budgen, Nick
Bulmer, Esmond Hurd, Douglas Peyton, Rt Hon John
Burden, F. A. Hutchison, Michael Clark Pink, R. Bonner
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda James, David Prior, Rt Hon James
Churchill, W. S. Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Jessel, Toby Raison, Timothy
Clark, William (Croydon S) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Rathbone, Tim
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Clegg, Walter Jopling, Michael Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cockcroft, John Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Kaberry, Sir Donald Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Cope, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Cordle, John H. Kershaw, Anthony Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Corrie, John Kilfedder, James Ridsdale, Julian
Costain, A. P. King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rifkind, Malcolm
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Crowder, F. P. Kitson, Sir Timothy Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Knox, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Lamont, Norman Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Lane, David Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Drayson, Burnaby Langford-Holt, Sir John Royle, Sir Anthony
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Latham, Michael (Melton) Sainsbury, Tim
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan St. John-Stevas, Norman
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawson, Nigel Scott, Nicholas
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shaw, Gilles (Pudsey)
Elliott, Sir William Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Emery, Peter Lloyd, Ian Shepherd, Colin
Fairbairn, Nicholas Loveridge, John Shersby, Michael
Fairgrieve, Russell Luce, Richard Silvester, Fred
Farr, John McAdden, Sir Stephen Sims, Roger
Fell, Anthony McCrindle, Robert Sinclair, Sir George
Finsberg, Geoffrey Macfarlane, Nell Skeet, T. H. H.
Fisher, Sir Nigel MacGregor, John Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Speed, Keith
Fookes, Miss Janet McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Spence, John
Forman, Nigel McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Madel, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fox Marcus Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sproat, lain
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Marten, Neil Stainton, Keith
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Mates, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mather, Carol Stanley, John
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Maude, Angus Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mawby, Ray Stokes, John
Glyn Dr Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mayhew, Patrick Tapsell, Peter
Goodhart, Philip Meyer, Sir Anthony Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Goodhew, Victor Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Goodlad, Alastair Mills, Peter Tebbit, Norman
Gorst, John Miscampbell, Norman Temple-Morris, Peter
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Moate, Roger Townaend, Cyril D.
Gray, Hamish Monro, Hector Trotter, Neville
Griffiths, Eldon Montgomery, Fergus Tugendhat, Christopher
Grist, Ian Moore, John (Croydon C) van Straubenzee, W, R.
Grylls, Michael More, Jasper (Ludlow) Viggers, Peter
Hall, Sir John Morgan, Geraint Wainwright, Richard (Coine V)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Wakeham, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Hampson, Dr Keith Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Hannam, John Mudd, David Wall, Patrick
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Neave, Airey Walters, Dennis
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nelson, Anthony Warren, Kenneth
Hastings, Stephen Neubert, Michael Weatherill, Bernard
Havers, Sir Michael Newton, Tony Wells, John
Hawkins, Paul Nott, John Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Onslow, Cranley Wiggin, Jerry
Heseltine, Michael Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Winterton, Nicholas
Hicks, Robert Osborn, John Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Higgins, Terence L. Page, John (Harrow West) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Holland, Philip Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Younger, Hon George
Hordern, Peter Pardoe, John
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Parkinson, Cecil TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Howell, David (Guildford) Pattle, Geoffrey Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Michael Roberts.
Hunt, David (Wirral) Penhaligon, David
Hunt, John Percival, Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

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