HC Deb 11 November 1976 vol 919 cc695-732

Lords Amendment No. 3 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 4, in page 4, line 6, after "weapons" insert and of space vehicles and systems",

Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Amendment made to the proposed Lords amendment, to leave out "and systems".—[Mr. Kaufman.]

Lords amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 5 disagreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 6, in page 4, line 24, leave out subsections (5) to (7).

Motion made, and Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment—[Mr. Kaufman]:—

The House divided: Ayes 324, Noes 293.

[For Division List 397 see col. 767]

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 7, in page 5, line 11, after "form" insert in which all employees have the right to participate.".

5.30 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take Lords Amendments Nos. 8, 9. 10, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21.

Mr. Kaufman

There are three strands to these amendments. Amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 20 and 21 all aim to undermine the position of independent and recognised unions by assigning rights in industrial democracy to all employees with no effective means of exercising them, and by giving so-called representative organisations the same right to be consulted that we believe should be confined to unions which meet the criteria for independence established by recent legislation and which are recognised by the two Corporations.

This approach is contrary to our general policy on proper employee representation. We have made it clear repeatedly that we regard independent and recognised unions as the organisations best suited to represent the interests of all employees. It is for this reason that we expect them to play a special part in consultations and the development of industrial democracy.

I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) is not present, because I thought that he made an extremely interesting and constructive contribution to our last debate and I would have liked to point out to him that in this Bill we are seeking to remedy some of the failings in the way in which all Governments have approached public ownership by introducing into a statute for the first time the concept of industrial democracy and making arrangements for its promotion, so that workers are involved in decision-making in public enterprise.

We believe that we should build on the strength of the workers as workers in their trade unions. Of course we believe that all employees have the right to participate in consultations and industrial democracy, just as all employees have the right to be members of trade unions. The trade union movement provides a means of participation, whereas the amendments made in another place confer rights but without any practical means of exercising them.

These objections have particular force in relation to Lords Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 15, 18 and 21. We have had representations from the employees in both industries who are not members of unions at present recognised by employers in the industry and who very understandably want to participate in the consultations on industrial democracy under Clause 2, on organisation under Clause 5, on machinery for settling terms and conditions of employment under Clause 6, and on the corporate plan under Clause 7. We understand this, and we very much hope that these people will make their full contribution to these industries.

None the less, we do not believe that it would be in the interest of either the employees or the industry to accept these amendments. They would cut across the Government's policy on collective bargaining and proper employee representation which we believe to be in the best interests of all employees. The practical effect of the amendments would not be great, since a Corporation is most unlikely not to recognise a union which it considers represents a substantial proportion of employees. The wording fails to take account of current legislation and could lead to each corporation facing a difficult industrial relations problem without providing any means of solving it. Our provisions, which are in line with general Government policy on these questions, do provide a means of resolving disputes between rival groups claiming to represent employees. Under our provisions any such disagreement which could not be resolved by the corporations and those involved would be considered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services.

I should like to say just a brief word about Lords Amendments Nos. 14 and 20. Although without these amendments the only organisations which the Corporations would be required to consult are independent and recognised unions, of course this requirement does not prevent the Corporations from consulting any individual or organisation whom they consider may be able to make a constructive and useful contribution. I know that they will want to draw fully on the relevant expertise of the professional organisations, since the skills they represent are vital to both these industries. The Corporations can do this as appropriate under the terms of the Bill as drafted. But there would be a num- ber of problems involved in requiring them to do so.

First, there is a technical problem of definition—there would be a considerable debate about which organisations the Corporation was expected to consult, and disagreements could lead to delays and create difficulties for both parties involved, as well as actually impeding the course of the consultations. Moreover, Clauses 5 and 7 are directed primarily at those who work in the industries. These amendments could have the effect of giving equal rights to organisations of which only a small part were directly involved in the industries.

The case that I have just made for adopting our approach and rejecting that reflected in these amendments is one that has been put at every stage of this Bill. The arguments that I have advanced are now very familiar ones. Hon. Members have accepted them before, and on the same grounds. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon Members have accepted them in their votes. The Standing Committee accepted these arguments whenever it had to make decisions upon them. The House, on Report, accepted them when they were put to it. I obviously do not suggest that every Member accepts the arguments, but I do not think that any individual Member, however distinguished he may be, would arrogate to himself the right to be called "the House". [Interruption.] The composition of the House has changed. No doubt we shall be testing that composition at the end of the debate. All I am saying is that the arguments I have advanced have been accepted before. I have not said that they will be accepted this evening. We hope that they will, but we must wait and see. Hon. Gentlemen opposite really must read what I said. I did not go beyond what has happened in the past. I make recommendations to the House about what should happen when we conclude the debate, but that is a different matter and we shall see how things go. However, I would most strongly urge the House to disagree with this set of amendments.

With regard to Amendment No. 10, the Secretary of State made clear during Report stage in this House that it would not be appropriate to require the courts to adjudicate on industrial democracy. Therefore, when we decided that it was important to underline our commitment to industrial democracy by imposing on the Corporations a positive duty to promote it in a strong and organic form, we had to ensure that this duty was not enforceable by proceedings before a court of law. The hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) may giggle when I say that. He had the opportunity, along with other Members of the Opposition parties, to make representations to the Government in private consultations.

I wrote to all the minority parties represented on the Standing Committee. The representatives of the Liberal Party and the SNP discussed these matters seriously with me The Conservative Opposition did not even reply to the letter that I sent them, because of the scorn they feel for involving workers in decision-making and for the very concept of industrial democracy. The Liberal and Scottish National Parties may well differ from the Government in their views about the way in which industrial democracy should be implemented, but they did not have scorn for the concept. Indeed the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) brought along a most detailed proposal about the way in which he felt it should be implemented. The Conservative Opposition have no right whatever even to intervene in this debate, because they have shown no interest in the problem.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford) rose

Mr. Kaufman

I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman had his opportunity to consult. He could not be bothered, because he is not interested in workers and their rôle in industry. But the rest of the House—the Labour Party and the other non-Tory parties have shown that they are interested in these matters.

As a result of that consultation we inserted into the Bill provisions for industrial democracy and also the subsection that the Lords amendment removes. The subsection applies to all the duties imposed by Clause 2, and not just to the duty to promote industrial democracy because we wished to follow the precedent of the Iron and Steel Act 1949 as revived by the Iron and Steel Act 1967.

Some concern was expressed by their Lordships about this subsection and the effect on such questions as patent law and the rights of inventors. I think it would be helpful if I explained to the House that the fears expressed in another place are groundless. This subsection provides merely that nothing in Clause 2 shall be construed as imposing upon either Corporation, directly or indirectly, any form of duty or liability enforceable by proceedings before any court. I can assure hon. Members that the subsection does not in any way touch on any duty or liability which a Corporation may have by reason of anything else in the Bill; by reason of anything in any other enactment; by reason of anything in any other branch of law; or by reason of anything in any agreement to which it may be a party. If a person has a claim against a Corporation arising, for example, out of the law relating to patents or out of the law relating to confidential information, that person will not be able to rely on anything in Clause 2. But, equally, nothing in Clause 2 will get in his way.

I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will accept that this precedented subsection does not affect individual rights but rather is important if we are to avoid placing an improper burden on the courts.

5.45 p.m.

Finally, Amendment No. 19 was passed by their Lordships without discussion after the mover had mistakenly claimed that two identical amendments previously debated had been passed on a Division. There had been no such Division, because the earlier amendments had not been moved. That is an interesting reflection on the rationality and orderliness of debates in another place.

We prefer the more direct form "to consult", for two reasons. First, we want this requirement to be very clear, and not to permit of any coyness. Secondly, we think it is better for the Bill to be consistent. Throughout the Bill and throughout previous legislation, there are obligations, for instance, on the Secretary of State to consult the Corporations, or the Chairman, or it is specified that the Secretary of State may do something only after consultation with the Corporations. This amendment would also compound inconsistency further, because the Corporations would be obliged to seek consultation with the trade unions in the context of Clause 7 and to consult them in the context of other clauses.

I urge hon. Members to reject this amendment, as well as all the others in this group, for the reasons I have given.

Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)

I would accept at once the validity of the points which the Minister of State makes, but not his conclusion on the reason why I did not arrange to discuss with him the issue of worker democracy involved in this legislation. I did not do so for three reasons. The first was because my preoccupation was to ensure that this legislation does not reach the statute book. I am opposed to this legislation from start to finish and my preoccupation has been to ensure that it did not become the law of the land.

My second preoccupation was because the views of the Government are totally clear. There is no flexibility, room for manoeuvre or meaningful discussions about an issue of this sort. The consultations were, therefore, nothing but a public relations exercise and I was not prepared to become part of that. If we had wished to discuss the matter, which I did in Committee, there was plenty of opportunity.

The third reason is borne out by the efforts that were doubtless made by the representatives of the Liberal and Scottish National Parties. They will have discovered that the provisions on industrial democracy in the legislation have not changed one whit as a result of the considerable thought and effort they will have made in the course of the dialogue. The reality is that the Government had made up their mind about the form of industrial democracy in the legislation and there was nothing that anyone on the Opposition Benches could do to make a significant contribution. I have sat as long as anyone on the Opposition Benches in Committee opposing this legislation—long enough to have a fairly clear idea of how much flexibility is contained in Government's attitude.

Mr. Edward Gardener (South Fylde)

Is my hon. Friend aware that if the Government took notice of industrial democracy in its true meaning they would have taken note of the wishes of the workers of the British Aircraft Corporation and dropped the Bill forthwith?

Mr. Heseltine

Yes, of course. My hon. and learned Friend is perfectly right, but his argument extends beyond the interests of the workers of the British Aircraft Industry. The whole country would reject this legislation out of hand.

The main point that I wish to make is a simple one. The Minister of State has used familiar jargon to describe what he referred to as the undermining of democracy, cutting across the whole concept of collective bargaining, and prejudicing the interests of the workers in securing a proper rôle in the destiny of those companies.

Those words will have a sympathetic hearing on the Government Benches opposite particularly amongst the vast majority of hon. Members who have no idea of the content of the amendment that we are debating. In order to help those hon. Gentlemen, perhaps I may quote the words that the amendment would introduce into the Bill. It would add one line to the following three lines: In carrying out its functions under this Act, it shall be the duty of each Corporation to promote industrial democracy in a strong and organic form". That is the legislation as presently drafted. The amendment, which is the trigger amendment to this group reads: in which all employees have the right to participate. That is all we are debating in the trigger amendment. That is the amendment which is described by the Minister of State as undermining our whole approach to industrial democracy and cutting across the rights of workers in collective negotiation.

Perhaps I may go back a little in the history of this issue. In the last decade the whole question of industrial relations legislation was a source of great controversy, and Governments of both parties came to the conclusion that it was necessary to legislate to bring trade unions within the law of the land. That was the broad conclusion both of the Labour Government of the late 1960s—

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us the last occasion when the trade unions were out-with the law of the land?

Mr. Heseltine

That is not relevant to my point. I am saying that Governments of both parties within the last decade came to the conclusion that it was necessary to introduce a comprehensive legislative framework within which—[Interruption.] I do not want controversy over the language. I used the words which I intended to use. It was the considered judgment of the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet of both parties that we should have a comprehensive range of legislation dealing with trade unions. That decision within the Labour Party was frustrated by internal pressures within the party, but the Conservative Party introduced that legislation and put it on the statute book. That Act was repealed by the Labour Government when they came to power. That is a factual analysis of the history which is not controversial.

The Labour Government then introduced a new Industrial Relations Bill, which was enacted. The Labour Government introduced that legislation, considered it and argued it through the House and the Lords, and it is their total responsibility. I could give endless quotations to support the view that under that legislation the intention was that groups of people should have the opportunity to prove to an independent inquiry set up under the mechanism of the Act that they were independent organisations representing employees. All hon. Members sitting on the Government Benches voted for that legislation.

Shortly afterwards, groups of workers decided that they wanted to take advantage of Labour's Industrial Relations Act, and they organised themselves. Thousands of workers in the principle companies in the aircraft and shipbuilding industries organised themselves into unions which were considered and approved according to the mechanism set up by the Labour Government. They claimed to be substantial, representative organisations in accordance with the law of the land enacted by the Labour Government. Those are the groups of people who are described by the Minister of State as being against the best interests of collective bargaining and undermining worker democracy. That is what he told the House this afternoon, and that is why the wording embraced in the amendment is unacceptable to the Government. There has been pressure within the Labour Party to frustrate the developing movement within that legislation for independent staff associations to get recognition.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham and Heston)

Scab unions.

Mr. Heseltine

I know how the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) feels about this matter. To him they are scab unions. I am not trying to suggest that every group of people will always try to do their best for the companies or organisations they represent. Of course not. Therefore, I admire a concept which gives independence to an outside organisation to approve or not to approve such groups of people. But if a group has been approved, by what right does the Minister of State cynically attack the work that has been done? How is it that at the Dispatch Box the Minister of State can dismiss those organisations which were created under Labour's legislation as "so-called" representative organisations?

Mr. Kaufman

I fear the hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding the position. What I have adhered to throughout the discussions on the Bill—sometimes to the disagreement of my hon. Friends—is that the "relevant trade unions" as defined in the Bill should have the right to consultation. The hon. Gentleman and his noble Friends are seeking to extend that right beyond relevant trade unions to bodies which are unrepresentative and entirely worthless.

For example, there was a report last week in the Financial Times of a number of organisations in this industry which have been refused certification. ACAS said that it opposed an application on the ground that the staff association was not economically viable and that it was liable to be influenced, if not dominated, by management. It was pointed out that the Hatfield members paid subscriptions of only 10p per week and that the Hum association had only 38 members. Those are the organisations I am dealing with that are not relevant trade unions within the meaning of the legislation.

Mr. Heseltine

The Minister misses the point. His organisation exists to judge whether the groups of people are genuine and representative. My complaint is not that some should be rejected but that those which have already secured independent recognition are not recognised. That is the essence of it. The organisations that have obtained certificates of independence under the Labour legislation have as much right to be heard as any other representative organisation.

Those organisations have asked to meet the Secretary of State for Employment so that their views may be heard. They went through the mechanism, obtained their certificate of independence and asked, on behalf of their thousands of members, to put their views to the Secretary of State for Employment. I quote the last sentence of the Secretary of State's letter rejecting that application for a meeting: We have not yet reached any conclusions as to what needs to be done to remedy the situation which is developing, and I do not therefore think that a further meeting with myself or my officials would be helpful to you in this respect. The implications of that letter are that the conclusions have already been reached, that it is too late for influence to be brought to bear and that a meeting might be possible to pass on the conclusions that have already been reached. That was the letter of the Secretary of State for Employment. Anyone who believes that that letter can be squared with the concept of democracy as I understand it has no concept of what the word means.

6.0 p.m.

This most discredited Government in contemporary times must now understand that they are representing not the interests of workers or the interests of people at large but the narrow sectional interests of unions that subscribe to the Labour Party. It seems that unions which do not belong to that special group have no rights, while those who do have every right. That is what the debate is all about and let us understand that. No amount of misrepresentation by the Minister of State, no jargon or misrepresenative language will hide the fact that thousands of men and women have decided to go their own way, and that is deeply resented by the Government.

Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)

It is surprising to hear the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) talk about democracy and the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) advise us on how we should teach our children about democracy. I find it difficult to equate democracy with the things that have been done by the Conservative and Liberal Parties throughout the century.

When we turn to the Lords amendments we are reminded yet again that their Lordships have no understanding of industrial relations in Britain today. The class represented in another place has always used working people as a media for exploitation in the production of goods within a capitalist society. That is all that they have ever understood about working people. They regard them as tools of production within a capitalist society.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr) rose

Mr. Thorne

No, I have only just begun. I listened to the hon. Member for Henley without finding it necessary to interrupt him. I have uttered only two or three sentences but the hon. Gentleman is already on his feet.

On looking at the amendments we are reminded of the old exam question with which one is presented on reading industrial relations as a student. The question runs something like this—"If we had no trade unions, would we need to invent them?" That is precisely how the House of Lords still thinks about these matters. If we did not have trade unions in our society, I am sure that the Conservative Party would be interested in creating them so as to carry on a dialogue between employers and employees. It is against the background of existing industrial relations that we have to consider the concept of industrial democracy.

The hon. Member for Henley referred to the participation of all workers in industry as if the Labour Party has never been in favour of that approach. The contrary is the real position. The Labour Party has always encouraged the maximum involvement of ordinary people in the decision-making processes. The history of the Conservative Party is strewn with such things as the Combination Acts and legislation introduced to weaken the power of people to participate in industrial democracy.

We are not talking, as the hon. Member for Henley seemed to suggest, of individuals putting forward their points of view to management in a suggestion-box situation; we are talking about establishing structures within the new aerospace industry. I sincerely hope that the structures will provide for the maximum involvement of those on the shop floor, in the drawing office and elsewhere in discussing day-to-day problems. Inevitably, representatives will have to be elected to sit on committees at various levels of the structures we establish. Immediately we do that, we are involved in precisely the situation that has existed in the industry for a considerable time.

The British Aircraft Corporation has found it impossible to conduct day-to-day negotiations with workers without trade unions. Unions such as TASS, APEX, ASTMS, and the AUEW are involved in the negotiations, representing both blue and white-collar workers. They meet management to discuss the problems that exist within a factory.

It is clear that another place is concerned that we now intend to give that concept a deeper understanding in that we intend to say that the structures will not only be concerned about pay, hours and holidays but with a wider range of issues affecting workers in their everyday lives—for example, matters affecting the product, the organisation within the factory and issues of who does what, when, how and where. All these matters will be discussed within the new structures established by industrial democracy.

Why do we say that it is unrealistic to talk about representation without the broad trade union movement that has grown up in our history? It is necessary to examine the changes that have taken place in the growth of white-collar unionism over the past 20 years. In many factories and organisations throughout the country, certainly within the white-collar sector, there has been a paternalistic relationship with managements. There has been the mistaken notion that promotion, security of tenure and status, for example, are influenced by the way in which the manager, on walking through the office in the morning, says "Good morning, John" or "Good morning, Mr. Smith". There was an attitude of mind that the closer one was to management in a day-to-day relationship the better would be the chances of promotion, pay and status.

Over the past 10 years or 20 years the realisation has dawned that nothing could be further from the truth. That has brought about the growth of ASTMS and TASS, for example, as the membership within white-collar unions has recognised that the only way to further its interests is through the process of collective action, action within trade unions.

It would be wrong to suggest that that growth and that change is as advanced as some of my hon. Friends would like to see. There are still pockets of white-collar workers that hold to the old notion that if they approach the boss in a reasonable way, if they comply with management goals irrespective of whether they are inimical to their interests, they will achieve rewards. They still exist. The employers are now seeking in their own interests to extend that exploitation. They are seeking to create "sweetheart" unions to further the aspirations of white-collar workers.

Against that background there is a long-standing suspicion on the part of those trade unions which had to struggle for many years to improve their conditions. That is why there is such opposition to the concept of employer-associated trade unions. Few of the unions certified as independent are in real terms independent. Almost all have been buttressed by the employers and assisted by employer resources, and they are in almost all cases children born in the womb of an employer. Employers seek ways and means of preventing trade unions from creating the kind of industrial democracy that we envisaged when we attempted to discuss these matters in Standing Committee. I am convinced that we shall muster sufficient votes to defeat the absurd and infantile amendments submitted by the House of Lords.

Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings)

One would think that the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) knew something about the aircraft industry but, unfortunately, his remarks were obviously out of a textbook that he is writing. The hon. Gentleman should instead be learning about what is taking place in the industry. He should know that an entirely new development has emerged in the last few years. People actively want to participate. They do not want to be led by those who talk the kind of poppycock used by the hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Gentleman is out of date in his thinking. We have seen from the hon. Gentleman, if we ever needed a demonstration, the effect of the Government's proposals. But we are talking about all the people, not only about the workers on the shop floor. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that it is ridiculous that the people of Hurn and Hatfield should have banded themselves together to take part in a consultation process involving many thousands of workers? He should not scorn them as he did, and he should not try to exert upon those people the authority of the State.

What is industrial democracy all about? What is this "strong and organic form" about which we have heard so much? We were never told the answer during the 58 sittings of the Standing Committee, and we have certainly never been told in this Chamber. Indeed, we are never told what it is we are voting for or against.

Surely we should have expected a great deal of consultation to have taken place in the process of discussion of these matters. But we discover that the so-called consultation is a class warfare phrase. It is consultation only with those who can qualify for membership of a TUC-affiliated union. Anybody else is a second-class citizen. That is the most significant matter that has come out of these discussions.

Mr. Edward Gardner

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the Government succeed tonight there will be no industrial democracy for anybody who is not a member of a trade union?

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Warren

My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. Trade union members participate because of that qualification. That, apparently, is the only way of achieving the kind of democracy spelt out in the Bill.

Let us briefly examine the charge hurled at us by the Minister that the Tories are not interested in the workers. I wonder what Labour Members are interested in. What instructions did the Minister give to Lord Beswick which made him refuse to consult certain workers at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics at Stevenage who were not members of a TUC-affiliated union, even though it was known to the Minister of State, and indeed to the noble Lord, that those workers represented 40 per cent. of the work force on that site? Why do they ignore the willingness of those people to talk to the person designated to head the Corporation, if it ever comes into being?

Why was the Minister of State so lax in his own consultation processes that he came before the House last Monday and stated that the factories at Chester and Prestwick would close down if there were no nationalisation? We all know that Scottish Aviation immediately said that that was untrue. Furthermore, if the Minister examines the situation at Hawker Siddeley, he will discover that the atmosphere on the shop floor is good. However, his assault on that factory has devastated at a stroke its chances of exporting. The Minister should be more responsible than to come to the House and make such charges.

What about the situation at Warton, where apparently the consultation process is in order as long as it goes the Minister's way? The Minister ignored the BAC workers' referendum in which they voted against nationalisation. The Government are not really interested in consultation but are interested in Socialism. The reason why they will not allow consultation to take place with anybody but their own "sweetheart" unions is that, if that were to happen, the payments to the Labour Party would cease.

Mr. Tebbit

The purpose of the amendments is simple and straightforward. We believe that industrial democracy should be extended to everybody, not just to a select few. These amendments would make the rights given to workers enforceable at law instead of only through the use of industrial muscle with the chaos that that would create.

The Government's proposal throughout seeks to discriminate against new unions in favour of the old archaic, bureaucratic unions—the unions which possess so much power. It is strange that in this debate, as so often, the new unions—the staff unions—have been called the "sweetheart" unions. It has been said that they line up with the employers. However, under the proposals in the Bill the employers are now sitting on the Government Benches. One of them is the Minister of State. By the Government's proposals the sweetheart unions are those which hold joint responsibility with the Minister of State and his Labour colleagues for bringing to this country more than double the amount of unemployment we suffered two and a half years ago and for helping to bring down the value of the pound to 63p. They are the unions which, in cahoots with Labour Members, ushered in the social contract and put a millstone of debt around the necks of every one of their members.

It is the Labour Government who are employers, and it is the old-fashioned unions in the TUC which are the sweetheart unions. Indeed, they are more than sweethearts. They are bound together in an incestuous relationship—and I would not care to be the partner of either of them.

Mr. Ron Thomas

I shall not take up the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit).

I wish to congratulate the Government on this part of their legislation, which places a duty on the Corporation to develop a strong and organic form of industrial democracy. I very much welcome this move because the duty is very much on the lines of an amendment tabled by my hon. Friends and myself in Standing Committee. I agree with the Government that it is impossible to try to define industrial democracy. It would certainly be wrong in legislative form to seek to set out what we mean by the phrase.

I believe that what the phrase essentially means is that the Labour Government, for the first time, are giving to the workers in two important industries the opportunity to develop industrial democracy. I do not think that it can be imposed from above. It must develop within these industries. The challenge to the trade unions is to make sure that what the Government have done is not in any way thwarted or frustrated by management in the industries.

The essence of the amendments that we are discussing now is clearly an attempt to undermine effective trade union organisation in these two industries. It is another attempt—this time by the House of Lords—to bring about a situation where the sweetheart associations are given all kinds of rights within the two industries.

It seemed to me that the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) was clearly and understandably—because he had little else to say and little else to defend—purposely trying to confuse the situation. The hon. Gentleman knows that there are three points on a spectrum. One is the Tory view that all these sweetheart associations, no matter what or who they represent, should have the same rights as the trade unions in these industries. At the other end of the spectrum we have the view of myself and of my hon. Friends that the certification officer procedure and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service procedure need to be strengthened because they have allowed a number of bogus trade unions to get the certification bit of paper. Indeed, some of us put down amendments in Committee to the effect, first, that "relevant trade unions" ought to be trade unions affiliated to the TUC and, when this was defeated, that the definition should be affiliated to the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. We took that course because we believed that the certification officer procedure was far too loose as too many of the sweetheart associations had already got that certificate.

The hon. Member for Henley knows that the Government have a middle position. I do not know whether he has looked up the definition of "relevant trade union" in the Bill, but it makes it clear that any organisation of workers, to use the Industrial Relations Act term, which gets that bit of paper can get recognition immediately by management or via the ACAS machinery as a relevant trade union. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman tried to confuse and distort what the Minister said on that matter.

Why do we argue that only effective trade union organisations should be given rights in the development of industrial democracy and what have you? The major reason is effectiveness. Some of the sweetheart associations' members pay only 10p a year, and others pay even less than that, if that is possible. They do not and cannot possibly have the research facilities, the full-time officers and all that is required to be an effective organisation.

Mr. Hoyle

None at all.

Mr. Thomas

They do not have those facilities. One of the worst things that can happen is for industrial democracy not to work because the organisations involved cannot make an effective contribution. I cannot see how any one of these sweetheart associations, whether it has 2,000, 3,000 or 5,000 members paying 10p each a year, can possibly be effective.

One association has a membership fee of £1 a year. I could quote all kinds of figures. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) has a list of subscriptions paid by members of sweetheart associations. How can they build up an effective organisation with research departments and so on to help their members who are trying to develop industrial democracy. I suggest that only trade unions such as ASTMS can afford research departments and full-time officials to service and support the people who will be the spearhead of the development of industrial democracy.

The Tory Party always turns to the legitimate trade unions when it suits its purpose. When this country was in a crisis, Ted Heath invited to Downing Street for a pint of beer—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. Hon. Members are not allowed to refer to other Members by name. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind.

Mr. Thomas

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Prime Ministers, whether Tory or Labour, whenever this country faces an economic crisis, immediately turn to the TUC and invite representatives to come round for beer and sandwiches. They do not turn to the sweetheart associations. They turn to the TUC to discipline the trade union movement, whether it is about pay or anything else. They turn to the TUC for representatives to serve on boards, whether at national or local level. They do not turn to the sweetheart associations. In other words, when they want the trade unions to be the stretcher-bearers of the capitalist system, they turn not to the sweetheart associations but to the legitimate trade unions. They expect them to carry the burden, whether it is pay policy, inflation or, at the other end of the spectrum, nominating members for the thousands of different boards and committees on which trade union representatives serve.

Basically, this is an attempt by the Lords to wreck this legislation. At least the hon. Member for Henley was honest, because he said that his ambition was to wreck the Bill and to stop the aircraft industry coming into public ownership. The hon. Gentleman does not mind that hundreds of millions of pounds of public money should be poured into the industry year in, year out. The hon. Gentleman does not mind the taxpayer paying, but he does not want the taxpayer to have control.

Mr. Hoyle

We pay.

Mr. Thomas

If there is to be this kind of public expenditure in the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, there must be public accountability. We can get that public accountability only through public ownership.

One hon. Gentleman referred to BAC Filton. Opposition Members, have, like me, been inundated with letters and telegrams from BAC shop stewards and workers—

Mr. Tebbit

Not me.

Mr. Thomas

—asking, and in some cases getting very angry and telling them, to stop delaying the Bill. I know that the Leader of the Opposition has had telegrams from BAC workers. I understand that Opposition Front Bench Members have also received telegrams from Tory, Liberal and Labour supporters among the shop stewards at BAC Filton.

Mr. Tebbit

Perhaps the Union of Post Office Workers would not deliver them.

Mr. Thomas

The workers at BAC Filton want the aircraft industry brought into public ownership as quickly as possible.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

I was delighted when I first saw the amendments in Standing Committee in the names of the hon. Members for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas), Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) and Preston, South (Mr. Thorne), although I was a little puzzled by their reference to "strong and organic", words I usually associate with advertisements in the gardening newspapers. On hearing their arguments, however, I realised that they were proposing that the Corporation should be able to promote industrial democracy in an undemocratic form, that they were talking about oligarchy and privilege and be damned to the rights of the demos, the people. To my colleagues and me, industrial democracy can mean only one thing—one employee, one vote.

I am not interested in discussing their Lordships' amendments in terms of particular unions or associations, whether they be allegedly sweetheart or quite the opposite and most unpleasant. That is not the matter at issue. We are concerned here with industrial democracy. Their Lordships went to the heart of the matter when they voted for an amendment which emphasised the right of employees to participate. They were emphasising not the right of some particular staff association to participate, although that might have been involved, but of each and every employee to participate. Without that, there can be no democracy.

It was apposite that a Liberal peer in the other place, in strongly supporting the amendment, should have said that he wished that nationalised industries had made much more progress during the last 30 years towards industrial democracy. He might have gone on to say that he wished that when the Conservatives nationalised Rolls-Royce they had implemented in the necessary legislation some of their industrial charter and their concept of industrial democracy.

Industrial democracy can be achieved only if, for elections involving a substantial amount of control, every employee has a vote. Local industrial democracy—[Interruption.]—which is the seed bed for national industrial democracy, can be achieved only if in the election to the shipyard council—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that hon. Members will not conduct a secondary debate in the House while another hon. Member is on his feet.

Mr. Wainwright

I was saying, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this can be achieved only if, in the election of the local democratic units, the shipyard council, the company council and the works council, each employee has one vote. Liberals have never denied that in these wholly democratic elections vigorous trade union activity is not only to be expected but to be applauded.

Labour Members have done the union movement a great disservice by suggesting that it would not welcome the opportunity to engage most energetically in industrial elections at the workplace and on to boards of control. Certainly in my constituency, which has an industrial history about as long as anywhere in the country, the people running local union branches would welcome the chance of electioneering like mad for places for union men on these democratically elected councils.

I said before that the odds are that, where a union is in good standing and is active and has achieved genuine results rather than just political talk, 99 out of 100 people elected would probably be union activists. That is not to deny that each employee should have an equal vote. That is the fundamental issue, and it has nothing to do with whether certain unions are sweetheart unions. I think that their Lordships were on very sound and constitutional ground when they made this amendment.

Mr. Hoyle

I always listen with rapt attention to the Liberal Party's ideas on industrial democracy, although the Liberals always fall short of supporting a majority among the workers on any board. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) seems to support the idea of the German system, but on supervisory boards in Germany only 30 per cent. of the members represent the employees.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

The hon. Member is falling short of his usual standard of being well informed, because in the coal and steel industries in Germany workers' representatives are 50 per cent. of the membership.

Mr. Hoyle

The hon. Member knows that most of German industry is privately owned and that in the private sector representation is only 30 per cent. Workers in German industry regard this arrangement as a dead letter. They have told me that they are not interested.

I believe, however, that the hon. Member is dragging a Liberal herring across the scene, because our debate tonight is about sweetheart unions. We are witnessing an attempt by the Opposition to get recognition for these unions. They are, of course, creatures of management. They owe their existence to the managements in the industries concerned. In Committee I referred to the British Aerospace Staff Association. I received a letter from the association saying that I had been harsh in my treatment of it and that I was not being truthful in my description of the facilities it could offer its members.

This evening I wish once more to deal with that association. It is one of the sweetheart unions for which the Opposition want recognition. It is true that that staff association could never have existed without the co-operation of management. Its first chairman was a Mr. Mitchell. That gentleman was asked to draw up the rules for the association, but it is worth noting that in his other capacity, wearing his other hat, Mr. Mitchell is the executive director of legal affairs for Hawker Siddeley. So much for the independence of the British Aerospace Staff Association.

The association's structure is far from democratic. Apart from Mr. Mitchell, there is a Mr. Richards who was assistant personnel manager at Hawker Siddeley. He also played a leading part in the organisation. It is clear that there are no restrictions upon senior management members joining the association. I reiterate that the association is not democratic. Its national council is the overriding body which determines and interprets the rules. The association is not compelled to hold a delegate conference of lay members, except at the behest of the national council. In addition, the national council takes all decisions. The national council cannot be removed from office.

All that seems to me to be far from democratic. That, however, is what the Opposition want us to recognise. [Interruption.] Of course, the Conservatives do not want these associations to be able to negotiate collectively because they might be able to secure better bargains. They want the associations to be complete creatures of management. [Interruption.] We are quite accustomed to these seated interruptions from the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) in which he puts his own gloss on things, but he is a member of a union. He used to be a leading member of a TUC affiliate. I do not know why he does not spread his knowledge to his fellow Members and ask them to back the real unions in these industries.

Mr. Tebbit

The answer is that BALPA happen to be a very well run, efficient, democratically organised union, and there was no need for any other union. But in many of these organisations there is a crying need for a union which does better for its members than—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tell us."] I will name those who think that there is a need for a better organisation. They are the thousands who have joined the staff associations.

Mr. Hoyle

That was a very interesting interruption, if I might say so, because I have already been talking about the British Aerospace Staff Association, in which the national council dictates whether there will be an annual conference. Does the hon. Member for Ching-for regard this as a democratic organisation? That is what his Front Bench is arguing.

These are the kinds of sweetheart unions that Conservative Members are asking us to recognise. There is no democracy there. Let the Conservatives urge people to join democratic unions such as my own ASTMS, TASS or APEX, which are democratic and responsive to their members. Why waste time on this creature of management, which could not exist without management?

Mr. Ron Thomas

Will my hon. Friend agree that it is the usual procedure for Tory Members to keep insisting that there are far too many trade unions, whereas here it seems that they want to create many more?

Mr. Hoyle

Yes. I find this a rather unusual argument. Whenever they talk about industrial relations they always mention the need to reduce the number of unions, yet here they are trying to set up staff associations which can only impair good industrial relations in the two Corporations. I do not understand this.

They do not seem to be following the logic of their previous arguments.

Mr. Ron Thomas

They are schizophrenic.

Mr. Hoyle

Even if the British Aerospace Staff Association is allowed by its national council to have a delegate conference, Rule 18.7 states that Any decision taken by the delegate conference, with the exception of the election of the national officers, shall be subject to ratification and adoption by the National Council. It is, therefore, a self-perpetuating oligarchy—exactly what we are being told by hon. Members on the Liberal Benches. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Colne Valley is not now present, but that was exactly the point to which he was objecting. He did not want any self-perpetuating oligarchy. Yet the amendments are precisely for the purpose of recognising this kind of organisation.

What do we find when we look at the finances of the British Aerospace Staff Association? It claims to have up to 5,000 members. It is always difficult to get the figures. I think that the true membership is about 1,000. What do the members pay for whatever services they get? They pay 80p a month. The association cannot even afford to have a secretary to type its letters. This is the kind of organisation that we are being asked to recognise.

I should like to know where the money came from to set up a formation committee. I wonder who paid the travelling expenses. I wonder who paid Mr. Mitchell, as chairman, to draw up the rules. Did he draw them up in company time? There are many questions that we could be asking about these very strange organisations that the Opposition want us to recognise.

6.45 p.m.

What we know for certain is that BASA has no full-time officers or salaried staff. But it has now joined an organisation called the Confederation of Employees' Organisations, of which the Secretary is the Rev. Paul Nicholson. He is the strangest parson I have ever known. This organisation cannot offer its members any great facilities either, because when we look at the Confederation of Employees' Organisations we find that it has one full-time member of staff, the said Rev. Paul Nicholson. He is helped by two young ladies. One is a secretarial telephonist and the other is a secretarial typist, whatever that might mean. I agree that the confederation will be able to get its letters typed, but, of course, its members cannot be offered any research facilities at all.

Mr. Ron Thomas

They cannot even pay the postage.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) will bring to an end the duet that he is having with the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas).

Mr. Hoyle

With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am speaking to the whole House. I am sorry if you think I am doing otherwise. Indeed, I am directing my remarks to the Opposition. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) is quite enjoying—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member knows full well that he has to address the Chair, whether the Chair is listening to him or not.

Mr. Hoyle

I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you are listening to me. I do not imagine that you would want to join a sweetheart union, but these are the pitfalls that would befall you if you did.

With regard to the finances of BASA—[Interruption.] If Conservative Members do not want to learn a little more about these associations it is not my fault, but they should have the fullest information about them so that they can really know what they are backing.

At the end of 1975 the assets of BASA stood at £3,292. The figure for cash-in-hand was £1,723. Those are not the sort of figures on which to try to run a trade union if it is intended to give a proper service to the members.

I do not understand why the Conservative Party is encouraging these sweetheart organisations when it could be encouraging people to join unions which provide for senior staff, not only in the aerospace industry but throughout all industry. They should be encouraging people to join unions which have the resources to provide research officers and educational facilities for all the members.

Mrs. Margaret Bain (Dunbartonshire, East)

I am greatly intrigued by what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but will he explain to the House to whom within a union he feels that ultimate responsibility must be given? It is all very well to talk about democracy, but the decision making is all important. Will he indicate whether he thinks that it is the staff side, the ordinary member or the officials of the union that he considers to be the most important?

Mr. Hoyle

The important people within any democratic union are the lay membership. I am sorry that the hon. Lady has only just joined us, otherwise she would have realised that I was talking about the British Aerospace Staff Association, in which the ordinary lay membership has no voice whatsoever. Yet it is that kind of sweetheart organisation that Conservative Members are saying the two Corporations should recognise. I hope that that answers the hon. Lady's question.

I find it very strange, as I have already indicated, that Conservative Members should continue to back these sweetheart organisations when they know that there are genuine trade unions which could offer full services. Indeed, I should have thought that the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) would be advising senior staff in both aerospace and shipbuilding to join my own union, ASTMS—if I might put in a "plug" for it. What is good enough for the research department of Conservative Central Office should be good enough for the senior staff in both aerospace and shipbuilding. The research staff at Conservative Central Office have joined ASTMS for protection against their employer.

Mr. Edward Gardner

I do not believe that the Government know what they are doing tonight. Anyone who has been to BAC Warton would soon find that out. They are pretending to encourage industrial democracy when in fact they are supporting a new form of industrial dictatorship. They are threatening to bring an end to industrial democracy in the aircraft and shipbuilding industries.

Without these amendments, industrial democracy will be denied to all parties and organisations unless they are trade unions. In that case, they will be privileged to enjoy a form of industrial dictatorship which has never been imposed on an industry before. These implicit threats to industrial freedom are well understood by those who work in my constituency. The Government will get no thanks for trying to push through the Bill in its original form.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Amendment No. 7 has been rightly described as a trigger amendment. Individual amendments should be singled out, since whatever the information to the contrary there might be a vote on every amendment.

It must be difficult for anyone to oppose Amendment No. 7, which provides the fundamental definition of any democracy, not just industrial democracy—that of one man, one vote. It is not put that way. It uses the phrase in which all employees have the right to participate ". I can envisage no real form of industrial democracy which excluded one section of the work force. That would cause grievances and the collapse of morale.

I do not want to become involved in a battle about union recognition. We must keep these things separate as far as possible. Amendment No. 7 suggests the future shape of industrial democracy and I hope that it will be accepted in principle. The Government can hardly oppose it if they maintain their own views about democracy. They may be influenced by other amendments, but votes are always possible. I have no doubt about Amendment No. 7: it says just what it means.

As for the form of consultation that is required, particularly in the earlier clauses there are frequent references to consultation of the relevant unions, to the Organising Committee consulting various groups over the drawing up of initial plans and annual plans once the Corporations are formed. I am concerned about what I have been told by the Shipbuilding Association. a middle management organisation that has a certificate of independence. It claims 96 per cent. of the available membership in Scotland. In Robb Caledon, in my constituency, the figure is 98 per cent. Leaving aside the vexed problems of inter-union rivalry and recognition, if an organisation has that level of membership, its views should be sought on the development of the industry after nationalisation.

This section of the work force has as much to contribute as the craft unions and the directors. If what I have been told is correct, they should not be excluded. Recognition should be kept separate from consultation. I have reservations about some of the amendments, but on the basic amendment about consultation on future plans, particularly at this dangerous and tender time when orders are short, I have no doubts. These people, who are skilled in tendering, should not be excluded. Their exclusion would be a recipe for disaster.

I am not saying that these people are more knowledgeable than those in the craft unions, who have a great deal to give, particularly when it comes to shop floor working, efficiency and human relations. I do not discount their contribution or that of the directors who are probably being consulted. But this association should also be consulted.

I do not want to speak about the aircraft industry in England, because I do not know enough about it, but I hope that the shipbuilding industry will be fully consulted. How can the Organising Committee prepare its plans for the industry's future if it is not drawing upon every skilled and knowledgeable person who is willing to contribute? Individuals can contribute, but so can collective organisations, whether or not they are recognised as unions.

Amendment No. 10 seeks to perpetuate some of the undesirable features of the Industrial Relations Court, by bringing back into the courts questions of interpretation of arrangements within an industry and the organisation of unions. If we have learned one thing over the last 21 years, it is surely that the courts should be kept as far as possible from union matters. Even Conservative Members seem to have concluded that the previous arrangement was disastrous; they no longer seem to enthusiastic about judicial control of union activities. It would be interesting to knew whether they seek to reintroduce that concept.

I would differentiate the basis of Amendment No. 18 from the question of consultation. It would recognise the associations involved—I am thinking particularly of the shipbuilding one—for the purposes of wages and conditions bargaining. If that amendment is agreed, Parliament will be intervening in the recognition of a section of the work force.

Parliament should concern itself with consultation and industrial democracy, laying down the general guidelines but not getting involved in individual cases, particularly in view of the Minister's good news that ACAS could be brought in if there is no prospect of settlement in the dispute which unfortunately seems to have materialised.

7.0 p.m.

Lastly, I quote from an interesting booklet produced by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry). It is a report on employee participation in Scotland. This was much maligned during discussions on the Cromarty Petroleum Order Confirmation Bill, but the report was brought out as a result of activities of a committee which included the general secretary of the Scottish TUC, the regional officer of the AEUW and the divisional organiser of the same union. Therefore, there was a good smattering of trade union experience behind it. The report said, in relation to the problem of consultation: Middle management must not be, or feel that it is being, by-passed in moves to more active participation. It is a question of morale as much as anything. The report also indicated, having looked at the German experience, that the trade union role will be very strong when industrial democracy does come about. The proposition that one must accept if one is basically a democrat is that all employees in an industry should be entitled to participate in the running of that industry.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I shall be brief, Mr. Speaker. It is very clear that the definition of industrial democracy depends on the individual making the definition and the view that that person has taken over the years. It is very strange to find that people who in the past have taken no interest in the work force and have periodically rejected all efforts by the work force to involve themselves in management are now seeking wider worker involvement than the Bill proposes.

The hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) said that the trade unions were old, archaic and out of date, but nothing is so archaic and out of date in this respect as the Tory Party. It seems strange that this remark should come from the hon. Member, who used to be a member of one of the strongest and most powerful unions in Britain—the British Airline Pilots Association. It certainly knows how to use industrial muscle to get its way and lay down the law to British Airways.

But we always come back to the basic argument of what is meant by industrial democracy. Of course we want it to mean "one man, one vote" in terms of elections but what happens, for example, when the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) discusses with his industrialist friends their attitude to a particular Bill? Does he go to every member of the CBI, and speak to every manager and every director, to determine his views. Of course he does not. He turns to the representative organisation and those who are sent to see him—those who have been delegated responsibility. Otherwise, he would spend every minute of the day seeing these people and he would never have any time left to see his constituents. What about the hon. Member's constituents? Can he say, when putting his constituents' views, that he has consulted every one of them? Does he go around knocking at every door and returning later if the wife or husband is out? No, of course not. He has to rely on consultation and delegated responsibility to assess his constituents' views. In this Bill we are trying to incorporate delegated responsibility and representative democracy. Every time there are discussions about industrial democracy within a factory or a group of factories, every worker has the right to take part in those discussions. But if this were taken literally modern industrial society just would not work.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) referred to the Shipbuilding and Allied Trades Management Association. I wonder what value we should place on organisations like that, which have been widely described as "sweetheart" unions. The hon. Member said that the association was very strong in Scotland. Perhaps he meant that this was the situation on the east coast of Scotland. I have a letter dated the 8th November from the Shipbuilding and Allied Trades Association. It seems very strange that it should have decided to tell us what a strong association it is at this late stage and to claim that it has just been set up as an organisation.

Apparently the organisation came into being on 21st June 1975, so it has taken it rather a long time to realise that it should get in touch with members of Parliament. It claims to have a big membership in Aberdeen but it has never made any attempt to consult me. I have been in the Hall Russell Yard many times, meeting management and shop stewards, and no one has ever mentioned this association to me. The interesting thing is that the letter said that the association draws its membership from assistant chief draughtsmen upwards, to those managers who are just below director level, and it claims the reason why the union has been formed is government legislation that provides for the acceptance of closed shop situations after nationalisation.

These people have organised this response because they do not want to become members of trade unions which have served the industry efficiently for a long time. I was a draughtsman in engineering, so I have experience of this. I do wish that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Fairgrieve) would not sit there making remarks from a sedentary position.

Mr. Russell Fairgrieve (Aberdeenshire, West)

In his first sentence the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) said he would be brief. He has already spoken for seven minutes, so what does he mean by brevity?

Mr. Hughes

Seven minutes is not bad in the context of one of the most important Bills that we have had to discuss this Session. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West should know that if he wants a long speech, he is going the right way about getting it.

I know that from when I worked in engineering the draughtsmen's union was organised up to chief draughtsman level. In fact, when I joined, the first thing I was asked by the chief draughtsman was "Where is your union card?" There is no necessity for another union at all. In management the ASTMS organises to the highest levels, so I have my suspicions about the necessity for this new association, and I have grave suspicions about the reasons for its formation. We want as many people as possible to be involved in organisations that wish to see a viable future for the industry, and we want to do this with consultation. But it is not necessary to allow every single body that may spring into existence to be covered by the legislation.

If existing trade unions were not doing their job, the Opposition might have a case, but unions like my own—the engineering section of the AUEW—have democratic methods of discussion, election of officials, and shop floor involvement. It is far better to work with a structure that gives us the ability to move fast.

Everyone with any knowledge of the shipbuilding industry has argued that we need a speedy decision on the Bill and speedy action to set up consultative and industrial democracy machinery to get the industry moving.

For far too long, managements and those who own the industry have rejected the views of the workers who have a far better knowledge than many shareholders. I look forward to the day when the knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm of workers will be harnesssed to the full. The best way of doing that is to work through existing democratic, organic structures that people understand and that can produce the action that will benefit the industry.

Mr. George Younger

This has been a revealing debate and has come closer than almost anything else to convincing me of the wisdom of broadcasting Parliament. I wish the public could have seen the display of hon. Members on the Government Benches who believe, no doubt with great sincerity, that they know everything about industrial democracy.

I wish that those hon. Members would learn that industrial democracy will never work if they try to impose a rigid system with their own rules which people will have to put up with willy-nilly. The spectacle of them bringing on their big guns to try to exclude small groups of people who, for various reasons, have banded together in unions or organisations of which hon. Members opposite do not approve is a pathetic commentary on how little they understand about industrial democracy, though I concede that they have a masterly grasp of the jargon associated with it.

If we are to write into statutes any requirements about industrial democracy, I hope that we shall listen to some more sensible people, such as Mr. David Basnett, who I heard giving a talk on this subject last week. He made it quite clear that it would be a great mistake to try to impose the sort of rigid pattern to which the hon. Members for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) and Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) have referred. They want to impose their power game rules so that they can run it their way.

The whole attitude of the hon. Member for Preston, South to this problem is a recipe for bad industrial relations. Any firm who took him on could be certain that its industrial relations would go rapidly downhill for as long as he was there.

I should like the Minister of State to practise some consultation himself. In the House on Monday, with no consultation, he made a remark about Scottish Aviation in my constituency which has gravely offended everyone in the firm, whether they are for or against nationalisation. His remark has potentially done great damage to its prospects of getting export orders.

I think that the hon. Gentleman should apologise for saying that the firm is teetering on the brink of disaster. Let him make it clear that no one should think that it is the view of a Minister of the Crown that the firm is on the brink of disaster. It is not. The hon. Gentleman has already had a letter from the firm explaining that it is not in such a position. I hope that he will not make such remarks again, because they do great damage to my constituents.

Mr. Kaufman

In reply to the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), I start by saying that I stand by every word I said on Monday. If it were not for the damage that could be done to Scottish Aviation, I should be able to document the position in the House. There is nothing that I can withdraw in any way from a statement I made with a full sense of responsibility.

The management wrote to me, publicising the letter before I received it. It might also publicise its various letters since I took up this post beseeching me to find work for Scottish Aviation because of its very difficult position and beseeching me to find Government work for the aviation industry. I got the Jetstreams into Scottish Aviation. Without that, there would be more than the 401 redundancies which have just been declared and more than the 1,000 redundancies declared in recent months.

Opposition Members who know nothing about Scottish Aviation, who have never been near the place, never had communications from the workers or discussions with the workers or the management should not sit and heckle. Every word that I have said about Scottish Aviation has been said with the full sense of the gravity of the situation confronting the company.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Heseltine

Will the hon. Gentleman remember that he is a Minister of the Crown and that a certain integrity in his relations with companies is expected of him?

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman talks about integrity, but I have the Mace just in front of me to remind me how he regards our institutions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sing the 'Red Flag'".] The "Red Flag" is a well-known old German hymn. Some hon. Members opposite may not like German tunes, but some can sing others of which we know.

In the less controversial part of his speech, the hon. Member for Ayr quoted Mr. David Basnett as a responsible trade union leader. Of course he quoted selectively, because Mr. Basnett supports, in toto, the Bill as it left this House before it was mangled by another place, and he wishes to see the Bill enacted as it left this House. If hon. Members are to quote Mr. Basnett, I hope that they will quote all his views.

The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) rose at the customary teatime hour—as we grew to expect of him in Committee—and said, as he has said many times before, that he totally opposes the Bill. His total opposition is wholehearted and extends to his never having read it. Whenever he seeks to deal with a point in the Bill, he shows his utter and abysmal ignorance.

The hon. Gentleman was not arguing about the amendment or the content of the Bill. He was arguing about the implementation of the Bill when it is enacted. He said that organisations such as the SAIMA, to which the hon. Member for Dundee, East, (Mr. Wilson) referred, ought to be recognised in the Bill. But that organisation is a relevant trade union within the terms of the definition clause.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East has shown repeatedly that he knows the contents of the Bill, whether or not he agrees with them. In raising the issue of the SAIMA, he brings before us a serious and delicate problem which I acknowledge to be important. We need to find a way of harnessing the expertise, knowledge, experience and dedication of people who have joined organisations such as this.

We need to find an acceptable solution to this problem and attempts are being made. We are doing our best. However, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East acknowledges, this is not a criticism of the content of the Bill or a commendation of the ignorant, footling amendments made in another place which have no relevance to this serious problem.

The other Opposition parties have shown a greater knowledge of these matters than has the Tory Party. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), who I know will vote against us, has shown knowledge of these matters. I do not have to allude only to the knowledge of those who agree with me. The hon. Member for Henley and his party combine total disagreement with total ignorance. The Liberal Party combines a good deal of disagreement with a certain amount of knowledge. That is one of the differences between the two parties.

The Tory Party is trying to arrange, with the help of noble Lords, for constitutional rights to consultation by organisations which are simply a cat's paws of employers, such as the one which I quote quoted from the report in the Financial Times last week. It was refused a certificate by ACAS as a relevant trade union on the grounds that the staff association was not economically viable and that it was liable to be influenced, if not dominated, by management. That is an organisation which the Tory Party believes should be involved in consultations on industrial democracy, a body like the one at Hum, with only 38 members. The hon. Gentleman believes that that is a relevant trade union.

The Tory Party has not addressed itself to the Bill. It has instead addressed itself to some phantasmagoria with which it seeks to confuse the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) said that the hon. Member for Henley was purposely trying to confuse us. The hon. Gentleman was doing it not purposely but effortlessly, because that is how he approaches these matters.

The hon. Member for Ayr was absolutely right in what he said about industrial democracy. There must not be a rigid form. It must not be laid down to the last dot and comma by the House of Commons. To promote industrial democracy, we want to see workers and management consulting together and producing a form of industrial democracy most suitable to their workplace, their working conditions, the product they produce and their geographical location. All of these are required. That is why we have not laid down an industrial democracy system. We have laid down that there should be consultations between British Aerospace and the relevant trade unions to produce a system of industrial democracy.

The Tory Party never learns. It brought in the Industrial Relations Act. It will not learn that one must not organise industrial relations on the basis of rigid legislation. It must be left to the workers and management to work out. The Bill as it left the House would have achieved that.

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

The House divided: Ayes 309, Noes 309.

[For Division List 398 see col. 773]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The numbers being equal, I declare myself with the Ayes in order to preserve the Bill as passed by the House of Commons, so the Ayes have it.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 disagreed to.

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