HC Deb 21 April 1978 vol 948 cc868-957

11.12 a.m.

Mr. James Prior (Lowestoft)

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 8, after 'any', insert 'formal, written'.

I believe that it is the desire of the House that we should take at the same time Amendment No. 6, in page 1, line 10, at end add— '(f) the provisions of paragraph (e) above shall not apply unless the agreement between independent trade unions restricting reference of recognition issues to the Service is sent to the Certification Officer and accepted as a legally enforceable contract by the independent trade unions concerned; (g) the Certification Officer shall at all reasonable hours keep available for public inspection, either free of charge or on payment of a reasonable charge, copies of all agreements sent to him under the preceding paragraph'. The Committee stage of the Bill went through in two sittings. I think that it would be right at the start of the Report stage to set out the Conservative Party's attitude towards the Bill, particularly Clause 1 and these amendments.

On Second Reading on the question of changes in the law regarding industrial relations, I said: The Conservative Party is not trying to take sides. We realise the desperate state of industrial relations. We recognise that in the last few years this country has not achieved the success and prosperity that other countries have managed to achieve. We blame not just the unions for that situation. We recognise the part that Governments and management have had to play as well. However, we believe that if the House is to introduce industrial relations legislation and amendments to it, the changes in the law should be evenhanded."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1852.] It is on the question of even-handedness that we have concentrated most of our efforts during the passage of this Bill and the Employment Protection Bill which we discussed last week.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) knows that we have always found Clause 1 particularly objectionable. We believe that we have two bad Private Members' Bills before us, totally one-sided and with an absence of consultation, as was clearly brought out on Second Reading.

It is obvious that at any time when the Labour Party has a majority, it will seek to push through the House legislation on industrial relations which is totally objectionable to the mass of people. I believe that the Bill will not only do a disservice to the trade union movement but has led to a good deal of washing of dirty linen in public which has been highly undesirable.

The clause makes it plain that the words to any agreement between independent trade unions to the extent that its effect is to restrict references of recognition issues to the Service should be added to Section 118 of the 1975 Act as another exemption from going direct to ACAS.

On Second Reading we sought clarification of these points. There was some disagreement whether it would prevent an independent trade union, which was a member of the TUC, from taking a case to ACAS. Some hon. Members thought that it would; others took a different view. But I think that it was summed up in what I said in an intervention to the Minister: What the Minister is saying is that, as the Act now stands, the TUC has no sanctions when unions have gone to Bridlington and, having been dissatisfied with the decision reached by the disputes committee, go on to ACAS. If this clause is passed, the TUC will have the freedom or the right to take any action it likes against a union that goes to ACAS, including presumably the right to fine, expel or do what it likes to that union. If that is the case, it would be unacceptable to the Opposition."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1897.] It is now clear that it does not prevent a union from taking a case to ACAS, but the union which does would or could render itself liable either to expulsion or some other form of legal action by the TUC, and the union affected would not be protected in such action by the courts.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 6 seek to do two things: first, to insert into the clause after "any" and before "agreement" the words "formal, written" so that it reads to any formal, written agreement between independent trade unions to the extent that its effect is to restrict references of recognition issues to the Service"; and, secondly, to add at the end paragraphs (f) and (g).

The Bridlington procedures have on the whole worked well because they have been informal. It is said that the procedures are an agreement, but that is debatable. The word "agreement" is used in Clause 1(e). We are seeking to substantiate that point. That is why we have chosen to put in the words "formal, written".

For example, Mr. Lyons of the Engineers and Managers Association, in a letter to Mr. Murray, said: Principle 5, including its Notes, only requires that a union should have consulted in circumstances where it is found that the objecting union had either previously had a majority in membership or else it found exceptional difficulties for some time in trying to secure organisation. The Committee did not find that TASS had faced exceptional difficulties at Hawker Siddeley and that being so we were not required to have consulted and obtained their agreement beforehand. There seems to be a great deal of doubt about what constitutes Bridlington. I thought that this was well brought out on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer), who made three points about Bridlington. He said: First, I think that the procedures need to be operated more nearly according to judicial rules…. There is among the smaller unions more than a suspicion that present rulings tend to favour the big battalions…. Third, I think that the procedures need to be speeded up."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1840.] Those, broadly speaking, were the points that the hon. Gentleman made in his speech. I should have thought that those three defects in the rules, as he saw them, were matters upon which the rest of the House would share the hon. Gentleman's view.

The amendment would require acceptance of the Bridlington rules by the certification officer as a legally enforceable contract. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow will no doubt say "All that is unnecessary. We do not want it. It is much better if it is left informal." He will probably use words similar to those that he used in Commit- tee when this amendment was being discussed. He said then: We have learnt from hard expedience over the last decade or so that in industrial relations the less we get into the courts the happier everyone is—industry, employers, trade unions and workers alike."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 7.] I tend to agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I think that that view would be shared by a good many of my hon. Friends.

It is an attractive argument, but not one that stands up to this place, however, because the law is involved, and the law has become involved as a result of the Employment Protection Act. There is no gainsaying that. Once the law is involved in that way, one cannot contract out of it simply by saying that one would like to have certain parts of the law operating but that the other parts that one does not like should be amended so that they do not have any effect. Our belief, in particular in this respect, is that we have to accept the law as it is and work it as it is.

There are many other reasons why this clause needs amending. We believe that our amendments would improve the workings of the whole question whether a union has a right to take a recognition dispute to ACAS when the Bridlington agreement has become involved. They would clarify a situation that needs clarifying. The term "formal, written" is perfectly well understood. The hon. Gentleman made great play in Committee about the word "formal". What did it mean, he asked. I think that most people understand the meaning.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) said, if "formal" is not the right word to be used in this case—and it is difficult for the Opposition always to get their amendments right—the principle is nevertheless that there should be a clear understanding in writing. We have now substantiated my hon. Friend's comment by Amendment No. 6, in which we say that the agreement should be sent to the certification officer and accepted as a legally enforceable contract by the union concerned. That seems to us to place beyond doubt what we wish to see arising out of the Bridlington agreement.

One is entitled at this stage to raise greater and deeper issues which are involved in the whole matter of Bridlington, and which arise very much as a result of the Bill. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) has joined us, because I think that he will have a good deal to say about these matters today.

What we are really concerning ourselves with is the whole future of management recruitment into trade unions. Is that a good thing? Should managers be recruited into unions? If it is a good thing, what unions should they belong to? Are they to have the freedom to make their own choice of union to belong to?

There are three important cases before the public. There is the case of GEC Reactor Equipment Limited at Whetstone, which my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby has had a great deal to do with; there is the case of Hawker-Siddeley Power Transformers Limited, which has been very much in evidence in the last few days; and there is the Shipbuilding and Allied Industries Management Association, which is also very much in the news. A number of staff associations, or even just groups of managers, wish for one reason or another to join a union, and in many cases they have decided that the union they wish to join is a TUC-affiliated union, namely, the Engineers and Managers Association—the union of Mr. John Lyons.

Mr. Lyons' union has been recruiting membership in the management grades, and has been doing so very successfully. But the union has found that in certain circumstances it has run up against opposition from other unions, chiefly blue collar unions with white collar sections—the TASS is perhaps the chief example—which object to the EMA recruiting in this sector.

As a result, cases have been taken to the disputes committee of the TUC under the Bridlington agreement. It is the way in which these disputes have been dealt with that has caused so much dissension. It is this situation which, I think, led to the introduction of the Bill, and it is the manner in which the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has sought to deal with the issue that has led us to put down these amendments and to oppose the Bill strongly in its present form.

We do not believe that these problems will be solved by the Bill. Indeed, we believe that they will be made worse. What is likely to happen if the EMA is not able to recruit, is not able to go to ACAS and make out a case for recognition, is that these people will be denied the opportunity of joining a strong well-organised management union, and will be forced either to join no union at all or into a multiplicity of small staff associations, with all the difficulties that that would entail for the members involved and the problems that it would make for industrial relations generally.

So important issues are at stake in this clause. It is summed up very well in the Press release put out on 20th April by the EMA, commenting on the Bridlington decision by the TUC disputes committee on the Hawker-Siddeley Power Transformers Limited dispute. The statement ended: As a general comment the EMA point out that the Award is a victory for non-unionism, since the managers involved now belong to no trade union and are unlikely to do so for many years to come. So all that has happened in that dispute is that, whereas a large number of the management group involved wished to belong to a TUC-affiliated union, they have now been denied the opportunity of doing so and have, as a result, decided to join no union at all.

This is a very serious state of affairs, and it is serious on a national scale for the simple reason that, as many of us know, unless we get the management problems of industry right we shall not get our industrial relations right. A lot of people, fairly or unfairly, think that poor management has had more to do with the failures of British industry over the last few years than any other single cause.

If management has been to blame for some of this or all of it—and I do not accept that it is to blame for all the trouble—it is of vital importance to restore the confidence of management. This means two things, one being relevant to the debate and one being relevant to the events of the last week or so. The aspect that is relevant to the events of the last week—the Budget—is a lack of tax incentives. We want to get the best out of managers, and unless they are seen to be properly rewarded we will not do so. The tax system at present is a strong disincentive to the sort of keen and sharp management that we require.

11.30 a.m.

This measure is the other greater disadvantage. It will prevent managers from joining together in the sort of unions that they wish to join. The truth of the matter is that managers will not wish to join TASS. They do not think that it is a suitable union. Nor are they keen on ASTMS. They regard EMA as the proper union to join. It seems to them—and this was brought out clearly on Second Reading—that they are being penalised, and in some cases victimised, by the way in which the Bridlington rules are being interpreted. They feel that they are being disadvantaged by the slowness of getting the disputes committee to make a decision, by the fact that when they try to consult the unions involved, particularly TASS, which has not bothered to reply to their letters, they do not get co-operation, and by the fact that the reasons given by the disputes committee have not been within the principles of Bridlington.

All those facts, together with this Bill, have combined to seek to deny a union which is growing, the right to recruit. That is intolerable. We have had great arguments in this House about the right to join or not to join a trade union. I believe that the right to join the union that one considers is best for one's task is a right which we should always seek to protect.

This section of the clause as it is drafted does not do that adequately in any way. That is why we believe that our amendments would clarify the whole question of the Bridlington rules and would enable those rules to be clearly spelt out and to be a legally enforceable agreement in advance of any case going to ACAS. This would enable us to reach a stage where everyone knew where they were. There would be this legally enforceable contract, approved by the certification officer. The agreement would be formal and in writing.

In these circumstances the union would know what it had to do and there would be no question of referring a recognition dispute to ACAS. But barring that, and recognising that the present position leaves so much doubt about the operation of the Bridlington rules, we believe that it is totally unsatisfactory for the clause to be left in the Bill in its present form.

Debates on Private Members' Bills may seem of small consequence when they are taken on a Friday when the House is practically empty. I believe that the debate this morning on our amendments goes to the very heart of many of our industrial relations problems. It would be intolerable if the proposed paragraph (e) of Clause 1 was allowed to go through in its present form. It would be totally unacceptable to EMA and to management generally.

It is an abuse to think that there can be a situation in which one accepts those parts of the law that one likes, but seeks to disregard those parts that one does not like. The point of the amendments would be to make the law absolutely clear and to lay down the conditions in which resort to ACAS would be no longer necessary. The amendments would simplify and amplify the procedures—which are at present informal—in a way which is now necessary to make them formal in view of the hon. Member's action in bringing forward this Bill.

I believe that the hon. Member would be better advised to withdraw his Bill and to keep as far away as possible from Private Members' business for a long time. If he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of the country, he should at least accept these amendments.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bethnal Green and Bow)

I do not propose to be drawn by the last observation of the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), which manifestly referred to matters that are not within the scope of the Bill. We shall need all the time that we have available today to talk about the Bill and not about extraneous matters. Nor do I propose to spend any time in dealing with the part of his speech that was not concerned with these amendments. Much of his speech was more like a Second Reading speech and other parts were more like a speech on the Question, "That the clause stand part of the Bill". That Question is not before us, and never is on Report.

I shall comment on only two of the right hon. Gentleman's generalisations before I turn to the amendments. He said that this Bill would do a great disservice to the trade union movement. I should have thought that the best judges of that were not the right hon. Member for Lowestoft and I, but the General Council of the TUC. The General Council has given its view of the Bill and it takes an opposite view to that put forward by the right hon. Member. If I want to find out what is good for the trade union movement I shall be more inclined to take the view of the TUC than that of the right hon. Member.

The other point the right hon. Gentleman made was in reference to a particular dispute. I shall not spend any time on that dispute because the Bill is not about a particular dispute; it is about a general change in the law. However, the right hon. Member said that he had spoken to some managers and they had said that they did not want to join either TASS or ASTMS. When I joined ASTMS it was in a different form and it had just over 3,000 members. Today it has 400,000 members and a very large proportion of those—and an increasing proportion—are managers. The branch to which I belong consists, apart from myself, of people engaged in high posts in management. That does not bear out the right hon. Member's contention that managers do not want to join this union.

Mr. Nigel Lawson (Blaby)

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) said a moment ago that he sought comfort from the fact that his Bill had been approved by the General Council of the TUC. Would he tell us what efforts the TUC made to get the views of the various member unions on whether they wished the Bill to become law? Would he tell us what consultations were held with the constituent unions and what results those consultations produced?

Mr. Mikardo

I do not know and I have not inquired, because it is not my business, or that of the hon. Gentleman, to run the TUC. I do know that the General Council is always careful not to enter into any significant commitments without sounding out its constituent organisations first. The hon. Gentleman is saying that he knows one which would take a different view, but that seems to be a generalisation from a given particular.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, the amendment was fully discussed in Committee. There is a real problem—I am not inventing this—about the word "formal". Since Committee, I have obtained some more legal advice from different lawyers. I am told that this is an indefinable word in law and would only create obscurity.

The right hon. Gentleman said that in that case I should find another word, but I am advised that there is not a word which would do what he seeks to do. This is a piece of law which it is difficult to define. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that there is a difference in law between an agreement under seal and one which is not. However, an agreement under seal is not necessarily formal and an agreement not under seal is not necessarily informal. It is therefore difficult to do anything about that.

I have considered the matter very carefully to see whether some accommodation could be reached. The right hon. Gentleman was not a member of the Committee, but those of his hon. Friends who were will tell him that we were all being very flexible in our attitude and in trying to find ways of improving the Bill, without being hidebound. It was a good Committee in that sense. Several times the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) and I said that we would use the time until Report to look afresh at the matters before us. I have looked at this one very closely indeed.

That does not apply to the word "written". In Committee, both the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth and the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) put forward some weighty arguments in support of that term. Having re-read what they said more than once, I think that they have a case. I see the danger, that people could say that there was an agreement without anyone being able to prove it because it had never been committed to writing.

I should therefore be happy to have an amendment moved in another place to cover that point. I am told that it would be better to use the phrase "in writing" rather than "written". I do not pretend to know the difference, but I am always happy to accept the views of those who are in their depth when I am out of mine. Therefore, if this amendment is withdrawn, I should be happy to bring forward another along those lines.

11.45 a.m.

The subject of Amendment No. 6 was also closely discussed in Committee. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft correctly forecast—it was not difficult, since presumably he has read what I said in Committee—what I would say about it. It is an inescapable fact that over the past few years it has become a practice for industrial relations agreements among unions and between unions and employers to become, as the phrase at the beginning generally has it, "binding in honour" rather than legally enforceable. Since then, there has been an enormous improvement in industrial relations. The amendment would take us back to the the original situation, which caused much exacerbation.

The right hon. Gentleman's case could have been—if he is right, it should have been—deployed when we considered Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act 1975. This Bill merely adds to the four conditions under that section for exception or exemption. If that condition should depend upon legally enforceable agreements in this case, it should equally apply everywhere else. It is significant that no hon. Member advanced such an idea in the debates on that section.

As for registration and availability for public inspection, as provided for by the second part of Amendment No. 6, there can be no problems about publication of the Bridlington agreement. I have it here. There is no need for the certification officer to keep a copy—presumably Morocco-bound—in his office for people to see. Anyone with 18p can buy it, and all those interested in this matter are likely to have 18p.

When it comes to bilateral agreements, of which there are many between one union and another, they are nobody's business except the two parties to the agreement. The right hon. Gentleman could be opening a wide door. If such an agreement between two unions has to be registered and publicly available, why should that not apply to an agreement between two employers? The amendment would lead to an irresistible demand for agreements between employers to be registered and freely available in exactly the same way. The right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends would get little thanks from trade associations and other employers' associations for opening the door.

Mr. Lawson

The hon. Gentleman prefaced that long but interesting passage of his speech by saying that he was simply seeking to add a fifth exemption to the four in Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act. But is it not true that those four exemptions concern other legislative matters and that where there might be a conflict in law it has to be established which will be supreme in a particular case? The hon. Member is seeking to introduce an exception for something which has no legislative framework whatsoever and which is wholly different from the exceptions that are already in the Act.

Mr. Mikardo

Of course it is different. If it were the same, there would be no need to put it in the Bill. The hon. Member makes my case. A problem would be caused if we had a Section 118 covering a number of different types of agreements invoked in different circumstances, only one type of which had to be legally enforceable. That would create the type of problem to which the hon. Member refers.

I have conceded the principle of Amendment No. 1. I have promised to do my best to implement it. Although I cannot control what happens in the House of Lords, I shall do my best. I have conceded the concept of the agreement being in writing. I hope that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft will withdraw Amendment No. 1 to make a fresh amendment possible in the House of Lords. In that way we shall do something to formalise the present informal arrangements. I also hope that the right hon. Member will not press Amendment No. 6.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)

I am sure that the House will be grateful to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) for coming half way towards us on Amendment No. 1. In the Committee proceedings he said that he realised that a number of agreements between trade unions were written, and he promised to look at the matter again. Because the vote was tied, we were given a chance to look at the matter afresh.

The hon. Member said that he would arrange for an amendment to be moved in another place and that such an amendment would contain words such as "an agreement in writing" which, he was advised, would be safer than the word "written". The hon. Member said a lot about the word "formal". He said that he had consulted lawyers to see whether that word could be defined in law.

During the Committee, the hon. Member said: Some agreements are a good deal less formal than that, being an exchange of letters between the general secretaries of union A and of union B. Letters are, of course, written, but whether they would be called formal I do not know."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 8.] We are aware that there is a considerable exchange of correspondence between general secretaries of unions. But the circumstance that we were moving towards was that a letter about Section 118 would tend to be devoted only to that matter and would not be a general letter in which a general secretary would say that he wanted to make reference to a particular matter.

The hon. Member will recall that during our proceedings in Committee we said that Section 118 was powerful. It is the exclusion section of the Act and we wanted to get it absolutely right before we proceeded with legislation. We also made reference to the fact that the TUC looks at all such matters at its conferences. We wanted to see whether it would look afresh at Bridlington to see whether any alterations should be made. It was suggested that we should wait until we saw what happened in September before we went ahead with the Bill.

To strengthen our argument, we should look at the annual report of ACAS for 1977. On page 43 there is a diagram which sets out the handling of the recognition process under Section 11 of the Employment Protection Act 1975. It mentions the source of reference and written applications for reference received. It shows how the written application is vetted, accepted and registered and how the application is passed to the appropriate ACAS region or head office. The emphasis is that before ACAS proceeds the matter is written down and carefully considered. The result could almost be classed as a formal document.

I turn to pargraph (g) of Amendment No. 6. It is important that unions are careful about implementing Section 118, and it is therefore fair and reasonable that the certification officer should at all reasonable hours make copies of the agreement available for public inspection. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is to meet us half way by saying that there shall be a written agreement, and that strengthens the case for this provision. We know of the difficulties that can arise. Some members of a trade union might not be certain about this and might foresee difficulties in their place of work, but they might not have had the procedure explained to them and they might not know what has been agreed under Section 118. The provision in Amendment No. 6 would give them the opportunity to see what had been done.

The House of Lords might well wish to insert something akin to this provision. It would lead to greater accuracy and harmony and would be of great help to the unions.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. He has gone through this section of the debate carefully. I hope that the House of Lords can put provisions into the Bill which will clarify it and avoid confusion. We emphasised that aspect on 22nd March because we felt that it was important to prevent difficulties arising between unions.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, North-East)

I tabled an amendment but I understand that it has not been selected. Therefore, I shall do my best to keep in order while expressing my views and putting my arguments on the amendments before us. My purpose in tabling my amendment was to probe, to clear my mind and collectively that of my union, the Electrical Power Engineers' Association—which is part of the engineers' and managers' grouping—on the exact meaning of Clause 1. I declare an interest.

Through the Electrical Power Engineers' Association, the Engineers' and Managers' Association has been affiliated to the TUC for nearly 40 years. It can speak with some knowledge, authority and experience about how the TUC conducts its affairs.

On Second Reading, I said that Clause 1—I think it would be agreed that it is the real kernel of the Bill—would apparently take away from TUC-affiliated unions the existing legal right which they had under the principal Act to take a recognition dispute to ACAS for determination. Non-affiliated unions would not be affected. They would continue to have that right, but TUC-affiliated unions would lose it.

12 noon.

When I spoke on Second Reading, it seemed to me in my innocence that if the clause did not have that effect there was not much purpose in it. In reply to me, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) stoutly denied—he did so in debate, and I am sure that he would not disagree that he also said it to me outside the Chamber—that affiliated unions would no longer have access to ACAS in a matter of recognition if his Bill became law.

I was, frankly, puzzled by this, but as the debate proceeded it seemed to be clearer to me that my hon. Friend regarded affiliation to the TUC, and observing its decisions via Bridlington, whatever might have been signed or otherwise, as constituting an agreement in general as distinct from an agreement in particular between two or more unions to avoid ACAS.

The right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) pointed out to me in the Second Reading debate that there was some doubt among lawyers as to how far affiliation in itself would constitute an agreement. I think the words that he used on that occasion were to the effect that the Bridlington procedure was not an agreement but a code or guide or instruction.

Faced with these very genuine inquiries in my case and that of my union as to doubts and differences of interpretation of the clause—few of us are lawyers—my hon. Friend, with his usual readiness, gave the assurance that, if his Bill did not mean what he thought it meant, the matter could be further explored in Committee.

I looked forward to joining in that exploration in Committee, but for some unprecedented reason, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was not placed on the Standing Committee. I very unselfishly volunteered to take the place of some other Member already appointed to the Committee who perhaps had business elsewhere and to whom the Bill was not as urgent at is was to me, but all to no avail. I say that it was unprecedented because it has been my experience of this place that if in a Second Reading debate one as much as coughs, the Whips note it and regard one as a proper candidate for the Standing Committee. The difficulty normally with Standing Committees is to avoid getting on them. This was, therefore, unprecedented in my experience—

Mr. Mikardo

I am sure my hon. Friend will accept my assurance that it was no part of my doing and not my wish that he should be excluded from the Committee.

Mr. Palmer

I am glad to have that assurance from my hon. Friend personally.

Mr. Lawson

In that event, is the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) able to inform the House—because this is a strange and serious matter—why, in his view, he thinks that he was not selected to be on the Standing Committee when, as I understand, he is a member of the trade union most directly affected by the Bill and he spoke in the Second Reading debate? Has he any explanation of how it can have happened? It seems most extraordinary and deplorable—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. The question whether the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) was selected for the Committee is not relevant in relation to the amendment. It is a a matter which could be raised somewhere else at some other time.

Mr. Palmer

I did not make any particular complaint about it. I simply reported the facts to the House in passing. I accept entirely my hon. Friend's assurance that he had no personal hand in it.

I have in my possession correspondence with the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, and I was told that, as I was regarded as an opponent of the Bill, I was not eligible for the Standing Committee with the present delicate balance of opinion in the House. I do not wish to take the matter any further, but the House will understand—as I am sure you would, Mr. Deputy Speaker—my anxiety to put points here which I was unable to put in Committee, not having been selected for it.

In my union we are not strangers to the Bridlington procedures. We have used them over many years. Sometimes we have been fortunate and sometimes we have been unfortunate, but until fairly recently we always thought that we had had justice. We do not feel that we have had justice in recent times since the EMA was founded. I am therefore anxious, as is my union, that my hon. Friend should confirm that, unless amended, the real purpose of Clause 1 is to prevent any trade union affiliated to the TUC—I am choosing these words very carefully—from having recourse to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service on a recognition dispute, except with the permission of the TUC. It therefore removes existing statutory rights from all TUC-affiliated unions in the sense that, if it becomes law, the TUC can with impunity fine or expel any affiliated union which has recourse to ACAS against the TUC's wishes.

I say now—as I would have said in the Standing Committee, where there would have been more opportunity to pursue the matter in detail—that I regard Clause 1 as it now stands as oppressive. As I have said, my union has been affiliated to the TUC for nearly 40 years, and we are the present victims, but there may be others in future. I note that Mr. Len Murray the TUC general secretary, was frank enough to warn the bank employees' union and the unions organising in insurance that they would find themselves in trouble with the TUC if they did not accept the pattern of zones of influence laid down for them by others.

Mr. Murray has also written letters to the union organising managerial employees in shipbuilding, the Shipbuilding Industry Management Association. He has not only written to that union and to other unions in shipbuilding but has gone much further and written to Admiral Griffin, who is the chairman of the new board concerned with nationalised shipbuilding, warning him that his statutory board should not recognise the Shipbuilding Industry Management Association, which is also affiliated to the TUC through the EMA, or he will be courting difficulties. That letter has been written with the authority of Mr. Len Murray, who obviously believes himself to be a powerful person in these matters, in spite of the essential statutory independence of the board. I shall not pursue that any further, but if the House were interested I should be quite willing to put that curious correspondence of Mr. Murray with the admiral on the Table.

I am glad to hear that my hon. Friend, through the processes of another place, is prepared now to have a change made in the Bill which would define—it is very important that it should be defined—more exactly what is meant by an agreement for the purpose of his Bill. If such an amendment is made, it may—I do not know—throw a different light upon the way in which the Bill will work out in practice if it becomes law. It may make it less oppressive than it appears to be now.

I know how these matters over Private Members' Bills are arranged in the House from time to time. Not everything is what it seems to be. All Governments have been offenders in this respect. But the matters we are now discussing are matters of the greatest importance to hundreds of thousands and millions of employees.

I am a firm supporter of ACAS. I said on Second Reading that I thought it was in principle one of the greatest steps forward in our country's history in collective wage and salary bargaining. If in the light of experience things are not working as we would perhaps wish, it is for the Government of the day, chosen by the people, to bring in the necessary amending legislation. If this had been done, it would have been possible for unions such as mine to go to the Department of Employment in the normal way to discuss the difficulties in advance at official level so that the legislation could be as nearly perfectly drafted as is possible in an imperfect world.

When my Union's officials went to the Department, officials of the Department were very polite and helpful, as far as they could be, but when any point of difficulty arose they made it clear that this was not a Government Bill but a Private Member's Bill and was therefore not really their concern.

Mr. Mikardo

I make no complaint about the line my hon. Friend is taking. He always addresses the House in terms of moderation, clarity and good sense. But, if the general secretary of his union had indicated to me by as much as a whisper that he wanted to talk about the Bill, I should have been delighted to talk to him about it. If when he went to the Department of Employment and the officials said "It's not our Bill", he had then said "I'll talk to the chap who is doing it", I should have been delighted. But he did not do that. Instead, he rushed into print in language certainly much less moderate than that of my hon. Friend and, indeed, language that might be called abusive.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

We are beginning to go wide of the amendment. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) is now engaging in a discussion which would be more appropriate on Third Reading. He should reserve his remarks until we reach that stage.

Mr. Palmer

There was quite a newspaper correspondence about this matter, and an early statement was made publicly that the purpose of the Bill was to deal with the Engineers' and Managers' Association. A bad atmosphere was created. But, that apart, I do not wish to put myself out of order.

Many of the difficulties that have arisen over the clause, difficulties over the interpretation put on it by the amendments we are now discussing, would have been entirely avoided if the Government had openly and frankly made this a matter for Government legislation and taken the responsibility. Changes of this magnitude are not for private legislation in modern Parliaments.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

I had really come here this morning to hear about Colonel "B", but having done so I saw the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) in his place and wondered what work he would be up to today, particularly as my Bill on picketing is on the Order Paper for today. I imagined that, with his usual puritanism, he had come to object to all the Bills on the Order Paper.

Having heard that the hon. Gentleman was discussing this Bill, I stayed to listen. I must confess that it is a Bill of which I knew little. I was not present on Second Reading, nor was I a member of the Committee, but I was so fascinated by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) that I stayed to hear the debate and express a few views on what I had heard.

12.15 p.m.

The first point that struck me was the extraordinary exclusion of the hon. Member for Brsitol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) from the Committee. It seemed to me that he was quite right to go a little wider than the amendment for the very reason that he, who has an interest in these matters, had been debarred from taking part in the detailed proceedings.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Brentford and Isleworth)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely it is appropriate to refer in passing to an event of very high significance. When an hon. Member who has a direct interest, who took part in the Second Reading debate and who is, I think, one of the few hon. Members to be a member of the union directly affected by the Bill, was excluded from the Committee, is it not a matter of argument, particularly as I suspect that the hon. Gentleman would have supported many of the ideas behind the amendment? It is surely relevant to that amendment as long as we do not have a long debate on matters concerning the Committee of Selection. How can it be wholly inappropriate to make a passing reference to that matter?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I entirely disagree with the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe). The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) made one reference to the matter, and that was sufficient. Now it seems that we are to have a debate on it, initiated by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), who said that he came here to hear about Colonel "B" and had been persuaded to stay. He admitted that he had no knowledge of the Bill, and he now seeks to engage in debate on a matter of a general nature which in my opinion is not relevant to the amendment.

Mr. Mikardo

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that the membership of the Committee is endorsed by the House, that if there were a challenge to be made it could and should have been made at the time, and that no such challenge was made?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The matter does not arise on this occasion.

Mr. Ridley

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I distinctly heard you say that I had no knowledge of the Bill. I may have approached the matter with my customary humility, but I do not believe that it is right for you to accuse me of coming to the Chamber with no knowledge of the Bill—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Whether he does or does not have knowledge of the Bill, the hon. Gentleman is certainly displaying his usual talents in making his contributions to debates. I only repeated what he had said. I did not add to it in the least.

Mr. Ridley

I am grateful for the compliment, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

May I now turn to my point of order about the exclusion of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East from the Committee? I would put to you two possibilities, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The first is that the Bill would have been very different if the hon. Gentleman had been a member of the Committee. He expressed specialist views and in some cases opposition to the provisions of the Bill, he told us. It seems to me relevant to contend that it would not have been necessary to discuss the amendment at all had the hon. Gentleman been allowed on the Committee.

Secondly, it raises constitutional difficulties if hon. Members who, by every rule of the House, qualify to be members of a Committee are not selected. Heaven knows, there is no queue to join Standing Committees on Private Member's Bills. It is not a great privilege that is distributed to the favoured few. If that is so, it seems to me quite improper that the matter should not be discussed on a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has made his point of order. There is no question about it. The matter does not arise on this occasion. As the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) correctly pointed out, there is a time for it. There was a time when the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East could have raised the question of his exclusion from the Committee, and the House could have decided upon it.

We certainly shall not pursue the matter this morning in the belief that had the hon. Gentleman been present on the Committee we should have had different amendments on the Amendment Paper. The hon. Gentleman might not have been able to be present on the day the Committee sat, even if he had been appointed. The matter does not arise, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury will now go on to a detailed consideration of the amendment.

Mr. Palmer

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a fact that I made representations in writing to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East took the appropriate steps, but it is not for this House this morning to hold an investigation into why he was excluded.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Since the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) has now confirmed that he made a submission to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, and since the attitude of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) and the sedentary comments of the Minister of State, Department of Employment, add up to what amount to a conspiracy to exclude the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East from a Standing Committee of the House, I submit to you that there is a breach of privilege in relation to that hon. Member. We have had the clearest confirmation from the Treasury Bench that there has been a conspiracy to exclude the hon. Member of his views on the whole principles that underlie the Bill. This is a point of order which is of the greatest importance and which has come out only because of the intervention of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East.

Mr. Lawson


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I can take only one point of order at a time. The House will see what is happening. We have departed completely from the subject matter under discussion and we are now, in my opinion, on to a red herring which has nothing to do with our deliberations. As the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) knows, there is a Committee of Selection presided over by a Member of the House and composed of Members from the various parties who select members of Committees. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East said that he submitted a complaint to the appropriate Committee and, for whatever reason—I have no knowledge of it—was not put on the Committee. To use the word "excluded" would probably be wrong. He was not put on the Committee.

Let us get on. If the hon. Member for Eastbourne thinks that there is a matter of privilege, we have a simple method of dealing with the situation. The House will know that this morning Mr. Speaker said that matters of privilege were to be submitted in writing to him. If the hon. Gentleman feels so strongly about the matter, I hope that he will be able to take that course of action. But in my opinion on this occasion, when we are dealing with the Bill under discussion, the exclusion of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East or his not being placed on the Committee has nothing to do with the subject matter that is under discussion.

Mr. Lawson

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Since we are all very anxious to make progress on this matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and since we have the privilege of having present the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, which is rather unusual on a Friday, should we not clarify the matter and dispose of it quickly by asking him to make a statement?

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Harold Walker)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is with the most extreme reluctance that I take up any time of the House because I am conscious of the way we have been transgressing Private Members' time. However, the remarks of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) must clearly convey some reflection on my character and behaviour in this matter.

I wish to say to the hon. Gentleman and to the House that I have made no remarks from a sedentary position or from the Treasury Bench which have any bearing on this point, and I have been in no way consulted or involved in the membership of the Standing Committee in respect of the Bill. I hope that in the light of my statement the hon. Member for Eastbourne will withdraw the reflection he made on my character.

Mr. Gow

I am not sure that I am aware what reflection the Minister of State thinks I made upon him.

Mr. Walker

That I was involved in a conspiracy to keep my hon. Friend off the Committee. That is wholly untrue.

Mr. Gow

It goes without saying that, if the Minister of State says that he was not party to a conspiracy, of course I accept what he says and withdraw unreservedly my remarks.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

We shall now get on with the amendment. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury was speaking on Amendment No. 1, with which, I remind the House, we are discussing Amendment No. 6.

Mr. Ridley

I am sorry that a very brief passing reference to the hon. Gentleman's membership should have caused so much altercation and time to be taken up on that matter. Perhaps you will forgive me Mr. Deputy Speaker, if my speech appears, measured purely from the time that stretches from the beginning to the end, to be a little long. I might as well claim a tiny bit of injury time in view of the quite unwarranted and most unjustified series of points of order which you yourself have rebuked me for, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am quite prepared to grant some injury time, although the hon. Gentleman well knows that there is no limit on the length of speeches However, I will show the hon. Gentleman a yellow card.

Mr. Ridley

I suppose the moral of that is that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East must do as I once did—that is, to speak in favour of the Second Reading of a Bill to ensure his safe passage on to the Committee so that he can be in a position to do it damage in a Committee. That is an old parliamentary trick which I commend to him for a future occasion.

I have been looking forward to coming to the amendment, despite the time we have taken to get there. I wish to pick up one remark of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. He said that the TUC wanted this Bill and that it was not his business or my right hon. Friend's business or anybody else's business to express a view about these matters.

Mr. Mikardo

The hon. Gentleman, I am sure inadvertently, has just misquoted me. I did not say that the TUC wanted the Bill. I did not say whether it did or did not want it. I shall repeat what I said since the hon. Gentleman is about to challenge it. I was referring to the fact that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said he thought that the Bill did a disservice to the trade union movement. I said that the TUC took a different view from that. I stand by that statement.

Mr. Ridley

We must check in Hansard what the hon. Gentleman said, if, indeed, Hansard is printed, and it may well not be for that very reason. I did not take down the hon. Gentleman's exact words, but I made a note of the meaning of his words—namely, that it was not our business to interpret whether this was a good or bad Bill; the fact was that it was one which the TUC was keen to have. I think that we have every right to argue these points in detail, because we must always bear in mind that there are large numbers of people who may not be trade unionists or who may not be in trade unions affiliated to the TUC but who have equal interests in the matters that are before us.

Mr. Mikardo

The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) and I have been friends for a long time.

Mr. Ted Fletcher (Darlington)

Not any longer.

Mr. Mikardo

The hon. Gentleman started by misquoting me, and I repeated what I had said. He then misquoted me again. I did not say that it was nobody's business other than that of the TUC whether the Bill should go on. I said no more—and I repeat it for the last time—than that, since the right hon. Member for Lowestoft said that he thought the Bill was doing a disservice to the movement, the TUC did not go along with that view.

The hon. Gentleman cannot deduce from that what he is now saying. If he is merely trying to kick the ball around irrespective of which goal he is looking at, we all understand that, but I thought better of him than that he would try to base his case on one misquotation after another.

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman's protestations of friendship to me presumably ceased to exist after what I said earlier, but I believe that the hon. Gentleman did not say what he has just repeated and I shall check it with Hansard when published.

Mr. Gow

I had exactly the same impression as that gained by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), having listened most attentively, as I know my hon. Friend did, to what the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) said. I had an identical impression to my hon. Friend's, but fortunately, even though we may not have Hansard, we shall have the broadcast. We can go and listen to that.

Mr. Ridley

I made two passing references, which were supposed to take about 10 seconds each, but they have both extended into major points. I fear that I may have to claim still more injury time.

12.30 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

Is not my hon. Friend aware that we had this sort of problem with the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) earlier during Second Reading of the Bill? On Second Reading, the hon. Member intervened in the speech made by the Liberal representative, the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright). The Liberal Party has not thought it worth while to attend this debate. That says something about the Liberal Party. However, I shall say nothing about that because I might incur your wrath, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member said about ACAS: It is keen on the provisions in the Bill."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1889.] Subsequently, it was established that ACAS had given no verdict on the Bill and there was no evidence to suggest that ACAS was keen on the Bill.

Mr. Mikardo

Not true.

Mr. Gow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) say to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) "Lie". Is that a parliamentary expression?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

I am happy to say that it was not heard by the Chair. If it was said, I am sure that it will be withdrawn.

Mr. Mikardo

It was not a lie. It was exactly the opposite of the truth.

Mr. Ridley

Perhaps I may return to what I wanted to say. I remember that not long ago, last year, all hon. Members received a letter from Clive Jenkins undertaking to represent hon. Members in our negotiations with the Government over pay and conditions. I have thought about that situation in relation to this amendment because it is very relevant. I did not avail myself of the offer of help—though, goodness knows, we as Members of Parliament have not done well in our pay and conditions relative to other trades—because I felt that we were perfectly competent to determine these matters for ourselves. We are the only people who have the right to vote on our remuneration. I did not feel that there was room for trade union representation in this matter.

Let us suppose that a large number of hon. Members accepted membership of that union. In that event, it would have been possible for some other union to come along and claim that we should not have joined that union but should not joined a different union. The mind boggles as to whether it would be right to take such a matter to ACAS. Surely the case is made when one thinks of it in terms of oneself. If one wished to join a particular union, it would be intolerable to find that one had been forced to switch. I think that that is how we should approach the matter. We should always consider it from the point of view of the individual. My hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said that managers who wished to join a particular union wished to join that union and not another union.

We come to the question of agreements. Paragraphs (e) in Clause 1 mentions agreements between trade unions—

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

I follow my hon. Friend's argument on the last point. However, is there not some advantage, when one is attempting to reduce the number of unions in a factory, in ensuring that the number of unions is not increased but decreased? Is it not better that people should go into one union rather than have multifarious unions?

Mr. Ridley

I do not believe that it is right for me to give a view about whether there should be a lot of unions or a few. I do not think that it is right for us to seek to give views on this subject, let alone to legislate. I am not convinced by the argument that large unions, monolithic, industry-wide unions, either make industrial relations easier or in any sense affect pay and conditions negotiations.

In shipbuilding there are 18 different unions concerned at some stage. In the coal industry there is really only one union, or perhaps two. The behaviour of industrial relations in those two industries has been very similar, and one cannot make out a case either way.

Mr. Prior

My hon. Friend is right to say that it is not our job in the House to say whether there should be many or few unions, although some of us might take the view that there ought to be fewer unions. The clause deals with the problems which the EMA has got itself into and will, perhaps, result in there being many more unions. The Bill has, therefore, quite an important part to play.

If the view of the House is that it is not our job to decide on the number of unions, it would be better that we did not have this clause in the Bill because it prejudices the situation very much towards having a number of management associations, which will merely diffuse the role of management and lead to an unsatisfactory state of affairs. It would be far better, if my hon. Friend argues that it is not the job of the House to interfere in this matter, for the clause to be rejected.

Mr. Ridley

I agree with my right hon. Friend. It could also be the case that certain unions would find it easier not to be affiliated because then the Bill would not apply to them, as I understand it. They could then go ahead with a reference to ACAS in any union dispute if they were not affiliated to the TUC. This is a temptation for disaffiliation or for fragmentation, as my right hon. Friend so rightly says.

I come back to the question of agreements. If a union makes an agreement with another union and it is a genuine agreement that it will keep out of certain spheres of recruiting, that agreement must carry the good will of both parties. All that we are searching for is to make sure that such an agreement exists. There can be no point in arbitrating between two people who agree. Arbitration such as that practised by ACAS, or which would be practised under the Bill, is possible only between people who do not agree. But if there is agreement between unions there can be no need for arbitration.

My right hon. and hon. Friends are seeking to make sure that there is such an agreement. It is possible for one union to claim that an agreement exists while another might feel that an agreement does not exist. Therefore, the point at issue in this debate seems to be to establish when, in law, an agreement exists. The whole House can agree that there is no need for arbitration when there is a genuine agreement.

There may be an agreement which covers matters partially to do with recruiting, or it may be that the agreement covers other matters or is not watertight or totally consistent with the particular nature of the recruitment dispute. Therefore, it is necessary to see not only whether there is an agreement but to see whether the agreement is relevant to the matter which may be arising.

It is clear and obvious that the agreement should be written—because how can one know what it says if it is not written? It could thereby be proof of the fact that it was an agreement which existed and not one which was claimed to exist but which did not exist. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has met that point. I cannot see why he did not meet it in Committee. It is glaringly obvious, and it is a shame that we have to waste time on it today. This is clearly a valid point.

The second point that seems to be vital is that Amendment No. 6 should be included in the Bill, because if the agreement is not available to public inspection it is not possible to know whether it is relevant to the circumstances of the dispute. It is not a question of any agreement. Something might be agreed on some point in issue which in 10 years' time is totally irrelevant to a recognition dispute. It must be seen whether the agreement is relevant and it must be possible for all concerned to be able to inspect it.

If any union tried to claim that there was an agreement between it and another union and the other union had rejected the agreement as invalid, the procedure laid down by the additions of paragraphs (f) and (g) would meet the point. I cannot see the objection to that. I cannot see why the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow does not accept this. I am not an expert in drafting, and I do not say that the amendment is perfectly drafted. I merely say that it would seem to be common sense that the hon. Member should accept the amendment in view of the known opposition to his proposals, both from behind him and in front of him. The hon. Member could certainly go a long way to meet the criticisms of the Bill if he were to accept these two amendments.

The matter is ever more complicated the more we debate it. This shows the value of debate. If we were to specify what these agreements are, whether real or formal, written and relevant, we might come up with a few extra clauses to contain the extra detail. That is the reverse of what Labour Members like. They do not like complicated and tightly drafted legislation dealing with industrial relations. Yet their own attempts to legislate on this issue are dragging them inexorably in that direction.

The more I listen to the debate, the more I realise that when we frame legislation to give special immunities and privileges so that a union does not have to go to ACAS, as it would have to do otherwise, the details must be precise. The irony is that the hon. Gentleman is getting himself bound up wih the legal arguments and the complicated drafting which was his main ground of complaint against the previous industrial relations measure, which will not be without the memory of the House.

Mr. Lawson

As the House may know, I have a deep interest in this Bill stemming from a constituency case about which I spoke briefly on Second Reading. I hope to have an opportunity later of adverting to that case because it bears directly upon what we are now discussing.

I was distressed that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) accused me of having uttered a lie and then, when you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, suggested that he should with- draw, he rather gracelessly said that I had been telling the reverse of the truth. Let me point out what did happen because it should be on the record. What the hon. Gentleman said on Second Reading was that ACAS is keen on the provisions in the Bill The hon. Member was subsequently challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior). In passing, may I say that I wholly associate myself with the earlier remarks of my right hon. Friend which seemed to set out the fundamental issues involved. The hon. Gentleman was challenged by my right hon. Friend and he was forced to back-track. He merely said that he had been given the clearest indication by responsible officers of ACAS on the objects of the Bill at a very early stage."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1889–1904.] The council of ACAS, which is what the hon. Member meant by ACAS, has expressed no opinion. The hon. Member was clearly saying something very different from his earlier statement.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) produced a "Budget" speech in a Ten-Minute Rule Bill a little while ago. It may have been that certain Treasury officials expressed to him privately some sort of agreement with the objects of his Bill. However, he could not tell the House that the Treasury fully supported the "Budget" which he was presenting to the House. My hon. Friend, of course, did no such thing.

12.45 p.m.

Mr. Prior

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) went further than my hon. Friend has suggested. Having said that he had had the clearest indication by responsible officers of ACAS on the objects of the Bill at a very early stage.", he went on to say: I know what I know. Far from withdrawing, I am reinforced in what I say."—[Official Report, 27th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 1904.] I believe that the hon. Member added to the misleading information he gave to the House by going on to say that the situation was exactly as he knew it to be, and that he was reinforced in that. I believe that he made matters considerably worse.

Mr. Mikardo

I greatly resent the imputation that I lied to the House and did so deliberately, I repeat what I said. I entered into consultations with ACAS in good faith—

Mr. Lawson

With whom?

Mr. Mikardo

With responsible officers of ACAS. If the council of ACAS is unwilling to support what its officers said and did in its name, that is not a matter for me and it is not a matter for the hon. Gentleman. That is a problem within ACAS. I regret that that is so, but I said what I said in absolute good faith. I assure the House that there was no intention to mislead and there was no effect of misleading. The fact that the council of ACAS—has the right hon. Gentleman contacted all members of the council?—refused to go along with this does not mean that what I said was wrong when I said it. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give that one up.

Mr. Lawson

The House has now had an opportunity to judge what credence it can place on remarks of that kind made by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

My hon. Friend is unable to understand the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). Perhaps I can help. My hon. Friend will recall that when the hon. Member objects to a Bill he normally means that he is in favour of it. That was his performance a week ago.

Mr. Lawson

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is going through one of those curious phases in a person's life which is reached at a certain stage, when it is sometimes difficult to know whether people really mean what they say. It makes our proceedings that much harder.

I want to address myself to the two amendments before us. Although I believe that Amendment No. 1 would be an improvement upon the Bill, I believe that Amendment No. 6 is a better amendment. It is particularly important that that amendment should be passed, because we are concerned with whether agreements with trade unions should be outside the scope of Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act. We are concerned about the Bridlington agreement, known officially as "TUC Disputes, Principles and Procedures," which, as has been pointed out, costs 18p. That agreement could be considered to be a written agreement. It is certainly not a written agreement between the individual unions which may be at odds in a recognition dispute. But presumably it is certainly based on some form of agreement. It is undoubtedly in writing, otherwise hon. Members would not be in possession of the documents before us today.

On the other hand, there seems to be some possibility that even Amendment No. 1 may not exclude—as I think it should—the Bridlington agreement from what the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is trying to do. But under Amendment No. 6—which is concerned with legally enforceable contracts—the Bridlington agreement is clearly not a legally enforceable contract. Indeed, for reasons which are well understood, the trade unions have aways insisted that this sort of thing should never be legally enforceable. Therefore, this situation would be clearer if Amendment No. 6 were accepted, although Amendment No. 1 would be better than nothing. Unless the hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept Amendment No. 6, I think that at some other stage, it would be appropriate to go into the Bridlington agreement proper, because it is absolutely central to this discussion.

At this stage I should like to refer to the addendum on the Employment Protection Act which was tacked on to the end of the Bridlington principles. It is not one of the principles themselves, but it was tacked on to the end at a later date. The material section of that addendum reads as follows: An affiliated union should not, therefore, invoke the Act's procedure on recognition without consultation and agreement with any other affiliated union with an interest in the matter". The interpretation of that is that any other union can exercise a total right of veto, within the terms of the Bridlington agreement, on any union which seeks recourse to ACAS.

That is clearly what the hon. Gentleman is trying to achieve. He is trying to secure a right of veto with regard to a union which wishes to go to ACAS, which has very good cause to go to ACAS, for the sort of reasons for which the provisions of ACAS were set up in the first place. However, there is nothing about unions trying the Bridlington procedures first. But, even if they tried the Bridlington procedures, there is then this right of veto written into the addendum.

The question is, what is the status of the veto? It is, of course, a written agreement. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to ensure not merely that the union cannot go to ACAS but that ACAS cannot even entertain in any circumstances an application in this form. I am trying to be as reasonable as I can. If at the same time the hon. Gentleman were to suggest that the Bridlington procedures—which are very old and in many ways inadequate, unclear and imprecise—should be brought up to date and rewritten in a way that could make them legally enforceable so that a union could decide whether it wished to be a party to a legally enforceable agreement of this kind, then I think that the sort of exclusion which the hon. Gentleman is suggesting is something that we should seriously entertain and give thought to. I am still not convinced that it would be a good thing, but it is something to which we should give thought. As I pointed out earlier, all the other exclusions are exclusions of that kind. If those obligations were not sufficient for an exclusion, there would be a conflict between those legal obligations and the Employment Protection Act.

When I said that the hon. Gentleman was trying to do something wholly different, he replied "I am not trying to repeat myself. Of course, it is different." I was not suggesting that he was trying to repeat what was already in the Act. Even the hon. Gentleman would not do that. But he is introducing an exclusion of a wholly different nature which relates to a very informal agreement—which is a sort of code of practice—which the unions have never intended should be anything more.

The hon. Gentleman was saying that this should deprive the unions of their legal rights. It is an attempt to turn affiliated unions—members of the TUC—into second class unions, because all other unions which are not affiliated to the TUC will have recourse to ACAS in the same way. This is something which can be explained only in terms of a particular vendetta which the hon. Gentleman, certain other hon. Members and certain trade unions are pursuing against other trade unions within the trade union movement. It is a vendetta which this House should reject and have no part in.

Mr. Gow

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), I was not a member of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill. Before you came into the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there were discussions about the composition of that Committee. I said that I thought there had been a conspiracy to keep the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) off that Standing Committee. I included in that conspiracy the Minister of State, Department of Employment. Subsequently the Minister of State said that he was no part of the conspiracy and, of course, I unreservedly accepted what he said.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Golding)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the composition of Standing Committees of this House is the responsibility of a Committee of this House? The charge of conspiracy which he is making is a very grave one indeed against a Committee of the House. In no way would the Minister of State want to be associated with a charge either that he was part of a conspiracy or that any conspiracy took place. I do not think charges of that sort should be made against distinguished Committees of this House.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Be all that as it may, it is not relevant to this amendment.

Mr. Gow

I do not think that the Under-Secretary of State was in the House when the earlier exchanges took place. I had said that I accepted unreservedly what the Minister of State had said and I withdrew the suggestion—which I had made—that the Minister of State had been involved in a conspiracy. I withdrew that entirely. But that does not alter the charge—which I do make—that there was a conspiracy to keep the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East off the Committee—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That has nothing to do with this amendment.

Mr. Gow

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) moved the amendment that we are now discussing. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) said that my right hon. Friend's speech had not, in part, referred to the amendments and had been more appropriate to a Second Reading debate. I thought that those comments were very inappropriate coming from the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow.

This is the first time that I have participated in a debate on the Bill. It seemed that my right hon. Friend's speech was immensely relevant and cogent to his amendment. If there was to be criticism about his speech being irrelevant, not dealing with the amendment or being more appropriate to Second Reading, that criticism should have been drawn to the attention of the House from the Chair rather than by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow.

1.0 p.m.

I find one aspect of Clause 1 puzzling. In lines 5 and 6 we see the words in brackets "restrictions on contracting out". I assume that when the hon. Gentleman decided to put those words in brackets he had considered the side note to Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act 1975. The word that appears in brackets in line 7 is "exceptions". I am not sure why that word is in brackets. There is no similar side wording to Section 118(2). To have added "exceptions" in line 7 is most confusing. I hope that in another place the hon. Gentleman will seek to put that right.

Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)

Is it not a good idea that we try to make these measures a little easier to understand? Is there not quite a good case for leaving in "exceptions"? At least it explains clearly what we are talking about. What I find wildly misleading is the side heading to the section in the Act which refers to "Restrictions on contracting out.". To any lay person that means contracting out of the political levy, whereas in fact it refers to something quite different. On this one occasion I think that the hon. Gentleman has done rather better than those who drafted the Act.

Mr. Gow

I was making the point that in Clause 1 there are used the side words that appear against Section 118 of the 1975 Act in the first set of brackets in the preamble, but that the second word does not appear in the side notes. If we are aiming for consistency, it would have been right to have had both in or neither.

Amendment No. 1 deals with the question of a "formal, written" agreement. The hon. Gentleman told the House that he is not a lawyer. I must confess that I am. The hon. Gentleman contrasted the difference between an agreement that is under seal and an agreement that is not under seal. He posed the question today, as he did in Committee, whether there is a distinction to be drawn. He asked whether it could be said that one is a formal agreement and that the other is not. The answer that I as a lawyer give to him—I offer it respectfully as I recognise his long experience in this place—is that there is no difference in the formality of a written agreement not under seal and a written agreement under seal. The only difference is that for an agreement to be binding there must either be consideration or the agreement must be made under seal.

It is my belief that the words that appear in the amendment make the Bill clearer. They make it more decisive. They make it less likely that there will have to be recourse to the courts. Goodness knows Opposition Members should have learnt that it is better to keep the law out of industrial relations. Indeed, my right hon. Friend made that very point in moving the amendment.

When the amendment was tabled my right hon. Friend had it in mind that we would be more likely to exclude the courts if we were to insist that there should be a formal written agreement. Where we have a dispute as to what has been agreed or what has been recorded, we are very much less likely to have to invite the courts to adjudicate if there is an agreement in writing. The more formal that agreement the less likely it is that we shall have trouble.

Mr. Prior

Does my hon. Friend agree that he has raised some important legal matters that require an answer from the Government? It would be intolerable if we were not to receive an answer from the Minister during the debate on the amendment. If we are not to have an answer—I can see all sorts of movement on the Government Benches that lead me to think that the closure might be moved—we would regard that as a grave discourtesy to the House. It is only right that we should have a speech from the Government Front Bench before there is any question of bringing the debate to an end.

Mr. Gow

Knowing the Minister of State, I am sure that my right hon. Friend's fears will turn out to be unfounded. I am sure that we shall have a full and courteous reply, as we always have, from the hon. Gentleman. I am confident that with the hon. Gentleman sitting upon the Treasury Bench there will be no question of the closure being moved. After all, the closure would prevent him from making the speech that he has in mind to make. I cannot believe that there is anything in my right hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)

Get on with it.

Mr. Gow

My right hon. Friend is right in saying that the House will expect the guidance and advice of the Minister, with all his experience in dealing with agreements of this sort, before it votes.

I turn to Amendment No. 6. Again, it is an amendment of great importance. We see no objection to the revised procedure that is suggested, namely, that the provisions of paragraph (e)…shall not apply unless the agreement between independent trade unions restricting reference of recognition issues to the Service is sent to the Certification Officer and accepted as a legally enforceable contract by the independent trade unions concerned". Secondly, it is proposed that there should be available for inspection at the office of the certification officer at all reasonable hours a copy of the agreement that has been sent to him.

It is difficult to understand how it could be thought by those who approve of the principle of the Bill that the amendments do other than improve it. Are we not always being told by Labour Members that openness and access to documents are features that they find attractive? We had an example only yesterday when certain Labour Members were anxious that that which was concealed should be brought to light. Surely I carry with me Labour Members below the Gangway in supporting the amendment.

All that we are saying is that the agreement should be available for inspection. Surely Labour Members will accept, if they wish to be consistent, that that is in the interests of the parties concerned in the circumstances envisaged in Clause 1.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will not accept the undertaking which was given by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, who said that he would seek in another place to have inserted the words "in writing". The hon. Gentleman did not like "formal" or "written". He suggested that in another place there might be an amendment to insert the words "in writing". I hope that that proposal will not be accepted. In my opinion, the amendment before us covers the point in the most effective way possible.

I suggest that Amendment No. 6 will improve Clause 1 materially. Therefore, when we come to it, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will support it.

Mr. Harold Walker

I had not intended to speak. I did not think that it was necessary in the light of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) in reply to the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior). However, I have been invited by the Opposition Front Bench to intervene.

If I echo the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, it is because they were well placed. I am bound to say that the debate has been on general issues more apposite to a debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", rather than on the narrow issues covered by the amendments.

I hope that, contrary to what the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) recommended, the House will accept that my hon. Friend has shown a flexible readiness to come to terms with the Opposition on Amendment No. 1. I hope also that the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) agrees that my hon. Friend has been reasonable and has gone half way to meet him and that, subject to the need to get the precise legal formula right, which can perhaps be done in another place, he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

I cannot speak so warmly about Amendment No. 6. Indeed, I am surprised that, given the importance that was attached to it by the right hon. Member for Lowestoft, there has been little description of its effect or indication of how it is intended to apply.

I cannot for the life of me—we have had no explanation—see what the certification officer has to do with these matters at all. The certification officer's role is to establish whether a union is truly independent in accordance with the terms of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974. I do not know why there should be a requirement to lodge with him any agreement of any kind, let alone this particular one, which is essentially a TUC internal agreement. What the certification officer would do with it and what would follow from its being lodged with him I do not understand at all.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow that it is not for us to try to impose on any private organisation what it should agree, provided that it is consistent with the law.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)

I think that the Minister of State is being helpful to the Committee. If he does not believe that the certification officer is the right person to have this agreement, will he suggest who is the right person? This is a question of whether something is not merely against the law but in the public interest. It has been held that many agreements between independent organisations should be publicly available so that the public interest is protected. The Minister will do the House a service if he will go into this matter. If he does not believe that the certification officer is the right person, will he tell us which is the appropriate public body with which the documents should be lodged so that they may be made available?

Mr. Walker

I shall resist the blandishments of the hon. Gentleman in his persuasive attempt to get me to go into this matter in some depth. Had he been here—I hope that I do him no disservice—when my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow replied to the right hon. Member for Lowestoft, he would have heard him point out that any hon. Member with 18p in his pocket could buy a copy. Indeed, I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman were to write to the TUC it would be delighted to send him a copy free. But, for his interested constituents, I think that the TUC would be grateful for the 18p, plus postage. There is no difficulty in the way of any member of the public obtaining and looking at a copy of the agreement.

As to whom the agreement should be lodged with, clearly it should be the parties to the agreement. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow made the point that the internal affairs of the TUC have nothing to do with Members of the House as long as such affairs are consistent with the broad requirements of the law.

Mr. Peter Bottomley


Mr. Walker

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me—

Mr. Bottomley

Following the point made by the Minister—

Mr. Thorne

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I beg to move, That the Question be now put.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am not prepared to accept that motion at this moment.

Mr. Bottomley

The Minister has talked about the Bridlington agreement, which, I accept, is available for 18p. The clause refers to "any agreement". If any other agreement besides the Bridlington agreement is made, is the right hon. Gentleman saying that, because the Bridlington agreement is available for 18p, anything else is private?

Mr. Walker

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. We really are trespassing on the time of hon. Members. I made it quite clear that I was reluctant in the first place to intervene and to take up the time of the House. I do not think that I should respond to the points which have already been dealt with.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow pointed out that the parties to other agreements are the parties who have an interest. An exchange of letters between two unions is a matter between those two unions, not a matter of broad public concern unless is affects the public. It is a matter whether they do it within the framework of the law.

1.15 p.m.

I do not think that any kind of a case has been made for the House to accept Amendment No. 6. I hope that we may now reach a decision on the matter. If the Opposition persist in urging Amendment No. 6 on the House, I hope that it will be rejected.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Miss Jo Richardson (Barking)

rose in her place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 117, Noes 23.

Division No. 187] AYES [1.16 p.m.
Armstrong, Ernest Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John O'Halloran, Michael
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Ginsburg, David Park, George
Atkinson, Norman Golding, John Parker, John
Bain, Mrs Margaret Graham, Ted Pavitt, Laurie
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Grant, George (Morpeth) Perry, Ernest
Bates, Alf Grant, John (Islington C) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Grocott, Bruce Price, William (Rugby)
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hardy, Peter Robinson, Geoffrey
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Harper, Joseph Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Buchan, Norman Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rooker, J. W.
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Heffer, Eric S. Ryman, John
Canavan, Dennis Henderson, Douglas Sedgemore, Brian
Carter, Ray Hooley, Frank Sever, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Huckfield, Les Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Clemitson, Ivor Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Silverman, Julius
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, James (Hull West) Skinner, Dennis
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Spearing, Nigel
Cowans, Harry Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Stallard, A. W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Judd, Frank Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Kerr, Russell Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James Stoddart, David
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Lee, John Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Litterick, Tom Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Deakins, Eric Loyden, Eddie Urwin, T. W.
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McCartney, Hugh Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Dormand, J. D. MacFarquhar, Roderick Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Madden, Max Weitzman, David
Edge, Geoff Maynard, Miss Joan Wellbeloved, James
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mendelson, John Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Evans, John (Newton) Mitchell, Austin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Woodall, Alec
Flannery, Martin Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Young, David (Bolton E)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moyle, Roland
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Mr. Stan Thorne and
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Newens, Stanley Miss Jo Richardson.
George, Bruce
Allson, Michael Howell, David (Guildford) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Bell, Ronald Lester, Jim (Beeston) Temple-Morris, Peter
Bottomley, Peter Madel, David Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Mather, Carol Wakeham, John
Dykes, Hugh Mayhew, Patrick Winterton, Nicholas
Emery, Peter Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Eyre, Reginald Pardoe, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Prior, Rt Hon James Mr. Ian Gow and
Gorst, John Scott, Nicholas Sir Anthony Meyer.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Emery

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. According to the provisional selection of amendments, the next group comprises Amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 5. You will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because you were in the Chair, that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) was not a member of the Standing Committee although he was particularly concerned about some matters. I do not support any objection to his having been omitted from the Committee. Obviously, the Committee of Selection is entitled to make whatever recommendations it wishes. However,

The House divided: Ayes 26, Noes 118.

Division No. 188] AYES [1.27 p.m.
Alison, Michael Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Scott, Nicholas
Bell, Ronald Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sinclair, Sir George
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Madel, David Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Bottomley, Peter Mather, Carol Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Braine, Sir Bernard Mayhew, Patrick Wakeham, John
Clark, William (Croydon S) Neave, Airey Winterton, Nicholas
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Emery, Peter Pardoe, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Eyre, Reginald Prior, Rt Hon James Sir Anthony Meyer and
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Mr. John Gorst.
Armstrong, Ernest George, Bruce O'Halloran, Michael
Ashton, Joe Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Orbach, Maurice
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Ginsburg, David Park, George
Atkinson, Norman Golding, John Parker, John
Bain, Mrs Margaret Graham, Ted Pavitt, Laurie
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Grant, George (Morpeth) Perry, Ernest
Bates, Alf Grant, John (Islington C) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Grocott, Bruce Price, William (Rugby)
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Hardy, Peter Robinson, Geoffrey
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Harper, Joseph Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Buchan, Norman Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rooker, J. W.
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Heffer, Eric S. Ryman, John
Canavan, Dennis Henderson, Douglas Sedgemore, Brian
Carter, Ray Hooley, Frank Sever, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Huckfield, Les Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Clemitson, Ivor Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Silverman, Julius
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, James (Hull west) Skinner, Dennis
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Spearing, Nigel
Cowans, Harry Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Stallard, A. W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Judd, Frank Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Kerr, Russell Stoddart, David
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Lee, John Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Litterick, Tom Urwin, T. W.
Deakins, Eric Loyden, Eddie Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McCartney, Hugh Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Dormand, J. D. MacFarquhar, Roderick Weitzman, David
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Madden, Max Wellbeloved, James
Edge, Geoff Maynard, Miss Joan Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mendelson, John Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Wise, Mrs Audrey
Evans, John (Newton) Mitchell, Austin Woodall, Alec
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Young, David (Bolton E)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moyle, Roland TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Mr. Stan Thorne and
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Miss Jo Richardson.
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Newens, Stanley

Amendment No. 3 today is in the hon. Gentleman's name. Would it not be convenient to include that amendment—not to select it individually; that would be an impertinence—in the next batch of amendments? That would allow these matters to be considered in the last debate on Clause 1.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. The selection of amendments is done by Mr. Speaker himself. There are good procedural reasons why Amendment No. 3 cannot be included with this group and why it was not selected for debate.

Mr. Gow

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 10, at end add 'provided that under any procedures set up under the agreement for settling recognition issues between trade unions particular attention will be paid to the number of employees to whom the issue relates who are registered members of each of those trade unions'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, I understand that it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 4, in page 1, line 10, at end add 'provided that the agreement was made after the commencement of this Act'. No. 5, in page 1, line 10, at end add 'until six months after an issue has been referred for settlement under a procedure set up under that agreement'.

Mr. Gow

Amendment No. 2 is intended to ensure, so far as legislation can do so, that particular attention is paid in a recognition dispute to the number of employees who are registered members of the trade union concerned. We believe that, in settling recognition issues, this matter has a special relevance and that a concentration on the number of registered members is perfectly reasonable.

I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), but I believe that he is not wholly unsympathetic to the amendment. I read with great care his speech on 22nd March in Committee when an amendment in identical terms was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe). The hon. Gentleman said: What worries me a little is: what does 'particular' mean? In our amendment, we say that "particular" attention will be paid to the number of employees. The hon. Member said that this was not needed because these objectives were already covered by the Bridlington procedures. But one cannot rely on non-statutory procedures and understandings. The extra protection, the added importance given to the matter, which would result from the inclusion of the word "particular" must be written into the Bill.

That brings us back to Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act 1975. Clause 1 proposes to add a fifth exemption to the four in that section. We shall ensure that new importance is given to the numbers of registered trade unionists only if that is written into the Bill. Can we have a guarantee that proper attention will be paid to this matter without the amendment? I do not believe that is possible. We cannot be satisfied that this will be done without a statutory provision.

1.45 p.m.

Th hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow dealt with this point in Committee. He said: I think that it is another of those words where people might want to go to the courts to find out what it means. Is it significant that the first question asked of the union is, 'Please tell us what is your membership?"—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 142.] That question may be frequently or almost invariably asked. Perhaps hitherto it has always been asked, although I should be surprised to learn that that was so. At least, the amendment would ensure that it was always asked in future.

If the hon. Member's objection to Amendment No. 2 is only his doubt about the meaning of the word "particular", it is not a real anxiety. If those who would be obliged to pay particular attention certified that they had done so, that would be the end of the matter. If we withdrew the word, would the hon. Gentleman then find the amendment acceptable?

Mr. Emery

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to rise on a point of order again, but this relates to a different matter. It is the responsibility either of the Government or of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill to ensure that hon. Members have the necessary papers. I have just been to the Vote Office to get the 1975 Act, to which the amendment relates. I am informed that there is no copy available, either in the Vote Office or in the reserve supply downstairs. There has been considerable concern about this matter and I am sure that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) will agree that papers should be provided. May I draw this matter to your attention and ask you to do something to rectify it as soon as possible? It inconveniences hon. Members. I was told that I was not the only one who had asked for a copy.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is not obligatory upon hon. Members in charge of Private Members' Bills to provide copies of earlier statutes. Those are available in the Library for reference. I am sure that the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) will find time to go there and consult the Act he mentioned.

Mr. Nicholas Scott (Chelsea)

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May it be clearly stated whether the absence of the early version of the Bill is due simply to a temporary lack of supply in the Vote Office or has anything to do with industrial action?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am not aware of circumstances which make the Act unavailable, but there is a copy in the Library. As I have said, it is not the duty of the hon. Member in charge of a Private Member's Bill to provide such documents.

Mr. Gow

The purpose of Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 is to correct one of the most disagreeable features of present legislation. There is a continuing tendency for legislation to have retrospective effect. The only purpose of these amendments is to ensure that this Bill shall not have retrospective effect.

If I am told that this tendency is not as serious as is suggested, I have only to look at the Finance Bill, which was published yesterday. In accordance with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement 10 days ago, it contains a provision for retrospective legislation. If Clause 1 of the Bill is not amended by either Amendment No. 4 or Amendment No. 5, it, too, could have retrospective effect, as I am sure the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow will agree. We believe that this is damaging to the principle that the House should legislate for the future and alter the law for the future but that it should be sparing in altering the law retrospectively.

The 1975 Employment Protection Act was passed by the hon. Member's own party when in office. It is most undesirable for an amendment to be moved three years later which could have a crucial effect on that provision. Section 118 of the Act sets out four occasions when subsection (1) shall not apply. To those we propose to add a fifth. I do not believe that it can be the hon. Member's intention to add this fifth occasion retrospectively.

The principle that legislation should not be retrospective should not be violated in a Bill of this kind. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow attaches great importance to his Bill, but I am sure he would not argue that this principle should be violated in his Bill. I am sure that we both subscribe to that principle. I commend to the House Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. I believe that Amendment No. 2 would significantly improve the Bill.

Mr. Mikardo

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) for the way in which he moved the amendment and made reference to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. I hope that I do not cause him to blush, but if all the contributions from the Opposition today had been of the order of his, we should have had a high quality debate.

The hon. Member was correct about my attitude towards this matter in Committee. He hit the nail right on the head when he said that I appeared not to be formally opposed to the concept. In our long discussions I said that I thought that the amendment was not necessary because what it demands is always done under present practice. Unlike some of his hon. Friends, the hon. Member for Eastbourne was correct about what I said in Committee.

The hon. Member asked me whether I was sure that this is always done. The only reply that I can give to him, since I am limited by my own not inconsiderable experience, is that I have never heard of a case in which it is not done. Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to allow me to quote what I said in Committee. I said that in every case that I can recall the first communication that each of the contending unions received from the TUC said 'Will you please establish your membership in the area concerned?' Principle No. 5 of the Bridlington principles requires consideration to be given to the number of workers who are members of particular unions. There can, therefore, be no question but that consideration—'attention,' to use the word in Amendment No. 3—is given to the number of employees to whom the issue relates."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 14.] Nevertheless, I am bound to say that the hon. Member's argument is weighty. I understood him to say that, although what the amendment provides is already practised, it is possible that it will not always be so. Because of that, he says the authority of the House should be put behind the continuation of this practice. If that is what the hon. Member is saying, I find it difficult to dissent. That is why I am inclined, as I was with Amendment No. 1, to agree with his arguments. I regret that the Opposition did not seize the olive branch that I held out on Amendment No. 1. People will be able to judge for themselves who was being unreasonable and who reasonable towards the Bill.

As the hon. Member anticipated, there is a problem about drafting. The hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe), who led for the Opposition in Committee, said with candour that he reckoned that he was not the best parliamentary draftsman in the world. That is probably right. But I am sure that he is better than I, because there can be no worse draftsman than myself. I am advised by those who know that the word "particular", in particular, could cause some obscurity that might have to be clarified in the courts. We all try to avoid that. I am advised on legal authority that the word would cause difficulty. I am also advised that it will not be easy to find words that will not cause difficulty but that it will be possible.

If the hon. Member withdraws the amendment, I shall undertake to have an amendment introduced in another place to secure what the hon. Member seeks in terms which are as clear as human ingenuity can make them. So far as it lies within my power, I shall endeavour to ensure that the Lords agree with what both he and I want.

2.0 p.m.

I now turn to what the hon. Gentleman said about Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. I entirely share his dislike of retroactive legislation. It always creates very great problems, and always gives those who are adversely affected by it a special sense of injustice. But I want to put a couple of points to the hon. Gentleman. This legislation is not retroactive. It does not create any law which was not there before. What it does is to validate contracts that were entered into before.

We have a good deal of legislation in this House. We often introduce legislation, for example, affecting price controls matters. That is not retroactive legislation. There is also legislation relating to agreements between companies for market sharing, under the monopolies and restrictive practices procedure. The legislation is not itself retroactive but it does catch up on existing contracts. But even if we were to accept what the hon. Gentleman said and thought that the Bill was retroactive, I am bound to tell him, having looked at it very closely indeed, that his amendment does not achieve the objective that he sets out to achieve.

I am afraid that I cannot accept Amendment No. 4, for three reasons. The first is that its immediate effect would be to get rid of the present Bridlington procedure. I am sometimes a bit puzzled by the schizophrenic attitude of Conservative Members to the Bridlington procedure. They pay tribute to it in theory but always seek in practice to limit it, harm it, or hold it up. This morning the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said that almost always the Bridlington procedure works very well. Every section in industry—employers and workers, trade associations and trade unions, the CBI and the TUC—says that the existence of the Bridlington procedure has played a great part in reducing industrial disputes and industrial dislocations, both those which arise from differences between employers and workers and those which might arise from differences between one trade union and another.

Some Conservative Members in Committee very fairly added to those tributes. The hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth said: Every Member on this side of the Committee—in fact, I believe that this is true of all hon. Members here—believes that the Bridlington procedures have generally contributed towards industrial peace in this country and we in no way seek to undermine those principles. Later the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott) added his powerful reinforcement to that view when he said: I reiterate my support for what my hon. Friend said about the general importance of Bridlington. Earlier he said: Bridlington has worked extremely satisfactorily in almost all the instances where it has been invoked."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978, c. 19–24.] It would be a shame to lose it, would it not? I agree with those who think it ought to be amended. I think it can be improved. But it is always best for the rules of a club to be decided and, if need be, amended by the members of the club. This is a matter for the TUC.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Palmer) mentioned three improvements that he would like to see in the Bridlington procedure. There is nothing to prevent the union, of which he is a distinguished member, putting down an amendment to those procedures at the annual congress. If his union can carry enough of the members with it, the procedures will be amended. But this amendment does not amend the procedures. I point out to the hon. Member for Eastbourne that the effect of Amendment No. 4 would not be to amend the procedures. It would be to get rid of them forthwith, because they were agreed on before the Bill was introduced.

The second reason that I am unable to accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment is the same as the one that I adduced in respect of another amendment. It is that it would make this bit, added to Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act 1975, different from the other four bits in the same section. If it is thought that it is some sort of protection against any retroactive operation, or that there ought not to be any legislative application to agreements which existed before, I put it to the hon. Gentleman, with all respect, that the time to argue that was when we were considering Section 118 of the Employment Protection Act 1975.

My third reason is a very simple and practical one, and it is this consideration particularly which leads me to say that the hon. Gentleman's amendment would not do what he wants it to do. If the hon. Gentleman's amendments were carried, the only effect would be that all trade unions which were parties to bilateral agreements would be warned and would know that on the day the Bill became law they would have to re-conclude all the agreements which existed between them before that date. They would then not be caught by the amendment.

All that would be necessary would be for XYZ union and ABC union to sit down together and agree that the agreement which they entered into in October 1974 should now come into operation again. The TUC, likewise, would simply have to re-enact the Bridlington procedure on the day that the measure was enacted. This would mean having a recall conference at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon, lasting for 10 or 20 minutes, to re-enact the Bridlington principle.

The hon. Gentleman's amendment, therefore, would merely have the effect of causing all those people a lot of trouble, but we would then be back to square one, exactly where we are at the present time. I am sure that, when he thinks this over, he will not want to press the amendment.

Amendment No. 5 is concerned with putting a time limit on the operation of the Bridlington procedure. The hon. Gentleman has manifestly read carefully the report of the Committee proceedings. He will have noted that I expressed myself in general as being in favour of time limits. Indeed, I said in Committee that if I had been a member of the Committee dealing with the Bill presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher), when an amendment was moved to put a time limit on the proceedings of ACAS, I would have voted for it, just as the majority of Members did.

Incidentally, I was not selected to serve on that Committee. I did not complain about it in the House or anywhere else, because it often happens that we are not selected for certain Committees. If we were all to make a song and dance about it every time we would have to lengthen our Sessions. I am in favour of time limits as long as they are of reasonable length, and as long as they are not so short that they attempt to solve issues by agreement before they can be dealt with on any formal basis.

We have only to examine the position for a moment to see that what we have in Amendment No. 5 is not on all fours with putting a time limit on ACAS. I agree with those who say that there is room for improvement in the Bridlington procedure, and when the TUC gives consideration to suggested improvements, as I hope it will, I also hope that it will give some thought to the possibility of a time limit. But, as I said to the Committee, the Bill that we are considering today is the Employment Protection (Amendment) Bill. It is not the Bridlington Procedures (Amendment) Bill. It is not for this House to amend the Bridlington procedures. That would be resented, and if we sought to do it it would only create confrontations with trade unions. The TUC will amend its procedures in good time when it wants to. That is the best way.

There is one other matter that worries me and makes the amendment not on all fours with the ACAS matter. Far from hurrying things along, as the hon. Gentleman and I would like, the amendment might give people an incentive to dawdle. If they dawdle for six months they escape the obligations of the clause altogether. Therefore, the amendment's effect might be exactly the reverse of what is intended.

I add only one small technical point, that the wording is not clear. It could be read as meaning six months from the date of the receipt by the TUC of formal notification of a dispute or complaint, or it could mean six months from the date of reference by the TUC of the dispute or complaint to a disputes committee. I am advised that it could mean one or two other things as well. Therefore, there could be a basis of argument.

I do not make a big point of this. It is not a very good point, but it is not good to have amendments that are not clear and are capable of more than one interpretation.

Mr. Madel

May I ask the hon. Gentleman about the technical point he has just made, as to whether the reference is to the TUC or to the disputes committee? Is it not obvious from the amendment that it must be to the TUC, because one cannot go straight to a disputes committee? The committee must be set up. One cannot jump the second fence before the first, which is that the matter goes to the TUC. I ask the hon. Gentleman to reflect on that, because I think that the amendment is rather clearer than he believes.

Mr. Mikardo

My original view was exactly the one that the hon. Gentleman has just expressed. I thought that it was all right for that reason, but other people, people of sound mind, have interpreted it differently. Therefore, that interpreta- tion is manifestly possible. The difficulty is in the words has been referred for settlement". When a dispute is reported to the TUC, it is not necessarily reported for settlement. It could be referred for settlement, but it could be that it is not referred until the TUC says "We want this settled by the disputes committee."

I am not making a great point of this, but there is room for doubt. The fact that people have asked which of the two meanings the words have shows that there is room for doubt. But if I thought that that was the only objection I would not take the view that I do. The other points that I put are considerably more weighty.

I hope that in the light of my undertaking, given in all good faith, that I intend to carry out the spirit of Amendment No. 2 so far as it is within my power, but with different words, the hon. Member for Eastbourne will withdraw the amendment. I also hope that, in the light of what I have said about the inadequacies of Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, Conservative Members will not seek to press those amendments.

2.15 p.m.

Mr. Emery

The House knows, and I probably know better than many hon. Members, the considerable experience of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), who is in charge of the Bill, in dealing with trade union matters and procedures. I therefore understand a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), who moved the amendment. I should like to pose three questions to the hon. Gentleman. Basically, I am happy about the undertaking he has given, but I want to probe it a little further.

It seemed to me that the real problem in Amendment No. 2 was the use of the word "particular". The amendment says: provided that under any procedures set up under the agreement for settling issues between trade unions particular attention will be paid to the number of employees". I understand that "particular" can be open to criticism, but I have not heard from the hon. Gentleman what word is better or is to be substituted. As he was speaking, I noted "specific", "relative" and "basic". I am not necessarily sold on pride of authorship with the result that I feel it must be "particular", but I do not see what word is to be substituted. What worries me is that in another place the heavy weight of the words "particular attention" might be diminished.

Mr. Mikardo

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because I am not allowed to speak again at this stage, except with the permission of the House.

If the only problem were over the word "particular", we could try to find another word, But I am advised that it is not the only problem and that even if we found another word the amendment could cause many difficulties, and that it would not be easy to draft an amendment that covered them. But it will be possible to do it, and I shall do my best to ensure that it is in a form that is not susceptible to watering down.

Mr. Emery

I am pleased to hear that, but I am somewhat worried by something that the hon. Gentleman said in reply to me. If there is a real difficulty, it is one which I have not grasped. It may be that I do not understand the full implication, although I think I do. If the matter is made more difficult by an implication that has not yet been brought out in the debate, we should know what it is. I am therefore inclined to ask the hon. Gentleman "Why not put the amendment in the Bill and then play around with it in another place if it is inadequate?"

After all, in dealing with Private Members' legislation one always has a need to obtain the consensus and views of all hon. Members. It is not the same as dealing with Government legislation. The hon. Gentleman might well do much worse than to accept the amendment in its entirety, giving notice to the House that there may be criticism of it and he may therefore feel it necessary in another place to make it more nearly perfect.

Having been responsible for taking Bills through the House, I know how often things done in another place are not done as we would have thought they were intended to be done. For that reason, and in a desire to make progress, the hon. Gentleman would be well advised to accept Amendment No. 2.

I turn to Amendment No. 4. I am more worried about the retrospective element that legislation can have than I am about any initial inconvenience that might be caused by there being different parties to agreements or existing contracts. I am not sycophantic about the Bridlington agreement. However, I pay tribute to that arrangement because it has gone a long way to assist in dealing with disputes and it is necessary that it should exist. However, the arrangement is not perfect and could be improved.

Let me deal with the topic of retrospection. I see no great worry on the part of organisations which have entered into agreements because of the aspect of retrospection. No doubt these matters will have to be re-examined and updated. The lawyers in the House will know that if an agreement is not found to be entirely satisfactory it is not difficult for both parties to re-examine the situation and, even after legislation has been passed, to update the process.

In principle, I am against this House legislating retrospectively. Some people think that there are so many precedents for retrospective legislation that another piece of such legislation does not matter. I have tended to take the view that we should be against retrospective legislation because of the difficulties that may face those who have entered into agreements on the basis of the law that then existed and on the ground that if the law is changed it will have a retrospective effect on an agreement. Therefore, although there might be some slight inconvenience on that score, I would not like to see Amendment No. 4 pressed to a Division.

Amendment No. 5 deals with time limits. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow referred to dawdling. However, I believe that it is more likely that this would bring about a reference to ACAS after the six-month period. I believe that there should be a time limit so that those concerned will be able to get on with the job.

A number of illustrations were given in Standing Committee. I was not a member of the Committee, but I must assure the House that I do not come to debates without having done my homework. I refer the House to the sitting of the Standing Committee of 22nd March this year, when hon. Members will see the position set out in considerable detail in column 13. An illustration was given of a case in which a union found that no action was taken for 13 months. There were other illustrations of that kind of dawdling. I would not necessarily argue against a period of six months, which seems to be reasonable. I do not think that there would be any great objection to such a limiting period, which would have considerable advantages.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow said that Amendment No. 5 would be bad for the Bill because it would involve amendment of the Bridlington agreement—something that the Bill does not set out to do. I have already said that the Bridlington agreement is a good one, but I have also said that it is not perfect. If it can be improved with advantage, that should be done. It is not unknown for certain provisions which are unconnected with the subject under discussion to be slipped into various Bills. The Opposition often complain that the Government try to slip into Bills items which they have no right to put forward. I believe that there is a time limit factor in the Bridlington agreement, and the hon. Gentleman said that considerable benefits derived from that arrangement in certain respects.

Let me try to sum up what I have said. I urge the House to accept Amendment No. 2, but I grant that it may well have to be improved in another place. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind my comments about the retrospective element of Amendment No. 4. Furthermore, I hope he will agree that there are strong arguments for having a time limit as provided in Amendment No. 5.

Sir A. Meyer

I am not sure whether it is in order for an ex-Member for Eton and Slough to intrude into a closed shop consisting of ex-Members for Reading, particularly if the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) is spurred to make one of his fascinating contributions.

Mr. Mikardo

I hope the hon. Gentleman is including the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery).

Sir A. Meyer

Perhaps I should have referred also to the senior ex-Member for Reading. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), in his usual sweetly reasonable manner, cast doubt on the need for Amendment No. 2, although he did not destroy my conviction as to the value of that amendment. I thought that the hon. Gentleman deflated the argument on Amendment No. 4, and on Amendment No. 5 he opened up a debate which seemed to be reasonably balanced.

One remark by the hon. Gentleman worried me. He said that these provisions did not create law. They do not create law but they create exemptions from law. That is why I adhere to my view that at any rate Amendment No. 2 of this widely disparate batch of amendments is necessary in order to safeguard the public interest.

I did not have the instructive experience of being on the Committee. I was fortunate enough to be on the Committee which considered the Bill sponsored by the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher), from which I learned a great deal. Nor was I able to speak in the Second Reading debate, though I was present throughout and very anxious to be called.

Mr. Lawson

I hope that that was not my fault.

2.30 p.m.

Sir A. Meyer

It was not. At any rate, I learned a great deal from the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson). I must confess to disappointment when I thought that I might be shut out of this debate as well.

I should like to state the reasons why I find it essential that any rate the safeguards contained in Amendment No. 2 should be written into the Bill. To explain why, I should perhaps set out my attitude towards the Bill in general and to the matters which it covers. I make no secret of the fact—I have been picked up often enough on this by Labour Members—that, although I fully recognise the value and historic role of the trade unions not merely in representing the interests of their members but in preserving the democratic fabric of our society and by bringing firmly within the democratic framework a working class which might easily have been pushed outside it and by acting as a nursery for our democracy, I feel strongly that the growth in trade union power, particularly since the failure of "In Place of Strife" in 1969, has been to the detriment of democracy, of the interests of workers and of the prospects of reducing unemployment.

That is why if by a wave of the wand or by the exercise of effective power by a democratically elected Government it would be possible to assert the authority of the House—elected by the whole nation—over a trade union leadership elected by a tiny minority, it would be in every way desirable. But that is not possible. That is why I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) in his repeated assertion that the elected Government of the country—elected by the majority of the votes of the population of the whole country—have to reach an accommodation with a trade union leadership elected by only a tiny minority. That is why it is necessary for the elected Government of this country to go along with many aspects of trade union activity and trade union power which they might wish to curb.

Whatever one's views about excessive trade union power, no good can come of it if the trade unions fall out and quarrel in public. That is why most of us in the Conservative Party welcome and support the Bridlington agreements. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow said that our attitude towards this was schizophrenic. Indeed it is. It is schizophrenic because we wish to see further limitation of the power of the trade unions, but we accept that this is not possible. As it is impossible, it is clearly undesirable that there should be an open state of civil war between them.

Therefore, the Bridlington agreements are, in that context, welcome. However, there must be limits on the extent to which these agreements are allowed to take precedence over other wider considerations of public interest.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow earlier today said that bilateral agreements were nobody's business except that of the two parties to the agreement. I wrote down his words as he said them. With great respect, this will not do. A bilateral agreement which is clearly contrary to public interest or, more subtly, one which purports to serve the public interest by wrongly prejudicing the legitimate interests of a third party, is of interest to more than the two parties to the agreement. Innumerable instances of this have been quoted in today's proceedings, particularly with reference to the EMA. This clause, unamended by our Amendment No. 2, is intended to make sure that the Bridlington agreements take precedence over public interest and that they preclude the legitimate interests of third parties which are outside those agreements.

Amendment No. 2 does a little but nowhere near enough to reassert the idea that there must be precedence for the public interest; that there must be proper consideration of the legitimate interests of third parties who might be prejudiced by the kind of bilateral agreements to which I have referred. For that reason, I shall be supporting the amendment and I very much hope that my hon. Friend does not withdraw it.

Mr. Madel

My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) rightly devoted a little of his speech to talking about the importance of any Government reaching an accommodation with the unions. I think that he, with his experience in industrial matters, would agree with me that that is one of the things uppermost in the mind of an employer, especially if he is a new employer taking over a particular organisation—the importance of reaching an accommodation and agreement with the unions at the place of work. My hon. Friend also quite rightly pointed out that inter-union disputes are damaging not only to the members themselves but to the industry and, in the long run, to the country.

The basis of our case in Committee and on the Floor of the House has been to try to make suggestions whereby we would improve industrial relations matters. In speeches in Committee and on the Floor of the House, not only on this Bill but on the Bill debated last week of the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher), a considerable number of Members have mentioned ACAS and the special work that it does, particularly in conciliation matters, in trying to improve industrial relations. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) summed up the feeling of the Committee and the House when he said: The most important purpose of the Bridlington procedures is the maintenance of industrial peace. The tone of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that broadly he accepted the words of Amendment No. 2. There was one word that he was not too keen about, however, and that was "particular". But, on the whole, the words in Amendment No. 2 did not cause him any offence. When he expressed anxiety about the word "particular", he was restating the anxiety that he had expressed when he said: Often there are procedures for establishing that by means of an objective third party. He went on to say: I do not think that there could be attention more particular than that. Does 'particular' mean something more than that? Does it seek to suggest—this would be highly dangerous—that the number of employees who are members in particular cases should be the only criterion to be applied in the determination? Principle No. 5 of the Bridlington agreement is an important one. It says: No union shall commence organising activities at any establishment or undertaking in respect of any grade or grades of workers in which another union has the majority of workers employed and negotiates wages and conditions, unless by arrangement with that union. That principle is almost inviting us to accept Amendment No. 2. We could almost put in the words unless by particular arrangement with that union. To back up the case for the amendment and for the need to change the words in the clause, I looked at the 1977 annual report of ACAS. Page 45 deals with criteria and points out something to which the House will have to give attention. At paragraph 16 it says: The Act gives ACAS no guidance as to the criteria it should adopt in deciding whether or not to recommend recognition in individual reports beyond the general duties with which it charges ACAS under section 1. Experience has shown that there are difficulties in attempting to define strict criteria which can be applied automatically in all cases". In paragraph 18 the report says: ACAS seeks to find ways in which compromises can be reached between these views, taking account of the facts and circumstances of each reference. The search for compromise and general guidelines does not imply that members of the Council relinquish their own views: it indicates an acknowledgement that employers and unions have a common interest in seeking to resolve recognition issues by agreement rather than by other means. Paragraph 20 of the report says: ACAS experience suggests that the following sets of factors can be relevant in the definition of such groups: collective organisations and wishes of the employers, including their membership of the union…the nature of the work being done and associated requirements such as the skills". The whole of the section of this vitally important chapter ought to be compulsory reading for those involved in this subject. I am sure that it will be compulsory reading for the TUC before it meets in September when, I suspect, it will reconsider Bridlington. I feel sure that it will look carefully at Part II, Chapter 9 of the report. I quote this because of the general value of ACAS to employers and unions. It provides a bank of experience and advice which is being steadily built up. Each annual report will be more eagerly read by those concerned with industrial relations. Amendment No. 2 is helpful in that it can lessen the difficulties and act as a guideline.

I turn briefly to Amendment No. 4. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow was worried that it might require another TUC Croydon conference—that would not take too long—to re-work all the agreements. He was worried that unions already had bilateral agreements and this amendment would mean that they would have to be renewed. I am not sure that that would cause a lot of trouble or that it would matter a great deal, not least because the arguments going on between the unions, particularly in the white collar sector, show that any bilateral agreement between unions has to be constantly under review because of the changing attitudes of employers.

One example of this has already been quoted. There is the argument going on between ASTMS and the National Union of Bank Employees. I declare an interest, as I did on the previous occasion, in that I am consultant to the National Union of Bank Employees and am well aware of the difficulties it has had in insurance matters. There has been a TUC disputes committee dealing with the matter and my information is that there will be a ballot. That might not have been the outcome. The disputes committee might have recommended something else.

2.45 p.m.

I do not believe that there is any need to worry about Amendment No. 4. There is another reason which has emerged in the debate why the amendment should be accepted. It would be no bad thing if the amendment were accepted because it would act almost as an incentive to unions which had reached bilateral agreements to examine them in the light of this measure.

Amendment No. 5 deals with the six-month problem. The central anxiety of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow was that the words after an issue has been referred for settlement". were not clear enough. He asked whether that meant that the case would go straight to a disputes committee, or was it merely a referral to the TUC, asking for help. When I look at the hon. Member's words in Committee, I see that he has answered the point. What he said, among other things, was: The overwhelming number of cases taken under the disputes procedure do not call for the convening of a disputes committee. The TUC brings the parties together. Sometimes they are consulted separately first and then together, and sometimes the TUC acts in other ways. All kinds of methods of conciliation are applied. After all, the TUC's reputation among its affiliates does give it a whacking great start over anyone else in being able to get the parties together".—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 14–15.] No one would quarrel with that. I do not see how anyone could imagine that Amendment No. 5 is faultily drafted or suggest that it may be that the six months does not occur until the case has gone to the disputes committee. We say that it is when the matter is referred to the TUC.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow rightly reminded us—column 15 of the Official Report of the Committee proceedings—that there is a whole host of other ways in which the TUC can resolve the issue without going through the business of a disputes committee. It is a business. I do not use the word lightly or rudely. It takes time for the general secretaries or other members of the TUC to get down to work, study the documents, hear the evidence and so on. It is a costly, time-consuming process, albeit a vital one. In many cases, as the hon. Member says, there is no need to worry.

That is what Amendment No. 5 says. The issue has to be dealt with six months after the case has gone to the TUC and then it is over to the TUC. It depends what method it wishes to use. It might be a disputes committee but there are other ways.

These three amendments are helpful and cautionary, moved in the spirit of the ACAS 1977 report which suggests many means of compromise and conciliation. We would make swift progress and improve matters if we were to put the amendment straight into the Bill.

Mr. Lawson

This group of amendments is of the utmost importance. I address myself first to Amendment No. 2 Its essence, as I understand it, is that when there is a recognition dispute between two unions the relevant agreement, whether the Bridlington agreement or any other, should have some regard to the relative membership of the two unions involved—not their total national membership but the membership among the workers for whom recognition is sought.

It is astonishing that such an idea should be resisted. It is incredible that the suggestion that it is relevant to look at the local membership of the unions claiming recognition should be opposed. One union claiming recognition may have a dozen members locally while another may have 100 members. To suggest that no attention should be paid to the relative size of the two unions, which is what this means—

Mr. Mikardo

Nothing of the sort.

Mr. Lawson

The hon. Gentleman says "Nothing of the sort", but once again, as has been proved so often during the passage of the Bill, he is incorrect. Does he wish to intervene?

Mr. Mikardo

It cannot be right that the intention of resisting the amendment is to ensure that no notice is taken of an hon. Member when I have undertaken to put forward an amendment in another place that will ensure that that factor is fully taken into account.

Mr. Lawson

It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say that at this late stage.

Mr. Mikardo

I said it an hour ago.

Mr. Lawson

This is the Report stage of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman should have thought of it in the first place before he put the Bill forward. He should have thought of it when the Bill was in Committee. It is a very late time for him suddenly to say "Maybe, if you insist, I shall put in some reference". We do not know what the wording is. We do not know how strong it will be.

Mr. Scott

The fact that we have got this Bill—and we are now promised a tentative response in another place—illustrates the whole danger of embarking upon this sort of piecemeal amendment of legislation in this very sensitive area.

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend has made a most important point. I hope that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) will take it to heart and perhaps decide not to proceed with the Bill. There are very grave dangers in embarking on a very sensitive and difficult area of industrial relations legislation by this piecemeal and rather ill-prepared method.

The question of membership was relevant to the case to which I adverted when I spoke on Second Reading. I am referring to the case which arose at GEC Reactor Equipment Limited, at Whetstone in my constituency. There was a disagreement in the sense that the EMA—the Engineers' and Managers' Association, originally the Electrical Power Engineers' Association—sought recognition on behalf of the higher grades of engineers, technicians and managers. The EMA sought recognition, but TASS objected. The matter eventually came before a Bridlington tribunal under the chairmanship of Mr. Alan Fisher, who, I believe, is thought to be rather on the Left wing of the trade union movement.

I have before me the full text of the Bridlington judgment. The House need not worry; I shall not read it out in full, although it is an interesting document in its entirety. On page 5 it states clearly that in the groups for which the EMA was seeking recognition—that is, category 3 outside the TASS procedural grades and the whole of category 4—TASS had 40 members whereas the EPEA, as it was then called, had 113 members. It had nearly three times as many members, out of a total of all em- ployees in these grades of 293. No other union had any significant number.

Was that taken into account at all in the judgment? One would have thought that it must be, especially if one union had a very large proportion of members. Under the heading "Award", however, there is no mention of this at all. The relevant paragraph reads as follows: Having carefully considered the written and oral evidence of both unions the Committee are satisfied that the AUEW (TASS) and other affiliated unions, but not the EPEA, have had membership within GEC/REL Whetstone for a number of years. I pause at this point. I would emphasise that it takes into account not the number of members but rather the number of years. That is the astonishing sort of historical view—a rather archaic view—of the Bridlington procedures. It does not matter how many members a union has but rather how many years it has been organised.

Most people would have thought that if TASS had been there all those years and managed to get only 40 members, whereas the EPEA had been organised for only a short time—because it was only a short time since the EPEA ventured outside the electrical power generating industry—and had managed to get 113 members, that would have been a point in favour of the EPEA. But, in fact, the numbers do not matter. According to the Bridlington judgment, all that matters is the number of years.

Mr. Gow

What my hon. Friend has told the House is of massive consequence, because the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) told the Committee on 22nd March: Principle No. 5 of the Bridlington principles requires consideration to be given to the number of workers who are members of particular unions."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 22nd March 1978; c. 14.] Those were the words of the hon. Gentleman. Is my hon. Friend really telling the House that in that judgment there is no reference to the number of workers who are members of particular unions?

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is no reference. To demonstrate this, I propose to read out the full judgment from the point that I had reached. This is important because it bears on principle No. 5.

Mr. Gow

In order to satisfy the House, in so far as it needs satisfaction on this point, that there really has been a breach of the undertaking given by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow—of course, unwittingly—to the Standing Committee, ought not my hon. Friend to read the whole judgment and not only a part of it?

Mr. Lawson

There may be an obligation upon me to do that, but, since I see Mr. Deputy Speaker sitting on the edge of his Chair, I shall conclude that I have other obligations which point in the opposite direction.

However, I propose to continue with the paragraph I was reading when I made that interpolation. It goes on: The Committee are also satisfied that AUEW (TASS) have had members in Category 3 staff"— there is no mention of numbers— and have represented them, individually and collectively in these negotiations and have affected the terms and conditions of employment of employees in that category. The AUEW (TASS) has also attempted to strengthen and extend this organisation among categories 3 and 4 staff, but has been faced with organising difficulties, and these difficulties have been made more acute because of competition in recent years from a non-affiliated organisation which has sought to intrude in areas of the engineering industry which have been organised for many years by member unions of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. Let me interpolate again. For the benefit of hon. Members not well acquainted with the issue, that is a reference to UKAPE. It is solemnly being asserted that the great weight of AUEW and TASS—that is, the TASS division with the whole of AUEW behind it—is having the most appalling difficulties in organising because UKAPE is trying to organise on the site. One of the ironies is not the disparity between the AUEW and UKAPE, but that the presence of UKAPE did not seem to put any difficulties in the way of the EPEA, which organised successfully and recruited members on the site. That was a TUC union.

3 p.m.

We are forced to the conclusion that the members, who are members with their own minds and know what they want, preferred the EPEA to TASS beacuse they felt that it could better represent them. What is the test of that? It is numbers. However, that is not a test which is anywhere permitted within the Bridlington rules.

Mr. Scott

I have not read the judgment from which my hon. Friend is quoting. In setting out the case against the absolute numbers who had joined, did Mr. Fisher's committee advance any other evidence that might have helped the case of TASS as opposed to UKAPE?

Mr. Lawson

There is only one more paragraph in the judgment. It may be that I should read it to answer my hon. Friend's pertinent question. Appropriately enough it is paragraph 13, which states: The Disputes Committee find that it has been established that the EPEA contravened the TUC Disputes Principle 5 by commencing organising activities in the grades in dispute between the two unions at GEC/REL Whetstone. The Disputes Committee award that the EPEA should cease recruitment among categories 3 and 4 staff at GEC/REL Whetstone. The Committee consider that the interest of those individuals who are at present in membership of the EPEA at GEC/REL Whetstone would best be served by joining the AUEW (TASS) and the EPEA should advise them accordingly. The Disputes Committee also award that the EPEA should not proceed with any claim for recognition in respect of categories 3 and 4 staff at GEC/REL Whetstone. Nowhere is there any mention of numbers. The reliance is entirely on principle 5 of the Bridlington agreement, which is well known to some hon. Members.

That principle provides that no union shall commence organising activities at any establishment or undertaking in respect of any grade or grades of workers in which another union has the majority of workers employed and negotiates wages and conditions, unless by agreement with that union.

Mr. Mikardo

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know that the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) has a special interest in the issue on which he is speaking. However, the matter that he is now discussing is very much sub judice. That is because the whole dispute centres around the action involving the EMA against the TUC. As I understand it, the EMA, having lost the action against ACAS, is proceeding with it in another form. If that is so, the whole award is very much sub judice.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

The point of order which has been raised by the hon. Gentleman does not arise, because we are dealing with legislation and the sub judice rule does not apply.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely the business that we had in the House yesterday, which caused a fair amount of attention, was rather on all fours with this sort of event.

Mr. Lawson

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your ruling. I shall adhere to the principle of that ruling.

Clearly, principle 5 of the Bridlington agreement did not apply in its strict form. Indeed, it could not possibly apply to the position at Whetstone. TASS did not have the majority of workers employed in those grades. Further, it did not negotiate wages and conditions on behalf of those in those grades. Neither of the conditions that have to be satisfied—both should be satisfied—in principle 5 was valid.

There are two notes on principle 5 that form part of the principle. It is right that I should read both notes. One of them was what the Fisher award sought to justify itself by. The first note states: The General Council do not wish the impression to be given that the securing and maintaining of membership, no matter how small, should preclude another organisation from attempting to organise what might be a majority of the work people at the undertaking, as this would be placing a premium on non-unionism. That should have given the committee the green light to encourage the EPEA or the EMA at Whetstone. The note that I have quoted makes it clear that the fact that TASS had a few members in those grades should not have precluded some other union coming along which might get a majority of the workers, because, if it did, the result would be non-unionism. That is precisely the situation at Whetstone, yet the note was totally ignored.

Instead, what was taken note of was a curious and distorted interpretation of note (b), which reads: The TUC General Council and affiliated organisations know, however, of circumstances in which a union may not at a particular time have a majority of organised workpeople in an undertaking, although they may have had a majority at some time previously"— that did not apply: TASS never had a majority— or of cases where in face of exceptional difficulties a union may have been trying for some time to secure organisation. Under such circumstances, there should be consultation and agreement before another union commences organising activities. As I pointed out earlier, no exceptional difficulties of any kind existed at GEC Reactor Equipment Ltd., Whetstone, in my constituency. Indeed, the fact of the rapid growth of unionisation through the EPEA—EMA showed that there were no such difficulties.

The only difficulty was that the relative attractiveness of the EPEA-EMA made it difficult for the unattractive TASS to gain members. That is clearly not what was intended by the Bridlington agreement. The judgment which was made was therefore a total perversion of what was intended by Bridlington. The rules were bent. That is another reason why we should be wary of saying that Bridlington should be superior to the law. As we have seen in this case—there are many others, but this is the one that I know best because it affects my constituents—the rules were clearly bent and, because there is no appeal, nothing can be done about it.

The question of no appeal is relevant here. I am glad that the Minister of State—I think that he is the Minister of State—is here. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Secretary of State."] I can see the Secretary of State talking to the Minister of State, but it is the Minister of State who is of interest because at one stage, when he was under attack over this matter, he said that there was a right of appeal against Bridlington judgments. That is astonishing. I am still waiting for his withdrawal of and apology to the House for that statement because there is no right of appeal at all. That, among other errors that he has made, is set out in an interesting article, to which I draw the attention of the House, in the March issue of the Electrical Power Engineer, the journal of the Electrical Power Engineers' Association.

Mr. Scott

My hon. Friend is addressing his remarks directly to the Minister of State, but the hon. Gentleman has been engaged in intense conversation with his master, the Secretary of State, for the last five minutes. It might be a courtesy—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The activities of the Secretary of State are not always under the control of the Chair.

Mr. Lawson

I understand your difficulties, Mr. Deputy Speaker, which are considerable. However, it puts the whole House at a disadvantage. It means that one has to say things more than once in the hope that at least on one occasion the Minister concerned may be listening. If he were listening all the time, one would need to make a point only once. However, even then he may not understand it.

I was drawing attention—the Minister's discourtesy is customary—to the journal of the Electrical Power Engineers' Association, in which there is an article on page 36 headed Minister's Mistakes in Mikardo Bill Debate. Outlined here—there is no room for any doubt—is mistake after mistake which the Minister made when speaking to the House on Second Reading. It is a serious matter, when we are trying to form a judgment on a Bill, that the Minister should come so ill briefed that he gives us wrong advice and makes incorrect statements one after the other.

Mr. Gow

Have I understood my hon. Friend correctly? Is he saying that Ministers—or any Minister—at the Department of Employment have made an error—indeed, more than one error? If I heard my hon. Friend correctly, will be enumerate such errors to the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. If the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) is going to enumerate any errors, will he see that those errors are related to these particular amendments?

Mr. Lawson

Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall be very brief. I shall not enumerate them. I shall simply read out the first paragraph and the paragraph dealing with the point I was on at the time.

The first paragraph of the article reads: In the course of a speech by Mr. Harold Walker (Minister of State, Department of Employment) in the debate on the Employment Protection (Amendment) Bill on January 27, four particular statements were made. These were either misleading or mistaken, although apparently made in good faith. I am prepared to accept that they were apparently made in good faith, but the Minister was wholly mistaken when he said that it was fallacious to believe that there was no appeal against a decision of the TUC disputes committee. There is no appeal within the TUC Bridlington agreement procedure as revised by the 1976 conference.

The EMA was told that no appeal was possible when it took to the TUC general council in September last its criticism of a particular disputes committee award. So not only are numbers not considered by the Bridlington procedure, which is what the amendment is about, but there is no way, when numbers are not considered, in which the union which has the greatest numbers, and, therefore, has the greater standing, can appeal.

Mr. Harold Walker

The hon. Gentleman has laid charges against me. I hope that, notwithstanding the passage which he has quoted, he will recognise that in that article Mr. John Lyons was merely expressing an opinion and not making a statement of fact about the views I expressed on Second Reading. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept that I acted in good faith, but, before he reads out charges by Mr. Lyons that I have misled the House or have been mistaken, will he take the trouble himself to ascertain the extent to which I was mistaken?

Mr. Lawson

We can do that quite readily now. The Minister can, if he wishes, intervene now.

Mr. Walker

The point is that we have had the Second Reading, and if charges were to be made that would have been the appropriate occasion to make them, not when we are discussing a specific amendment.

Mr. Lawson

On the contrary, the Minister has issued a challenge to me—indeed, worse than a challenge. He has alleged that I have not taken the trouble to find out the facts of the matter. But, of course, I have. If he thinks that I am wrong, let him intervene now and tell us what the Bridlington appeals procedure is. Does he wish to do that?

Mr. Walker

I have made it quite clear that Mr. Lyons has said that I misled the House on four counts. The hon. Gentleman has referred to one and has ignored the other three. I shall be happy to take the matter up with the hon. Gentleman, but not now when the House is debating a specific amendment. It would surely be quite improper, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I did so, and you would rule me out of order.

Mr. Lawson

I would be more than happy to read out the other three misleading, inaccurate or incorrect statements, but I suspect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you might feel that I was ranging a little too wide. I can, however, assure the House that they are of equal force and of equal seriousness to the error that the Minister has just had the honesty to admit that he made when he was speaking on Second Reading.

Mr. Scott

The Minister is clearly unable to put the record straight. But I know that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), who is an expert on all these matters, has the Bridlington appeals procedure at his fingertips, and it might be for the benefit of the House if he outlined it now simply to get the record straight.

Mr. Mikardo

The hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) and his hon. Friend seem to think that the rest of us are as big a lot of mugs as they are. The hon. Member for Blaby is getting away with repeating today the speech he made on Second Reading. I shall not give him any further encouragement.

Mr. Lawson

That is a very serious reflection on you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I assure you, as no doubt you know, that it is wholly unwarranted. Although I have been referring to the same case, which is in my constituency, I do not know whether the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is saying that I should not concern myself with matters that occur in my constituency and which are of very great concern to all those who work in the place referred to. Although I have referred to this case as a constituency Member, and I have the duty to do so as a constituency Member, I was not repeating any of the paragraphs, sentences or points I made on Second Reading.

I hope that hon. Members will have time to read my Second Reading speech, which is recorded in Hansard of 27th January from column 1859 to column 1877. It was a relatively brief speech but it contains a lot of material. I shall not burden the House with it now, but it is relevant to our debate.

3.15 p.m.

Numbers are no part of the Bridlington procedure. Obviously, the Government think that they are important. They believe that the number of members who belong to a particular union in a recognition dispute does matter. Why else should they have written this into the recognition clauses of the Employment Protection Act? They thought that this was the way in which recognition should be decided.

I read from part of Section 14 of the Employment Protection Act, which says of ACAS:

  1. (1) In the course of its inquiries into a recognition issue under section 12 or 13 above the Service shall ascertain the opinions of workers to whom the issue relates by any means it thinks fit, but if in any case it determines to take a formal ballot of those workers or any description of such workers, the following provisions of this section shall apply.
  2. (2) In making arrangements for any such ballot the Service shall have regard to the need for securing that every worker invited to take part in the ballot has an equal right and a fair opportunity of voting, and that the vote cast by any individual in the ballot will be kept secret.
In other words, the weight of opinion is to be ascertained under the Employment Protection Act by a ballot.

I realise that ACAS is not obliged to hold a ballot, but it is clearly envisaged that a ballot will be held. One of the things that a ballot will find out is the numbers of workers who feel one way and the numbers who feel another way.

The Government were clearly saying, when they put this provision into the Employment Protection Act, that numbers really mattered. Yet there is nothing in the Bridlington principle, and particularly principle 5, which has anything to do with numbers. Indeed, when we see it implemented in the case of GEC/REL at Whetstone, where the numbers tell against the argument, this is totally ignored, and all that is taken account of is the number of years that a union has been active.

The Government really must make up their minds. They must decide whether the relative size of membership, whether the numbers of workers who want one thing rather than another, is relevant. If it is not a relevant consideration, if it is not, indeed, of vital importance, why was it made so in the Employment Protection Act? If it is important—and I believe it is and that the Government were right—why should they resist this amendment, and how could they contemplate, even on Second Reading, as they did, supporting a Bill with nothing of this in it and not even the kind of half-hearted undertaking that the hon. Member has given?

Mr. Harold Walker

The hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) is berating the Government for resisting the amendment. But, so far, the Government have not expressed any view at all on the amendment.

Mr. Lawson

If the Minister intends to accept the amendment, perhaps in one of his numerous bobbings up and down at the Dispatch Box he will inform us. We all know that this Bill is in a kind of no-man's-land between a Private Member's Bill and a Government Bill. It is a sort of hybrid Bill of a new kind and all the more undesirable because of that.

This is a very serious matter. It certainly involves great issues of principle as to whether the democratic method should have a part to play in the resolution of recognition disputes. What we are talking about is whether members can vote for the union that they want to have representing them or whether, however many union members want a particular union, there should be another organisation set up which tells them they cannot have it but must have something else. Therefore, it is the vital issues of trade union democracy that are involved, and this forms a vital part of our overall democracy in our society.

This is also of very great industrial importance. I have already mentioned the nuclear power industry, which is affected in my constituency. This is also vital in shipbuilding. There is a dispute at the moment between the nationalised British Shipbuilders and the Shipbuilding and Allied Industries Managers Association, which is now an offshoot of the EMA and, having achieved 70 per cent. representation, is seeking recognition on behalf of the shipbuilding managers. I wrote about this issue in the Evening Standard last month.

Mr. Hayhoe

A very good piece.

Mr. Lawson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That dispute, which could blow up into something nasty, is germane to this issue. The Bill will make it that much worse.

There is another industry where this is likely to become a problem. Only yesterday, I was visited by a number of workers from British Aerospace, including Mr. Smith, the chief of advanced technology in the British Aerospace Aircraft Group at Warton, near Preston, and various others who are members of staff associations registered as independent unions. They, too, are being persecuted by TASS. The Bill will increase that power of persecution.

These people will not lie down quietly. They will fight, and if there is a real fight at British Aerospace it will damage the aerospace industry and its export opportunities. If these highly qualified and skilled professional men are dragooned, they will not remain here. They can get good jobs abroad. It is only their devotion to this country that keeps them here now.

The Secretary of State for Employment should have consulted the Secretary of State for Industry about the industrial implications of this body blow to good industrial relations at this key level before giving the Bill a fair wind. I do not resent so much the views of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. Everyone knows who he is and that he does not have to be responsible. But the Secretary of State has a duty to be responsible. It is the height of irresponsibility for him, dragging his Department behind him, to support the Bill on Second Reading and today. Perhaps the Secretary of State has improvements to suggest, but he should consider them and not just tag along behind his hon. Friend.

Fortunately, not all hon. Members are on the side of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. From the same issue of the journal of the Electrical Power Engineers Association there is a report of letters of support from MPs. I come somewhere down the line. The leading letter is from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). It will be widely accepted that any cause supported by the hon. Member for Bolsover and myself cannot be wrong. I hope that in those circumstances the amendment will be accepted.

Mr. Scott

I do not have the close detailed constituency experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), but I should like to make some more general points which I hope will commend themselves to the House.

I should first apologise to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) for getting his constituency wrong last week in the heat of the moment. We had this problem earlier today. When the Boundary Commissioners keep changing the names of our constituencies, mistakes are sometimes made. I am sorry to have made that mistake.

I was surprised that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow raised the hoary old question of confrontation. During our debates on Second Reading, in Committee and on Report only one contribution contained anything like a personal attack on a trade union member. That attack was made on Mr. John Lyons by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow during Second Reading. No one on this side of the House has sought to make a personal attack on a leader or member of the trade union movement or to attack good trade union practice. Only the sponsor of the Bill launched a personal attack on a leading member of the trade union movement.

I am sure that we should accept Amendment No. 2. It is almost incredible that any hon. Member should argue against it. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has said that he agrees with it in principle and that he will do his best to ensure that the amendment is carried in another place. I know that the hon. Member's influence is considerable in this part of our legislative assembly, but I never thought that his influence in another place was as great as he sought to show today.

I hoped that the Minister would intervene to say that he would use his influence to ensure that the hon. Member's wishes were translated into reasonable legislative form, carried in the House of Lords and supported when Lords Amendments came back here. However, we have had not a whisper about the Minister's attitude or his response to the proposals. I urge the lion. Member to take the road suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) and to accept Amendment No. 2.

If we find that the wording is not perfect and that it does not exactly meet the needs of the sponsors of the Bill, a suitable amendment could then be moved in another place. If necessary we could deal with the matter when it came back here. It is wrong for the hon. Gentleman to say that he will not accept the amendment simply because it is not exactly right.

Numbers are at the heart of this part of the Bill. We do not have another measure. Surely we want trade union representation to be responsive to the wishes and attitudes of people in the work place. My hon. Friend the Member for Blaby explained how the findings of the disputes committee in his constituency case did not seem to be in line with the express wishes and attitudes of the union members of that work place. By writing this into the Bill specifically and definitely, we should make clear beyond peradventure that numbers are of the essence.

This brings me to the more general issue raised in the three amendments—the importance of Bridlington and the relationship between the Bridlington agreements and the law of the land. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow read out a remark that I made in Committee in which I stressed the importance of Bridlington and the contribution that it had made to industrial peace. I stand by that. But it is not good enough to say, as did the hon. Member, that Bridlington represents the rules of a club and that the members of it shall amend those rules when they see fit.

Trade union law, like other law, impinges on the rights of individuals and organisations. It is right that we should look at the broad public interest. If there are conflicts, surely it is right that we should be able to suggest amendments.

3.30 p.m.

If I may allude briefly to another subject to illustrate my point, I remember very well that when the original Industrial Relations Bill was going through the House of Commons the then Prime Minister made the point that if laws were passed that were not acceptable to a club—in other words, to the TUC—there was no obligation on those members to accept the impact of those laws.

The area of race relations is another example where Parliament decided to intervene in the belief that the impact of law influences people's behaviour and helps to bring about a better society. I believe that that general lesson extends to the amendments that we are discussing. Simply to say that the Bridlington procedure is there and provides a basis of laws for the club, and that it is not right for this House to look at them more generally, and to insist on certain standards about numbers, time limits and retrospection is not a sustainable argument.

It is probably an open secret that the main reason for the introduction of the Bill was to deal with Mr. John Lyons' so-called defiance of the TUC disputes procedure, and was designed to limit his right and that of others in future to challenge the procedure. Time was of the essence. It was the use of delay in terms of the Bridlington procedure, which led to the crisis and to the action taken by Mr. John Lyons. I believe that it is right for us to say that there ought to be some sort of limit placed upon the procedures which are, as it were, extra legal in this matter.

I have been astonished that, in the debate on these three very important amendments, with the exception of the sponsor of the Bill, there has not been a single contribution from the Labour Benches to argue against the amendments. Hon. Members may recall the words used by the bard in Henry V: He which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart". It seems to me that Labour Members have so little enthusiasm for the Bill, and for the measures proposed in it, and so little opposition to the principle put forward in Amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 5, that they have simply quit the House of Commons and gone elsewhere.

Mr. Mikardo

That is a bit queer, because 120 Labour Members have been present compared with about 20 Conser- vative Members. As for the hon. Gentleman's quotation from Shakespeare about leaving the field of battle, the Conservative Member who made the longest contribution to our debate left the House immediately afterwards and has not been seen since.

Mr. Scott

Since we are using stage analogies, one might say that the Government have a stage army of 128 people who suddenly emerge from the wings, troop through the Lobbies, but take no part in the debates. They do not even bother to listen to the arguments, of some quality, which have been adduced in the House so that they can make up their own minds on the matter.

There is one other reference that I might make to Shakespeare. I direct the Minister of State's attention to the "insolence of office", for he has not bothered to take any part in the debate on these amendments. He did get up—I trust that it was only in order to take a message from elsewhere—in the middle of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby, waving his hands in disgust. I am sure that he meant no discourtesy—I trust that we can acquit him of any such intention—but it would have been helpful had he been able to let us know the Government's view of these amendments.

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend mentioned me. There might be some hon. Members who think that I may be the Member who, according to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, made the longest speech, promptly left the Chamber and has not been seen since. Some people might think that this was a reference to me. I am sure that he will hasten to assure the House that this was not so, and that I am still here.

Mr. Scott

I am glad that we have that straight.

I urge the House on all three matters—the question of numbers, which is indisputable; the time limit; and the question of retrospection—to ensure that the amendments are carried. They may not be word perfect, but there are two more stages of the Bill to be gone through, and I hope that we shall vote all these changes into the Bill now.

Mr. Harold Walker

When Private Members' business is before the House and I have some ministerial responsibility for the matters in question, I always find myself in some difficulty. I recall from my own Back Bench experience—and I am sure that Back Benchers do not view matters very differently now—the considerable resentment about the intrusion of the Government into Private Members' time and the amount of time taken up by ministerial speeches that might otherwise be available to Back Benchers. Therefore, when I am prodded and reproached by Conservative Members for not having intervened earlier, for not having made a speech, I find myself in difficulty.

Mr. Gorst

I do not think that the House can be expected to accept that explanation. After all, the Minister has made it perfectly clear that this is a Government Bill by proxy. If it is operating by proxy, at least we might know what the horse thinks about it.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman has no right to make such offensive allegations, offensive particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), because no such statement has ever been made by the Government. We have said that we support my hon. Friend's Bill. To make such an offensive and untrue allegation is unworthy of the hon. Gentleman.

One other difficulty is that if the Minister rises early to speak he is accused of pre-empting the House or seeking to deprive hon. Members of the opportunity to express their own views. I have been surprised by the way in which the Government's attitude has been assumed, and there have been attacks on the Government on the basis of the assumptions made.

I do not think that the House wants me to comment on the various points made in the debate, although I know that some Conservative Members would like me to do so, because we are in no doubt about the kind of exercise that is being conducted. Conservative Members know perfectly well why my hon. Friends have not intervened. It is to give the maximum opportunity for a Bill that was drawn second in the Private Members' Ballot a reasonable chance of reaching the statute book. The exercise in which Conservative Members have been engaged is to talk, and, if you will forgive my saying so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, often to talk irrelevantly, in general, Second Reading terms in order to consume the time of the House and thus avoid a conclusion being reached on these matters.

Mr. Gow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member on Report to talk irrelevantly, and if an hon. Member were to do that would not you rebuke him and stop him from so doing? Are not the Minister's words a grave reflection upon the Chair—and also irrelevant?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If there had been irrelevance and I had detected it, I would have drawn it to the attention of the hon. Member concerned.

Mr. Walker

The House will be able to make its own judgment when hon. Members read the Official Report of the debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] The hon. Gentleman who is shouting louder than anyone else has not been here for almost the whole of our proceedings, and is therefore not qualified to speak on this matter.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

On a point of order Mr. Deputy Speaker. I may not have been here for the whole debate, but I heard your comment on the question of relevance or irrelevance. You having made the point perfectly clearly, I submit that it was in order for me to say "Withdraw" to the Minister in relation to something that was quite unfounded.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Not from a sedentary position.

Mr. Walker

Let me now turn to the amendments—first to Amendment No. 4. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow demolished the arguments advanced on that amendment. It is not without significance that that amendment has been accorded the least interest in these discussions.

I fear that in Standing Committee I dealt with Amendment No. 5 at too great a length. I made clear the Government's opposition to the imposition of time limits when dealing with recognition issues. Therefore, it is neither appropriate nor necessary for me to go over that ground again today. Certainly the arguments were well deployed in Committee, and my mind also goes to the proceedings on the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher). The arguments on the present Bill are equally valid—indeed, even more so.

The amendment, if accepted, would enable those who wanted to do so to put off a decision on a recognition issue, either through the Bridlington procedures for dealing with conflicts between unions or in the eventual ACAS procedures that may follow. It would give them a vested interest to raise obstacles and put impediments in the way of a decision being reached until six months had elapsed, and even a subsequent six-month period.

I turn to Amendment No. 2—

Mr. Madel

Before the Minister turns to a different amendment, may I ask him to clarify the position on Amendment No. 5? The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) said that it was not clear from the way in which the amendment was drafted whether the words after an issue has been referred for settlement meant that an issue would go to the TUC or to a disputes committee. We thought that it was obvious that the wording meant the TUC. May we have the Government's view?

Mr. Walker

I regard that as a minor point. The wording of the amendment leaves the matter wide open on the question when the issue is referred. At the moment it is reported, is it referred to the TUC or to the disputes committee? Those matters are wide open, but at the same time they are minor. If that were all that was at issue, it could be quickly clarified. It would not be an obstacle if the principle of the amendment were accepted. However, I do not think that principle is acceptable, and in Committee I explained the situation at considerable length.

I turn briefly to Amendment No. 2. Here the Opposition have been tilting at a windmill. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow said he was prepared to accept that attention should be paid to numbers. However, he demurs, as I do, at the use of the word "particular", which would suggest that attention should be paid to numbers in such a way as would exclude other relevant factors, or give undue weight to numbers when other factors should be taken into consideration.

The point was well illustrated when the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) contrasted the TUC disputes committee procedures with those adopted by ACAS. We are not comparing like with like. The TUC Bridlington procedures are aimed at dealing with disputes between unions and not with recognition as such.

The hon. Gentleman also drew attention to what was said in the annual report by ACAS: The Act gives ACAS no guidance as to the criteria it should adopt in deciding whether or not to recommend recognition. He went on to quote various passages to the effect that ACAS believed that a number of factors must be taken into account. He pointed out that ACAS had suggested that the extent to which they would be taken into account would vary according to individual circumstances in each particular case and in different combinations. I think that is right, and that is why we have repeatedly insisted that it would be wrong to try to spell out specific criteria in the Employment Protection Act 1975, or in the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington, or in this Bill. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South made my case for me.

I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has been helpful to the House and has gone a long way towards meeting the arguments made. I believe that the form of words is defective in a number of ways. However, we do not want to argue that point because we have said that, so long as we can accept the principle, we can examine the wording. I believe that in this case it would be right to include reference to the need for attention to be paid to numbers, but I object to the way in which it is said that particular attention should be paid to certain aspects since that may not allow proper weight to be given to other factors.

Mr. Madel

If the Minister looks at page 46 of the ACAS report, he will see the phrase including their membership of the union". In effect, that is what Amendment No. 2 says. I was merely drawing attention to the fact that the annual report backs up the amendment.

Mr. Walker

I was not accusing the hon. Gentleman of anything. He is always a responsible and sensible Member, and I know that he would not want to misrepresent his case or to mislead the House.

3.45 p.m.

I must draw to the hon. Gentleman's attention the fact that he has chosen only one of several sets of factors which ACAS may say may be relevant. I do not want to weary the House by reading out the lot, but I think that he has made the point for me that, while that is a group of factors that ACAS thinks should be taken into account, it is only one of several groups. That is why I said that we should accept that attention should be paid to the numbers of employees to whom the issue relates. I hope that the House will accept that my hon. Friend has tried to be helpful in compromising and that the House will accept what he has said.

Mr. Thorne,

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am not prepared to accept the motion at this moment.

Mr. Hayhoe

As those who have been present through the whole of the debate realise, I was not present for part of it. I should like to comment on some of the preliminary remarks made by the Minister of State. I think that he was wrong in indicating that there has ever been any suggestion that we were not interested in listening to the Government's detailed point of view on the various amendments moved in Committee and on Report.

In Committee we moved at a fairly high speed on some of these matters, as he will know. There were occasions in Committee when there was equality of voting. The Government did not make a statement of their position in Committee. It was, therefore, right that the Minister of State should, albeit briefly, indicate the Government's position.

Of course, there are occasions when hon. Members on both sides of the House resent Ministers making very long speeches during private Members' time. That is when Ministers are engaged in the exercise of using proper, well-established parliamentary tactics to use up the time available to prevent a measure for which they have no great sympathy from reaching the statute book.

The criticisms that have been made of my right hon. Friend and others about what has happened today are somewhat ill-placed, particularly as they come from Left-wing members of the Labour Party, who so often in the past have used precisely the same tactics to delay or halt measures which they did not like. It is astonishing that on this issue, when they are getting a taste of their own medicine, they do not like it.

The Minister of State said that because the Bill was second in the Ballot it therefore had some great claim to priority. Denial of the normal practices concerning Private Members' Bills has been perpetrated by the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher) and the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). Coming top of the ballot for Private Members' Bills, they have introduced by the back door legislation which the Government had neither the guts nor the support in the House to bring in by the front door. It has been a gross abuse of of the normal practices of the House, though obviously it has been in order. If it had not been, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or others, would have called the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow to order.

It ought to be clear to everyone concerned that it was an abuse of parliamentary procedure to bring in these highly controversial Bills without making any attempt to gain all-party support for them. There was no attempt in Committee to deal with the constructive amendments that were moved. There was no attempt made to meet the views expressed and to reach accord. Although member of the Liberal Party are not present, I know that they oppose these Bills. I am sure that the majority of hon. Members reject these Bills. I suspect that a large number of Government supporters who trooped through the Lobby, under heavy pressure to vote for the Second Readings, are as glad as we are—and as glad as the absent Liberal Party—that this Bill will not make much progress today towards the statute book.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

The Liberals are plain idle.

Mr. Hayhoe

It is surprising that the hon. Member for Bolsover has not got to his feet in support of this Bill. In his absence, reference was made to the letter which he wrote in support of the absolute opposite of what his hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is seeking to achieve. It must have been a rather Pavlovian reaction from the hon. Member for Bolsover who, having had a letter with the words "trade union" in it, wrote back instantly "Thank you for your letter of 23rd January. You have my support." Perhaps it will teach him to read his correspondence more carefully in future.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

My hon. Friend referred to a Pavlovian slip on the part of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). I think that he mean a Pavlovan slip. There is a difference between "Pavlovian" and "Pavlovan".

Mr. Hayhoe

I bow to my hon. Friend's knowledge, both of dogs and of the ballet. I am sure that he has got it right.

To return to these three amendments, the Minister has not given us an adequate response to the points made on them, particularly on Amendment No. 2. This amendment makes it clear that numbers are, if not of the essence, very close to it. What has become clear is that proper account is not taken of numbers in the Bridlington procedures. We are aware of what is happening in the Engineers and

Managers Association whose members operate in the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. Workers in those industries have been unwilling to join TASS or ASTMS.

It is interesting to note the composition of the Committees which examined these two Private Members' Bills dealing with this subject. The Committee of Selection works by some mysterious process. Is it not remarkable that on these Committees, when there were only eight Government supporters, four of them should be members of one union, ASTMS? We know that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is a member of ASTMS. It is remarkable that in choosing the membership for these Committees, out of a membership of the House available for Committee service of about 400, if we exclude Ministers and others, these members of the same union should be chosen.

Something very curious is going on. I hope that the authorities of the House, the mysterious channels which work out how these matters are settled, will look again at this loading of these Committees. It cannot be right that in dealing with a matter of general concern the Committees should be so loaded. We are talking of the importance of numbers. There is no doubt that whereas—

Mr. Thorne

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 35, Noes 108.

Division No. 189] AYES [3.58 p.m.
Alison, Michael Hayhoe, Barney Prior, Rt Hon James
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Speithorne) Hodgson, Robin Raison, Timothy
Atkinson, David (Bournemouth, East) Lamont, Norman Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Lawrence, Ivan Scott, Nicholas
Buck, Antony Lawson, Nigel Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Burden, F. A. Lester, Jim (Beeston) Stanbrook, Ivor
Clark, William (Croydon S) Madel, David Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Crouch, David Mather, Carol Tebbit, Norman
Drayson, Burnaby Mayhew, Patrick Weatherill, Bernard
Dykes, Hugh Meyer, Sir Anthony
Emery, Peter Page, John (Harrow West) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Nicholas Ridley and
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Pardoe, John Mr. Peter Bottomley.
Ashton, Joe Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Canavan, Dennis
Atkinson, Norman Bidwell, Sydney Castle, Rt Hon Barbara
Bates, Alf Booth, Rt Hon Albert Clemitson, Ivor
Bean, R. E. Buchan, Norman Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)
Cohen, Stanley Horam, John Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Rooker, J. W.
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Huckfield, Les Sedgemore, Brian
Cowans, Harry Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Sever, John
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Johnson, James (Hull West) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Cryer, Bob Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Judd, Frank Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Davidson, Arthur Kerr, Russell Silverman, Julius
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Lamond, James Skinner, Dennis
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lee, John Spearing, Nigel
Deakins, Eric Litterick, Tom Stallard, A. W.
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Loyden, Eddie Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Dormand, J. D. McCartney, Hugh Stoddart, David
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Madden, Max Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Edge, Geoff Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mendelson, John Tuck, Raohael
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Urwin, T. W.
Faulds, Andrew Mitchell, Austin Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Molloy, William Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Ward, Michael
Flannery, Martin Moyle, Roland Weitzman, David
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Wellbeloved, James
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Newens, Stanley Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) O'Halloran, Michael Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
George, Bruce Orbach, Maurice Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Ginsburg, David Park, George Wise, Mrs Audrey
Golding, John Parker, John Woodall, Alec
Graham, Ted Pavitt, Laurie Wrigglesworth, Ian
Grant, George (Morpeth) Perry, Ernest
Grant, John (Islington C) Prescott, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Grocott, Bruce Price, C. (Lewisham W) Mr. Stan Thorne and
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Price, William (Rugby) Miss Jo Richaedson.
Heffer, Eric S. Robinson, Geoffrey

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Four o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Bill (not amended in the Standing Committee) to be further considered upon Friday next.

Back to