HC Deb 06 June 1978 vol 951 cc95-126

Order for Second Reading read.

6.43 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill will allow the Government to plug a small gap in the present coverage of employment law. At present, we have the power under Section 127 of the Employment Protection Act to extend by Order in Council certain enactments concerned with employment law to the territorial waters of the United Kingdom and to areas designated under the Continental Shelf Act 1964. We have a similar power under the Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Acts. But that power does not extend beyond the median lines that have been drawn in the North Sea between the United Kingdom sector of the Continental Shelf and the sectors of other countries.

The oil and gas fields in the North Sea were there, of course, before anyone had heard of median lines; and they do not follow them. So there are some oil and gas fields that straddle the median lines, and it is to those fields that the powers concerned in this Bill are directed. The fields that we know about so far that are affected are Frigg, Statfjord and Murchison, all of which straddle the median line between this country and Norway.

As hon. Members doubtless know, the Frigg gas field and the St. Fergus terminal in Scotland, which it serves, were recently opened by the King of Norway and Her Majesty the Queen. It will meet about one-quarter of this country's gas requirements by 1980, and it may be convenient if I deal with this Bill in relation to that field by way of illustration.

It is essential that the Frigg field should be developed as a single unit. The main complex of platforms in the field itself straddles the median line and there are catwalks between three of them. It was thus essential to reach agreement with the Norwegian Government about how the field should be developed, and this was done in the Frigg Gas Field Agreement, concluded in 1976. Under that agreement, contracts of employment between the field unit or pipeline operator and his employees will be governed by the law of the State of which the employer is a licensee, without prejudice to the freedom which exists in any case under international law of that employer and any of his employees to agree to the choice of another law. Other legislation for the protection of employees is, under the agreement, to be applied consistently with the operation of the field as a single unit.

The Norwegians already have power under their domestic law to apply Norwegian employment law anywhere in the Frigg field, even on our side of the median line. We have no corresponding power to apply our employment law on the Norwegian side of the line. We would, of course, extend it to our side of the line, but that would make no sense in the Frigg field where employees of United Kingdom companies may work on either side of the boundary between our sector and the Norwegian sector.

While the Norwegians have the power to apply their law on our side of the field, they have told us that they do not intend that it should apply to United Kingdom employers. We are seeking agreement with them about how employment legislation should work as a whole in the field. This bill is needed so that we can put into operation by Order in Council the arrangements we finally agree with the Norwegians.

What we hope to agree with the Norwegians is that United Kingdom employment law should apply to United Kingdom-based firms working in the field and Norwegian employment law should apply to Norwegian-based firms. We think that that would be the most sensible result, since it will mean that firms are operating the law with which they are most familiar. We consulted organisations representing United Kingdom employers and unions working in the field some time ago and they agreed that this would be the most sensible outcome. If the Bill becomes law, and subject to our reaching a satisfactory agreement with the Norwegians, we shall then advise Her Majesty to make the necessary Order in Council. We shall, of course, consult the employers' and unions' organisations again at this stage.

This is not a Bill that will affect many people. As I understand it, there is only one United Kingdom firm working in the Frigg field at present and only a very few United Kingdom employees—not more than 40 or 50—are ever likely to be involved in Frigg. But the same principles will apply in future in Murchison and Statfjord and any future cross-boundary field. The administrative and financial costs will be negligible.

I should add that our agreement with the Norwegians also covers health and safety standards, and the question of what those standards should be in the Frigg field is currently under active consideration. However, that question is not relevant to the purposes of the Bill, since the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 already contains powers which would enable us to extend the application of that Act to the Frigg field if necessary.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Brentford and Isleworth)

The Opposition are not opposed to the provisions of the Bill and we think it reasonable that proper legislative action should be taken to cover those who are working across the boundaries in oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

We are grateful to the Minister for his explanation of the particular circumstances of the Frigg field and the discussions that have taken place with the Norwegians, the organisations concerned with the industries and the workers involved. It seems fairly clear from what the Minister has said and from what we know from advice we have taken elsewhere that there is a broad measure of agreement among all concerned that this enabling legislation should go forward.

I am sure that it is right to seek agreement, where the boundaries where different nationalities working on the same project come together, to find a way of dealing with questions concerning employment law which will be seen as fair and reasonable by people working in the area concerned. If they saw unfairness in those provisions, it could lead to difficulties which would be exacerbated when one recognises the high skills and bounding courage of the people involved in working far out in the North Sea on these projects. One should pay tribute to those high skills.

One should also pay tribute, in passing, to private enterprise and the much maligned multinationals which have made such a great contribution to the exploration and exploitation of the North Sea. Without their contribution, heaven knows what our balance of payments deficit would be at present. It would be quite colossal. One must recognise the very great contribution that private enterprise and the multinationals have made in these areas and, indeed, the contribution, now growing, of the British National Oil Corporation, which is becoming greatly involved.

As I have said, the Bill is an enabling Bill. It extends the Employment Protection Act. One can understand that. It also extends the Sex Discrimination Act, or makes provisions for that. I do not know whether the presence of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) means that we shall hear a little more on that score. I am sure that the House looks forward to his contribution. When I saw the provision that allows Orders in Council to extend not only the employment protection legislation, which is set out in some detail in Section 127 of the Employment Protection Act, but also the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act, I had a question mark in my mind about why it was necessary for the Sex Discrimination Act to be included. The Minister did not comment upon this matter. Perhaps we shall hear more about it as the debate continues.

It is important that it should be clearly on the record that the fact that we now give this measure a fair wind should not be taken in any sense as a change in our attitude to the Employment Protection Act. We are still critical of some of the provisions of that Act. We still believe that they are damaging to employment prospects.

In passing, I thought that it was quite extraordinary this afternoon to hear the insensitivity of Ministers from the Department of Employment who still seek—the Secretary of State did this—to maintain that that legislation has had no effect on employment. I think that anyone who goes around and talks to people running small businesses or medium-sized businesses hears anecdote after anecdote which indicate that the measures are having a damaging effect. Therefore, the fact that we give a fair wind to this Bill does not indicate any change of attitude to what one might call the parent legislation.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

Perhaps I may say that it is not "anecdote after anecdote" but solid figures that show that over 1 million people would be employed but for the legislation.

The Minister of State, Department of Energy (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)

That is a load of nonsense.

Mr. Hayhoe

I think that my hon. and learned Friend was citing a particular report by a particular body. I have seen no detailed research that would allow one to put numbers on this matter. I have not yet seen the research upon which that figure was based. All that I have seen, as has my hon. and learned Friend, are the Press reports. One is anxious to study this matter further. However, I do not believe that any one going around talking to people involved in businesses will not hear anecdote after anecdote and example after example of damage caused by that legislation. That alone is something which it is curious for Ministers of the Department of Employment to discount as they did today.

I have one query about the details of the Bill, other than the inclusion of the Sex Discrimination Act. That is to question whether perhaps the Bill has been drawn wider than is necessary. It is always difficult to judge these matters, particularly when the esoteric art of the parliamentary draftsman is not easily understood by most of us.

However, the Government have a track record for using legislation which has been passed for one specific purpose in a wholly different context for other purposes. One has only to mention the black list that followed phase 3 of the present Government's wages policy and the way in which that legislation was misused, or, indeed, to look at redundancy payments and what has been done in their name, to have at least the query that in this Bill there might be a widening of the provisions which could at some future time be used in a fashion different from that for which the House will now, I hope give support when the Bill gets a Second Reading later this evening. This may well be a point at which we should look in Committee. I hope that it is the Government's intention to keep the provisions as narrow as they reasonably can.

I do not seek to delay or to prevent the Second Reading of the Bill. I am grateful to the Minister for the careful explanation that he has given. I hope that we shall hear a little more from him on some of the other points.

6.56 p.m.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

I welcome any Bill that is put before the House to extend the protection to workers in what is a most difficult area of occupation—namely, that of the North Sea in the exploration of our Continental Shelf. However, I am bound to say, as my hon. Friend the Minister pointed out, that the Bill is rather an ad hoc measure. It is attempting to deal with an industrial problem that is continuing to expand, in this case into areas of exploration for mineral wealth, which are normally beyond the areas so designated within our areas of legislative control under the Continental Shelf Act.

Therefore, to that extent it seems that one is faced with the difficulty of having two legislative bodies laying down different standards in the same areas of occupation and of where those two bodies—namely, Norway and the United Kingdom—come to some agreement by which vessels from the other country will be able to operate in areas over which they have legislative control operating different standards from those recognised in this case by the flag State. For example, if a British ship was in the Norwegian area, the British standard, as such, would be recognised.

One can appreciate the difficulties of operators in having to attempt to observe standards that are very different in different countries. However, I think that the real answer is for countries bordering the North Sea—I have constantly called for this, whether it is in regard to pollution, to tankers or to safety standards for seafarers—to come to some kind of common standards which they can agree to implement within their own legislative frameworks. It is true that the Bill allows the Government to introduce an Order in Council, following discussions, and perhaps to arrive at that conclusion. I hope that that is given a great deal of consideration.

Perhaps I should declare an interest as a member of the National Union of Seamen. It is known that the union is very heavily involved in work in this area and is extremely concerned about the safety conditions and the disparities that exist in those conditions in this area. Therefore, I want to address some of my remarks to these problems. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will consider them during the passage of the Bill. I hope that he will consider how his Department may be able to deal with complaints from seamen, from people who work on the oil rigs and from people associated with this difficult area of operations. There is a very clear demand for uniformity of standards and for those standards to represent the best possible standards.

Many years ago I was calling for legislation on this subject, on which there was none when I first became a Member of the House. I think that one of the first speeches I made here was about this very matter. Considerable advances have been made by Governments of both major parties since then in advancing those standards. But, frankly, we have still not really grasped the nettle, which is really to consider how we tackle the problems of safety in a much more uniform way.

I have had discussions with Norwegian civil servants at various conferences discussing North Sea safety, particularly in regard to diving, in which I was heavily involved. I have found that it is not an easy procedure to get accepted, but it is one with which we must persevere and hope to get some further success.

The Bill also mentions the application in this area of the Employment Protection Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act. I should like to know why the Sex Discrimination Act has to be included. Perhaps it is because it applies to all workers unless there are some special reasons. Such discrimination has never been as evident on ships as on shore. Through the insistent demands of the unions, women have always been paid the same rate as men for doing the same job.

Mr. Fairbairn

Surely the hon. Gentleman appreciates that the large number of pregnant Asian women who work on Norwegian oil rigs are regularly unfairly dismissed. Therefore, it is most important.

Mr. Prescott

I was not aware of that, but it is relevant to my argument about the Race Relations and Employment Protection Acts.

It has always been a source of contention that we pay different wages to people on British ships according to the colour of their skin. Parliament said that that was illegal but made a special exemption for seafaring. Thus, those who do not have white European skins receive 25 per cent. of the normal wage on some British ships. The principle is made clear in Section 4 of the Act but Section 9 provides the exemption for seamen recruited abroad.

We in the unions have demanded equal pay and the Labour Government set up an inquiry. That inquiry has now recommended that we take the first steps to implement equal pay on British ships. If one of these ships manned in this way comes into the North Sea and does work associated with the Bill instead of simply transporting cargo, will that exemption still apply? That is a curious anomaly—that an owner employing Indians on wages of 25 per cent. would not be exempted from the Race Relations Act if he did this work in the North Sea in oil exploration.

Section 119(5) of the Employment Protection Act provides that most of the benefits in relation to pay, dismissal, union rights and redundancy should not apply to people working on ships. It is, therefore, a fallacy to talk of advances for workers in this respect. Norway gives such rights to workers doing this work. Thus, a British ship doing the same job as a Norwegian ship in a Norwegian area would have far lower employment standards for its workers.

If it were merely a question of rights, it would be a matter of concern and of debate, but a much greater problem arises over safety. As we saw in the case of the "Amoco Cadiz", a tanker can be mechanically perfect while its crews are unable to manage sophisticated equipment. That is the main reason why these vessels collide and run aground and pour out millions of gallons of oil.

Norwegian ships have smaller crews than British ships. By means of our recommended maritime notice, we have laid down standards for numbers of crew and their skills. This is not the case in Norway, Holland or Germany. In 1977, all 20 supply ships in Norway's area flew the Norwegian flag. In our waters, only 52 per cent. flew the British flag. The rest were Dutch, German and Norwegian.

I recognises that membership of the Common Market makes it difficult for us to discriminate against Community nations, but safety standards vary among nations and that is relevant not only to the safe operation of vessels but also to the safety of the seamen involved. It is not lost on owners that the safety standards of other nations are more favourable economically than ours. It is no coincidence that many tankers involved in collisions are registered in Liberia, Cyprus or Panama, which do not enforce safety standards. Those vessels are sinking at twice and three times the rate of the vessels of traditional maritime countries. Panama and Singapore may be far from the North Sea, but their flags are becoming more and more common there. It is estimated that about 17,000 foreign seafarers are involved in the North Sea.

It was a constant controversial issue in this House that the unions were made central to the enforcement of safety standards under the Employment Protection Act and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act rather than relying simply on the Factory Inspectorate.

When we are dealing with North Sea oil rigs and vessels operating in that area, we always face the difficulty of obtaining union recognition and organisation. There is one group of unions which are recognised and established in Aberdeen. It comprises a number of the older unions involved in North Sea operations. Despite the statement by the owners four or five years ago that they would offer every co-operation to the trade unions, these unions have been fighting to obtain recognition of trade union negotiating rights on the rigs. Two or three cases which have arisen in the last few months have involved the services of ACAS, and the workers when balloted requested trade union recognition on rigs. To that extent, the recognition of the role of the trade unionist and the rights established in legislation are denied to the very workers with whom the Bill seeks to deal.

I appreciate that there are difficulties for seafarers, particularly in an area such as the North Sea which has seen such massive industrial development. However, that enormous development should not be made an excuse for excluding wor- kers from these activities. Such development should be seen as a reason for finding a separate method of advancing workers' rights in view of their difficulties. A close friend of mine, Mr. Harry Bygate, an official of the National Union of Seamen, has been actively involved in one group of unions for many years in the North Sea area. I am told of constant breaches of regulations, and it is obvious that many companies ignore those provisions with impugnity. They ignore standards which are recommended rather than enforced by statute. The Employment Protection Act sought to get away from the codes of recommended practice into statutory obligations, a process which I believe to be essential in seafaring terms.

I appreciate that there must be flexibility in guaranteeing the various rights. One case that came to my attention yesterday involved a constituent of mine who had worked on a North Sea oil supply vessel. He served for five years on a vessel from Great Yarmouth which operated to and from the various rigs in that area. He then left that employment and obtained a job in a ship operating from Aberdeen. He undertook one trip on that ship, it returned to the United Kingdom and he was dismissed. He was given no reason why he was dismissed, but he was unable to appeal against unfair dismissal because he had not been 12 months in that employment.

Mr. Fairbairn

Six months.

Mr. Prescott

I am grateful for that correction. I should have said for a period of six months. It is very sad that the man should be penalised because, in the nature of the job, he changes from one ship to another or one rig to another. That man has been denied many of the advantages that are available in the normal course of events to shore workers.

I must confess that the man to whom I refer had one peculiarity which amazed me. I tried to discover why he had lost his job and took up the matter with Mr. Harry Bygate, a trade union official. I discovered that the man had artificial legs. Since I served at sea for 10 years, that factor in the case amazed me, but I must point out that he had been carrying out that job for five years as a certificated cook on another ship. Although I appreciate the difficulties of the case, I discovered that the man was anxious to take on work, but after service in a ship he was dismissed. Surely that man, even though he has artificial legs, has a right to work.

I have spent a little time in explaining some of the difficulties which have been underlined to me by many seafarers and by officials such as Mr. Harry Bygate, who is involved constantly in these problems and is often the only source of protection for workers on ships and rigs. If the Minister wishes to see a uniform standard, he should be closely involved in negotiations—and no doubt he has been so involved—with the Norwegian authorities. I hope that as a result of negotiations with the Department of Trade and others a code of uniform standards will arise.

There is one other factor to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention, and I have made this point on other occasions with little success. It is often said that legislation applies to the flag a vessel flies. This is the point to which regard is paid when provisions are being extended to the Norwegian area.

If in this context the ship in question is not flying a British flag, these considerations will not apply to the rig—and in that sense our legislation will not apply to many of these rigs. At present we grant licences to all operators in the North Sea whether they are involved in oil production, exploration of mineral rights or whatever it may be. We should make it a condition of such licences that all our employment and safety standards and trade union rights are observed. Those who sub-contract should also observe those standards as a condition of their contract when operating on the Continental Shelf. That would overcome the difficulty that often arises where one nation's legislation does not apply to a ship operating from a different country. I believe that this process could be undertaken by contract obligation and that it should become a condition of such a contract.

I am sorry to have detained the House so long in making these points, but I wish to underline the concern on these matters which has been expressed to me by many of those who are involved in North Sea oil operations. I welcome the fact that we have been able to discuss these matters and I also welcome the Bill. I hope that seafarers will soon be given the same rights as those which have been won by workers in other industries.

7.16 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) has discussed very fully, as was his right on Second Reading, what is not in the Bill. There is nothing wrong in that. It is within the rules of order, the hon. Gentleman has a special interest, and he has deployed his case to the full.

I am rather more concerned with what is in the Bill, which I find very little to my liking. The Minister, in a tactful and pacific speech, talked about the need for and the desirability of co-operation and agreement between ourselves and the Norwegians in developing these fields together—and that is a good cause. But there is not much one needs to do about that situation. The hon. Gentleman made clear that our national law applies to British-registered ships flying the British flag. If we examine the provisions of the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, especially those which are relevant to the Bill, we see that those Acts are applied in a certain way.

Mr. John Grant

Perhaps I should make clear to the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Bill deals only with fixed installations.

Mr. Bell

I am obliged to the Minister. I intend to make clear some of the things which he did not make clear in his speech. But to the extent that the Minister wishes to help me, I am grateful. The Minister's hon. Friend was pointing out that in regard to ships it was very much a question of the flag flown. If the Minister examines the provisions quoted in the Bill, he will see that they are a little more comprehensive than he thinks, especially in terms of the Race Relations Act, where the application is to three subsections and not to two. However, that is a small point and I do not wish to waste time on it.

What did not emerge from the Minister's remarks was the fact that the sole purpose of the Bill is to extend the Employment Protection Act, the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act to oil rigs in the North Sea outside British waters. That is what it is all about. One would think from the Minister's speech—it is a natural error for a Socialist Minister to fall into—that apart from those Acts, there is no employment law or custom in the British Isles. One wonders how the world managed before there was a Sex Discrimination Act, a Race Relation Act and an Employment Protection Act.

Mr. Fairbairn

Much better.

Mr. Bell

The answer, as my hon. and learned Friend says, is that it managed much better.

The late Sir Henry Maine said, in his ancient law, that the progress of society appeared through the ages to have been from status to contract. The Employment Protection Act, on that judgment, is highly regressive, because it goes from contract to status.

All that we are doing in the Bill is extending three of the most controversial and foolish pieces of modem legislation to those on the storm-tossed and remote sections of the North Sea. We are fouling what would otherwise be a nice clean landscape. There is no limit to the bureaucratic expansion once it has started.

When it comes to extraordinary interventions into personal judgment and freedom to contract one would think that the Government would be content to confine this sort of legislation to the metropolitan area of the country and perhaps to ships registered in Britain. But as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East said, if these ships are trading beyond territorial waters the provisions of the Race Relations Act do not apply, on the whole.

In the Bill we are pushing these provisions out to the oil rigs, and it seems an unnecessary piece of nonsensical legislation. I am sure that the people on the oil rigs are doing a wonderful job. Will they feel that they are being recognised and rewarded by having the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act applied to them? Will they feel a sense of well-being and confidence because of this Bill?

Mr. Fairbairn

Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) does not understand the logic of the situation. In order to apply the Employment Protection Act to those working on oil rigs one requires both the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, because offences under these Acts are offences for employment purposes under the Employment Protection Act. Therefore, unless one can apply them, the ability of ACAS to infiltrate a dispute involving oil rigs is negatived.

Mr. Bell

My hon. and learned Friend may be correct. I have not gone into the motivation for the Bill. That is not part of the argument that I am deploying. I do not see this as a deep-laid plot. I believe that it is a prime example of Government by pressure groups. The Minister has put these two Acts into the Bill because he dare not leave them out. Think of all the fuss if he does. The Equal Opportunities Commission will be on to him and will haul him before the courts for offensive discrimination.

Almost anything is an offence today. Imagine some of those militant ladies or the race relations people attacking the Minister for discriminating on grounds of sex on oil rigs in the North Sea. I thought that those who worked on oil rigs were a pretty husky lot and they probably do discriminate anyway on grounds of sex. Some hon. Members seem to think that it is terrible that the Norwegians should dismiss Asiatic women from North Sea oil rigs on the ground of pregnancy. I can see no better reason for incurring dismissal. I think it is very undesirable to have pregnant women on oil rigs.

All three of these Acts and the associated measures are Acts which, in my opinion and that of a great many people on the Opposition Benches are harmful. I do not think that many Labour Members would regard the Employment Protection Act as harmful, but I do think that many believe that the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act are exceedingly foolish pieces of legislation, which they would have liked to oppose but did not dare to. There are hon. Members on the Opposition Benches who felt just as strongly about these measures but did not like to oppose them. Not many had the courage of their convictions.

One Labour Member told me during the passage of the Sex Discrimination Bill that I was right about the measure, and that it was a silly piece of legislation. I asked him why he did not say so in the Chamber. He replied that he had a lot of women in his constituency. Here we have a Bill the sole purpose of which is to extend these Acts to oil rigs outside territorial waters in the North Sea. Of all the solemnly silly things that have been done in this House, this must surely be the solemnly silliest.

The Bill is totally unnecessary. The Government can make their agreement with the Norwegians. Norwegian citizens will be governed according to their law and ours will continue as now. Why must we make this change? This is pure pressure group legislation. There was an agreement with the Norwegians, and someone said that if the Norwegians were applying their domestic law to their installations on our side, we had better introduce the Race Relations Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Employment Protection Act to our installations which overlap on their side otherwise we would be criticised. That is what this is all about.

I regard this as one of the silliest Bills ever to come before the House. The silliest of all was the Sex Discrimination Act. I said so at the time, and its working has proved me right. There is no one in this country outside the pressure groups, who does not laugh at the Sex Discrimination Act, regarding it as absolute nonsense.

The Race Relations Act is more emotionally fraught, but by and large people realise that it has done nothing but harm to race relations in this country, stimulating strong resentment among native inhabitants, who ask why there should be a law against them prescribing their behaviour which had previously been left to personal judgment.

I do not think that this Bill will result in any flare-up on the North Sea installations. They will carry on as before and this Bill will not affect anything. It is just a political gesture, which probably will be quite harmless. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a bad Bill. I do not want to waste much time on it, because it is such a silly Bill, but if it does not go on too long I shall stay and I hope that other hon. Members will join me in voting against it.

7.28 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

I do not share the view of the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell). I think that the Bill is a small but useful step forward.

Criticism could be made that in terms of employment legislation it has taken far too long for British Governments to come into the arena to try to hold the balance in favour of those who are working in oil installations. Those of us who have been interested in the oil-related industries during the past five years have heard many worrying accounts about the way in which workers are treated in those industries. Britain is very late in extending some of the employment legislation to the Continental Shelf. It was not until 1975 that Statutory Instruments began extending certain aspects of employment law to the Continental Shelf. Many of these left gaps, and they have been filled slowly over a period of time.

What worries me about the Bill is whether it will be very effective in its terms and how the two different standards which apply in Norway and the United Kingdom can best be made compatible. Although the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) dealt with the seafaring aspect, which is not really covered by the Bill, I thought that he made a good case. No doubt he was laying down a marker for the future.

Mr. Prescott

I took the point that the Minister made about installations, but an installation can be a ship. When it is involved in exploration for oil it is an installation, but when it is moving from A to B it becomes a ship. It is not, therefore, totally unknown for such points as I was making to apply to the vessel concerned.

Mr. Wilson

I accept that. I am not sure whether the Minister accepts it. I recollect that two years ago we had certain debates concerning hybridity and whether a fixed platform was a ship. I know that certain platforms can be uprooted and be converted into ships which are manned by seafaring officers and a crew. Indeed, some can go at about 12 knots under their own power. In different circumstances they can be fixed structures. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not simply marking out his case for the future but is intending to do something about this in Committee, to make quite sure that ships can be fixed structures and that those who go to sea on them shall be entitled to some of the benefits.

I can foresee certain problems arising under the Bill. It is very difficult to settle jurisdictions. I recently came across a letter which I had received on 22nd January 1976 from the then Minister of State, Home Office relating to immigration control on oil rigs. The Minister said that possibly the matter could be dealt with by legislation, but he did not think that it would be possible to exercise on the rigs the sophisticated control that we have at ports in the United Kingdom, save at unacceptable cost. Although some of the foreign workers on North Sea oil rigs travel to and via the United Kingdom and pass through controls at that stage, others travel direct from Continental ports.

The Minister then went on to discuss the problems of work permits in situations of that kind. There has obviously been a degree of confusion in relation to the status of workers on rigs which straddle the boundary or, indeed, other rigs which may have been exclusively in the United Kingdom or Scottish sector of the North Sea but where crews have been brought in from the Continent direct.

Certain problems are likely to arise, and I shall put them to the Minister in the form of questions. The first concerns unionisation. The Norwegians have been far ahead of us on this and have made more progress than has been made in the United Kingdom. It was only in February 1978 that I received details from the Department of Energy of the agreement which had been reached between the oil companies and the inter-union committee, based in Aberdeen, which allowed for the very first time the access of union officials to workers offshore.

It might be thought that that was not a radical step forwards, but, nevertheless, it took about seven years and considerable pressure to achieve it. There had been some horrific stories of intimidation of workers who had sought to join a trade union or to recruit members for a trade union on board oil rigs. They were summarily removed from the rigs, and that was the end of the story.

I have a summary of the agreement signed a numbers of years ago between the assocation of Norwegian rig owners and the Norwegian seamen's union. The union played a strong role in relation to structures which are not ships but fixed platforms. Among the heads of agreement mentioned in the summary, it is stated that Each crew shall elect a maximum of three shop stewards who shall be protected against unwarranted dismissal. The rig owner shall co-operate so that officials of the Norwegian seamen's union can visit rigs when possible. Paragraph 12 of the heads of agreement is concerned with union membership fees, and so on.

Where is the compatibility to be when we have the rather timid approach contained in the memorandum of understanding on trade union access to offshore installations on the United Kingdom side, compared with the very definite rights which Norwegian workers have? I should like to hear from the Minister what he thinks will happen and whether he thinks that the higher or the lower standards are likely to be adopted. I wonder what will be the position when workers from Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland, serving aboard offshore rigs straddling the border, learn that their Norwegian colleagues have much stronger rights than they have themselves.

With regard to safety, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East mentioned that under the Employment Protection Act 1975 certain obligations are laid on the trade unions. One of the weaknesses here is that the trade union position on the United Kingdom offshore rigs is much less strong. If we have not a strong trade union sector to start off with, the problems of the enforceability of safety obligations as laid upon trade unions will be almost insurmountable.

Mr. Fairbairn

Will the hon. Gentleman remind me of any section under the Employment Protection Act which lays a duty on trade unions to deal with safety?

Mr. Wilson

I cannot quote one off the cuff, obviously.

Mr. Fairbairn

There are no such sections.

Mr. Wilson

But it is clear, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows—I have come across it in practice on many industrial visits—that factories now try to work in co-operation with the trade unions in enforcing safety conditions. Indeed, in the electrical power industry the primary obligation is laid upon the unions to achieve standards of safety on behalf of their members.

Mr. Fairbairn

Those obligations are laid down in various sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which has nothing to do with the Employment Protection Act.

Mr. Wilson

I was discussing the question of safety and, like the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East, I also reserve the right to go slightly outwith the Bill if necessary, because this is one of the difficulties which exist. Indeed, the Employment Protection Act laid down certain rights for union recognition. In relation to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, a role is also given to the unions. There is a connection between the two measures, whether it is stated explicitly or not. It still raises the question of how these obligations concerning safety, which are very important, are to be carried out. We must remember that offshore exploration is highly dangerous and that many people have been killed and injured in the course of the development of the oilfields.

The Norwegian position is significant again in that direction, because the Norwegians provide that there shall be a right of those who work on shore to elect officers from among the work force who will be responsible for safety. It is a rather interesting agreement. Perhaps the Minister will say whether there have been any fruitful results arising from the negotiations and consultations which have been taking place with the Norwegian authorities. As we know, there has been a very close relationship, and the negotiations may help the position of those who work offshore.

With regard to pay, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East referred to the fact that lascars and others who serve aboard United Kingdom ships are sometimes paid at a lower rate than other people. It is perfectly true also that United Kingdom workers on the Continental Shelf are frequently paid less than other workers, particularly in comparison with Norwegian workers. I have some figures giving the comparative wage rates in sterling. As they are two years old they would be out of date now, but nevertheless they show a rough com- parison. For example, a roughneck in the Scottish sector could hope to earn about £240 whereas the rate in the Norwegian sector was £366. There are different variations according to seniority and skill.

If there is to be some form of provision for equal pay, it would be interesting to know whether the Government expect a problem to arise in future, especially if there is to be some form of comparable standard between two countries whose pay conditions seem to have considerable disparities, even allowing for the fact that the cost of living in Norway is very much more expensive than it is here.

However, incomes for similar work done in two places within 50 yards of each other, or even less, are quite different. In many cases the same applies to the most senior of international oil workers, particularly expatriate Americans, who are paid the international rate for the job as part of the method of recruitment. That is an area of concern which has caused a terrific amount of resentment, particularly on the East Coast of Scotland, where workers involved in oil rig activity can see that they are being paid less for similar work.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Does the hon. Gentleman have evidence that this kind of discrimination exists with regard to wage levels and levels of reward?

Mr. Wilson

The evidence is very difficult to come by. Whenever I have come across evidence of abuse in the offshore industry, I have sent the information to the Department of Employment or, more particularly, the Department of Energy. The Government have usually been very good in making investigations. However, in relation to wage levels it is extremely difficult to pin down what is happening, particulary if there are subsidiary companies which engage people at second, third and fourth hand and where pay may be made through the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas or wherever. These are legitimate methods of payment. I understand that the Inland Revenue has been carrying out certain investigations on this score during the last three or four months but has run up against a stone wall. What we know is that there are different rates for Norwegians who are working very close to our own workers. We are now dealing with a Bill which is trying to handle the problems which stem from that proximity.

I do not wish to say anything more with regard to the Bill. It is a very brief one. I welcome it as far as it goes. I see some difficulties with regard to the application of the Sex Discrimination Act, but they are probably not insuperable. The same applies to the Race Relations Act. I note the argument advanced by the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) that those Acts have been included in order to buttress the main provisions of the 1975 Employment Protection Act which are now to be extended.

7.44 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

I should like to be among those hon. Members who give a wholehearted welcome to the Bill. If there were to be any criticism at all it would be that we might have had a similar Bill a little earlier, especially when one considers the kind of problems that one comes up against. When one reflects on those areas of British industry where trade unions are needed more than they ever have been before, I think that there is no sector of British industry that needs trade union protection more than among those who work on oil rigs. It is high time that some kind of help was given for the protection of individuals who very often risk limb, and sometimes life itself, in order to win the riches of the North Sea. If any group deserves or needs trade union protection it is certainly the brave men who work in this area.

I simply want to ask two questions. The first relates to divers. From a constituency experience of particular cases I should like to express a widespread feeling that although most companies, most of the time, look after the safety of their divers as well as can be expected—the record of many of those who take part is wholly creditable—nevertheless, from tragic cases from time to time there is the suspicion that not as much care has been taken as should have been. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) and I know of individual cases which have made us very unhappy about what has happened. We suspect that carelessness has taken place, but it is often very diffi- cult to prove. Therefore, I believe that the presence of a trade union is wholly to be desired.

Precisely under what sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act can a trade union be useful on an oil rig? Considering the concern that most unions show towards safety, my general impression is that it could be extremely helpful. I should like the Minister to expand on this aspect of the matter. I hope that he will have information which will be of interest to the House and to those of us who propose to go out in Scotland and argue for the merits of the Bill.

My second question is the same as that of my hon. Friend—I should say the hon. Gentleman—the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). When I call him "my hon. Friend" we are coming to a pretty pass. I usually disagree with him, but on this occasion I absolutely agree that there are worries about pay rates. There are complaints. There is the feeling that some people are getting a great deal more than others. Very often this comes down to the question of tax.

I wholly support the Government's recent action in making the tax position of divers more favourable. Like certain other people—dare I mention footballers? Perhaps this is not the week to do so for a Scot—their expectation of a working lifetime is such that they deserve favourable tax treatment when they are under 35 or 40. I am not complaining about that aspect. However, one does rather wonder about the sense of this labyrinth of wage rates. Are the Government satisfied that there is a system of reasonably equitable rewards for those who work on oil rigs? Can the Minister say something about the problems, some of which have been raised with his Department, relating to the seeming inequity of rewards among those who work in the North Sea?

Having put those questions, I simply want to welcome the Government's action in this area.

7.50 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

I confirm what the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has said, that the men who work on oil rigs are brave men, who make large rewards—

Mr. Dalyell

Not all of them.

Mr. Fairbairn

They pit their skills against the elements to make those rewards. It is part of the fantasy of what I call the compulsion of indenticality that anyone should seriously suggest that a Norwegian national, a British national and an American national, all working on an oil rig, all governed by different tax systems—with the American being the beneficiary of a free enterprise system which enables his taxation to be much lower—should be compelled, in the interests of the Socialist concept of identicality, to be paid the same, regardless of the tax position, in case someone should get jealous. God Almighty! If a person gets that jealous he can emigrate and become an American citizen. If he is not that jealous—if he is so proud that he wants to live in a Socialist country with a Socialist tax system—he has to take the consequences. To suggest that they should all be equal because they happen to work within five yards of one another seems astonishing.

Why is the Minister restricting this little Bill to the three Acts named in it? If we are engaged in creating a paradise on an oil rig in which Norwegians, Britons and Americans are all subject to some identical, universal and paradisical statute law, why is the Health and Safety at Work &c. Act not included? Why did the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), whose concern for the safety of the individual who works upon the sea, for those who go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters is manifest and excellent, not ask the Minister about the Health and Safety at Work &c. Act? Why was that Act not included, rather than these three miserable, pointless and rotten pieces of statutory restriction?

Mr. Prescott

The hon. and learned Gentleman makes a fair point. I was trying to say that I believe the Bill represents an adult way of dealing with the problem. There are all sorts of other pieces of legislation that I would like to put into the Bill. I said that the way to deal with this is to have a much more uniform approach in one piece of legislation, agreed by all the countries surrounding the North Sea.

Mr. Fairbairn

I was interested to note that neither the hon. Member for Kings- ton upon Hull, East, nor the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) apparently knew what is the Employment Protection Act. Neither did they know that the legislation affecting safety is in the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act. Why have the three pieces of legislation been chosen? Why the Employment Protection Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act? There is a simple answer, which is also the answer to the question why this legislation is being enacted to provide for British workers on the other half of the rig, so to speak. The answer is that the unions have been extremely anxious to get on to the rigs. A lot of people who have been making a lot of money on the rigs have been anxious to keep them off.

Under the Employment Protection Act, ACAS has the right to go on to a rig and recommend that unions shall be allowed on it. I can see no reason why this should be done if it is not to increase the numbers of those who, under Part I of the Employment Protection Act, are able to go on to the rig. I cannot believe that this part of the Employment Protection Act is there to protect pregnant Asian women and give them 40 weeks off before they have to say that they are going back to the rig. I cannot believe that it is to protect maternity benefits or to deal with the business of dismissal after 26 weeks—or 23 weeks and two days as it is under the Act. I cannot believe that the provision is there to obtain redundancy benefits for those who happen to have worked on rigs. This business arises solely because there is a difficulty for the unions in influencing those who work on the rigs. These people are entrepreneurs. They are rugged people who want a great deal of money and who want to make it without interference.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East struck an important seam when he spoke of safety on tankers, which has nothing to do with this Bill. Let me nevertheless—

Mr. Ronald Bell

My hon. and learned Friend may have been misled by the Minister, who, when he intervened in my speech, said that the Bill did not apply to ships. I thought that it perhaps applied to ships in relation to the Sex Discrimination Act. In fact the Bill applies to ships in respect of the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. Perhaps the Minister did not read the Bill very carefully.

Mr. Fairbairn

I am obliged to my hon. and learned Friend for that correction. I speak with more confidence on the matter raised by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East. He said that there were different regulations and pointed out that these tankers were not safe because there were not sufficient trained people upon them. The unions have to face the fact squarely and sensibly, because it is their dilemma, that all the legislation which they have demanded tends to protect overmanning.

Mr. Prescott

What about the courts?

Mr. Fairbairn

I am absolutely certain that once unions are represented on these rigs more people will be required to do the same jobs and as a result those who are doing the jobs will receive less. That absolutely artificial protection of employment is in contrast with the other effect of the Employment Protection Act. As a result of artificially making it difficult to reduce the labour force, to dismiss someone who is no good, as a result of the fact that people do not know how to go about this in the right way, employers say "God damnit, I will have nobody else because I dare not run into the abominable dangers of a tribunal saying 'You will pay £13,200 or £5,200.'" Those are the penalties. That is the legislation which, above all, has done more in recent times to ensure that there are 1⅓ million unemployed. It was interesting to note that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East did not know the period during which someone can be dismissed while the hon. Member for Dundee, East did not even know the facts.

Let me give a good example of this overmanning. I heard of a company this week which makes and hires forklift trucks. It requires only one man to service 14 of these trucks. Yet British Steel requires three men to service each forklift truck. This is abominable and silly overmanning. On the other side is the Employment Protection Act which, far from protecting employment, destroys it.

Nothing can be more farcical than a Government, in their final stages, taking this attitude towards those on oil rigs. I do not know whether the Minister has ever been on a rig. If there is one place where people are striving and fighting to earn a hell of a lot and do a good job and get on with it without regulations and interference it is on the oil rigs. To take these three insane Acts—intended to create paradise nowhere but to create hell everywhere—on to an oil rig, is quite fantastic.

Mr. Prescott

I have listened with care to the thesis being put forward by the hon. and learned Member to the effect that massive amounts of legislation are causing difficulty and that some of us are not very well aware of the detail of this legislation. As a part-time Member of this House and a full-time practising barrister, it may be that the hon. and learned Member is more aware of the details and legislation. What he does not seem to have taken into account—I tried to deal with it at some length—is that in most of these areas the workers are exempt from major parts of this legislation. The central thesis of the hon. and learned Member's argument does not, therefore, apply.

Mr. Fairbairn

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Once again he has got everything wrong. I am a full-time Member of this House and a non-practising barrister. I do read the legislation that goes through this House and I lecture on it. I do so for the very good reason that I have discovered that no one in business, large or small, is capable of absorbing the nonsense that goes through this place. I have had to specialise to lecture on this subject. I understand it and I hear the implications. If the hon. Member heard these people to whom I lecture he might not vote so regularly for some of this legislation.

This legislation does not happen to apply to ships at sea. If it did, there would not be any ships under the British flag. That is for the good reason that it is possible, for example, to pick up a good crew in Ceylon and not apply this damned silly legislation to it. If it were to apply to ships at sea, we should never get a ship with a British crew member on it. The union of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East would realise that.

Mr. Prescott

It is because of the situation to which the hon. and learned Gentleman refers that ships are colliding.

Mr. Fairbairn

No, that is not why they are colliding. However, I shall not go into that. There was exemption by the Government so as to protect union members in Britain who would automatically be out of the pale in terms of employment on the high seas.

I do not propose to say much more. It seems a stupid Bill, which is not aimed at the health and safety of those who work on rigs. It is a Bill designed purely to get the influence of ACAS on to the rigs. It is a Bill that will have the same inevitable effect on rigs as everywhere else. It will take the fantasy of identicality, of equality, of decency and of fairness and it will do everything to the opposite of those objectives, which similar legislation has done in every other works, in every other firm, and in every other home.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. John Grant

With permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall reply to some of the points that have been made. I shall try to take them in sequence.

First, the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) said that there is a broad measure of agreement between the two sides of the House on these matters. I was grateful for those remarks but sorry that he went on to stray into the now almost ritual criticism of the Employment Protection Act that we hear from the Opposition, and especially from the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn). For the hon. and learned Gentleman it was certainly a ritual. He used the word "fantasy" and, listening to his contribution, I thought that that was an apt description of his speech.

The hon. and learned Gentleman talked earlier about research that has been carried out covering about I million jobs. It would be helpful if we could have details of that research. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment said today in the House that the review of these matters that has ben carried out will be published in detail. It will be interesting to see whether the evidence to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred will be published in detail. If it is, it will be helpful to the Government.

The hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth said that the Conservative Party is critical of some provisions of the Employment Protection Act. We are still waiting to hear the exact nature of that criticism. In fairness to the hon. Gentleman, he may say that he and his party are waiting for the results of the review. However, it would be better if he waited for the review before being critical of the provisions of the Act, unless he will tell us the nature of his criticisms. The Opposition never really spell out their critcisms of the Act.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his general support. He asked whether the Bill has been drawn wider than is necessary and wondered whether it could not be used in a different context. The hon. Gentleman was pressing me in that direction while my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) has been pressing me in a different direction. The Bill will allow us to extend employment legislation to only the foreign sectors of the Continental Shelf that form part of the cross-boundary of petroleum fields. It would be done only by agreement with the foreign country controlling the other side of the field. It will allow us to give effect to the most sensible arrangement for extending employment legisaltion to such areas. We arc taking powers only to allow us after agreement to extend legislation in what is a rather special set of circumstances. I think that that is appreciated by the hon. Gentleman.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East made an important contribution. It is fair to say that his points ranged far wider than the limited form of the Bill. Indeed, that was the nature of one of his complaints about the Bill. My hon. Friend talked about a comprehensive agreement for countries bordering the North Sea and the setting up of a common standard with all the countries concerned. Desirable as that may be, T suspect that it would be rather a long time coming. I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept that. The fact is that there is a special situation involving our relations with the Norwegians and the Bill is aimed primarily at dealing with it.

Mr. Prescott

I must tell my hon. Friend that IMCO has agreed manning standards on vessels and we have said that drilling rigs can be vessels in certain situations. The present circumstances are far more advanced than my hon. Friend seems to think. I refer to agreed standards of safety manning on rigs or drilling vessels.

Mr. Grant

I was about to turn to safety aspects, to which many hon. Members have referred. I have said that the Bill applies only to oil rigs. That is how the powers in the Bill are intended to be used. However, there is no restriction in the Bill placed on the sort of employment to which the Order in Council may extend.

There is a joint Norwegian-United Kingdom body considering safety standards for those working in the North Sea. The Health and Safety Commission has that very much on board. It is intended that there will be much more comprehensive legislation. That legislation is in the course of preparation. That is why the Bill is not dealing with health and safety aspects.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the time scale involved for the more comprehensive legislation? Is it possible that it will be introduced in the next parliamentary Session, or will it be longer than that in reaching the House?

Mr. Grant

I cannot answer my hon. Friend's question because these matters are very much in the hands of the Commission. The Commission is an independent body. It will treat these matters as expeditiously as possible. We are all well aware that the dangers of the North Sea are considerable for those working in it and on it.

The question of race relations legislation was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East. As my hon. Friend said, there has been an inquiry into the rates paid to Asian seamen. Those are matters very much for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. However, the Government are considering how the exceptions may be phased out. I cannot go further than that.

The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) seemed to imply that it did not emerge from my speech that the Bill is all about employment protection legislation, race relations legislation and sex discrimination legislation. I thought that that emerged clearly. I made that clear in my opening remarks. The hon. and learned Gentleman brought his well-known antediluvian prejudices to the House on race relations and sex discrimination. It is a fact that the House has overwhelmingly rejected his views on those matters time and time again. None the less, he keeps going and he is fully entitled to do that.

The hon. and learned Member talked about the Bill being nonsensical. I have said that the employers and the trade unionists who are involved consider the Bill to be a necessary change. If, as the hon. and learned Member said, the Bill will not affect anything, he made an extraordinary meal of his remarks dealing with it.

Mr. Ronald Bell

The Government seem to be making an extraordinary meal of these matters if they are introducing a Bill to do nothing. I am merely criticising the Bill.

Mr. Grant

We are not introducing a Bill that will do nothing. I did not imply that it will do nothing. I consider it to be a useful step forward. It rationalises a situation that needed that sort of attention. I do not accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), in a thoughtful contribution, referred to unionisation. Unionisation is not high. That is a matter for regret. The Bill should be helpful in assisting the unions to increase unionisation. That is a matter that must be dealt with by the trade unions. It is not for the Government to deal with unionisation, at any rate at root.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that over the past seven years the trade unions have found it exceedingly difficult to deal with the offshore industry, and that even with the present memorandum of understanding that exists many trade unionists feel that there will still be considerable difficulties?

Mr. Grant

I am sure that that is right. As employers are supporting the Bill—they have gone along with it so far—that is an encouraging sign for the future.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East also spoke of differing incomes. That is not a matter for the Government. That issue is not dealt with in the Bill. That has to be a matter for negotiation.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) talked about equity. He will apreciate that there are inequities throughout the British pay system. The inequities may be more glaring on oil rigs—I would not be certain—but there are many inequities. However, the Bill does not seek to deal with that situation.

My hon. Friend also referred to the question of divers. Again, that will be a matter for the Health and Safety Commission to look at in its more comprehensive approach to health and safety legislation in future.

Mr. Dalyell

As my hon. Friend knows, should there be the proposed Assembly in Edinburgh, health will be a devolved subject. May we have the assurance that responsibility for all these matters in relation to oil rigs will remain

Question accordingly agreed to

Bill read a Second time.

with this House and not with a possible Assembly at the High School?

Mr. Grant

I should have to check that point to be absolutely certain. However, I should be surprised if my hon. Friend were wrong.

I do not need to refer to the remarks made by the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire because I have already covered them. We shall simply have to agree to differ. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave us an extravaganza—an incredibly distorted view of the results of the Employment Protection Act. I hope that in due course he will produce the evidence to support his case.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 107, Noes 13.

Division No. 228] AYES [8.11 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Grant, John (Islington C) Richardson, Miss Jo
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tolt'ham) Grimond, Rt Hon J. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Robinson, Geoffrey
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Harper, Joseph Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Bates, Alf Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rooker, J. W.
Beith, A. J. Hooley, Frank Sandelson, Neville
Bldwell, Sydney Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Hunter, Adam Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Janner, Greville Silverman, Julius
Buchan, Norman John, Brynmor Skinner, Dennis
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Spearing Nigel
Cant, R. B. Jones, Barry (East Flint) Spriggs, Leslie
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Stallard, A. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Kinnock, Neil Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Coleman, Donald Lamborn, Harry Stoddart, David
Cowans, Harry Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Summersklll, Hon Dr Shirley
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) MacCormick, Iain Thompson, George
Crawshaw, Richard McDonald, Dr Oonagh Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) McElhone, Frank Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Cryer, Bob MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Watkinson, John
Cunningham, 6. (Islington S) Madden, Max Weitzman, David
Dalyell, Tarn Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Welsh, Andrew
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil Mikardo, Ian White, Frank R. (Bury)
Dewar, Donald Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Whitehead, Phillip
Dormand, J. D. Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Whitlock, William
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Morris, Altred (Wythenshawe) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Eadie, Alex Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
English, Michael Noble, Mike Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Orbach, Maurice Wise, Mrs Audrey
Flannery, Martin Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Woodall, Alec
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Palmer, Arthur Woof, Robert
Forrester, John Pardoe, John Wrigglesworth, Alan
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Parker, John
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Penhaligon, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
George, Bruce Perry, Ernest Mr. Ted Graham and
Grant, George (Morpeth) Price, C. (Lewlsham W) Mr. James Tinn.
Dunlop, John Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Winterton, Nicholas
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Holland, Philip Ridley, Hon Nicholas TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Macfarlane, Neil Ross, William (Londonderry) Mr. Ronald Bell and
Moate, Roger Tebbit, Norman Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn.
Molyneaux, James Walder, David (Clitheroe)

Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).

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