§ Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I was saying that the females of the species employ the same sort of mythology when they sit under the dryer in the luxury beauty salons in Mayfair.
This mythology derives a great deal from Conservative Members reading the newspapers. Most of this uninformed anti-trade union talk is fostered by the newspapers. I am always amazed that members of the newspaper industry—with, perhaps, one exception, the worst record on industrial relations of all industries in Britain—believe that that record authorises them to tell other people how to run their industrial relations.
An example of the worst brass-necked impertinence and the worst presumption in the world is that of the The Times. That newspaper was off the streets for a year, because its management badly mishandled an industrial dispute that, if it had been handled properly, could have been settled much earlier on the terms that were eventually conceded. As soon as The Times returned, its journalists started writing pontifical leading articles telling people how to run their industries. That reminds me of the motorist who was convicted of dangerous driving and who had his licence taken away for a year. As soon as he got his licence back he opened a school of motoring to teach people to drive in the way that he drove.
We have heard passionate speeches about the wickedness of trade unions 1520 from the throbbing heart of British industry represented on the Conservative Benches. We have listened to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Brown). Winchester's blast furnaces light up the night sky, right across the New Forest and down to Beaulieu Creek. We have heard about industrial relations from the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner). Reigate's busy shipyards emit the clang of metal on metal that reverberates right up St. John's Hill, over the North Downs, and hits the stockbrokers below their belts. [HON. MEMBERS: " More ".] Those 100 samurai on the Tory Benches are not merely anti-trade union. The trade unions and the workers are their secondary target. Their first target is the Secretary of State for Employment, and he knows that. They want to be rid of him. That would not be serious if it were not for the fact that they have the support of the leader of their party, the Prime Minister.
When on television the right hon. Lady publicly humiliated the right hon. Gentleman—who is a man of spirit and character—I wondered why he stood for it. I think I know why he stood for it—because he knows jolly well that he will still be there when she has gone. He knows jolly well that when the Tories run into really rough weather they will do what they did to Anthony Eden, to Alec Douglas-Home and to the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). They will drop her, and that is when the right hon. Gentleman will come into his own.
I look forward to the day—and may it be soon—when we shall have a Labour Government to repeal this nasty, miserable Bill.
§ 10.5 pm
§ Mr. Needham
I wish that I could be as polite about the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) as was the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.
I have listened to the right hon. Member for Chesterfield with great interest on Second Reading, in Committee, and during the debate this evening. He reminds me slightly of a junior shop steward, recently elected, who knows nothing about industrial relations and is serving his apprenticeship by being rude to the people on the other side.
The right hon. Member said that industrial relations law, when it had come into effect in this country and dealt with the trade unions, was generally an unmitigated disaster. He said that it was a disaster because it brought the law into those areas that would be better confined to people negotiating one with another. He seems to forget that the law on industrial relations has been with us, in regard to employers, for generations—and there is nothing wrong with that. I would not necessarily disagree that it is right for the law to have some effect on regulations at work and to ensure that proper standards are set for employers in this country.
But this is a very one-sided argument. When it is a matter of law to deal with specific abuses on the other side of the equation, such as the trade union side, Labour Members throw their hands in the air and say that this is an aggressive and dreadful attack on the rights of ordinary working people, that they cannot in any way support it, and that it will do nothing but harm and damage—except for assisting my right hon. and learned Friends to get even more fees than they have already.
That cannot be the right way in which to proceed. Initially the law was changed in order to restore the balance in society at a time when it was very much in favour of the employers, at the expense of workpeople, but consistently over the last 60 or 70 years it has gone the other way.
The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) said in the House the other day that there was a conflict between capital on one side and workpeople on the other, 1522 and that the law must be brought in more and more strongly to defend workpeople against the force and power of capital. My submission is that the Bill is needed because the interests of capital and of workpeople are becoming more and more similar.
There is no point in having a machine costing £1 million if the man who works it can withdraw his labour and bankrupt the company. But increasingly, in an integrated and automated society, that is what happens. We are not dealing with the industrial society of the 1920s or 1930s. [Hon. Members: " They are."] Certainly, Labour Members are, but we on the Government Benches know that we are not dealing with that sort of society; we are dealing in the Bill with the problems that face a modern economy when small groups of people can wreak on society tremendous damage—damage that was never previously foreseen.
I accept that the balance that we seek in this country is a balance in which the law has a small part to play and in which people can get on and negotiate sensibly. But there is no point in denying that the power of the trade union movement—the negative power to make life difficult—has dramatically increased over the years, otherwise, why was it that a previous Labour Government had to introduce " In Place of Strife "? Why was it that the Labour Government faced such appalling problems in the winter of 1978–79? There is no point in denying that any Government will face these difficulties.
Does this Bill set sensible parameters to the extreme abuses of one side? Previously, the House would not accept such parameters. However, through the provisions of secondary action, secondary picketing, the provisions governing SLADE, and the encouragement of secret ballots, this Bill has succeeded. It represents a sensible and reasonable starting point.
What would the Opposition have us do? Perhaps they would do nothing and allow the problems to continue. Sooner or later these problems will arrive at their door, just as they appeared after the war, in the 1960s and the latter part of the 1970s. What will they do? Either they will do nothing or they will strengthen further the power of the trade union 1523 movement at the expense of the other side of industry.
Several of my hon. Friends argue that the Bill does not go far enough. Arguments can be put forward in favour of compulsory ballots and the abolition of the closed shop, and in favour of an individual's right to leave a trade union if he feels, at the end of the day that it does not serve his interests. We face difficult times. Management will face great problems. Our management already spends more time dealing with industrial relations than any of our competitors. If we listen to the advice of some of my hon. Friends, even more time will be spent.
If people have the right to leave a union at will and to set up on their own, our industrial relations system—developed over many years—will be undermined. There are more unions per industry in Britain than elsewhere, and that is one reason why the closed shop has arisen. My hon. Friends' suggestions will undermine management's basic ability to survive. Many of my hon. Friends say that management must manage. If they believe that, they should consider the issue carefully before supporting ideas and motions that will undermine management's ability to manage.
The Bill seeks to establish that certain areas now outside the law are brought within it. The employer will make use of those provisions only if he knows that his employees are with him. The Bill will not be used by the gaffers against the workers. Those who are not involved in disputes, together with their employers, will be able to get injunctions and to go about their everyday purpose. It marks a fundamental beginning in the restoration of a basis on which the law can operate sensibly and even-handedly.
Britain desperately needs this Bill. It may not work in every instance, and it may need amendment as time goes on. Of course, it may be argued that we shall have to look at it again. Basically, it is a good Bill that has been well thought through. It takes advantage of an expertise in industrial relations that the Conservative Party has not always had. Provided that it is given a chance, it will set us on the way ahead.
§ Mr. Cyril Smith
I supported the Bill on Second Reading, and I shall do so 1524 again tonight. I should like to join the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) in praising the Under-Secretary for the way in which he conducted himself in Committee. On occasions, I found his sense of humour a relief. I found his clarity worth listening to, and I appreciated his patience. I appreciated that he was clearly the master of his subject. I pay tribute to him for the way in which he conducted himself throughout the proceedings in Committee.
I have no doubt that the pendulum of industrial affairs and employment law swung too far in favour of the trade union movement. Those of us who were in the House in 1974 and were employment spokesmen for our parties argued that the measures being enacted by the Labour Government were pushing the pendulum too far in that direction. Experience over the past four or five years has demonstrated clearly the need to try to rebalance the pendulum—in other words, to bring it back to the centre. I believe that the Bill is a fair attempt to do just that.
I have never argued—I do not do so now—that the trade unions are above the law as it now stands. The issue is not whether they are above the law but what is the law above which they are not. We have to strike a fair balance. The House must be as much concerned with a man's right to work as with his right to strike. It must be as concerned with his right to go about his daily task in peace as with his right to persuade others to his point of view. It has to be concerned with a worker's right to a fair deal and with the right of workers to influence the decisions of those who seek to lead them. The Bill is about all those things.
The Bill has aroused three principal areas of public discussion—ballots, the closed shop and picketing. I voted for stronger action on ballots and the closed shop. In the House, one has usually in the end to choose between Government proposed action or no action. As I believe that no action is unacceptable in the present circumstances, I have tended to opt for the actions proposed by the Government. I have expressed my doubts about the effectiveness of the clauses on picketing and blacking. We shall soon see in reality whether I am right. There 1525 are those in my party who take the view that a code of conduct would have been better. I do not subscribe to that argument, and I have not propagated it during the passage of the Bill. However, time will soon tell whether others in my party are right or whether the Government are right in introducing the measures contained in the Bill.
I am delighted that the Government accepted the proposal for time off for ante-natal care. However, I am sorry that they proceeded to worsen rights for pregnant women. I do not take the view that their rights have been totally desecrated or denied as a consequence of the Bill, but I do not think that anyone can doubt that they have been worsened. Had I been able to intervene earlier, which I intended to do until I was thrown by the Minister's wrong use of procedure, I should have drawn attention to the rights of immigrant women. I am seriously concerned about the effect that the Bill will have on those women.
The Government are requiring immigrant women to sign letters, to write letters and to understand the provisions of the Bill when enacted if they are to protect themselves. I am extremely concerned about their rights. That is why I supported the official Opposition in their opposition to the Government's proposals on maternity law.
I take the view that those who work for small companies are entitled to the same protection in law as those who work for large companies. That is why I supported the official Opposition in their opposition to clause 7.
I do not believe that this Bill is the answer to our industrial problems or to industrial relations. Long-term solutions lie in full worker participation in industry, works councils, two-tier boards, with employee representation, profit sharing, and the general creation of team spirit. Many of our problems in industry are concerned not with industrial relations but with high interest rates and their effect on the value of the pound. In the past seven days in my constituency hundreds of redundancies have been announced by Turner and Newall Limited, on the basis of the effect of Government policy on the value of the pound. The Bill does nothing to deal with that problem. However, I repeat 1526 that something had to be done in the short term to bring the pendulum on industrial realtions and law back to the centre. The Bill is a genuine attempt to do something.
During the passage of the Bill in Committee and in the House, I have tried to have regard to individual liberty and freedom and minority protection. I feel that that is my proper role as the minority party spokesman on the Bill. I hope that the Bill does what the Secretary of State intends, namely, provides a stable basis for future industrial relations.
In passing, I hope that the TUC will think again about its proposed posturing on 14 May. That demonstration will do nothing to halt or alter the Bill, create jobs or help our economy. It will not even do anything for the image of labour and the trade union movement in this country. I hope that all sensible people will ignore the call to strike on that day.
As has been said, the Secretary of State has worked hard on this subject over the years. He has consulted and listened. He has tried 10 persuade, and it would appear that at least at Cabinet level he has so far persuaded. He therefore deserves to succeed, and I very much hope that he will.
I do not believe that the Bill is the great and terrible ogre that it is made out to be. If I may say so, I do not believe that the official Opposition believe that. Their actions, attendance and speeches do not give the impression that they believe that. The fight over the 1971 Act should be compared with the attitude to this Bill. I do not object to the weakness of the official Opposition's fight; I merely express the hope that it might be indicative of their ultimate attitude and the attitude that they try to persuade the trade union movement to adopt.
The Bill has its faults and weaknesses, but it is at least an attempt to do something, which is better than doing nothing, especially when the mass of people in this country want something to be done. I wish the Bill well, and I shall vote for its Third Reading.
§ Mr. Madel
As the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) said, the Bill is nothing like as contentious as had been imagined. It has not aroused the great 1527 controversy anticipated in this House or outside. That is partly because it is shorter in length than the 1971 Act. Also, many of the clauses are voluntary and require action by employers, employees, or both, to bring the provisions into force. It does not seek to disturb existing good industrial relations practice. It positively encourages the good parts of our industrial relations that already exist.
I welcome clause 1 and should like to know when the scheme for ballots will be introduced. In the various parts of the clause whereby public money is given for the calling of ballots, the subsection that provides that unions can claim money for ballots for the amending of their rules is particularly important. I hope that unions will look carefully at some of their rules and especially their procedures before calling industrial action.
On clause 2, in spite of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker), the Secretary of State will not introduce codes of practice until ACAS has been consulted. I believe that ACAS will welcome the fact that the Secretary of State will introduce the codes after consultations, because there are certain subjects, such as picketing, industrial democracy and grievance procedures, in respect of which ACAS, because of its composition, cannot easily bring about such codes.
On the closed shop provisions, I particularly noticed that in our debate on Second Reading my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that the Department of Employment had done a survey on existing closed shops and had found that when people had a genuine conscientious objection to joining their anxieties were taken into account. In the Bill, we are trying to strengthen that I hope that the Department will publish a regular report on the way in which the closed shops are working. Some closed shops have come about as a result of ballots many years ago, and it would not be right or sensible to insist that there should be a re-run of that procedure.
On clause 7—the small business clause—I welcome the fact that we have altered the law over unfair dismissal. However, I have one reservation. We have wiped out of the Bill subsection (1)(c) of the 1528 new section inserted in the 1978 Act whereby a dismissed employee must be informed in writing of the effects of the clause. Someone must inform would-be employees when they take employment in a small business that this part of the 1978 Act does not apply to them. This is particularly so when one considers that many of those employees are young people seeking their first jobs.
I welcome clause 12, on ante-natal care. I hope that we have got it right on the question of the time allowed before one can put in an appeal to an industrial tribunal if one's employer has not paid for time off. I assume that there is an automatic right of appeal to the employment appeals tribunal if one does not get justice in the industrial tribunal.
On the question of clause 17 and the alteration that wipes out ACAS's role in recognition procedures, there are a number of cases that ACAS has in mid-stream on recognition procedures. Will they now be dropped, rather than proceeded with?
In Committee and on Third Reading, we have asked what will happen now. All I would say on the Green Paper on immunity is that the consultation must be wide and meaningful and must pay special attention to those in personnel on both sides of industry—shop stewards and personnel managers—who spend every waking moment of their working day dealing with this problem. I am not sure whether further legislation will be necessary, and I suggest that it will be impossible to say for some time. However, I think that we have got the balance right in this Bill. We now need a period of industrial stability and peace in order to get legislation working. My right hon. Friend certainly deserves the support of the House in putting it on the statute book.
§ Mr. Giles Radice (Chester-le-Street)
The Second Reading of this Bill was more than four months ago, and since then we have spent 32 sittings and more than 100 hours in Committee. An amazing number of words have been uttered about this Bill, mainly from Labour Members. I congratulate the Under-Secretary on the way in which he piloted the Bill through.
What kind of Bill do we have on Third Reading? On Second Reading I called the Bill " more mean that modest ", and 1529 certainly it is still mean. It takes away rights. Clause 5 still removes from the employer the onus of proof. Clause 7 still takes away the right to claim for unfair dismissal for employees in small businesses. Clauses 10 and 11 still weaken maternity rights. Schedule 11 of the Employment Protection Act, which gives some protection to the low-paid, will still be removed. Far from protecting the rights of individuals, the Bill actually reduces them.
If the Bill was ever a modest one, it has long since lost all its modesty. Clause 6 introduces major changes in the closed shop arrangements which will lead to endless litigation. Clause 14 bans secondary picketing and is very tough and restrictive; it will certainly cause disruption. The new clause on secondary action will bring judges right back into industrial relations.
On Second Reading and in Committee, the right hon. Gentleman said that his purpose was to restore the balance in industrial relations by introducing a new law. Our contention is that law in these areas—closed shop, picketing, secondary action—will, in fact, make matters worse and that the best way to proceed is by voluntary means, such as in closed shop arrangements, as the Department of Employment survey shows, with TUC advice and a code of practice on picketing and secondary action.
On Third Reading, it is not in order to discuss what is not in the Bill, and that has been a good thing, because we have heard from most of the hon. Gentlemen who have been speaking on Report—those people whom the Secretary of State has beaten off night after night. The only trouble is that this means that the Bill is merely a first instalment and that we shall probably get more later, if the Prime Minister has her way.
Whatever we say tonight, however, the real point of decision is not in this House but elsewhere. In one of his rustic phrases, the right hon. Gentleman said that he thought that his Bill worked with the grain of industrial relations. We think that the opposite is the case; we think that it works against the grain of industrial relations. The only test of that will be in factories and companies throughout the land. 1530 This Bill, like the ill-fated Industrial Relations Act 1971, will fail. Far from improving industrial relations, it will make them worse, and in doing so once again it will bring industrial relations law into disrepute. In the end, this House will have to adopt a different approach—an approach based on industrial democracy. Whether we or those on the Government side of the House are right, only time will tell. I believe that events will prove us to have been right, rather than them.
§ Mr. Gorst
On Second Reading, I said that I believed that the Bill would be one-third of a loaf. I am glad to say that a few crumbs—perhaps it is ungenerous to call them crumbs, and I should say " a few slices "—have been added to the size of the loaf and it is now larger than it was, but it is still less than half a loaf.
Will the Bill work? Is it sufficient? Has it got the teeth to bite on those occasions when damage or disobedience may occur in industrial disagreements? I believe that it will work, not because of its intrinsic strength but solely by permission of the trade union movement, that is to say, the TUC and the trade unions that comprise it. The question is whether that permission will be granted. I believe that it will be granted only as long as it suits the trade union movement. Industrial power for the unions is needed; but it is, I believe, only for political purposes that the extra immunities for the trade unions have in recent years been obtained. Their power has grown, is growing and ought to be diminished; but it has not been sufficiently diminished by this Bill.
Why do the trade unions resent the removal of any immunities that have been taken away by this Bill? After all, if one looks back, one sees that provisions concerning safety, health, factory conditions, minimum wages, unfair dismissal and redundancy have all been introduced at a time when the unions were less powerful than they have been since the days of the 1974 Act, which the previous Government introduced.
Why do the trade unions resent the removal of their immunities in the small ways that have been provided for by this Bill? The only reason that I can see 1531 is that, although they plead that they are becoming weaker in relation to employers, the reality is that they are able to boast that they can bring down Governments. It cannot be a consistent argument to say, on the one hand, that they are weaker in relation to employers while, on the other, they say that they have demonstrated that they are precisely the reverse in relation to Governments.
If this reform is to take place step by step, will a second step at trade union reform be practical? I offer to my right hon. Friend the gloomy prospect that public opinion in favour of trade union reform will evaporate if this lot does not work. Disenchantment with legislation will grow, union clamour against any further reform will mount, the political will to achieve any further change will be non-existent, and election fever will then become the order of the day. This Bill is to be the only Bill, and for that reason it must succeed. For that reason, even though I believe it to be half a loaf, it will have my support.
§ Mr. Harold Walker
I understand that there is a general feeling in the House that we should rise at a reasonable hour. [HON. MEMBERS: " No."] Therefore, I wish to speak very briefly. If I echo some of the things that have already been said, I do so deliberately, because I think that some of them deserve emphasis.
In their speeches tonight, Conservative Members have confirmed what some of us have believed all along—that they do not mind people having rights in industrial relations, such as the right to belong to trade unions and the right to strike, just so long as they do not try to practise them and make them effective.
I thought that the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Lyell) was shooting from the hip and that he let the cat out of the bag when he referred to the grossly excessive powers of trade unions. He went on to speak of the abuses of picketing, and so on. I commend to him and the House some recent words from perhaps the best-known tyre salesman in Britain, Sir Robert Mark, who said on television:Those who frame new laws sometimes give insufficient weight to enforcement. They devote such care and time to debating the moral 1532 implications but assume, often quite wrongly, that people can be made to obey them".I again remind the House of words uttered to Conservative Members that laws can be effective only if they have the tacit acceptance of those to whom they apply.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) referred to extremists on the Conservative Benches who are pushing the Secretary of State along a path that I believe he is reluctant to take. None the less, he has been forced along it step by step, to use his own phraseology, by the ultras and the bully-boys—not only those who have taken part in our debates but those who have not participated—who reflect the strength of the extremist view on the Conservative Benches. I noticed that several hon. Members jeered at my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) when he forecast that as a consequence of the Bill some workers would eventually finish up in gaol. It seems that there is a view among Conservative Members that pickets should go to gaol.
I hear voices of dissent, but I should like to quote from an article in the Sheffield Morning Telegraph headed " Prison urged as curb on unions ". It says:One of the leading Tory back benchers on law enforcement and penal reform is urging that trade unionists found guilty of offences connected with picketing be prohibited from attending further demonstrations, under pain of imprisonment ".It goes on about the hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler), a former Home Office crime researcher—and a former assistant governor at Brixton and Wandsworth prisons, by the way. This was in a report published by the Conservative Central Office, which says also that powers should be given to ban all demonstrations and assemblies in certain areas—and all this in the context of a report on crime.
That is not the first time that we have had the clear impression from hon. Members on the Government Benches that, somehow, the exercise of basic trade union rights is to be identified with the commission of criminal offences.
I say that the right hon. Gentleman is being pushed along this road in a step-by-step process that I described in Committee as the salami tactic of cutting the 1533 trade unions down to size slice by slice. It has already been made quite clear that this is only one in a whole series of instalments, leading us back down the road towards the days of the Industrial Relations Act.
During the passage of the Bill, we heard from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite literally torrents of words of abuse of trade unions and trade unionists for allegedly forcing people out of jobs or denying people access to work, yet throughout the whole of the many hours—I think, in all, between 125 and 130 hours—I cannot recall a single right hon. or hon. Gentleman on the Government Benches uttering a word of criticism of employers who unfairly dismiss; not a word of sympathy for the employees, the workers, who are arbitrarily, peremptorily, unfairly dismissed; not a crumb of comfort, not a word of sympathy for the 1½ million people unemployed. Their numbers will grow, largely as a direct consequence of the policies of this Government.
The Government talk about their approach being fair and balanced. They might show a little balance by seeing that occasionally there is room for criticism of employers, room for sympathy for people who have been sacked and room for sympathy for those deprived of their jobs and very often their basic employment rights.
I believe that this Bill, like the Industrial Relations Act before it, irrespective of what it does in direct terms, is already inevitably souring and poisoning the climate in which industrial relations in this country are conducted. I believe that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield said, it will destroy such good will as this Government might have sought from the TUC and individual unions. No Government in the history of this country ever needed the support of working-class organisations as the Government do at present.
I believe that the Bill will have a similar effect to that of the Industrial Relations Act. My right hon. Friend referred to 27 million working days lost owing to disputes in this country. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to contrast that with the performance of the last Labour Government. If my memory serves me aright, 27 million working days is a number in excess of those lost in the year 1534 of the General Strike, and probably the highest number lost in a single year in this century—and that is the position before the measure gets on to the statute book.
I believe that it is already having the same effect as that disastrous Act—that is not my word; it was the Director General of the CBI who said that. It will have that effect and of course it will in due course suffer the same fate as the Industrial Relations Act: it will be swept from the statute book.
§ Mr. Prior
There will be few more important Bills and few more controversial Bills going through the House during the course of this Parliament, and yet the whole atmosphere has been so different for those of us who were in the House in 1971. I think that this is due as much as anything to the fact that the Opposition now recognise that it is time that the law on industrial relations was clarified, and that something has to be done.
The question running through all these debates has been, what should be the role of the law in industrial relations? The Opposition's view, as we have heard it this evening and on a number of occasions, at least in speeches, is that the law has no place. They are happy to see the law place obligations on employers, and they have been happy to see the law give special rights to trade unions, or to suppress the rights of individual workers in a closed shop, but at the same time they argue that it should never be used to limit the damage that can be caused by industrial action, however reckless and however tenous its connection with a trade dispute.
Instead, the Opposition have told us that the voluntary approach, by itself, is all that is needed; that we have a stark choice between the voluntary and the statutory, and that if we choose one we must forgo the other. That has been the gist of what they have been saying throughout this evening.
I tell them frankly, though I suspect that they already know it, that the British people no longer believe that. The Opposition have played that record for too long. The needle has stuck, and the results have caught up with them. More important, the results now threaten our industrial performance as well.
1535 Because of the emotions, history and prejudices of the whole of this century, this is an area in which we are wise to move with caution. We have always welcomed the efforts of trade unions to put their own house in order. Nothing in the Bill removes ultimate responsibility from them. But issuing guidance is not enough. It has to be made effective. Trade unions must accept responsibility for ensuring that their own guidance is made to stick and that those who flout it are brought to book. Without that acceptance of responsibility, the currency of voluntary guidance is devalued, and that is what we have seen over the past 10 years.
If the trade union movement had used the past decade to do what it promised in 1969, namely, to put its own house in order, I do not believe that we would have spent so much time debating changes in the law as we have over the past four months.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Is the Secretary of State trying to persuade us that the TUC, which now represents more workers than ever before, will accept the major concepts of the Bill? Is the right hon. Gentleman not in an impossible position when he faces a future of implacable opposition because he has not properly discussed the content of the Bill with the TUC?
§ Mr. Prior
I shall come to that aspect later. I want to ask the Opposition some questions. Is it really their view that no changes in the law are necessary? Do they believe that no protection is required for individual workers against the abuses of the closed shop, or that secondary picketing and the ability to spread industrial action far and wide, beyond the parties to the original dispute, are essential for trade unions to be able to do their job?
Do the Opposition believe that no changes are needed in the unprecedented volume of employment protection legislation that has gone through the House in recent years, or that nothing needs to be done to protect workers from the bullying tactics of a union such as SLADE?
Those are the questions that the nation is asking. Some of my hon. Friends have 1536 asked them of me, because they want me to go further.
§ Mr. Prior
The Opposition have failed to solve the problems themselves, yet, having put 160 clauses and 23 schedules of trade union and employment legislation 1537 on the statute book in 1974 and 1975, they tell us that the law has no place in industrial relations. If the Opposition hold to that view, it is tantamount to saying that at no time may any Government or Parliament pass a law or take action that is considered necessary and right, simply because a powerful group, operating independently of Parliament, says that it will not, or cannot, obey the law. That is dangerous talk, and it strikes at the heart of parliamentary sovereignty and democracy.
If there were other occasions in our history—as there were—when power left Parliament, paradoxically it was the industrial barons of the last century who occasioned the need for the privileges which the unions subsequently secured from Parliament to protect their proper rights.
We have a duty to pass legislation and to ensure that it is enforceable. We also have a duty to make as certain as we can that the legislation is fair and just to all sections of the community. I believe that the Bill fits and passes that test.
I have said that I do not rule out the possibility of further legislation. Whether we have more legislation, what it does, and when it comes, will depend above all on the response of unions and management to what we are passing tonight. Some have been quick to say that the Bill will not work and that they will do all that they can to prevent its working. The people who say that must recognise the implications of what they are saying. The Bill takes an essentially reasonable approach to remedying abuses that the vast majority of people—and the majority of trade unionists—want stopped. They are not prepared to see the purposes of the Bill frustrated or subverted. If that were to happen there would be great pressure to take much stronger action. Who is to say that that would be unreasonable?
§ An awesome task of leadership lies ahead for those who are responsible in the trade union movement. I know that some accept that, but to others—still too many—it still seems easier to indulge in the luxury of opposition than to bring about reform. The course of blind opposition is not the course that will serve the interests of trade union members. Let there be no doubt in the minds of those who are affected by the Bill's provisions. The Bill provides a framework. What happens within that framework is up to unions and management. They alone can forge the better relationship in industry that will restore our economy, rebuild our industry and produce employment for our people. It will also help to restore our self-confidence as a nation.
§ The last Administration tilted the balance too far towards the unions, and often towards unofficial groups acting in defiance of official union leadership. The Bill tips the balance back towards responsible management and responsible union leadership. Management and unions are responsible for the day-to-day conduct of industrial relations. Ultimately, they alone can bring about the improvements that we need. Laws can shape behaviour over time, but they will not transform deep-rooted attitudes overnight.
§ The will to put right what is wrong with our industrial relations must not stop with this Bill. The real task lies ahead, and is the responsibility of those in industry. Over the coming months and years the challenge will be not to the Bill but to management and unions in industry.
§ I say to my hon. Friends " Get out and sell the Bill to the country." It is fair, it is firm and it is balanced. It deserves the support of the whole country. I believe that it will get it.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ The House divided: Ayes 319, Noes 251.1543
|Division No. 276]||AYES||[10.55 pm|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Adley, Robert||Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Benyon, W. (Buckingham)|
|Alexander, Richard||Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Best, Keith|
|Alison, Michael||Banks, Robert||Bevan, David Gilroy|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Biffen, Rt Hon John|
|Ancram, Michael||Beith, A. J.||Biggs-Davison, John|
|Arnold, Tom||Bell, Sir Ronald||Blackburn, John|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Bendall, Vivian||Body, Richard|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Bonsor, Sir Nicholas|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)||Grist, Ian||Moore, John|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grylls, Michael||Morgan, Geraint|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Gummer, John Selwyn||Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll)||Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)|
|Bright, Graham||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)|
|Brinton, Tim||Hampson, Dr Keith||Mudd, David|
|Brittan, Leon||Hannam, John||Murphy, Christopher|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Haselhurst, Alan||Myles, David|
|Brotherton, Michael||Hastings, Stephen||Neale, Gerrard|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Hawksley, Warren||Needham, Richard|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Hayhoe, Barney||Nelson, Anthony|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Heddle, John||Neubert, Michael|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Henderson, Barry||Newton, Tony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Normanton, Tom|
|Buck, Antony||Hicks, Robert||Nott, Rt Hon John|
|Budgen, Nick||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Onslow, Cranley|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hill, James||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally|
|Burden, F. A.||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)||Osborn, John|
|Butcher, John||Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Hooson, Tom||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Hordern, Peter||Parris, Matthew|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Howells, Geraint||Pewsey, James|
|Channon, Paul||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Penhaligon, David|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hurd, Hon Douglas||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Pink, Rt Bonner|
|Clark, Sir William (Croydon South)||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Pollock, Alexander|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Jessel, Toby||Porter, George|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Colvin, Michael||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Cope, John||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Cormack, Patrick||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Corrie, John||Kimball, Marcus||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Costain, A. P.||King, Rt Hon Tom||Raison, Timothy|
|Critchley, Julian||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Rathbone, Tim|
|Crouch, David||Knight, Mrs Jill||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Knox, David||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Lamont, Norman||Renton, Tim|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lang, Ian||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Dover, Denshore||Latham, Michael||Ridsdale, Julian|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Lawrence, Ivan||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Lawson, Nigel||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Durant, Tony||Lee, John||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Rossi, Hugh|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Rost, Peter|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Eggar, Timothy||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman|
|Elliott sir William||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Emery, Peter||Loveridge, John||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lyell, Nicholas||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||McCrindle, Robert||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Macfarlane, Nell||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||MacGregor, John||Shersby, Michael|
|Farr, John||MacKay, John (Argyll)||Silvester, Fred|
|Fell, Anthony||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Sims, Roger|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||McQuarrie, Albert||Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton)|
|Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Madel, David||Speed, Keith|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Major, John||Speller, Tony|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Marland, Paul|
|Forman, Nigel||Marlow, Tony||Spence, John|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|Fox, Marcus||Marten, Neil (Banbury)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)|
|Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Mates, Michael||Sproat, lain|
|Fry, Peter||Mather, Carol||Squire, Robin|
|Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.||Maude, Rt Hon Angus||Stainton, Keith|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Mawby, Ray||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Gardner, Edward (South Fylde)||Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Stanley, John|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Steen, Anthony|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Mayhew, Patrick||Stevens, Martin|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Mellor, David||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Gorst, John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)|
|Gow, Ian||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Mills, lain (Meriden)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Miscampbell, Norman||Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)|
|Gray, Hamish||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)|
|Greenway, Harry||Moate, Roger||Tebbit, Norman|
|Grieve, Percy||Molyneux, James||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)||Monro, Hector||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret|
|Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)||Waldegrave, Hon William||Whitney, Raymond|
|Thompson, Donald||Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)||Wickenden, Keith|
|Thorne, Neil (llford South)||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Thornton, Malcolm||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek||Wilkinson, John|
|Townend, John (Bridlington)||Wall, Patrick||Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)|
|Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)||Waller, Gary||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Trippier, David||Walters, Dennis||Wolfson, Mark|
|Trotter, Neville||Ward, John||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|van Straubenzee, W. R.||Watson, John||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Vaughan, Dr Gerard||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Viggers, Peter||Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Waddington, David||Wheeler, John||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Wakeham, John||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William||Mr. Anthony Berry.|
|Abse, Leo||Evans, loan (Aberdare)||McElhone, Frank|
|Adams, Allen||Evans, John (Newton)||McGuire, Michael (Ince)|
|Allaun, Frank||Ewing, Harry||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Anderson, Donald||Faulds, Andrew||McKelvey, William|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Field, Frank||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest||Fitch, Alan||Maclennan, Robert|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Fitt, Gerard||McNally, Thomas|
|Ashton, Joe||Flannery, Martin||McWilliam, John|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Ford, Ben||Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Forrester, John||Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Foster, Derek||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Foulkes, George||Maxton, John|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough)||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Meacher, Michael|
|Bradley, Tom||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||George, Bruce||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Ginsburg, David||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Buchan, Norman||Golding, John||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Gourlay, Harry||Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)|
|Campbell, Ian||Grant, John (Islington C)||Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morton, George|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Cant, R. B.||Hardy, Peter||Newens, Stanley|
|Carmichael, Neil||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Ogden, Eric|
|Cartwright, John||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Haynes, Frank||O'Neill, Martin|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Cohen, Stanley||Heffer, Eric S.||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Coleman, Donald||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)||Parker, John|
|Conlan, Bernard||Home Robertson, John||Parry, Robert|
|Cook, Robin F.||Homewood, William||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cowans, Harry||Hooley, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Horam, John||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Crowther, J. S.||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Prescott, John|
|Cryer, Bob||Huckfield, Les||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hudson Davies, Gwilym Ednyfed||Race, Reg|
|Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Radice, Giles|
|Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Richardson, Jo|
|Davidson, Arthur||Janner, Hon Greville||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central)||John, Brynmor||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)|
|Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Johnson, Walter (Derby South)||Robertson, George|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)|
|Dewar, Donald||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Dixon, Donald||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rooker, J. W.|
|Dobson, Frank||Kerr, Russell||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Dormand, Jack||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Rowlands, Ted|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Kinnock, Neil||Ryman, John|
|Dubs, Alfred||Lamborn, Harry||Sever, John|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lamond, James||Sheerman, Barry|
|Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)||Leighton, Ronald||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Short, Mrs Renée|
|Eadie, Alex||Litherland, Robert||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Eastham, Ken||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Silverman, Julius|
|Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)|
|English, Michael||McCartney, Hugh||Snape, Peter|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Soley, Clive|
|Spearing, Nigel||Tilley, John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Torney, Tom||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Stallard, A. W.||Urwin, Rt Hon Tom||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)|
|Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Stoddart, David||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Stott, Roger||Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)||Winnick, David|
|Strang, Gavin||Watkins, David||Woodall, Alec|
|Straw, Jack||Weetch, Ken||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Wellbeloved, James||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)||Welsh, Michael||Wright, Sheila|
|Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)||Young, David (Bolton East)|
|Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollock)|
|Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)||Whitehead, Phillip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)||Whitlock, William||Mr. James Tinn and|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Wigley, Dafydd||Mr. Ted Graham.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time and passed.