§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Prior)
I beg to move,That the draft Code of Practice on Picketing, which was laid before this House on 5 November, be approved.
§ Mr. Speaker
It will probably be for the convenience of the House if, with this, we discuss the other motion—That the draft Code of Practice on Closed Shop Agreements and Arrangements, which was laid before this House on 5 November, be approved.That appears to be agreed.
§ Mr. Prior
Throughout the debates in Parliament, both in this House and in the other place, on what is now the Employment Act, the Government always emphasised that, while changes in the law were essential, legal reforms in themselves could never solve all our industrial relations problems. The ultimate responsibility for improving industrial relations must rest with industry. That means that responsibility rests principally with managements and unions and with employers and employees. It is important in today's debate on the codes that this is remembered.
I want the House to be clear at the outset what we are debating. We are not debating new legislation. Today's debate is on the guidance which, as Secretary of State, I feel it is important to give those concerned on the closed shop and on picketing, which section 3 of the Employment Act enables me to do. Therefore, I reiterate that the codes that we are debating do not extend the law: they give practical guidance. The Employment Act makes their status quite clear. There can be no question that in some way we are now indulging in what some people have termed back-door legislation. We are giving common sense guidance which, I believe, the vast majority of people in industry, whether in management or on the shop floor, will welcome.
We must always remember that industrial relations in Britain have not developed within the same kind of legal framework as that which exists in many other countries. Industrial relations practice has evolved over a century or more and has 648 done so primarily as the result of the day-to-day dealings of managements and union representatives. On the whole, the tendency has been for the law to accommodate or at any rate to reflect these developments rather than for a tight legal framework to dictate them. That is borne out very much in the remarks which Donovan made in the Royal Commission report.
The result may be regarded by some as being far from perfect, but it has to be the starting point for any attempt to change, and, as regards today's debate, it is our existing system of industrial relations which must be the setting in which we discuss the draft codes of practice.
It would be of no use to managements and the shop floor throughout industry if they were to be denied the guidance contained in these draft codes because Parliament concluded that the existing legal framework was still not right. I know that some Opposition Members are opposed to the Employment Act. I say "some" advisedly, because I am not sure how many of them would really want to see it repealed.
But the House has to consider whether, on balance, it will benefit industrial relations in the months ahead if these draft codes are published and are available to managements and unions. Those who argue against the codes today should be in no doubt about what they are proposing. The result of Parliament not endorsing these codes would be that managements and unions were denied the valuable advice on closed shops and picketing which the draft codes contain and which I believe should be available to them.
To those who may argue that basically they favour the idea of codes but wish to see them changed first, I say that we have consulted widely, and I shall return to that later. We have adopted many of the changes suggested and we believe that the draft codes fulfil our objectives. We have weighed the various arguments about the timing, and we are convinced that the sooner they are available now that we have consulted on them, the better it will be. This is not to say that, at some future date and in the light of practical experience, it might not be advisable to amend or revise the codes. But I do not feel that there are any amendments or changes which argue for 649 any delay in issuing them, and I hope that as a result of our debate the House will feel able to endorse my judgment.
§ Mr. John Evans (Newton)
The Secreretary of State is making much of the point that he has consulted widely. Will he confirm that one body which he has not consulted is Parliament itself?
§ Mr. Evans
During the Committee stage of the Employment Bill the point was made to the right hon. Gentleman that before publishing codes in this form he should consult Parliament so that the codes of practice which came out of such deliberations were the wish of Parliament and not the partisan codes issued by the Secretary of State. For the benefit of Government supporters, will the right hon. Gentleman point out that Parliament cannot amend these codes? We accept or reject them in toto.
§ Mr. Prior
My hon. Friends do not need the benefit of that advice. They know that already. They also know that there has been a longish consultative period and that the Select Committee on Employment has had consultations. I have been before the Select Committee on two occasions to discuss the codes. We are following what has been the general practice in this case.
§ Mr. Prior
I shall be coming back to that later in my remarks. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to deal with it then.
There is another crucial point to be made about our decision. It was sometimes argued during the debates on the Employment Bill that there was a sharp, clearcut choice facing the Government between a legislative approach and a voluntary one. But that view misses the whole point.
The fact is that for the voluntary approach to work and for voluntary guidance to stick there has to be a balanced and fair set of ground rules in the law on which that voluntary guidance is based. As long as the law was seen to condone and even protect the abuse of industrial 650 power on the picketing line and in the closed shop, it would have been futile to look for improvement in industrial relations by voluntary means alone.
Our approach is that voluntary measures will work only within a just framework of law. That is our approach, and it is an approach widely understood and endorsed in the nation. I cannot believe that many Opposition Members really want to go back to a position of licence for abuse with no scope for redress. The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) was very careful to avoid any commitment to total repeal of the Act when we debated it earlier in the Session—all to no avail as it happened, since the then Leader of the Opposition saw the issue in a rather different light.
On many issues, good practice must be a matter of informal understanding, of day-to-day compromise and adjustment. But on some issues the need for formal, authoritative guidance is clear. The Labour Government showed no hesitation in this respect. Section 6 of the Employment Protection Act 1975 conferred a power on ACAS to issueCodes of Practice containing such practical guidance as the Service thinks fit for the purpose of promoting the improvement of industrial relations".Under that power, ACAS produced the code of disciplinary practices and procedures. In addition, the 1975 Act laid a duty on ACAS to prepare codes on the disclosure of information and time off for trade union duties. All three codes are still in operation.
Of course, when it came to questions like picketing and the closed shop the attitude of trade unions was rather different. There was much passion about trade union rights and freedoms at that time, particularly from the new Leader of the Opposition. So there was plenty of enthusiasm for legislation to give licence to the closed shop and to the picket but no interest in any guidance on how to use it in a sensible and responsible way until the winter before last, when, suddenly and dramatically, they got very keen on the TUC issuing guidance on the closed shop and the conduct of industrial disputes.
§ Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)
The right hon. Gentleman, in all fairness, should point out that it is ACAS which 651 refused to have anything to do with codes of practice on the closed shop or picketing. He should point out that ACAS is a statutorily independent body with an independence beyond that of any other body provided for in statute. The ACAS codes provided for under the Employment Protection Act are to be used only in tribunals and before the Central Arbitration Committee, composed not of judicial figures but of people engaged in the day-to-day work of industry, unlike the right hon. Gentleman's code, which can be used in the courts.
§ Mr. Prior
I am coming to that point. There is, therefore, no shortage of precedents for the draft codes we are debating today.
The power to issue codes conferred on me by section 3 of the Employment Act is identical with the power conferred on ACAS by the 1975 Act. There are older precedents—for example, the highway code, first established in 1930, and the powers under which the code of industrial relations practice was issued in 1972. The precedent of the 1972 code is particularly relevant to today's debate. It was opposed root and branch by the TUC because of its opposition to the parent legislation, the 1971 Act. Yet the major part of the code is still in operation today, even though the 1971 Act was swept away by the Labour Party when in Government six years ago.
It can hardly be said that this is the first time that the House has been asked to approve a code which deals with a controversial subject or which is opposed by the TUC or has been prepared by a Government Minister rather than a tripartite body, such as ACAS. Controversy is very difficult to avoid in any effort to lift conduct on to a higher plane and it cannot be allowed to act as a veto on the mutually beneficial search for improved behaviour in industrial relations. The truth is that there would be little point in attempting to codify practice in this or in any other field if there were universal agreement and understanding on the best way to handle the problems.
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
Despite what my right hon. Friend says, is 652 it not a fact that, although the ACAS codes that were produced were the subject of controversy, they were not projected by any one side within that controversy? They were generally accepted by both the employers and the trade unions. It will surely cause considerable difficulty to ACAS when, for example, the CAC is required to adjudicate in a matter in which the codes of practice have to be taken into consideration. Being a part of ACAS will make it difficult for it to reconcile its earlier stand with the latest requirements of the Minister.
§ Mr. Prior
I have heard no criticism to that effect. I am not saying that the ACAS codes were particularly controversial. I am pointing out that it was the 1972 code that was controversial and which the TUC fought all the way. Despite its controversial nature, it was introduced by a Minister and, strangely enough, largely kept by the Opposition when they swept away the rest of the Industrial Relations Act.
I should like to say a word about the legal status and effect of the codes. This is clearly defined in section 3 of the Employment Act and again is closely modelled on the parallel provisions in the Employment Protection Act 1975. Section 3(8) of the Employment Act says that the codes are to be admissible in evidence before courts and tribunals but that it is for the court or tribunal to decide whether they are relevant to a particular case. If the court decides that they are relevant—or that a particular provision in one of the codes is relevant—it has a duty to take it into account in exactly the same way as it must take account of any other relevant evidence. Furthermore, section 3 makes it clear that the codes do not by themselves make anyone liable to legal proceedings. In other words, ignoring or contravening the codes does not by itself mean that someone is committing an offence or acting unlawfully. The legal status of these codes is similar to the legal status of the existing ACAS codes and of the 1972 code.
I turn now to the procedure to be followed in preparing the codes. In accordance with that procedure, I informed ACAS of my intention and invited it to contribute any suggestions it might like to put forward. The chairman replied that ACAS did not intend to prepare 653 codes on these subjects and that since there wasno consensus on the council as to the possible content of such codes, the council also decided that it should not put forward suggestions for inclusion in the codes".When, later, I sent the consultative drafts to ACAS, the chairman confirmed that the council did not wish to comment on them. That is no reflection on ACAS. It was always clear that ACAS would not be in a position to prepare codes on picketing and the closed shop. That is why the Act confers the code-making power on the Secretary of State rather than on ACAS. That was foreseen by the Government long before we entered upon this legislation.
As the House knows, I published the draft codes for general consultation on 8 August as soon as the Act came into operation. I could not do so before. More than 70 organisations and individuals submitted detailed comments, including all those one would have expected.
I gave evidence to the Select Committee on Employment in August, and I agreed to extend the period for consultation so that the Committee could take evidence from a number of witnesses and prepare a report commenting on the draft codes. I have placed in the Library a memorandum responding to the Committee's report.
I am grateful to all those who took part in the consultations. I have accepted many of the suggestions put to me, and I believe that the draft codes before the House today are greatly improved as a result. The overwhelming majority of those who commented on the draft codes expressed their full support for them and the guidance they contain.
Turning now to the provisions of the codes, the guidance they give covers the law and good practice—as do the TUC guides. The codes would be hopelessly incomplete if they did not. The law is highly important in both areas and much of it is not set down in statute. Much of it is a matter of common law which has been evolving for a century or so, and, of course, the statute law governing both picketing and the closed shop has recently changed. Ignorance and misunderstanding of the law can be a potent source of conflict. If these codes do no 654 more than spread knowledge of the law, they will have served a very useful purpose.
I have accepted the criticism put forward by the Select Committee that the consultative drafts did not distinguish clearly enough between explanation of the law and guidance on good practice. I have a number of changes to meet this criticism. Paragraph 4 of the code now identifies those sections which deal with the law and those which deal with good practice.
I believe that the codes will promote the improvement of industrial relations because they are firmly based on existing good practice. For example, the sections of the picketing code which give guidance on the organisation of picketing and the need to safeguard essential supplies and services draw heavily on existing trade union guidance—both the TUC guide of 1979 and the Transport and General Workers Union code of the same year. Also, almost all the items in the list of essential supplies are drawn from one or the other of the codes. The need for a picket organiser and the need for him to have letters of authority from his union and for the pickets to wear arm-hands or some other means of identification are taken from the TUC giude.
§ Mr. Marlow
In case my right hon. Friend does not return to picketing later, may I ask him whether he will comment in section C of the code, which says that it is a criminal offenceto intimidate a person by threatening words or behaviour which cause him to fear harm or damage"?It would be helpful if my right hon. Friend could give us an interpretation. For instance, if a picket goes up to a lorry driver, grasps him warmly by the hand, smiles at him, pats him on the back and says "If you pass this line, mate, you will never work again. I have got your number", will that count as intimidation?
§ Mr. Prior
That must be for the courts to decide. We are laying down a code of practice. My hon. Friend should also examine the code of practice on the closed shop. If a man crosses a picket line lawfully, or the picket line is unlawful, and the union expels him and he loses his job, it is clear that the man 655 will have been expelled unreasonably. He would have recourse to the law. If one takes the two situations together, it is clear that we have met the point so far as we can. However, this is a matter for the law and for the courts. It is not for me to interpret.
§ Mr. Prior
Certainly not. That would not help. I am trying to avoid such a difficulty. That is not the purpose of the codes.
Of course, it is for the courts to interpret and apply the law, as paragraph 4 of the codes clearly points out. The guidance within the codes is directed primarily at management and trade unions and, if followed sensibly, should help keep problems out of the courts. But they may be found to be relevant from time to time as evidence one way or another by tribunals and the courts.
I cannot see that anyone will be confused as to the meaning of the law by the codes themselves. When examining the circumstances of a case, the courts are capable of distinguishing law passed by the legislature which binds them in their judgments and practical guidance which they may consider as evidence—weighty evidence, of course, as it has been regarded here, but not binding law. That seems to me to be a fairly clear distinction, which makes talk of this as some odd form of "unconstitutional" legislation look pretty far fetched.
Furthermore, I do not believe that these codes set unrealistic standards. Take the provision of the picketing code which has aroused most interest—the suggested limit of six people on a picket line. Whenever the police are available, pickets should seek their directions as to where they should stand and how many of them should be on the picket line. That is the surest guarantee that the picketing will be orderly and peaceful.
The police have the power—well established in case law—to limit numbers on the picket line if they fear a breach of the peace. In one case—that of Piddington v Bates—the court upheld the decision of the policeman on the spot to limit the number of pickets to two. The code does 656 not—indeed, cannot—affect the powers of the police to limit numbers. At the suggestion of the Association of Chief Police Officers, we have emphasised this point in paragraph 28 of the code. But if the police are not present at a picket line—and they cannot always be—it is essential for the code to give some guidance on numbers—but not a rigid or fixed limit. No single figure would be right for every situation.
The picket organiser will have to consider such factors as the width of the entrance and the number of people or lorries passing through it. Frequently two or three pickets will be quite sufficient. But in the vast majority of cases it should not be more than six. Greater numbers than that will, as the code points out, give rise to fear and resentment amongst those who are picketed, even if there is no question of obstruction or some other offence being committed.
Mass picketing is never in the interests of good industrial relations. That was the clear view of the vast majority of people who commented on the draft code. The limit of six has been widely welcomed, and I believe it to be right and an essential element in this code.
I shall make one preliminary point about the closed shop code which has arisen in the consultations. It has been said that the Government are biased against the closed shop and that this emerges in the code. The Government's attitude is well known. We do not like the closed shop.
§ Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
In section C of the closed shop code, considerable restrictions are suggested by the Government in respect of the closed shop. Surely, people who believe that the closed shop is an important part of their industrial structure are entitled to carry on just as they like until proper legislation is passed.
§ Mr. Prior
They are. The issue will become clear as I develop my speech.
The purpose of the code is not to give gratuitous vent to our dislike but to provide sound practical advice to those who are or who may be considering entering into a closed shop agreement so that they can be aware of every factor. The broad aim is to ensure that together with 657 the provisions of the 1980 Act basic individual rights are properly protected. We have made many changes of tone and substance to the draft but none which detracts from this general aim.
The structure of the closed shop code is broadly similar to that of the picketing code. Again, the code distinguishes clearly between what is the law and what is good practice. Section B consists of an explanation of the legal rights of individuals affected by the closed shop, and the other sections give guidance on matters relating to it.
For the convenience of the House, I shall draw attention to some of the matters covered in the code which have attracted significant comment during the consultative period. First, I should say that the opening subsections of section C of the code—with which my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) was concerned—dealing with the preliminary stage before considering a closed shop, the scope and contents of agreements, secret ballots and the operation of new or existing agreements, have received a wide measure of support. There have, of course, been a number of detailed points which we have taken into account in the redrafted code.
The final subsection of section C—the review of closed shop agreements and arrangements—is, as the House is well aware, more controversial. Some of those consulted would have preferred employers and unions to be required to review their arrangements by statute. That is an argument which we had many times before and may have in the future, but clearly the code could not impose such a requirement. Indeed, if it had sought to do so it would have been highly criticised as unconstitutional. Others wanted the code to specify exactly how often closed shop agreements should be reviewed and how such reviews might be triggered. In my view, it would have been inappropriate to go into such detail in the context of voluntary guidance. Most people wanted more, not less, flexibility, and we have met that point, but not to the extent of providing no guidance at all.
Closed shop agreements can affect the working life of an employee in a more fundamental way than perhaps any other kind of agreement. It is, therefore, all the more important to ensure that, like other agreements, they are reviewed periodically 658 to take account of changing circumstances and to ensure that they have the continued support of the employees they cover.
Section D of the code, which deals with the treatment of members and applicants by unions, has also been fairly widely commented upon. The subsection covering union rules and procedures has met with broad approval and, indeed, leans heavily on the principles adopted by the TUC. This section of the code also refers to the Bridlington procedures and thus fulfils a commitment made during the course of earlier debates. I never believed it really credible that the Act, as was alleged, could undermine the Bridlington procedures, and I believe that the references in the code to Bridlington further close the door on any remote residual possibility of that happening.
Paragraphs 54 and 55 of the revised code deal with disciplinary action, or the threat of it, by a union against a member who refuses to take part in industrial action. This is a difficult area, but I believe that there is a wide recognition among employers and unionists that it is wrong for closed shops to be used explicitly or implicitly as a means of compelling an individual to take industrial action which he objects to on the grounds that it would involve a breach of the law, would be in breach of a procedure agreement or had not been approved in a secret ballot.
Again, let me make clear that this is guidance for unions which the tribunals will take into account--not necessarily be bound by, but take into account—. in relevant cases of expulsion. It does not prevent unions from striking in breach of agreements or without holding secret ballots, though, of course, that is something I should want strongly to discourage. It is a warning to unions that if they expel members—perhaps in the circumstances mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow)—they may find that tribunals award against them. It is a reassurance to those in a closed shop who honestly cannot support industrial action because it falls foul of the criminal law, is in breach of a procedure agreement or is not sanctioned by ballot.
We have, of course, listened carefully to what has been said to us on this, particularly by the CBI, the EEF and trade 659 unions, and have amended the guidance on expulsion from a union for crossing a picket line so that it does not apply where action is taken against a member for crossing a picket authorised by his own union at his own place of work. We have no wish—far from it—to undermine legitimate and responsibly exercised trade union authority.
§ Mr. John Evans
The Secretary of State has raised an issue of some concern. He referred to the disciplining of an individual by a trade union if the individual had refused to strike because, for instance, a secret ballot had not been held. Will the right hon. Gentleman say which section of the Employment Act 1980 lays upon a trade union the requirement to hold a secret ballot before industrial action can be taken?
§ Mr. Prior
I am not sure that I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. Paragraph 54 of the code states:Disciplinary action should not be taken or threatened by a union against a member on the grounds of refusal to take part in industrial action called for by the union—(a) or because industrial action would involve a breach of a statutory duty or the criminal law,The hon. Gentleman is trying to pin something on us that is not there.
§ Mr. Evans
Paragraph 54 (c) refers to a union taking disciplinary action against a member who refused to strike because it had not been sanctioned by a secret ballot. The Secretary of State will appreciate that we had many arguments, both in Committee and on Report, especially from some of his hon. Friends, about the requirement for a secret ballot before industrial action could be taken. Will he say what section in the Employment Act 1980 lays upon a trade union the requirement to hold a secret ballot before it may take industrial action? Surely this is incompatible.
§ Mr. Prior
I have been especially careful about this matter. There is no section in the Employment Act 1980 that provides that there must be a secret ballot. I have made it perfectly plain again today that the code is advice to unions and is not the law. I have made it perfectly plain that it does not prevent unions striking in breach of agreements or without holding secret ballots, although that is something 660 that I wish strongly to discourage. It is a warning to them that if they do that in those circumstances it can be taken into account when a case is brought before an industrial tribunal. That is perfectly fair and reasonable advice to give to trade unions.
I must refer to the final section of the code, which cocerns the freedom of the press. The 1980 Act gives me powers to repeal the press charter provision of the 1976 Act, and it has been my firm view that the provisions of the Act and the relevant section of the code would provide far greater protection for journalists faced with the possibility of the closed shop than any press charter could have done.
On Second Reading last year, I said that I would not intend to use the power of repeal until those in the industry had had the opportunity of seeing our draft code. The relevant provisions of the code draw heavily on the outcome of the talks among the parties in the industry held under the chairmanship of Lord Pearce and comment has been generally favourable. Nobody has suggested that the press charter provision should be retained or acted upon.
Subject to approval of the closed shop code by both Houses, I therefore now propose to use the power conferred on me by the 1980 Act to proceed to repeal the requirement to produce a press charter.
§ Sir Albert Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
My right hon. Friend said that the codes will be subject to revision as events prove necessary. What will be the procedure for revision? Will it be announced in the House or in the London Gazette?
§ Mr. Prior
There would be a consultative period. I would announce that to the House. I would then lay fresh draft codes, first for consultation and later for the approval of the House. I hope that the codes will work without the need for further revision. However, I know enough about industrial relations to know that we are not dealing with a static position. If we get ourselves into a static position, we are wrong. I am asking the House to pass these codes and to give them a chance to work. If there are faults in them—although I do not think that there will be—that will be the time to 661 consider them again. That is by far the best way to proceed in difficult and delicate matters.
§ Mr. Marlow
I wish to raise a point on the important matter of the review clause. The document says that reviews should take place "every few years". That may be the appropriate way to deal with it in the document. Will my right hon. Friend give his advice about how frequently should be "every few years" in normal circumstances? Should it be every three years?
§ Mr. Prior
I am not prepared to give advice on that point, simply because any number of people in the consultations suggested any number of different computations. During the course of the debates in the House, as my hon. Friend knows only too well, a period of three years was suggested. A number of people, especially on the employers' side—the EEF, the CBI, the Ford Motor Company and others—said that they wanted no stipulation for a period of years. A number of companies said that they wanted it left entirely to them to decide whether there should be a review. We included four circumstances in which we thought that there should be a review, and we left it at that. That is the right way to proceed.
As I have said, I do not claim that everything in the codes is right or immutable, and we may have to return to them in years to come.
§ Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)
I have listened carefully to what the Secretary of State has said. Many of us have not had the opportunity to get at the right hon. Gentleman in relation to this legislation. Thanks to the Chair, I am seizing the opportunity to do so now. Bearing in mind what was said by the Conservative Party in the pre-election period as to what it would do about trade unions and the closed shop, are the Government considering closed shops across the board, such as in a professional organisation? What will the Government do about that, or will they do nothing at all?
§ Mr. Prior
I advise the hon. Gentleman to read the reports of the debates 662 that we have held over the last 18 months. Indeed, perhaps he will also read the Conservative manifesto, because there he will see that we suggested a code of practice on the closed shop at that time, and we are fulfilling that pledge today. That was part of our election manifesto. I believe that the codes have an important role to play in explaining the law where there is still misunderstanding and in setting standards of behaviour based on existing good practice.
§ Mr. Haynes
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have not received a satisfactory answer from the Secretary of State—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)
Order. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that on many occasions he has not been alone in that respect.
§ Mr. Prior
No aspect of industrial relations has caused deeper public concern than disorder and intimidation on the picket line or intolerance and inflexibility in the closed shop. Nothing has done more harm to the reputation of trade unionism in this country. I believe that these codes offer us the way forward to order and responsibility in our industrial relations. I urge the whole House to support the codes tonight. I am convinced that an overwhelming majority of trade unionists, including active trade unionists, wish to see some order and good behaviour introduced into the picket line and the operation of the closed shop.
No one knows that better than Labour Members. They know what the trade union membership and constituents are saying to them. If they vote against these codes tonight, and should they ever come into office and once more seek to repeal this legislation, they will have done the greatest disservice to the prosperity of our country and the people whom they hope to represent. It is on that basis that I commend the codes to the House.
§ Mr. Eric G. Varley (Chesterfield)
We had a relatively quiet introduction from the Secretary of State until he got on to his Conservative Party conference speech. I hope to keep the temperature down and not provoke Conservative Members too much, because it is necessary to put some of these proposals under the scrutiny that they deserve.
663 First, I wish to register a protest on behalf of the official Opposition about the way in which these codes have been dealt with. My hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Evans) was absolutely right when he said that they are being dealt with in an unsatisfactory manner. The codes were produced three days before the House went into recess, and comments were asked for before the House returned. As the Select Committee on Employment reported,This shows scant regard for the views of Parliament and goes far to deny the Committee, and the House, a proper opportunity to make representations on the Codes at a stage when they could still influence their final form".That is absolutely right. We now have the drafts in their final form. There is no chance of amending them and we must debate them on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
In moving acceptance of the drafts, the Secretary of State did his best to maintain the pretence that the purpose of the codes is to promote an improvement in industrial relations. Even after the relatively minor redrafting and softening of certain paragraphs, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), who was Chairman of the Select Committee, said, they remain a jumble of interpretation, law and advice. There is every likelihood that they will be disregarded and discredited even before they pass through Parliament.
On 23 October, the British Institute of Management said that the draftswere seriously open to criticism on grounds of being over-political in parts and sometimes even provocative".That is not the TUC speaking but an organisation which by and large supports the Conservative Government. Therefore, in spite of the minor modifications in the drafts, that criticism still holds good.
The Secretary of State has told the House that he has issued these codes of practice under section 3 of the Employment Act. Section 3(2) provides:The Secretary of State shall after consultation with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service … prepare and publish a draft of any Code of Practice that he proposes to issue under this section".The Secretary of State certainly gave the impression when he produced the first drafts that "such consultation has taken place". I have taken those words from 664 the preamble to the draft codes of practice which were produced in August. That is not true. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) said in his intervention, ACAS is an independent body with a high reputation for fairness and impartiality. The ACAS council did not play any part in the consultative process. The members of that council did not want to take part in preparing the drafts, nor were they given any chance to comment before they were issued to the press.
§ Mr. Richard Needham (Chippenham)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that the BIM document also stated:Most BIM respondents had taken the view that, with certain amendments and changes of emphasis, the draft Codes issued by the Department would be helpful in establishing good practice and in clarifying acceptable behaviour"?
§ Mr. Varley
Of course the BIM had other things to say, but I cannot quote the whole document that it produced on 23 October. However, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would deny that the words which I quoted are correct, and that it regards the drafts asover-political in parts and sometimes even provocative".I was making the point that the Secretary of State tried to give the impression in August, when the drafts were produced, that such consultation had taken place. That is not the case, and we all know why ACAS did not want to take part in preparing these codes. It would have been much better had the Secretary of State admitted at the beginning of this process that there was never any chance of getting ACAS to give approval to what are the right hon. Gentleman's own codes. He must make that plain to the House. It must be made plain to the country that these are not impartial codes but rather Tory Government codes. That is how they will be regarded by the majority of people who must operate them. They will be characterised as biased and political.
It is not difficult to win support for the simple proposition that we should strive for stable and harmonious industrial relations. That is the objective of any sensible trade union leader and employer. But, as Mr. Jim Mortimer, chairman of ACAS, pointed out, there is a delicate distinction between the codes 665 issued exclusively on the authority of the Secretary of State and sprinkled—as I think the Secretary of State confirmed in the last part of his speech—with the rhetoric of the Tory election campaign, the campaign documents and the Tory party manifesto, and those of ACAS. The codes of ACAS are not only part of a legal framework but they are positively recommended by that body as good industrial relations practice. These codes are not supported by ACAS, and they have no chance of being recommended by ACAS or of being accepted by the broad trade union movement.
The other folly about the codes is that they have what has been described as a semi-legal status—that is, in any proceedings before a court—any court, criminal or civil—these codes will be admissible in evidence and taken into account in determining the decision of the court. In Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster tried to move an amendment to leave out the word "court", but it was rejected. The Under-Secretary of State was wrong in rejecting it.
Lord Justice Scarman said on a previous occasion that judges should not be put in the driving seat in determining delicate problems arising out of trade disputes. That sound advice has been totally ignored by the Government. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to say that the codes will only be "taken into account" and that he is not making law. They will be used over and over again in the courts, they will be quoted by employers and they will be used with the adventurism that usually goes with the Master of the Rolls.
§ Mr. Budgen
How can judges, for instance, take the recommendations about the closed shop into account while not applying them if they are not law? What does the term "take into account" mean?
§ Mr. Varley
The hon. Gentleman should put that question to the Secretary of State. But, looking at the judgments that have been made over the last few years in the Court of Appeal and elsewhere, I think that there will be someone who will say that Parliament intended that the codes should be taken into account and that they will be used over and over again.
§ Mr. Reg Race (Wood Green)
As a specific example of the difficulties that may arise, I refer to paragraph 11 of the draft code of practice on the closed shop. There is a substantial difference between the originally published code, which left out the word "union", and the present code. The word "union" has now been magically inserted. That means that the union, as well as an individual, could be brought before a court and that the immunities for trade unions under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act could be overturned by a court, even though those immunities are written into the Act. Because of this code, trade unions could be liable to pay damages to an individual who had been unfairly dismissed for not wanting to be in a closed shop.
§ Mr. Varley
My hon. Friend has made the point forcefully in answer to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen).
It is not good enough for the Secretary of State to ignore the legal advice from people such as Lord Justice Scar-man. In the majority of cases there is no desire to get involved in the day-to-day industrial disputes that the Secretary of State tries to cover in these codes.
The codes are also affected by the tone and language used. By and large, the tone is anti-trade union, and that will be deeply offensive to the majority of loyal trade unionists. In some cases—for instance, among employers—they will be regarded as giving practical guidance, but in other cases they will lead to great confusion and dangerous misunderstandings. The codes impose burdens on only one side of industry.
I often wonder—I do not say this in any nasty way—what practical experience Tory Ministers have of industrial disputes. Certainly. Conservative Ministers have unparalleled experience of major official strikes. Under the Conservative Government in 1974 we had a postal workers' strike, a gas workers' strike, an electricity workers' strike and two coal miners' strikes. During the first 18 months of the present Conservative Government's term of office we have had an official engineers' strike and a national steel strike, the first steel strike in the history of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation.
667 I do not mean that kind of experience of industrial disputes; I mean practical experience at the level of the firm, for example, on the question of picketing, where there is a charged atmosphere when a strike takes place and men and women experience physical discomfort and financial hardship. They cannot be passive as other people take over their jobs or undertake work that they normally do, or when they see supplies going into the factory. That action renders their strike ineffective, and, as a consequence, hard words are used. Trade unions believe that they have every right to make their industrial action effective.
Of course picketing must be peaceful, and in the majority of cases it is peaceful, and chief constables have testified to that on many occasions. Labour Members have been the first to condemn violence when it occurs, but it must not be assumed that the trouble on the picket line is the sole responsibility of those engaged in the picket, as the code implies.
§ Mr. Varley
I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. Often ugly scenes occur, and pickets who want to do no more than exercise their right to communicate or obtain information have special buses and lorries driven at them at speed.
Another area of conflict is the Secretary of State's insistence in paragraph 31 of the code on picketing on laying down a maximum number of pickets at any entrance to a workplace. We warned against that foolishness in Committee, and the insistence on six pickets only is no more than the Secretary of State's opinion. That is not included in the Act, nor has it been requested by the chief constables of the West Midlands, South Yorkshire or South Wales, all of whom have experience in dealing with disputes in highly industrialised areas, or by Sir David McNee when he gave evidence to the Select Committee. The Times said on 7 November—
§ Mr. Varley
It is good at striking, but its leader writer was right in saying that this 668is a politically charged recommendation … judging perhaps that a code based on inadequate common ground may do more harm than good.It is the same when we consider the code on the closed shop arrangements. But, before I deal with that, I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer).
§ Mr. Cryer
My right hon. Friend was saying that Labour Members had been the first to condemn violence on the picket line, and that is absolutely correct. Will he also bear in mind that during the lorry drivers' strike, when a picket was killed in Glasgow by a cowboy lorry driver, the Conservatives were the very last to condemn that violence? Indeed, no official spokesman made any statement whatever condemning that act of violence until we insisted on it and forced the Conservatives to do so in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Varley
Anyone with practical experience on a picket line at a workplace will know that there can be what I have tried to describe, probably inadequately, as a highly charged atmosphere. The workers there are suffering great privations. In the main, they want simply to communicate peacefully and to obtain information. But they see lorries and buses driving at them at great speed, and inevitably that causes tempers to rise. Hard things are said and hard words are used in those circumstances.
§ Mr. Jocelyn Cadbury (Birmingham, Northfield)
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the sheer weight of numbers outside a factory is itself intimidatory?
§ Mr. Varley
If the hon. Gentleman has been following the evidence that has been given to the Select Committee, he will know that the chief constables, without exception, said that they could usually deal with that kind of demonstration. They have dealt with it and they do not want the numbers to be specified in the legislation. I make plain that it is not specified in the legislation. It is also the Secretary of State's own view, as far as I understand, that the chief constables do not want it specified there.
§ Mr. Varley
I have given way a great deal. I give way to the hon. Gentleman because he is a member of the Select Committee.
§ Mr. Townend
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. The police in their evidence said that they wanted to have the right to decide the number of pickets but on two occasions said that they considered that large numbers of pickets were of themselves intimidatory. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that?
§ Mr. Varley
I have read every scrap of evidence that has been given by the chief constables to the Select Committee over the last 12 months. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman said, that the chief constables do not like that kind of demonstration. Nobody does. I do not think that the trade unions are particularly keen on mounting that kind of demonstration. On no occasion have the chief constables said that they want the numbers limited by law or included in a code.
§ Mr. Varley
That is right. There may be circumstances in which one picket is sufficient or in which two are sufficient. But when the Secretary of State gives the impression that six will be enough pickets for any entrance, it means that immediately people will say "That is the very minimum and we shall break it anyway because it is not in the law." We shall probably find that picketing will get even worse in certain circumstances.
I was moving on to consider the code in the booklet entitled "Closed Shop Agreements and Arrangements". I cannot understand why the Government have adopted such an anti-closed shop attitude. As long ago as 1968, the closed shop was considered by the Donovan Commission and it came down firmly against its prohibition. Yet the Secretary of State, in the preamble to the draft code published 670 in August—it is not repeated in the code before the House today—went out of his way to say the most damaging and misleading things about union membership agreements. If only he had taken time to look at his own Department of Employment Gazette, he would have seen that comprehensive safeguards have been written into closed shop agreements over the past 10 years.
These are not the right hon Gentleman's words, but the Gazette gives the following summary of the position:The present research indicates that a major change in the nature of the closed shop has occurred during the past decade. Negotiators have concluded increasingly sophisticated post-entry UMAs"—union membership agreements—to define precisely the obligations and rights of workers where union membership exists as a condition of employment, and, despite enormous variation in detail, there appears to be a growing standardisation in broad content matter which is only partly attributable to legal considerations. For example, where new closed shops have appeared, it has increasingly become the norm to exclude existing non-unionists from compulsion to join the union.That is what the research showed only about 12 months ago.
Perhaps I could give some examples of the muddling up of the law in the code with the Secretary of State's prejudice. Paragraph 33 of the code says thata secret ballot should be held of those to be included within the scope of any proposed new closed shop.A trade union or an employer can still conclude a closed shop agreement without any ballot, so that paragraph 33 is quite misleading, for a ballot in which 80 per cent. of the work force agrees to establish a closed shop gives protection against claims of unfair dismissal.
§ Mr. Mellor
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was here at the beginning and went out for only five minutes. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman feels it necessary to descend to ridiculous personal abuse.
§ Mr. Varley
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I am incorrect. But I shall not give way to him now because I have 671 already said that I would not give way further to Government Members on this matter.
As I was saying, the code does not prevent a closed shop agreement from coming into operation if the principal partners agree. There is no requirement in the legislation for a ballot before a closed shop agreement is concluded.
Another example of the Government's hostility to effective trade union organisation is to be found in paragraph 35 of the code, which states:While 80 per cent. is the minimum of support necessary under the Employment Act to provide a defence against claims of unfair dismissal in a new closed shop, this does not prevent an employer from deciding that there should be a higher percentage in favour before he agrees to such a radical change in his employees' terms".It is not sufficient for the Secretary of State that the Act lays down that not less than 80 per cent. of those entitled to vote should vote in favour of a union membership agreement. That is hard enough to achieve by any test, but the code goes on to encourage an employer to go for a higher percentage before he even agrees to a ballot. The Secretary of State is not content with that. In paragraphs 42 and 43 of the code, he encourages the breaking of existing union membership agreements by periodic reviews. If the Secretary of State's advice is followed, it will increase the industrial conflict and do great damage to industrial relations.
The suggestion of periodic reviews has been watered down a little, not because of a change of heart by the Secretary of State but because of the alarm it caused among members of the Engineering Employers Federation and the Confederation of British Industry. But that minor change in no way detracts from the dangerous counsel that the Secretary of State is giving to employers to seek ways of breaking union membership agreements.
The Secretary of State is fond of saying that his codes offer practical advice. In the case of a union membership agreement, it is no more than guidance to employers to find ways of obstruction, to prevaricate and to seek ways to undermine the effectiveness of union membership agreements. Throughout the code the Secretary of State has not a word of 672 support for the trade unions which are trying to seek legitimate union membership agreements.
Within a very short time the first Session of this Parliament, elected in May of last year, will come to an end, and the House is entitled to ask what contribution this legislation, these codes and the Secretary of State have made over the last 18 months to improving industrial relations.
In this Session we have seen the most catastrophic economic slump for over half a century. The Government came to power with campaign posters depicting phoney dole queues. They have produced genuine dole queues that are longer than most of us can remember. The Government came to power denouncing pay restraint and championing free collective bargaining. They are now operating the crudest, most discriminatory and most unfair pay restraint policy in the public service that we have ever known. I cannot see that improving industrial relations.
The Government came to power denouncing high rates of interest, yet the highest interest rates that we have ever known for longer than we have ever known have been inflicted on workers and employers alike. That policy will not contribute to sound industrial relations. We have artificially high fuel costs and an exchange rate which is pricing even the most competitive companies out of world markets.
It is not the TUC alone that is opposed to these policies. The Confederation of British Industry is in rebellion, too. The building employers proclaim that the Government are bringing their industry almost to its knees.
What is the Secretary of State doing? All that he is doing is producing these irrelevant and provocative codes, which will do nothing to help and will alienate still further the trade unions, the co-operation of which I should think the Government desperately need now more than ever before. The Secretary of State is quite a pleasant man—
§ Mr. Varley
As I have said before, he is the good guy of this Government. He is quite a pleasant man. However, whenever things have become difficult, he has 673 always been prepared to take aside a friendly journalist or two and give the impression that he does not really agree with any of it. That might have been credible a few months ago, but the right hon. Gentleman is as deeply implicated in the Government's destructive economic and industrial policies as are his Cabinet colleagues. He shares collective responsibility for the demented industrial policies that are shutting down companies day by day. He shares collective responsibility for the crackpot monetary policy which has done so much to damage industry and which will do so much to damage industrial relations.
The right hon. Gentleman's guilt is greater than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or of the Secretary of State for Industry. At least, they profess to believe in the Government's policies, whereas the right hon. Gentleman's covert and sly briefings are aimed at convincing us that he does not believe in the policies. His position in the Cabinet should make him the custodian of employment policies and of fostering good industrial relations. However, we have seen employment opportunities destroyed. We are certain that the codes will worsen good industrial relations. That is why we shall vote against them tonight.
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
I should at the outset make it clear that I can give no support to these codes of practice. I spent many hours and several days as a member of the Select Committee that listened to evidence on these matters. It heard evidence from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the CBI. I have never heard from those knuckle-dusting gentlemen such turgid and timid evidence, mouthing as they did the slogans of the wet wing of politics. I recall phrases such as "foot-by-foot" reform, or was it "step-by-step"? It does not really matter. The fact is that the CBI's support for the codes was given in the most mindless fashion. It may be that I am put in league with the devil in taking this attitude, but when dealing with devilish and misplaced conceptions one has to find support and friends from wherever they may reside.
I do not wish to spend any time considering the detail of the codes. Suffice it to say that I regard the leaving of the 674 number of pickets on a line to the discretion of the police the right and correct approach. We should not conjure a figure such as six out of the air. There is no point in tinkering with the details, because I believe that the codes are wrong in principle. If I were to address myself to the changes that have been made to the draft codes by the Secretary of State, I should be thankful for the separation of guidance on good practice from explanations of the law. If Parliament is not to be given the same opportunity to discuss the codes as it was accorded to discuss the non-controversial subject of highway codes, which was the subject of a Green Paper, a full day's debate is certainly a welcome opportunity. Finally, I am grateful for the small modifications that have been made.
I am opposed to the codes in principle because of their objective. If the House would like to know what I would do, I would say that in place of them there are three choices. The first choice is that what is contained in them should be the subject matter of law and that they should be enshrined in law. The second choice is that they should be brought forward by trade unions, because a trade union is in a position to police its codes' observance if anyone is in a position to do so. The third choice is that they should be introduced by ACAS. I found the Secretary of State's rejection of ACAS as a necessary supporter of the codes completely unconvincing. Incidentally, I am glad to know that the Secretary of State is not making much of the comparison between these codes and highway codes, as he has done on earlier occasions when giving evidence to the Select Committee.
I turn to the procedure that has been adopted. The Secretary of State has given his replies to the Select Committee. It criticised the time that it was allowed. In his reply, the Secretary of State said that the CBI might have had the necessary time and that it had not complained. He claimed that the TUC had had the necessary time. I draw the attention of the Secretary of State to the fact that the Select Committee had only 14 working days after having heard the evidence of the CBI and the TUC to decide what its further inquiries should be, to obtain witnesses to give that evidence and to make 675 a report. I make no complaint that members of a Select Committee should be asked to work hard, but I complain that Members of this place should be given so little time in which to deliberate before making a report to the House.
The Secretary of State asserts that the matter has been properly debated in Parliament. That is his contention in paragraph 13 of his observations on the Select Committee's second report. In that paragraph, he states:The debates on the Employment Act included detailed consideration of the principle of secret ballots in relation to industrial action".That does not answer the point about shortage of time and the lack of debate on the codes. I do not understand what secret ballots have to do with the codes. I suggest to the Secretary of State that there has not been adequate time for the House to express its point of view on a Green Paper and for those views to be considered. Let us not forget that it is not only criticism of what is in the codes but criticism of what is not in them that is a matter for the House to express a view upon.
I take issue with the Secretary of State because matters relating to the codes have not been considered by Parliament. I did not vote with the Opposition against clause 3 of the Employment Bill of 1980, which included powers to bring forward such codes. We were presented with the equivalent of a blank cheque. Three days before Parliament rose for the Summer Recess, the sums of money on that blank cheque were filled in. I do not like those sums of money, and that is why I shall not support them.
In the Secretary of State's reply to the Select Committee, there is more than one suggestion that the Select Committee was not agreed on various aspects of its report. Far from that diminishing the value of the report, it enhances the criticism that controversial matters had not been sufficiently and properly aired. I refer to the procedures followed on the various amendments that were made to the highway codes. Green Papers preceded debates and final drafts. My overriding criticism is—no matter what the Secretary of State may say—that the codes of practice are unconstitutional. It is said that the three codes produced by ACAS 676 do not have the same status as the codes produced by the Secretary of State. That is not true. The codes produced by ACAS were the result of agreement between the trade unions and the employers. Even if there was some controversy over them, they were not rejected by either side of industry. That makes a significant difference.
The Secretary of State suggests that his codes are not unconstitutional and that they are not back-door legislation. They are worse. They constitute the first step down a slippery slope. If we have semi-judicial edicts that are quasi-binding on the courts and that have been produced by Ministers who have not had the courage to enshrine them in law, worse developments may ensue. The codes will bring the spirit of the law into industrial relations, but not the certainty and precision of the letter of the law. That is why I shall not give them my support in the Lobby.
§ 6.2 pm
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
By somewhat the same route, I have arrived at the same conclusion as that put forward by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) and by the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst). My hon. Friends and I in the Ulster Unionist Party will vote against these motions.
I express our gratitude to the Select Committee for having afforded a minority party a timely opportunity to put forward its views. I also express our gratitude for the manner in which those views were received. We were gratified to find that the matters that we had found objectionable, or open to criticism, in the draft codes of practice had attracted the attention and objection of either a part or the majority of the Select Committee.
The Select Committee's report certainly did not lack attention from the Government. It would be less than candid not to accept that the codes now represent a substantial redraft of the original drafts. If one were to go over the history of codes and similar documents that were submitted in a draft form and then put forward for the approval of the House, I believe one would find only a small minority in which the changes and redrafting had been so substantial and genuine. In particular, the Secretary of 677 State firmly took on board one of the criticisms that my colleagues put forward, and which the Committee strongly underlined, namely, that the original draft failed to distinguish between the part of the code that was interpretation or commentary on the law and the part that was a self-confessed addition to the law—a sort of voluntary supplement. The new draft of the codes clearly distinguishes between those parts that state the law and those that do not; and that throws into relief the serious criticism of them.
Despite the protestations of the Secretary of State, we are endeavouring to legislate by code on subjects that should not be dealt with otherwise than by the full process of parliamentary legislation. In the preamble to the code of practice on the closed shop, the following words appear:Changes in existing practices and written agreements required to meet the standards set by the Code"—it does not refer to standards set by the Act—should be adopted in the light of the Code's general approach—and that of the 1980 Employment Act, which it complements".That is a fair—perhaps inadvertently fair—description of what the codes seek to do. They seek to set a standard that the Act did not set, and thereby to create a complement to an Act of Parliament. In doing so, they include matter which will render them harmful, rather than helpful, to industrial relations—the very test that was put forward by the Secretary of State himself.
I intend to take four of the most important examples. One has already been referred to, namely, "the rule of six" in the code on picketing. This is a very grave matter. The code specifies a generally applicable figure in excess of which legal consequences of a criminal character as well as of a civil character will probably follow.
Now, it is not beyond the power of parliamentary draftsmen—if it is the will of this House and of Parliament—to find words to express the idea that a picket of six should be regarded, other than in exceptional circumstances, as the maximum, and the House is capable of thrashing through the formulae proposed until they express the view of the House as a 678 whole or, as is more usual, the view of the majority, which we accept as the view of the House. But the Act has left the matter open. It is the code which introduces the specificity.
It is no use arguing that the code is expressly an exercise in flexibility. The wording of the code would have to be taken into account in a criminal case; for both the criminal and the civil courts are directed by the Act to have regard to the code's wording. They would have to consider that wording whenever it appeared to be relevant to the circumstances of the case. So I do not believe there could be a clearer case of legislation by code than "the rule of six".
I turn for my remaining examples to the code on the closed shop. I take first the matter of the periodic reviews, which arises first in paragraph 30(vii) and is then elaborated in paragraphs 42 to 46. If there is to be a periodic review—leaving aside for the moment what the periodicity should be—of existing and new closed shops, the complexion of the legislation on closed shops in the Act is placed in an entitrely different light. The whole institution of the closed shop, if it is to be subject to periodic review in every case where it exists, is different as a result of those provisions from what it would be under the provisions of the Act that received Royal Assent.
It is no use the Secretary of State saying that people can take account or not take account of the code but that this is the broad direction in which he would like them to go. He is entitled to stump the country if he wishes, saying that that is the sort of practice he would like to see. He can further say that that is the sort of legislation which in due course he would wish to see introduced. What, in my view, he is not entitled to do is to introduce into a code a provision which is not minor in character but which goes to the heart of the legislation on the closed shop and then say to the courts that they are to have regard to it whenever it is relevant to anything that comes before them.
There is a reference to the pre-entry closed shop in paragraph 46. The Secretary of State does not like the pre-entry closed shop at all. I am not here agreeing or disagreeing with his tastes in that 679 matter; but let the House consider the wording of that paragraph:Closed shop agreements which require people to belong to a trade union before they can be employed … may particularly infringe the freedom of individuals to work.Those last words are a redrafting. The original phrase was "the right to work"; and one can reconstruct something of what went through the draftsman's mind when he took up his pen and made the alteration.
However, the fact is that whatever the rights of individuals in this country are, they are enshrined either in the common law or in the law made by Parliament. It is not possible for a mere code to declare that this or that is liked or disliked because it mightinfringe the freedom of individuals".If we are concerned withthe freedom of individuals",we should use the powers that we possess in this House to safeguard those freedoms by due course of law. We certainly should not continue, as that paragraph does:No new ageements of this type should be contemplated".I wonder what that means. Is it a sin now just to contemplate? The reason for that strange verb being chosen is that the Secretary of State understands perfectly well what he is trying to do: he is trying to secure the effect of a prohibition but, knowing that he cannot do that openly in the code, he uses terminology which is—shall I say?—not legislative. If forthe freedom of the individualthere ought not to be pre-entry closed shops, it is the business of this House, as one of the Houses of Parliament, to say so. There is no other way in whichthe freedom of the individual",if it needs to be safeguarded in this context, ought to be protected.
My last instance is one that has an even wider bearing. It is the reference to the disciplinary action which unions ought or ought not to take. It first appears in paragraph 30:Any new closed shop agreements should … provide that an employee will not be dismissed if expelled from his union for refusal to take part in industrial action".There were exchanges earlier between the Secretary of State and the hon. Member 680 for Newton (Mr. Evans) about the later paragraph, paragraph 54, on disciplinary action, which apparently limits the generality of paragraph 35. If I may say so, the hon. Gentleman was right to draw attention to the significance of paragraph 54:refusal to take part in industrial action called for by the union … (c) because the action had not been affirmed in a secret ballot".What the code is saying here is that a trade union ought not to discipline a member of that union if he refuses to take part in industrial action because the action had not been affirmed in a secret ballot, even if a secret ballot is not part of the rules of that union. Consideration of that clearly legislative proposition in the code leads us to look at the much larger background to the Act and the code itself; for if a trade union cannot take action against one of its own members for failing to participate in industrial action that is both in accordance with the law and with its own rules, it is difficult to see what the function of a trade union is.
I have long said that we shall never succeed in this House in getting satisfactory legislation on the law governing trade unions unless and until we have decided what is to be the function of the trade union in the economy and in society. Let me put it simply. If it is a function of the trade union in our society to safeguard the real remuneration, including conditions of work, of the workers, we shall draw one set of conclusions as to the closed shop and the law that ought to govern it—conclusions reached by the sort of reasoning that is expresed in the term "free rider". We shall say that trade unions by their collective and coercive action are conferring a general benefit and that, therefore, it is unjust and unfair that those who benefit should not bear the burden and cost of that which benefits them. That is one view of the scope and function of the trade union in society.
There is another view—that the trade union is an inevitable but inherently free association of workers, by which they believe that, so far as they join in and participate in it, they improve their circumstances and prospects. If that is the view taken of the place of the trade union in our life, different conclusions will follow on the closed shop. We shall then indeed say that to coerce a man to pay 681 for or support that which he is convinced does not benefit him is unreasonable and should not have the support of the law.
This is a matter that has not been clarified. Indeed it has rarely been brought into serious public debate, inside or outside the House. Instead of clarifying it, we have sought to pretend that there is not that deep divergence underlying our legislation and have simply gone ahead with legislating. The result is that the Secretary of State finds himself—
§ Mr. Thompson
Which institution, if any, in this great, complex country is as clearly defined as the right hon. Gentleman would like trade unions to be?
§ Mr. Powell
There can be few institutions of which the purpose and effect is the subject of so little agreement as trade unions. Until we know what we want trade unions to do and believe they can do, we cannot deal with the most controversial and controverted aspects of the law and the activities of trade unions.
§ Mr. Powell
If the hon. Gentleman does not want to listen, he need not waste his time being in the Chamber.
The Secretary of State has found himself in a cleft stick. Many of his supporters believe that, on their view of trade unions and their function, there should be further limitation by law of unions' activities and further restrictions on the right of combination. The right hon. Gentleman considers it to be impractical to legislate in that way or to provide the protection that many of his hon. Friends think is just and necessary for the individual citizen.
So the right hon. Gentleman says instead "Don't worry. I will have a code, and you will find in the code many of the things that you would like. If you read it in conjunction with the Act, you will find that by the back door you are getting what you thought you would get." That cannot succeed. The attempt to cover over an unresolved conflict of the deepest character 682 by a combination of enabling legislation with codes of practice is bound to fail and, in the course of failing, to do harm to industrial relations and not improve them.
The very insincerity that lies at the heart of it will itself be a cause of conflict and damage. For that reason, I believe that the House should say to the Secretary of State that perhaps one day there will be a time when it will be reasonable for the right hon. Gentleman to use the code-making powers in the Act but that, if he wishes his codes to go beyond explanation and commentary on the law, the time is not yet. Parliament has passed the Act; let us see how it works and how we get on.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
Oscar Wilde said that the easiest way to overcome temptation was to yield to it. I yield to the temptation to speak from example and personal experience, in the same way as did the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell).
Throughout 23 years in the teaching profession, I always belonged to a professional association—a union. I believe totally in the value of the association of those with common interests into unions or their equivalent. In addition to the pursuit of a common interest, much is gained academically, in the case of teaching unions, or in other ways by the close co-operation of those doing similar work. There was always great individuality in the way that teachers approached union activities in my time—which was until last year—and we belonged to many different unions, or to none, for different reasons, ranging from a need to be covered legally if taken to court by a parent, perhaps for having struck a child in self-defence, or for a number of other reasons.
Our unions had to act democratically, or there was trouble. Minority or individual objections or special needs had always to be taken into account and a closed shop would have been unthinkable and unworkable in my profession. I am not saying that a closed shop is wrong for those who freely choose it and when there are reasonable arrangements for minorities, but a recent experience has made me feel cautious. I raised in the 683 House in June the case of a constituent, Graham Hunter-Gray, aged 21, who went to work on 14 May when he was not a member of a union. His employer, Lyons Maid Limited of Greenford, had said that there would be work for all those wishing to work at the factory on that day, and Len Murray had said that the decision to work or not to work, on that so-called day of action rested with each individual.
I explained to the House on that occasion that Graham needed and wanted to join the Transport and General Workers Union, which was in control of a closed shop agreement in the cold store at Lyons Maid, where he worked. Graham told me, and I accept his word, that he believed in unions. The story is not over yet, but much of it is already history. However, I must refer to a few details.
Graham was suspended from work on 15 May. On 31 May he appeared before a branch meeting of what he described as 26 hostile officials. On 3 June the branch secretary wrote to him saying that he had been refused branch membership but had the right of appeal to the regional secretary of the TGWU within 15 days.
An appeal was made on 9 June and acknowledged on 12 June. However, on 13 June the branch secretary, Mr. McCann, wrote to the Lyons Maid personnel officer drawing his attention to the agreement made with the union not to employ non-union labour and pointing out that Graham had been refused union membership on 31 May. Graham therefore lost his job and needlessly joined the young unemployed. Since then, there has been a saga of delay and a failure to answer letters.
Seven weeks went by and there was still no response to Graham's appeal, even though it meant that he had no job. I raised the matter in the House and wrote to Moss Evans, the general secretary of the TGWU, who had expressed such tremendous concern about unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Finally, on 23 July, Graham heard from the union's regional secretary that its regional emergency and general purposes committee had supported the branch's refusal of union membership but that he had the right of appeal to the union's independent review committee. Graham therefore lodged such an appeal in due course.
684 Since then, nothing has been heard by Graham, myself or anyone else. As far as the union, the branch and all connected with it are concerned, he is out of work pending his appeal. What a long time it has taken. Every step seems to have taken an inordinate length of time, except the first, which was to refuse him union membership and, therefore, to exclude him from his job.
Graham is presumed by the TGWU to be unemployed. Moss Evans does not answer my letters, written as Graham's Member of Parliament. It would be a grave situation if a Minister refused to answer a letter from an hon. Member in such circumstances. There would, rightly, be a row. I have asked Moss Evans for compassion and expedition in this case, but, nearly six months after the incident, nothing is resolved.
Happily, Graham has recently got another job and the matter is becoming academic, but it is a serious and tragic example of the way in which any person could be handled under the legislation passed by the previous Government. I know that the recent Act would now cover cases such as Graham's and he would have proper legal redress.
I have felt up against a wall, morally, spiritually and in every other way. The codes of practice seem to me to point the union and everyone concerned in a moral direction. I clutch at the codes and welcome them on that basis. I note that my right hon. Friend has said that they may well be the forerunners of future action.
I should like to say this to my friends in the Labour Party. How can a party argue, as it does, and as it has done historically, for total freedom of the individual from censorship and freedom to read and look at what he wishes and at the same time be willing, through legislation, to place a total restriction on a man and his job? Those seem to me to be incompatible actions. The job of any man claims a great deal of his life.
That is a philosophical and political contradiction of the gravest kind. The livelihood and well-being of each individual can be affected. Power over his own life is removed from him to an amorphous corporate body—in this case the union-controlled closed shop. There is no doubt that the code of practice on this is more than fully justified. If it results in pressure in society, the courts, the 685 unions and everywhere else for support to be given to individuals such as my young constituent, it will be very welcome. I welcome it in that spirit.
§ Mr. Ted Fletcher (Darlington)
In Committee during the passage of the Employment Act, many of my hon. Friends raised various points which the Minister at the time said would be clarified when the codes of practice were issued. But—as the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), with whom I totally disagree on most issues, said in a brilliant speech—the codes do not clarify the position but make it almost murkier than it was. They not merely set out advice to the unions but suggest that in certain circumstances the codes will have the force of law.
For example, paragraph 5 of section A of the code on picketing says:The Code itself imposes no legal obligations and failure to observe it does not by itself render anyone liable to proceedings.That is definite, and one could not quarrel with it. However, it continues:But Section 3 (8) of the Employment Act 1980 provides that any provisions of the Code are to be admissible in evidence and taken into account in proceedings before any court or industrial tribunal or the Central Arbitration Committee where they consider them relevant.A man might be arrested on a picket line, perhaps for a trivial misdemeanour. He might not have gone on to the pavement when the police instructed him to do so, and as a result he might be taken to court. The magistrates might disagree about whether he had committed an offence, and the case might be in the balance. The prosecuting solicitor would then say "In addition, this man has violated the code of conduct, because he was one of seven picketing his place of employment rather than six, the notional maximum which should be there." The fact that that is reported to the court would weigh the balance of justice against the man in the dock.
One can foresee the codes of practice being used on many occasions to turn the law against trade unionists who appear in the dock. This is one more instance of how the trade union movement is being embroiled in the law. There will be a bonanza for people in one of the closed shops in the legal profession, members of the Law Society.
686 The principles set out in the code seem to suggest that we gave serious consideration to these matters only when the 1974 Act was amended. In fact, picketing is as old as the trade union movement. It was first recognised by Parliament in the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875, which sets out various proposals for containing violence. Some of them deal with such matters as the use use of violence to intimidate a person, his wife or children, and with injury to his property. The Act stops a man from being persistently followed. It deals with a man who hides another man's tools or other property, or hinders their use, or who watches or besets any house or place where he is, or the approach to it, or follows him in the street, and so on. Those are crimes under the Act. But the Act sought to make a distinction with regard to picketing. In 1875 peaceful picketing was legalised, so that there should be a distinction between the criminal law and picketing. There was a proviso that attending at or near a place of work merely in order to communicate information was legal.
Picketing has been going on over the years throughout the trade union movement. In many instances it led to violence on the picket line, and pickets were arrested—in accordance with the criminal law, not becaue they were peacefully picketing at a place of employment.
If they wish to look into the history of picketing, hon. Members may be interested in the following. It may sound up to date, but it was written in 1890 by a trade union leader, who said, in a book called "Conflicts of Capital and Labour":Hundreds of strikes, with the usual practice of picketing, occur, to which public attention is never drawn; they are not of sufficient importance to attract a crowd of reporters anxious to chronicle every fact which tells against the workmen. Such strikes sometimes result in favour of the men, at other times in favour of the masters; picketing is resorted to in most cases, but the public hear nothing about the alleged evils of the system. Why? Because they seldom take place. But let one single instance of coercion or undue influence be resorted to, and the entire newspaper press will record the fact, not infrequently colouring it so as to distort its real nature and significance.That is precisely what is happening today. The press is producing similar reports, saying that the isolated instances where violence takes place on picket lines seem 687 to suggest that a code of practice is necessary, when thousands of strikes take place each year and if the pickets resort to violence they can be brought to the courts under the criminal law.
§ Mr. Nicholas Lyell (Hemel Hempstead)
I have had the privilege of hearing the hon. Gentleman 'recount this matter in Standing Committee. If everything is so satisfactory and has been so in recent years, why did the TUC find it necessary to issue its guidelines, in rather a hurry, in the spring of 1979?
§ Mr. Fletcher
That was because the TUC was under some pressure with the threat of legislation if a Tory Government were returned. The TUC was under pressure, particularly from the media, to produce what is regarded as a code of conduct applicable to trade unions. If it is thought that there was merit in the TUC doing that, why did Conservative Members not pressurise their own Ministers to introduce codes of conduct based upon the TUC proposals? It seems to me that although the TUC has produced these proposals, they seem quite unsatisfactory to the Government.
It seems that the Government will be facing a revolt in their own ranks tonight, because some hon. Members think that the codes of conduct do not go far enough, that ACAS should be abolished and that the Government should confront the trade union movement to thrash this matter out and put the trade unions in their place. Such people may vote against the Government. But the trade union movement is not prepared to accept the proposals before us. The proposals are not open to amendment. Therefore, we have to accept them or reject them. We on the Labour Benches will reject them.
I warn Conservative Members of what will happen if they bring the law into disrepute. There is some history on these matters. They will remember their own Industrial Relations Act. It was defied by the trade union movement, and the Conservative Government had to go through some complicated measures to rescue five dockers, who were clearly guilty under the legislation, and get them out of prison. Conservatives promised that when they were returned to power they would not introduce any legislation similar to the Industrial Relations Act.
688 If the law is not to be brought into disrepute, it is essential that the Government seek the active co-operation of the trade union movement when going through the minefield of amending our industrial relations law. They have not done that. They have ignored not only the TUC but ACAS as well. Although the Government have a statutory obligation to consult ACAS, they have not done so. In any case, ACAS would refuse to touch these proposals with a barge-pole.
There will be the greatest difficulty in maintaining the law if thousands of people decide that the situation is so intolerable that they are prepared to fight against the law as it exists. History has taught us that, to be carried out, the law must be acceptable, if not to a majority, to a substantial proportion of the population. If it is not, the law is brought into disrepute.
I warn the Government that these proposals are not acceptable to the trade union movement. We shall fight them every inch of the way. If the Government persist tonight and get these proposals through the House, they will be heading for a confrontation with the trade union movement which will be solved only when a Labour Government are returned to power.
§ Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, East)
The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher) opened his speech by praising what he called the brilliant speech of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). That gracious compliment only underlined the fact that the right hon. Member has become a sort of guru whose metaphysical theories about the unconstitutional nature of these particular codes has been the inspiration behind an unholy alliance of Left and Right, which surfaced to a large extent in the Select Committee's deliberations and, indeed, on the Floor of the House this evening.
I believe that those theories are wrong, and I shall say why later. First, however, I should like to place on record the minority view of the Select Committee. There was, rightly, a majority view, but, nevertheless, there was a strongly expressed minority view, which has perhaps not yet achieved the attention that it merited. I should like to 689 think so, being part of that minority. In any case, that minority strongly supported the line taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in these codes. It believed that the codes would contribute towards good industrial relations, that they were in no way unconstituional and that they would be useful and a helpful guidance to good industrial relations practices in the future.
Throughout the debates on the employment legislation, the Secretary of State has resembled at times—to me, at least, that warrior who appears in Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome", about whom those behind are always crying "Forward" and those in front are always crying "Back". But the middle course that my right hon. Friend has been pursuing and the comments that have surrounded it have now, rather suprisingly, changed, as we reach the debates on these codes, because both Left and Right have managed to unite against the codes, and for the same peculiar reason. They have united beneath the banner of constitutional purity held aloft by the right hon. Member for Down, South.
The view that the codes are contitutionally undesirable or are some species of unworkable and unconstitutional legislation is extremely doubtful and one that should be challenged. Perhaps the best and clearest way of challenging it is to refer to that part of the codes that deals with the closed shop and freedom of the press.
The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) was somewhat dismissive of industrial experience possessed by Conservative Members. I claim only a modest degree of industrial experience, but it was gained in the newspaper industry. That experience, combined with parliamentary experience of the debates that took place on the whole question of the closed shop in journalism in 1974, 1975 and 1976, reinforces me in the view that the provisions in this code are far and away the best and clearest guidance to good industrial relations in the newspaper industry that I have yet seen.
This becomes particularly clear when one remembers the heroic and yet disastrous and vain efforts that this House and the upper House made to try to legislate 690 some of these very recommendations and provisions on to the statute book. We had debate after debate, amendment after amendment, messages to the Lords, messages back from the Lords, and at the end of the day, with the present Leader of the Opposition playing the largest part of all, what did we agree? We agreed that we could agree on nothing—except, perhaps, that a press charter should be written at some subsequent date and annexed to the legislation. That was Parliament's conclusion at the end of the day, after all those battles to write statutory provisions about good industrial relations in journalism on to the statute book.
When the right hon. Member for Down, South appeared before the Select Committee, we tried to question him on his views on this particular issue. He stuck to his familiar line that any of the rights or responsibilities set out in the code should be written into statute law as firm legislation.
I ask the House to consider for a moment a hypothetical but by no means fanciful example of a situation in a busy newspaper office shortly before edition time. Copy boys are running here and there; printers are getting hot metal copy ready; men with green eyeshades are saying "Hold the front page, a big story is coming", and suddenly at that moment there plops on to the news editor's desk a press release. Perhaps it is a press release from none other than the right hon. Member for Down, South. Perhaps it is one of his more apocalyptic warnings about the future of the racial situation in Britain—with the Thames foaming with much blood. Perhaps it is that sort of controversial speech which he has made in the past.
At that moment, the editor and his colleagues meet quickly and say "This is news; we must put it on the front page", and they send it off to the printers. Up from the print room comes a deputation of printers, saying "We are not having this. We shall not put this on the front page or anywhere else in the newspaper. We are blacking this copy. It is racialist stuff"—that kind of argument, of a sort not totally unfamiliar to the right hon. Gentleman.
What would be the situation under these codes? Let us see what good sense is written into them. Section E of 691 the "Closed Shop Agreements and Arrangements" states:Editors have final responsibility for the content of their publications. An editor should not be subjected to improper pressure … The editor should be free to decide whether or not to publish any material submitted to him from any source.These codes contain good guidance and good sense.
When the Select Committee questioned the right hon. Member for Down, South on whether some of the provisions in the codes should best be left as codes instead of written into statute law, at one point in his evidence he said:I want a statutory definition of an 'editor'".In another passage he said:I object to an exemption for a class from a statute, or a privileged position for a class under a statute, being given by a code of practice and not by statute as it should be. This is an old constitutional issue.The right hon. Gentleman's evidence and his speech tonight reminded me of a remark about him attributed to the late Mr. Iain Macleod:I am often a fellow traveller with Enoch, but I like to get off the train one or two stops before it crashes into the buffer at the terminus.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell
Will the hon. Gentleman be completing the little scenario, of which he appears to have described four scenes? Will he explain what happens at the end of it by virtue of paragraph 61? Will it be printed?
§ Mr. Aitken
I should hope that it would be printed. I believe that good trade unionists would respect a code of practice. The reason why I think that they would respect a code of practice is that there is no other alternative. We tried to write those kinds of duties and responsibilities on to the statute book. The right hon. Gentleman, who took part in those debates, will remember what fiascos they were and how much time we spent sending messages to and getting messages from the House of Lords. Both Houses of Parliament were unable to agree on anything. So the issue is not whether it would be better for this to be written into a statute or a code. As regards journalism, we have already tried and failed miserably to write it on to the statute book, because there was no agreement. At least, a code lays down good 692 signposts and guidelines, and I believe that they are workable.
I have used this one illustration of the closed shop in journalism, but I believe it to be just as valid for many other areas covered by these codes, whether it be the number of pickets or the way in which the closed shop should be restricted by various safeguards. I think that these proposals are sensible and workable. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has done a very good job, and I commend his codes to the House.
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, West)
The hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) blew the gaff when he referred to the situation that existed between the two Houses of Parliament when no agreement could be reached. Because no agreement could be reached in this democratically elected House or in the other place, the Government are now trying the backstairs method of codes of practice to introduce measures that they could not get through the other House.
§ Mr. Aitken
The hon. Gentleman has misinterpreted something that I said. First, I was referring to the previous Parliament, when the Labour Government were in power. Secondly, not only was no agreement reached between both Houses, but no agreement was reached within the Labour Party or the Labour Cabinet or between both sides of the House. There was no agreement.
§ Mr. Brown
That is fair enough. I take the point. Nevertheless, it is applicable in this instance.
The very basis of the debate today is that the Government were elected on a spurious campaign, not least that substantial changes should be made to the rights of trade unionists to picket and to have union membership agreements
It was not surprising that in an election campaign held in the wake of the so-called winter of discontent, the electorate having been literally brainwashed by the media into believing that there were thousands of rotting corpses in undertakers' parlours because of the actions of wicked trade unionists, that thousands of people were being denied hospital care, many dying as a result, again because of the actions of wicked trade 693 unionists, that the Black Death was just around the corner because of rotting rubbish in the streets, yet again caused by the actions of wicked trade unionists, and so on, there was bound to be a backlash against trade unionists and trade unions and, therefore, a great deal of support for a "clobber the trade unions" campaign, which was the type of campaign run by the Tory Party.
We have had the enactment of the Employment Bill, but before the ink is dry on that measure, which severely restricts rights that trade unionists have enjoyed for nearly 80 years, we have to consider these two codes of practice. What are these codes of practice meant to explain? They are meant to explain what the Act means. It seems that the Secretary of State is not too confident about the Act and feels that a set of ground rules will avoid conflict in future.
These codes will only add to the panoply of the law on industrial relations. I do not propose to quote section A, paragraph 5, because it has been quoted often enough. At the end of the day, only judges can decide what a statute means. These codes can only add admissible evidence in any case.
The picketing code, on page 14—"Essential Supplies and Services"—warns pickets not to disrupt essential supplies and gives a list of eight illustrations. This list goes much wider than that contained in the TUC's guide of February 1979. Indeed, it goes much wider than the definitions of a national emergency in section 1 of the Emergency Powers Act 1920, under which the Government may declare emergencies and use the Armed Forces.
If the Government had any serious intention of reaching an accommodation with organised workers, why were they not prepared to allow the TUC's voluntary guide of 1979 the chance to be proved? I am convinced that, with the better climate prevailing within the trade union movement following the winter of discontent, that voluntary code could have been made to work.
These codes can only make industrial relations worse. No right-thinking person should expect workers to give up rights that were hard earned by their predecessors.
694 The Government have rehearsed the argument, mainly through the media, that these codes represent a defence of the rights of workers, but they have not succeeded in conning anyone in the trade union movement. I know that Tory Members will quote public opinion polls and so on. However, if trade unions are weakened by the introduction of these codes, as surely they will be, individual rights must equally be weakened. I am sure that all hon. Members sincerely hope that the effects of the combination of the Act and the codes will not be as bad as I fear. Alas, I cannot help but feel that situations will arise similar to those that we experienced under the Industrial Relations Act 1971. I am sure that all but a handful of Tory Victoriana in this place and in industry will freely concede that we want a return to the situation that obtained under the 1971 Act as badly as we want a hole in the head.
I do not think that any Labour Member or anyone in the trade union movement would deny that there has been an excessive number of strikes. I do not claim that isolated excesses might not occur again in the future. But, having said that, my concern is that law or codes based on hard cases can only be bad law, and bad law will suffer as bad law has suffered in the past and, perhaps, more to the point, will do nothing to prevent the very occasional incidents that have occurred in the past and will occur again in the future. If the experience of the last Tory Government is anything to go by, the position can only be exacerbated and can only undermine—this is the tragedy—responsible trade union leadership.
Section E, paragraph 31, suggests six as the maximum for the number of pickets at any works entrance. During the last firemen's strike—it seems ironic that we may be on the verge of another—because of my then responsibility in the Government for the Army, I had to travel the length and breadth of the kingdom. I came into contact with Fire Brigades Union pickets at close quarters almost daily for the duration of the strike, because I travelled almost daily meeting troops and invariably met firemen and firemen's pickets en route. With one exception, I never saw what could be said to be a massed picket, and, with one exception, I never had a cross word with 695 any picket. The one exception involved about 20 pickets, with whom I took part in a very amiable television interview after I had completed my visit that day.
The vast majority of pickets whom I met were fewer in number than the six suggested in the code. In the future, once we lay down a maximum of six, we shall guarantee a minimum of six. Such a requirement will appeal to the bloody-minded and represents an absolute incentive for large-scale picketing, which no one really wants, even though there are times when large-scale picketing is the only quick way to end a dispute.
Without doubt, the closed shop code is an expression of the hatred of Conservative Members for union membership agreements. The need for periodic reviews of agreements on the closed shop has already been exposed as dangerous nonsense. At least one major public sector employer was already seeking to renegotiate an agreement, as it had the impression that that was required by law. Can anyone imagine the National Union of Mineworkers giving up the right to its closed shop agreement? I cannot.
One of the cases of conscientious objection to trade union membership about which I have heard happens to be supported by that Tory front organisation, NAFF. It concerns an individual, well known to me, who for many years had been an enthusiastic member of a trade union, to the extent that for some years he was a member of the local executive committee of his trade union. After many years of active trade unionism, his trade union negotiated a union membership agreement, following which he left the union. Then he appealed to a tribunal, claiming that he had a conscientious objection to trade union membership.
How can any individual who has worked in an industry for many years, been a voluntary member of a trade union and been so active as to be part of the executive body of that union in his region of the country now claim that he has a conscientious objection to trade union membership for no other reason than that a union membership agreement has been negotiated in his industry? Is this the sort of maverick martyr that the Government are intent on finding to 696 make sticks with which to beat the trade union movement? That is the opinion of the trade union movement, and it is one that I support.
§ Mr. George Gardiner (Reigate)
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State began the debate by putting these codes of practice into the context of the legislation and relating them to the steps needed to fulfil our election commitments to restore a fairer balance between the rights and the duties of trade unions and their members and a more even balance in industrial bargaining. I was glad that he did so, because it gives me a chance to make clear, contrary to many of the assertions sometimes made from the Opposition Benches that I am in some way in deep disagreement with my right hon. Friend about his stated determination to proceed "step by step" in meeting these objectives, that I support a step-by-step approach and that I am concerned merely to satisfy myself that each step we take is effective and that there should be more steps than one in this process. It is in that light that we have to look at the codes of practice and ask especially whether they are an effective way of bringing about what we want to achieve.
I ask myself three questions. First, I ask whether quasi-legislation of this kind is desirable in principle. That question was answered admirably by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) and, with his usual clarity, by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), so I shall not detain the House by restating those arguments.
However, there is one point about which I am puzzled, and I should be grateful if my right hon. Friend could put me right. We have been assured that these codes are not intended as guidance to the courts, yet we read in paragraph 5 of both these codes thatany provisions of the Code are to be admissible in evidence and taken into account in proceedings before any court.I am puzzled to know who is supposed to take them into account in any court hearing. Obviously, counsel for one side or the other will take them into account, but is a jury and is a judge expected to do so? If they are expected to take them into account, how can it 697 be said that the codes are not intended to be guidance to a court?
My second question concerns whether these codes clarify the position for those who are concerned in these matters in day-to-day industrial life. As originally presented in draft form, the codes were a mixture of statements of the law, interpretations of that law and pious hopes. It is at least to be welcomed that they have now been separated under their proper headings. As a result, we know now the sections setting out to state the law and interpret it and those which merely state our desires. But I still find it objectionable that they should appear together in the same document and appear to be enjoying equality of status in being presented to hon. Members in this form for vote by the House tonight. The initial sections clarify the law. No one can object to them. The later sections clarify what we think desirable but what we have shrunk from legislating upon.
Another question I ask myself is whether these codes will really affect many people's behaviour in day-by-day industrial relations. It would be nice if they did. It would make life simpler for all of us if everyone could behave in the reasonable manner that is outlined. I suspect—indeed, I feel pretty certain—that unless there is some legislative backing to these requirements, not a great deal of notice will be taken of them.
In passing, I should like to remark on a paradox. We are often told, in the spheres of race relations and of equality of opportunity between the sexes, that it is appropriate to legislate if one wishes to affect people's attitudes and consequent behaviour. Yet in this sphere we are told that it is not appropriate to legislate if one wishes to change the attitudes and behaviour of trade union leaders and shop stewards. I find this paradox in argument at least intriguing.
§ Viscount Cranborne (Dorset, South)
Does my hon. Friend feel that legislation is appropriate for sexual equality and other matters to which he refers?
§ Mr. Gardiner
I do not know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether I would be in order in answering that question at length, although I would be delighted to do so. My hon. Friend might have a conversation with me afterwards. I have promised to be brief. I do not wish to argue the 698 merits of those questions. I would only say that if the logic of the one case holds, it should equally hold in the field we are discussing.
What will be the effect of these codes? One sees recurring time and again in the latter sections the word "should". Every time that this word is used, it is an admission of a gap in the parent legislation—something that my right hon. Friend and the rest of us would like to see happen but upon which, for one reason or another, he judged it not prudent to bring forward legislation.
I had intended to give one example but, in view of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken), I shall give another. Section G of the draft code of practice on picketing is concerned with essential supplies and services. It states:Pickets should take very great care to ensure that their activities do not cause distress, hardship or inconvenience to members of the public who are not involved in the dispute.Lower down are listed essential supplies and services that ought to be immune from this kind of industrial action. They include distribution of medical supplies, supplies essential to health in hospitals, animal feeding stuffs, livestock, and fire, ambulance, medical and nursing services. It is a long list. Does anyone in the House on either side seriously believe that certain unions that have made it their stock-in-trade to act in defiance of these moral objectives will take the blindest bit of notice of section G of this draft code of practice? I do not believe for one moment that they will. It is known that there are unions in the Health Service, with shop stewards at the sharp end in the hospitals, which make a point of using this leverage to further their cause in disputes.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
There is quite a bit of substance in what my hon. Friend says. Would he not agree that if these codes of practice are passed by the House and if unions or groups of trade unionists ignore them, as many may do, the public will at least know that they were going against the will of Parliament?
§ Mr. Gardiner
This raises the whole question of the validity of codes of practice and quasi-legislation of this kind. I do not think that public judgment of 699 action of that kind will be affected in the least by whether it is covered by a code of practice. The public already finds action of this kind abhorrent. Its view will be the same in the future as in the past before these codes of practice—
§ Mr. Gardiner
That is a fair point. When some of my right hon. and hon. Friends put their hands on their hearts and seek to assure us that these codes of practice will have a significant effect in areas such as the one I have described, I regard them as being in a similar position to the parents who have to go out of their way to reassure young children, who have been eavesdropping too much on the conversation of their elders, that Father Christmas does exist, that he is real and that if they close their eyes and go to sleep he will come down the chimney on Christmas Eve.
I regret that I do not believe in Father Christmas. I do not believe that these codes of practice will make the blindest bit of difference to those trade unions that seek their ends by putting pressure on the jugular vein of society. The only way that we can give the public protection against such action is by legislation and is not to be derived from codes of practice of this kind.
My second example has been stimulated by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East in dealing with the freedom of the press. Like my hon. Friend, I am a journalist. Like him, I have worked in newspapers for many years in various capacities. In passing, I ask him not to perpetuate the illusion that there are people wearing green eyeshades in newspaper offices. I have never seen one in my life.
Section E of the draft code of practice on closed shop agreements and arrangements, entitled "The Closed Shop and the Freedom of the Press", gives a long catalogue of subjective judgments of what should happen in newspaper offices. It states that journalists should enjoy the same rights as other employees, that if they feel that trade union membership is 700 contrary to the work they are trying to do this should be respected by employers and unions, that they should not be disciplined by trade unions for writing anything in accordance with professional standards, that editors should be free to decide and should not be subjected to improper pressure, and so on. All those are splendid statements of the obvious for anyone who has engaged in journalism for many years.
For this reason, I was entranced by the picture that my hon. Friend conjured up of what would happen as a newspaper was going to press and a report arrived of another of those most interesting contributions to public debate by the right hon. Member for Down, South. I am sure that my hon. Friend, like me, has worked in the composing rooms of newspapers in these situations. I have been responsible for getting slugs of hot lead into a page before it is sent to the foundry. I agree with him about the pressures that bear in at such times.
We were asked what would happen if someone ran in and cried "Help, help. The boys in the lino room are refusing to set this speech because they believe it to be racialist." Certainly, what would not happen is that someone would reply "Hey, look. Have you read paragraph 61(1) of section E of the code of practice on closed shop agreements and arrangements?" If anybody did say that, the reply would be certain. I cannot repeat it in the House, but I shall place in my hon. Friend's ear afterwards the two words that would be used. We must accept that nothing in the code gives legal protection to the freedom of the press. We should have the honesty to acknowledge that.
We are in the last stage of the discussions and debates on employment legislation in this Session. We should be now looking more to the future and to the Green Paper on trade union immunities. I hope that we shall then enter a more productive phase in our discussions. With regret, I conclude that much in these codes is mere window dressing. They express that which we believe to be desirable but on which we have not had the courage to legislate. If we are to fulfil the commitment which we made to the electors, we have to put many more goods into the shop.
I wish my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State well. I should like to think 701 that from now on everyone will behave with sweetness and light along the lines suggested in the draft codes. However, I am afraid that in the end their publication will not make much difference. They are no substitutes for proper legislation to protect the interests of the public. For that reason, I regret that I shall be unable to support the codes in the Division Lobby tonight.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
The second report from the Select Committee on Employment is of great significance to the debate. A majority of the Select Committee agrees that the codes are constitutionally undesirable. When replying to the report, the Secretary of State tried to justify the codes by stating his legal authority. That is not the issue. He was replying to a criticism which we have not made, no doubt to divert attention from justifiable criticisms which we have made. One distinguished trade union officer described the Secretary of State as a pickpocket of trade union rights rather than a mugger. In relation to the codes of practice, he is a confidence trickster.
The Select Committee believes that it is wrong for the Secretary of State to use the power bestowed upon him in the way that he has done in order to whip through controversial codes. I have observed the indecent interest shown by Government Whips in Conservative members of the Select Committee. They are trying to whip through the codes by a procedure which does not permit amendment. That is unsatisfactory, particularly since the codes can be taken into account in the courts.
The Secretary of State said that there is no extension of law. That is not at issue. Expressions of a political opinion will be taken into account in the courts. Trade unions will regard that as another example of justice being more difficult for them to achieve in the courts. It is already hard enough to persuade trade unionists to settle such matters at tribunals and in the courts, because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that great bias is shown against them by those institutions.
§ Mr. Lyell
The hon. Member is dealing with a quasi-constitutional matter. Will he explain the difference between the 702 constitutional position of these codes and that of the codes of practice enacted under the 1971 Act, maintained by his Government in 1975 and re-enacted by that Government through the institution of ACAS? What is the distinction between those codes and these?
§ Mr. Golding
I am speaking as Chairman of the Select Committee, not for my party. I speak for the majority of that Select Committee. Whether or not its members agree with the action taken by the previous Administration, they believe that in any case two wrongs do not make a right. They say that the procedure is wrong. Some members of the Labour Party would say that there is a difference in the codes in terms of the degree of acceptability to the TUC and the CBI—although I do not rest on that argument.
The Committee unanimously decided thatthe consultation procedure adopted by the Secretary of State on the draft Codes has been unsatisfactory.The Committee said that the procedureshows scant regard for the views of Parliament and goes far to deny the Committee, and the House, a proper opportunity to make representations on the Codes at a stage when they could still influence their final form.The Secretary of State's reply to that is totally unsatisfactory. We do not say that the time available to the CBI and the TUC is too short. The complaint is that there was too little time for the Select Committee and Parliament to consider the issue. The Select Committee had to complete its business for the debate to take place in this Session.
I regret that the Leader of the House has not accepted the Select Committee's recommendation thatthere should be a full debate on the draft Codes before they are submitted for approval, so that the issues which we have mentioned in this report and others, such as the question of 'deeply-held personal conviction' under section 7 of the Employment Act, can be thoroughly discussed.The Government did not deal with that. As a consequence, the codes show signs of rush and muddle. Mistake after mistake occurs in them. More time should have been given.
It is clear that the code is misleading on ballots on the closed shop. There is no need in law for a ballot to be held 703 before agreement is reached on a membership agreement or closed shop. A ballot serves only to provide a defence for an employer against a charge of unfair dismissal. It is wrong that the code should be so misleading. It will not be held in any trust.
I regret that the evidence by the chief police officers was not heeded more. Unlike the Secretary of State, the police clearly want trade unionists to have the right to picket and to be able to engage in the peaceful persuasion of their fellow workers. It was refreshing to hear the chief police officers standing up for the freedom of trade unionists to put their view to their fellow workers. I thought that there was a great difference of emphasis between the police officers and the Secretary of State. The police officers obviously wished to defend the interests of trade unionists, while the Secretary of State wished to restrict them.
Mr. Terry, the chief constable of Sussex and president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, stated in the Select Committee:We see the value of a number as being illustrative of the scale but we do not think that 6 is necessarily at all the right number.As an alternative wording, he suggested:As a general rule it will not often be necessary for the number to exceed 6.The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) asked:Under what circumstances would you say it was acceptable that the numbers should be greater than 6?Mr. Terry and Sir Philip Knights both tried to reply at once. Mr. Terry replied "Many of us can". Sir Philip Knights replied:I can think of an example from my own area, a very large factory with a great number of entrances, many of which are wide, with a large workforce coming in early in the morning in large numbers. I would be quite prepared to see 5 or 6 on each side of the gate as long as nobody else was there interfering, because I do not believe that 6 would necessarily be able to achieve what they are rightly there seeking to achieve and that is trying to persuade the other people round to their point of view. In the circumstances I have in mind I could well see 10 or a dozen would not be out of place, but on the other hand I can see circumstances where more than 2 would be more than enough.Sir Philip Knights is the chief police officer in the most heavily industrialised 704 part of Britain—the West Midlands. He has to control some very difficult circumstances. When the police gave evidence on the numbers for picketing—and I am now relying on my memory—the point made was that, if faced with 50 pickets when it had been said that there should be a maximum of six, what were the police to do with the other 44? The attitude of the police is simple—namely, that trade unionists and working people have a great deal of common sense. They are people with whom one can talk and reason. They are people with whom it is easy to reach agreement. One police officer made the favourable comparison of picketing with the control of football crowds. For me, that put the whole problem into perspective.
The Secretary of State did not accept the advice of the police. We must ask "Why not?" Is it because he does not believe that trade unions are rightly there to put their point of view? Why should the Secretary of State expect trade unionists to take the advice of the code and the advice of a politician rather than the common sense view of the police?
The majority of the members of the Select Committee favour the deletion of the proposal for periodic reviews of any closed shop. I am sorry that the Minister did not accept our recommendation that it should be omitted and given further consideration. When the hon. Member for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden) asked the Secretary of State in AugustCan I invite you to resist any suggestion that there should be regular votes on existing closed shops?",the Secretary of State replied:Here speaks the voice of experience. I listen to this as I listen to everything else. This is something we will take into account.The Secretary of State rejected the voice of experience and stuck to dogma.
I oppose the codes because, far from bringing about industrial peace, they would provide the basis for further conflict. We can do without that. Had the Secretary of State tried to achieve some agreement between the CBI and the TUC, had he been able, through ACAS, to process that agreement, there would have been a great deal of support for these codes from both sides of the House. Only one speaker tonight, apart from the Secretary of State, has had anything to say in favour of the codes. [HON. 705 MEMBERS: "We are all waiting to speak."] The weight of opposition to the way that the codes have been presented has been surprising. On the issue of consultation—and I include here the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken)—the Committee was unanimous in denouncing the lack of consultation about the preparation of the codes that are before us tonight.
§ Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)
I genuinely welcome the publication of the codes and I am sure that a number of my hon. Friend's do likewise. But I also recognise, as I think every speaker has done this evening, that in choosing the closed shop and picketing we have attempted codes on two of the most difficult aspects of industrial relations. Section 3 of the Employment Act 1980 provides that the Secretary of State may introduce codes for the improvement of industrial relations. The Government wisely left out the additional part of that sentence that was in the 1975 Act—and also the extension of collective bargaining"—which is a separate and more tricky matter for Parliament to pronounce on.
Even though the Secretary of State has the power to introduce codes himself, ACAS was given the opportunity to be consulted. ACAS can still give guidance on the codes, and it can produce variations of the codes if it wishes to do so. I accept that the Government have a duty, both as an employer and as the Government of the day, to offer practical advice and guidance on those two important matters. Much of the code on picketing follows guidance from the TUC which was published nearly two years ago. It follows the good practice built up by employers and unions over the years where industrial relations have been good.
We must accept that if we had not had all the legislation of the mid-1970s there would not have been such a helter-skelter rush towards the closed shop. It would have developed in various ways, but some of its practical disadvantages would not have occurred and might not have necessitated a code of practice.
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding). 706 I read carefully the Select Committee report. Some of the things it said were useful. I wish to draw the attention of the House to one remark in the report that I believe to be inaccurate and possibly misleading. Paragraph 3 of the report states:Once the Secretary of State has laid his draft Codes they can no longer be amended".That is not strictly true, because section 3(6) of the 1980 Act states:The Secretary of State may from time to time revise the whole or any part of a Code of Practice issued under this section".I am not suggesting that in two years we should necessarily push out the whole of one of the codes, or any other code. But at least subsection (6) is so drafted that parts of the code—and I have something to say about certain parts that may need amending—can be revised when the Secretary of State feels that that is necessary. Subsection (6) rightly stresses that the same process must be gone through—namely, consultation with ACAS and opinions sought from other interested parties.
I shall confine most of my remarks to one or two practical matters that occur in the codes and ask some questions about certain paragraphs. Page 4, paragraph 9, of the code on picketing deals with the question of employees picketing in support of other employees but not picketing at their own place of work. For example, if there was a further dispute between the National Coal Board and the miners, and if in one or two power stations certain power workers decided to take action in sympathy with the miners, the only goods that they could blockade and picket would be the coal going into the power stations. They would not have immunity from civil action if they took action against oil or other goods that were not supplied by the NCB. Paragraph 9 goes on to state:If they"—that is, the people taking secondary action—impose or threaten an indiscriminate blockade",they are not immune. I can foresee difficulties with regard to the word "threaten". How do we make certain that anyone wishing to take further action against those who are striking has perceived a 707 threat to bring about an indiscriminate blockade?
I turn to paragraph 12. This deals with picketingAt or near his own place of work".It adds that that phraseis not defined in statute".It goes on to say that it is permissible to picket one's own place of work but that one may not do so at another placeeven if those who work there are employed by the same employer.I assume that there would be immunity if two plants with the same employer faced each other and if people from plant A decided to picket plant B. In other words, if the plants were opposite each other, it might be reasonable, practicable and sensible for pickets to move from one plant to another provided that the plants were sufficiently close and had the same employer.
Paragraph 13 refers to lorry drivers and mobile workers. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Lyell) is in his place. I am grateful, because I gave him notice that I would refer to action which took place at the Buncefield oil depot during the 1979 dispute. As I understand paragraph 13, if an oil depot was jointly owned by Shell, Texaco and Esso, and if Texaco workers were in dispute with the Texaco management, they could picket and seek to persuade any Texaco tanker from entering or leaving the oil depot. However, I take it that that immunity would not apply if Texaco employees tried to persuade Shell or Esso drivers who at that time might not be in dispute with their managements. Paragraph 13 does not make the position wholly clear.
I mentioned lorry drivers because the Government have rightly pointed out that there are groups of people in respect of whom it might be difficult to define where the place of work was. When the place of work is jointly owned, as that oil depot in Hemel Hempstead is, I think that particular difficulties could arise in relation to interpretation.
Paragraph 14 says that people may picket at their former place of work even though they may have been dismissed by their employer. It could be argued that 708 they do not work there as they have been dismissed. However, I assume that if they were dismissed, and if the plant had closed down, there would be immunity if they picketed the headquarters of the firm which closed down the plant. This matter came up during our general debates on the Employment Act, but this is the first time that we have had a chance to go through a code in detail, and I thought that it was worth mentioning.
The code rightly says in paragraph 31 that "in general" the number of pickets should not exceed six at any entrance. That is clear, but on occasions there could be nine or a dozen pickets, or it might be thought that there were nine or a dozen pickets. One simple reason could be that if members of a trade union national executive sought to persuade its union members to cease picketing, in theory they would have to join the picket line and discuss the matter with them before they could persuade them to cease the picketing. An employer might argue that there were more than six pickets.
However, I hope that the intention of this paragraph is that there should be a duty on management to keep in close touch with pickets when an industrial dispute occurs. In fact, many managers do. In some cases they provide facilities such as a room or a telephone. They will certainly need to do so, because the code later talks about the need for pickets to keep in touch with trade union headquarters. I believe that there will be occasions when there will be more than six pickets, but, provided that management keeps in touch and people understand that paragraph 31 says that "in general" the number should not exceed six, we should avoid any particular difficulties.
Paragraphs 33 and 34 refer to the duties which the organisers of pickets should carry out. They refer to the need to keep in touch with union headquarters and permit the distribution of badges. I wish to stress the role of management in this regard. If management keeps in touch with the picketing, it could do a lot to reduce the tension that might have arisen.
I wish to make a few comments on the closed shop. The code says that it 709 should be flexibly and tolerantly applied. Paragraph 25 states:The employer should also carefully consider the effects of a closed shop on his future employment policy and on industrial relations".In other words, there is an obvious duty on him to inform any new employees as to his view on a closed shop and what previous discussions may have taken place. However, in paragraphs 26 to 29 a number of duties are imposed on a trade union before it starts closed shop negotiations. For example, paragraph 27 states:A union should be sure that its members who would be affected themselves favour a closed shop".As I see it, that is an invitation to a union to apply for money under section I of the 1980 Act in order to ballot its members and get a general feel of what the view is in respect of a closed shop. It will cost nothing, because section 1 of the Act says that the Secretary of State can lay down certain conditions whereby money for ballots would be given by the Government. In other words, it gives him a wide discretionary power. In view of what has appeared in the code, a preliminary view and a general opinion ought to be sought before going into the practical nuts and bolts of negotiating a closed shop arrangement.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) referred to paragraph 54(c). That is one amendment that I think we shall have to make as time goes on. That is the one part of the code about which I am unhapppy. Paragraph 54(c) uses the wordsbecause the action had not been affirmed in a secret ballot".This relates to disciplinary action. That comes very close to writing the rules of a union. Some trade unions give their executive the power to call a strike or other industrial action after a ballot. I think I am correct in saying that the NUM must ballot and that more than 55 per cent. of the membership must vote. But that does not necessarily mean a strike. It means that the executive of the NUM has the power, if it so wishes, to call a strike or other industrial action. The same applies to other trade unions.
I should like the code to state that disciplinary action should not be taken or threatened by a union against a member 710 if the rules and procedures of that union have not been carried out. People may argue that it is incumbent on trade unions constantly to look at their rules. It most certainly is—[HON. MEMBERS: "They do."]—but under section 1 of the Act they can receive money for balloting their members as to whether their rules should be revised. I think that a change could be made there in due course. If a union has democratically arranged rules on the taking of industrial action, which do not necessarily mean that it must be affirmed by secret ballot that it should be a strike—after all, it could be some other sort of industrial action—that part of the code may well need to be looked at again.
Whatever one says about the codes, in my view the duty still remains on management to do its best to improve industrial relations. The codes should be seen as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, good industrial relations and real efforts by management and unions to improve the consultative procedures at work. I am certain that the codes are designed to spread the good in industry—and there is a great deal of good—throughout the country. I commend them to the House. If they are correctly and carefully interpreted, they will do good for industrial relations rather than harm them.
§ Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)
One's views on these codes depend largely on one's view of trade unions, whether one thinks that trade unions are evils—one Conservative Member describes them as poisons that should be abolished—or whether one thinks that they are beneficial to working people. I take the view that organised labour is no less patriotic and no less admirable than is organised capital or business. In fact, owners of capital often see their major role as investing their capital abroad or speculating against sterling, whereas those who work for a living were born in this country, they live in this country and they will die in this country, and, therefore, they have a vested interest in it.
Because of my experience of the trade union movement, I greatly admire the men and women whom I have known in my working life and who have given their service voluntarily to the trade union 711 movement in order to improve the working conditions of the people with whom they work. When Mr. George Isaacs, well known as a Minister of Labour in this House, became general secretary of NATSOPA, the average life expectation of our members was 40, because the working conditions were so bad. We have changed much of that—
§ Mr. Leighton
I shall give way shortly to the hon. Gentleman, for whom I have a great affection. I look not only to him but to The Daily Telegraph, an unimpeachable source of Conservative thinking, for its views on trade unions. In an editorial last Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph said thattrade unions have won yet another epoch-making battle in their perilous campaign to build up their strength, consolidate their authority and assert their independence … the success … of free unions had nothing to do with the justice of their cause, self-evident as this was, but resulted mainly from their threat to strike and the impressive credibility with which they were able to back it up.I thought that that was good, but I read on and found that the article referred to Poland. It is all right to do those things in Poland, but it is not all right to do them in Britain. Symbolically, the movement in Poland is known as "Solidarity". "Solidarity" has been translated into English legal terminology as "secondary action". Recently secondary action took place everywhere in Poland, and it was cheered on by The Daily Telegraph and by Conservative Members. I wonder why they are so hypocritical and why they are pushing for legislation in this House to outlaw that type of solidarity.
§ Mr. Needham
The hon. Gentleman complained that owners of capital took their money overseas. Will he comment on the investment policy of Lord Briginshaw?
§ Mr. Leighton
I am not aware of his investment policies, and I do not think that many other people are.
Solidarity means helping one's friends and allies, and that is to be outlawed in this country.
I am interested in the status of these codes. The law should be clear and every-one 712 should know where he stands in relation to the law. The codes are a mixture of law, opinion—very narrow opinion—and advice. They are mongrel measures. There should be a separation between explanations of law and opinion. The advice that is given in these documents is given in the same imperious and authoritative language and tone as the explanation of the law. The ACAS codes—ACAS refused to have anything to do with these codes—are to be used only at tribunals. Tribunals are bodies—not courts—of men with experience in industry and men of common sense. Now, we have new codes that are to be used in the courts, and we are told that they are analogous to the highway code.
Page 1 of the code on picketing says:The code … imposes no legal obligations",but it also says:The Employment Act 1980 provides that any provisions of the code are to be admissible in evidence and taken into account in proceedings before any courtSurely there is a contradiction there. Which is it to be? Presumably the judges will decide, but what is the status?
It seems that we are being asked to pass quasi-law. If we are to have anything similar to law, it should be introduced through due parliamentary procedure. There should be a Second Reading and a Committee stage. I was a member of the Committee that considered the Employment Bill. Why were these codes not considered then, when they could have been given proper scrutiny? It is unsatisfactory that they should be brought before us tonight and whipped through with a Conservative majority, without proper parliamentary scrutiny or procedure. That smacks of dictatorial behaviour.
The code on picketing does not set out the rights of pickets, which is what a picket wants to know. It simply states the limits on pickets, in the most imperious language. I have taken great offence at the language that is used in the code. We are told that a picket can picketat or near his place of work",but no definition is given of where that is. No one can explain that. If a picket steps inside the gates, he is told by the code that he will be sued for trespass. The code also states that if a person "aids or abets" anyone he will beliable to be punished by the courts".713 How threatening that is. How menacing is the language. Is that the language that we want for industrial relations when we seek co-operation amongst our fellow citizens? Will that lead to harmonious relations, or will it lead to conflict?
Page 6 of the code tells us what trade union officials may do. It tells shop stewards what they may do. It then tells branch officials what they may do. It goes on to refer to regional officials and to tell them what they may do. It then moves to national officials, and then even to general secretaries and tells them what they may do. I do not think that those officers need the advice of the authors of these documents. They probably know much more about these affairs than do the civil servants or whoever drew up the documents.
I now come to the role of the police. We were told in Committee that the police would be kept out and that this was nothing to do with the police.
§ Mr. Lyell
Has the hon. Gentleman glanced at the TUC guidelines produced in February 1979? They say what pickets may or may not do in various circumstances, such as when they enter private properties. If it is not a criticism of one publication that it tells them what to do, why should it be a criticism of the other?
§ Mr. Leighton
I am glad that the hon. Member thinks that we should take some notice of the TUC. The TUC has condemned the code that is now before us and has agreed to have no part in it. My criticism of the Government and of the way in which they have dealt with the matter is that they have alienated the TUC. Instead of getting agreement and proceeding by way of agreement, they have decided to do it purely on the basis of the views of one man, the Secretary of State.
As I said earlier, we were told that it would be nothing to do with the police. We were told that any proceedings would be civil and not criminal proceedings. We all know what happened when it was a matter of criminal proceedings. The Official Solicitor had to be dreamt up—I had never heard of him before—to rescue everybody.
Paragraph 28 of the code on picketing, on page 10, says: 714As regards the criminal law the police have considerable discretionary powers to limit the number of pickets".Paragraph 31 of the code says thatpickets and their organisers should ensure that in general the number of pickets does not exceed six at any entrance to a workplace; frequently a smaller number will be appropriate.The code does not even guarantee that there shall be six pickets. But why choose a number? What sense is there in choosing a specific number when all the chief constables advise against giving a set number?
What happens if there are seven pickets? The police will take the code as guidance and want only six. They will count the number of pickets. I guarantee that there will be some people who will volunteer to be No. 7. There will be martyrs who will want to volunteer. There is a recipe for conflict in the code, and I cannot see what sense there is in it. I despair of the present dogmatic Conservative Government, who seem to have lost all English pragmatism by being so rigid. In picking out a figure, they are making a rod for their own back.
On page 12 of the code there is advice on how to organise a picket. It mentions the need to have a letter of authority from the union to show a policeman. It says:Even when he is not on the picket line himself he"—that is, the organiser—should be available".When it says that the organiser "should" be available, what does that mean? Is that law? Is that advice? Is that guidance? It is not advice from the police but direction from the police on the number of people who "should" be present on the picket line. Again, I ask whether that is law, guidance or advice.
§ Mr. Leighton
It is an instruction.
The next paragraph in the code sets out the main functions of a picket organiser. Five such functions are set out, and I shall not bore the House by reading them. One of my noble Friends in the other place said that if a picket organiser did all these things he would be a 715 cross between a scoutmaster and a sergeant-major. There is an element of comedy here.
On page 14 there is further advice to pickets. Paragraph 37 says:Pickets should take very great care to ensure that their activities do not cause … inconvenience to members of the public".How is it possible to organise a strike without causing inconvenience to the public? Will anyone tell me that the strike in Gdansk did not cause any inconvenience to the public? But apparently this is how a picket now has to organise a strike. He must not interfere withthe movement of essential goods and supplies".Then, with regard to secondary action, the code says that the pickets' activitieswill be immune from civil proceedings only if … the picketing is likely to achieve that purpose.What do the Government think the pickets are there for? Do they think that they are picketing for fun? Do they think that they are there to amuse themselves in the winter, standing round coal fires? Do the Government believe that in doing this the pickets are not seeking to achieve their purpose?
Who is to decide whether the picketing islikely to achieve that purpose"?In the end, I suppose, we shall ask the judges. We have already heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) that Lord Scarman does not want the obligation of deciding whether or not that is so.
I now turn to the closed shop. Under the 1980 Act, the closed shop is not illegal. I should have thought that in a code of practice on the closed shop it would be made clear that closed shops are not illegal, but there is no mention of that fact.
On page 5 of the code on the closed shop, it is said that a tribunal can order a union to act in breach of its own rules. We were told in Committee that the fact that a union acted in accordance with its own rules was no defence. A tribunal could, for example, say that it was unreasonable not to recruit a person because that was in breach of, say, the Bridlington 716 agreement, but in paragraph 18, on page 5, we find the following statement:At common law a person may complain to the courts … that action taken against him by a trade union is contrary to its own rules".So we are told in one breath that a trade union can be ordered to breach its rules and in the next that a member can complain that a union is acting against its own rules. I hope that the Minister will clear up that conflict for me.
The whole code is written from the standpoint of what I consider to be uninformed opposition to the closed shop. The Secretary of State said so. On the Government Benches the closed shop is regarded as being contrary to personal liberty. Incidentally, I did not notice any concern on the Government Benches about personal liberty when we dealt with unfair dismissal.
I cannot think of anything more important to a man's liberty and his whole life than his job. If he gets the sack and is placed on the dole, does not that rather affect his liberty? Yet the whole onus of proof at an industrial tribunal is now being shifted. In addition, the minimum award of two weeks' wages is removed. A man can now be unfairly dismissed and not get a penny compensation.
No one on the Conservative Benches—where people are worried about personal liberty—objected to that, yet there is objection to the closed shop on the basis that it jeopardises personal liberty. There is no evidence in the code to support that argument. There is no attempt to deal with the acceptance of analogous practices in the professions. A barrister has to belong to an inn of court. How can the Government accept that without saying that an engineer or a printer has to belong to his trade union? We know that union membership agreements are a justifiable part of the present industrial scene. Millions of workers belong to them. Unless that is recognised, there is a recipe for conflict.
Part of paragraph 45 on page 12 of the draft code says:Where no secret ballot has previously been held—or where one has not been held for a long time—it would be appropriate to use one to test opinion.What is that? Is that the law? It is not law. Those words do not appear in the Act. That is an expression of opinion and it is meaningless. It could be the 717 recipe for much trouble-making. It is prejudice masquerading as law.
Either we want conflict or we want co-operation. Delegates at the CBI conference said that the present Tory Party was narrow in its thinking. It appears from the representatives of industry who were assembled at the CBI conference at Brighton that there is little knowledge of industry within the Tory Party. I am taking their word for it. We are asked rhetorically how many members of the Cabinet have ever run a business. I do not know the answer to that question. I merely ask how many of them have had experience of a closed shop. How many of those on the Government Benches who are railing against the iniquities of the closed shop and saying that it infringes personal liberty have had personal experience of it?
I worked in industry for over 30 years before I came to this place. I never worked in anything other than a closed shop. I do not claim much else, but I have some knowledge of the closed shop. My knowledge has not been obtained from books or leaflets. I acquired it from working within closed shops.
§ Mr. Leighton
That could be right. I suspect that the lawyers' closed shop has sent out a whip to its members to support the codes. They will be the ones who will do the best out of them. The codes will produce a great deal of work for them. They have a vested interest.
I never noticed any restriction of my liberties when I was working in closed shops. My colleagues know that I am free-thinking and very independent. I am very much a liberty-loving individual. If nothing else, I am extraordinarily individualistic. However, I felt that my freedom was enhanced in a closed shop. I felt that it was strengthened.
I went into a large works at the tender age of 14 years. In those circumstances, one could be intimidated. Nowadays, many people go to work for large firms that have their headquarters across the Atlantic or over the sea somewhere. They 718 can feel isolated and weak as individuals. If there is a dispute between an individual and the boss, there is no equality if the individual is on his own against a large firm. If, in the words of the trade union motto, an injury to one is an injury to all, then on that basis there is some equality. It is rather like the old insurance company advertisement about getting the strength of the "union" around one.
Will not Conservative Members conceive that closed shops are run democratically? The officers and the members of the committees of my closed shops were elected by secret ballot every quarter. All the everyday issues were discussed at quarterly meetings that were attended by all the members. All the members were brought up with those traditions. If the decisions went against some members, they were able to appeal. We shall not get better industrial relations from the codes. They lead to conflict. I am convinced that the Government will learn to regret ever having brought in the Act and ever having introduced the codes.
§ Mr. Richard Page (Hertfordshire, South-West)
In making my contribution I shall endeavour to be brief. I wish to start by welcoming the draft codes of practice and I hope that they will come into operation as soon as possible. I believe that they will introduce a degree of guidance and form into our industrial relations. In the past, successive Governments have made the mistake of endeavouring to put the emphasis on creating far too much industrial relations law rather like creating the Ten Commandments, to stand immutable for all time. My experience on the shop floor tells me that we must be flexible and react to the changing circumstances that daily present themselves to us. For that reason I reject the arguments that have been advanced in favour of putting the codes into legislation and on to the statute book.
I am sure that we all found the arguments advanced by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) very attractive theoretically. However, I see them foundering in terms of sheer practicality when it is attempted to translate them into law. I also see them foundering on the realities that exist on the 719 shop floor. I felt that my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) put that case most strongly.
I was a member of the Committee that considered the Employment Bill as it passed through the House. I was much struck by the fact that the Bill provided a framework or skeleton on which we could hang various codes of practice that in time could be strengthened or eased, added to or completely deleted. That can be done in the light of practical experience without having to go through the painful process of once more rewriting major parts of our industrial relations legislation. The flexibility of the codes is their very strength.
When the Committee began to review the Employment Bill, we heard the traditional ritual remarks from Labour Members. They condemned the Bill and threatened its instant repeal. Emotive phrases were bandied about from the start about what would happen if the Bill were enacted. However, as the Committee's consideration of the Bill developed and as the members of the Committee continued to consider various aspects of the measure, I gained the impression that there was a growing feeling among Labour Members that the Government were bringing a balance and understanding into industrial relations, especially with the introduction of safeguards for individuals. After all, that is one of the very reasons why the trade union movement was developed in the first place—to protect individuals. The purpose of the Act is to do that and not to make a crude attempt to rip off or stultify one part of our society.
When Labour Members appreciate that and think about it, their attitudes will change. When I am old and grey the Labour Party may once more assume power, and I think that future Labour Governments will think more than once about repealing this measure, as they have so frequently threatened to do today. It is probably the thought of reselection hanging over their heads that makes them utter their ritual remarks.
I welcome the introduction of the codes and, of course, I recognise that aspects of them will not be 100 per cent. right. It would be a miracle if that were the case. So I was glad to hear my right 720 hon. Friend the Secretary of State say that in the fullness of time we shall discuss the codes again and that they can be reconsidered and amended in the light of practice and experience gathered from the real world.
I do not intend to go nit-picking through the codes, because I am broadly in favour of their general thrust and direction. However, I feel that there is a potential source of irritation that could be better dealt with and explained now rather than in the possible emotional atmosphere that could exist on the shop floor. I refer to the percentage of support necessary to bring about a closed shop agreement. The old closed shop agreement used a figure of 60 per cent., but the new agreement will be based on a figure of 80 per cent. I see a potential area of conflict when it comes to the review of existing closed shop agreements.
§ Mr. Leighton
The code of practice states that 80 per cent. is the minimum. I do not think that any hon. Member received 80 per cent. of the votes at the last general election. The code of practice states that an employer could insist on far more than 80 per cent. What does the hon. Gentleman think of that?
§ Mr. Page
The hon. Gentleman is right. That is in the code of practice. Equally, it says that it is a matter of negotiation and guidance.
I have had experience of the closed shop and I have seen it in operation. As a result, I do not share the level of concern that is sometimes expressed by my hon. Friends about its operation. Equally, the anxiety expressed in the second report of the Select Committee on Employment, which was printed earlier this month, is an over-reaction. I disagree with its recommendation that the review procedures should be omitted and that time should be given for further consideration. The closed shop is not such a tender plant. It will not shrivel, die and wither away if employees are asked to reaffirm their decision. I do not think that that will happen. Indeed, I believe that it will have the opposite effect. It will reaffirm the belief held in the minds and hearts of closed shop members that it involves an ongoing democratic process. If any employees have doubts about voting for a closed shop, they will have 721 their minds eased by this legislation. They know that this measure will not be a one-way ticket and that the door will not close behind them without any chance of a review.
When one reads the code, one does not find it clear from paragraph (e) whether an existing closed shop arrangement has to obtain the new percentage of 80 per cent. or whether the old figure of 60 per cent. will be satisfactory at review time. Paragraph 45 says:Where no secret ballot has previously been held—or where one has not been held for a long time—it would be appropriate to use one to test opinion.It then refers the reader to paragraphs 33 to 36. The only sentence in those paragraphs that might be relevant is the one that states:Employees should agree with the union on the figure appropriate in their case before the ballot and make this known to those entitled to vote".That leaves a query in my mind. Does it mean that a percentage can be negotiated from 60 per cent. upwards, or will that percentage start at 80 per cent.? I should be grateful for clarification on that one point. Apart from that, I am in favour of the codes and believe that the quicker they are put into operation, the better it will be for this country.
§ Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I have listened to the speeches from Government Back Benchers, and it would seem that the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Page) needs to convince some of his colleagues over the value of the codes and should not look to this side of the House.
The Secretary of State has denied that these codes represent back-door legislation. However, the partial legislative character of the codes represents a trapdoor for industry and commerce. They will open up wide areas of legislative and legitimate uncertainty.
§ Mr. Craigen
I shall not give way, because I wish to be brief.
It remains to be seen how the codes will be interpreted. They will be interpreted not by both Houses of Parliament but by industrial tribunals and the courts. While the Secretary of State was 722 speaking there was an intervention, from which it became clear that Ministers are passing the buck to industrial tribunals and to the courts. The codes of practice are supposed to have an educative effect and they are supposed to give guidance. They will give a cloak of parliamentary respectability, and that will make them more difficult for employers and trade unions to operate.
The Chairman of the Select Committee touched on a number of issues. I shall confine my remarks to two areas. First, I am concerned about the uprating of the 80 per cent. minimum voting requirement. The code of practice suggests that many employers might seek to negotiate a higher percentage. That will serve as a green light and will give rise to industrial wrangling. Our present legislation is clear enough on that point. The provision will give rise to difficulties up and down the country.
Secondly, there was a suggestion that there should be a periodic review of closed shop agreements. The code suggests that that review should take place every few years or more frequently. That is an invitation to disruption and is a licence for industrial strife. Both the CBI and the TUC were united in their concern about its implication. I urge the Government to reconsider the proposal and to accept the point made by the Select Committee to the effect that the proposal should be defeated until it has been studied in greater detail.
The codes will not help industrial relations. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) spoke of the insensitivity of the language used in the code. He might be regarded as partisan. I shall therefore refer to the memorandum that has been sent to Members of Parliament by the British Institute of Management. It represents a wide cross-section of managerial opinion. The memorandum states that there is a strong minority feeling among managers that the draft codes are in places slightly biased against trade unions. The memorandum then mentions the abrasive language used in the code. It hardly seems conducive to the Government's declared aim of trying to improve the climate of industrial relations.
This afternoon, the Secretary of State said that it was no reflection on ACAS 723 that it did not care to comment on the codes. He might have added that it could be a reflection on the codes that ACAS declined to comment. Perhaps ACAS did not comment because of the inability of the codes to achieve the necessary backing from both sides of industry. The Government have opened a Pandora's box over these codes of practice. We shall consequently have far more difficulty in trying to improve industrial relations. A good deal more work will be thrust into the laps of the lawyers in courts and elsewhere in interpreting the codes, which Parliament has spent insufficient time determining.
§ Mr. Nicholas Lyell (Hemel Hempstead)
The three matters that I should like to deal with briefly, as I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, are the importance of good practice in industrial relations, constitutional matters—when I hope to take up some of the points made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell)—and the contents of the codes.
The importance of good industrial practice as a general concept is well recognised and respected on both sides of the House. We already have disciplinary procedures in existing codes and broad general advice in the code that began in 1972 and was retained in 1974 and reenacted in 1977. The importance of good advice and of a code is fully recognised. The Government are attempting today to introduce codes of what we believe is good practice into other important areas of industrial relations—picketing and the closed shop.
Views on both sides of the House are to some extent coloured by hon. Members' opinions on whether the contents of the codes constitute good industrial practice. That is understandable.
§ Mr. Lyell
It will be a great pleasure to hear the hon. Gentleman, as it was in Committee—frequently.
The right hon. Member for Down, South objects to the codes on principle. He has been joined in what has properly been described by my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) as an unholy alliance by those who do not object on principle but who object because to some extent what appears in the codes does not appear in the statutes as hard and fast legislation. Greatly as I respect the right hon. Gentleman's opinion on constitutional matters, I believe that the constitution has developed and that there is room for codes of practice. As I have indicated, it is well established that they perform a valuable role in disciplinary and unfair dismissal procedures.
The framework here is not all that different. In the end, both the code on picketing and the code on the closed shop deal with an individual's rights. Matters which affect individuals come to be reviewed by the courts or industrial tribunals in specific instances, and they are merely enjoined by the Act to take account of the codes. I do not know whether the word "guidance" has been used or whether it is considered an objectionable word. However, it should be made clear that the courts are not bound by the codes of practice, although they must take account of them. For example, if someone has been unfairly dismissed, the court has to decide whether the employer's conduct was fair and reasonable in the circumstances, judged according to equity and the substantial merits of the case. That applies in the case of both codes.
Paragraph 46 of the closed shop code is controversial. It says that there should be no more pre-entry closed shops because they are regarded by most members of the Conservative Party as objectionable. Many Labour Members will not share that view. However, even the TUC guidelines, to which I referred in interventions, regard pre-entry closed shops as different from post-entry closed shops.
But is it not objectionable that someone can lose his job if he refuses to go along with a union that wishes to institute a pre-entry closed shop and if he crosses a picket line set up in support of such a 725 shop? When such a case goes before an industrial tribunal, the view of the code on pre-entry closed shops is something that ought rightly to be taken into account. There is nothing constitutionally objectionable in that.
I come full circle to illustrate my first point again. We are all seeking good industrial practice, because we agree that that will enhance good industrial relations. I welcome the codes, partly because, although I regret that the TUC would not take part in their formulation—and I suspect that, in their hearts, many Labour Members regret that a way could not be found for the TUC to take part—I find large chunks of the February guidelines repeated in the codes.
It is impossible to believe that Labour Members will wish to repeal those chunks, and I suspect that they will also discover other large areas that it is a little easier for a Conservative Government to put into flexible codes than it might be for a Labour Government, with the traditions that back them—in the same way as Labour Governments can more easily do some of the things that we cannot do.
I welcome the fact that the Act made it possible for the codes to be issued. I see nothing constitutionally objectionable in the fact that when considering good practice on a controversial matter it should be left to the Secretary of State to propose and to Parliament to approve or disapprove and to show in the end what, in the opinion of the country, is good Industrial practice.
The pre-entry closed shop may be controversial, but I am sure that I am on solid ground in saying that the approach of the majority of the country is most fairly reflected by the opinion on the Government side of the House. If it becomes the turn of Labour Members to support their party in Government, I that they will continue to try to find good practice through such codes, which I give my wholehearted support.
§ Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)
When I find myself on the same side as the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst), I wonder where I am going wrong. I was therefore pleased to find, when the hon. Gentleman explained his reasons for opposing the codes, that he had got the wrong reasons. I was much more impressed by the thoughtful and 726 valuable contribution of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell).
Hon. Members who were present for the Second Reading of the Employment Bill will recall how strongly the Government assured us that it had nothing to do with the criminal law. The Secretary of State assured my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) that he had misunderstood the Bill in thinking that there were any criminal law implications in it. But, as the Bill progressed, particularly in Committee, the Government gradually began to admit that there were considerable criminal law implications, although they never quite admitted the full extent of those implications.
For example, the Under-Secretary of State said that the police and the magistrates would find the codes persuasive and influential. He said that the policeare without any guidance whatsoever as regards numbers"—that is, numbers on a picket line. I have never understood why they should have to be given guidance on a matter in which they are greatly experienced, the implementation of the criminal law.
The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to be upset, because he said:a discretion is cast upon the police on the spot to determine when the criminal law is being broken and if so, how it shall be enforced and whether it shall be enforced.What is wrong with that? Do not the police have that discretion and duty in all circumstances where there is a possibility of the law's being broken? Why it should be necessary to give them mathematical guidance on this particular element of the law has never been clear to me, and it is obviously not very clear to the chief constables' association, because it visualises the difficulty that it will cause.
Throughout the debate the hon. and learned Gentleman used expressions of that kind, which made it clear that when the codes eventually appeared and had the approval of the House the police and the magistrates were bound to be influenced by them. He said:I hope and expect that a chief constable will take it "—the code on picketing—into account. After all, it will be practical guidance on picketing which will have been 727 approved by Parliament, so I would expect him to take it into account and hope that he would take it into account. It would be desirable that he should."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 12 February 1980; c. 302–303.]The Under-Secretary used such expressions over and over again.
There can be no doubt that the administration of the criminal law, especially in relation to obstruction of the highway, is being decided tonight through this most peculiar method, which has been described as back-door legislation. That is precisely what it is. After all, who will be influenced by the codes? The trade union movement will not, for a start. The employers are not involved because their rights are clearly set out in the Act. There is no question of their right to take proceedings for an injunction or damages being in any way affected by the code.
The only people who are affected by the picketing code are the police. They are the ones who, according to the Under-Secretary, will be guided, influenced and persuaded to use the magic figure of six to decide whether they should prosecute people for causing an obstruction while those people are lawfully picketing.
I wonder how the code will work. The point that I am about to raise is one that I raised in Standing Committee, where I did not receive an answer. Let us assume that there are six pickets lawfully on duty, all of them outside their own place of work, operating strictly according to the terms of the Act. Then three more arrive. Being influenced and persuaded by the code, as the Under-Secretary described, the police will at that stage say to themselves "Now we must take action. An obstruction is being caused. There are now nine people there, and only six are permitted." But who are the ones who are causing the obstruction—the original six, who were there quite lawfully, causing no difficulty, or the three who turned up later? If the three who came later are to be prosecuted for obstruction, they can surely argue "Whatever obstruction we may be causing is only half as much obstruction as the original six were causing. How can you prosecute us and leave them there?"
I have never received an answer. Perhaps I shall not have an answer tonight. 728 I do not think that there is an answer. The problem demonstrates the dilemma that any mathematical formula will create for the police and the courts. It is not a fanciful picture; that is the kind of thing that will happen.
I leave that matter to say a word about the closed shop code, which I find surprising. I should not be surprised, knowing the Government's attitude to the closed shop. However, the way in which they are going even further than the already very restrictive provisions in the Act is rather upsetting from a trade union point of view.
After all the debate about the 80 per cent., bad as that is, I thought at least that that was now settled and that if some trade unionists by some miracle were able to get an 80 per cent. positive vote, at least in those circumstances they could get a closed shop agreement, but apparently that is not so. The employer can please himself. The code says:this does not prevent an employer from deciding that there should be a higher percentage in favour before he agrees to such a radical change in his employees' terms".That means an employer deciding—not negotiating, not talking to trade unionists, not meeting his employees and saying "Let us sort out the best thing to do", but simply deciding. The employer can say "Never mind what the Act says, or that 80 per cent. bit the parliamentarians have put into the Act. I have decided that you cannot have a closed shop agreement." That is hardly conducive to better industrial relations.
The trouble with both of these codes is that they will make an already difficult position even worse. It has been made very much worse by the Act. These two codes will do nothing to improve it.
I now comment on the closed shop in relation to the press, an industry in which I worked for many years. I was rather interested to see the way in which this code is written. I am not sure whether it means what the Secretary of State intends it to mean or whether it says what he intends it to say. The code says:Journalists, wherever employed, should enjoy the same rights as other employees to join trade unions and participate in their activities.That is a very good thing. I wonder whether the Secretary of State really 729 means that, because "participate in their activities" must mean the right to negotiate a closed shop agreement and to implement such an agreement, because that is a right which, in certain circumstances at least, other trade unionists will have. Therefore, journalists should enjoy the same rights as other employees. I am very pleased to see that.
I do not think that that is entirely what the Secretary of State meant. I feel that he is trying to prevent journalists getting closed shops, but if they are to enjoy the same rights as other employees, to join trade unions and to participate in their activities, participation must involve the right to a closed shop agreement.
I shall not take up any more of the time of the House. I conclude by affirming what many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said—that these codes will merely make industrial relations very much worse.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd (Fareham)
Like a number of other hon. Members, I regret that these codes have had to be prepared so rapidly over the summer months. Nevertheless, I congratulate my right hon. Friend on putting his short consultation period to very good use. He has taken on board some of the sensible and positive suggestions made by outside organisations and some of the ideas that came from the Select Committee. The codes before us this evening are very much improved on the original drafts that were circulated.
It is a pity that my right hon. Friend did not also have the benefit of a take-note debate in the House, because the House is now left with either accepting or rejecting these codes. It is thumbs up or thumbs down, and there is no opportunity for us to improve them this evening.
I understand the need for speed. The Act is already in force. The codes are designed to complete it. In the natural order of things, the provisions of the Act will come into play in the near future, and it is necessary that a summary of the law is available for when that situation arises. It is not that the law is particularly complex; it is not. It is very much simpler than many other Acts that I have seen passed through Parliament in the short 730 time that I have been here. However, the circumstances in which the law will be used are such that it is not experts or lawyers who will need to have the immediate primary understanding, but laymen—employers, employees and trade unionists. It is they who will have to make decisions and judgments quickly in emergencies.
For them, clear guidance as to what the law now is is vital. On the whole, these codes provide it particularly well, although I think that further thought and further revision might have enabled them to do it even better. I am conscious that, as the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Brown) said, there are one or two places where the codes are misleading—particularly paragraph 33 of the closed shop provisions.
The codes also give useful guidance on the way in which certain clear requirements of the law might be put into effect—for example, paragraph 34, which describes the procedures for a ballot on new closed shops. Whatever one's view of the 1980 Act and the section of it that provides for such ballots in particular circumstances, no one can reasonably object to the guidance that is given in the codes for carrying them out.
In contrast, advice such as that on the organisation of pickets—paragraph 34—is valuable and unobjectionable. I said "in contrast", because this paragraph is not a guide on how the law may be put into effect. However, it is advice that might help to ensure that the criminal law, easily fractured in this area, is properly observed. The root and branch condemnation of the principle of the codes that has come from a number of Labour Members is unjustified.
In February 1979, the Labour Government and the TUC issued a joint statement, attached to which were guides for industrial disputes. I shall not read out some of the items as they have been mentioned twice this evening and my right hon. Friend put some of them on the record in opening. They show that, although there may not be detailed agreement between the two sides, at least when the Labour Government were in office there was more common ground than the Opposition admit. No doubt that common ground is now disguised because Labour Members are in Opposition.
731 However, I have some profound reservations about the code. First, the tone is more partisan than even-handed advice to improve industrial relations ought to be if it is to be successful. More particularly, I believe that there are a number of items where the guidance goes much further than the law gives warrant.
I mention just two. Both have come up on a number of occasions in the debate, but they are sufficiently important to bear repetition. Paragraph 54 of the closed shop code of practice states:Disciplinary action should not be taken or threatened by a union against a member on the grounds of refusal to take part in industrial action called for by the union … (c) because the action had not been affirmed in a secret ballot".That may be very good advice, and industrial relations might be much better if it were adopted by the unions, but it is not drawn from the Act. It is not reasonable to deduce from the Act that, without a ballot, a union may not assert discipline over members who have ignored a strike call. When my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary winds up the debate he will no doubt say that that has already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend in his opening remarks, that this is a code, not the law, and that tribunals make their own decisions. But tribunals have to take the code into account if it is relevant. If so, that must narrow the options before tribunals and help them to crystallise their decisions. If not, what is the point of going to the trouble of legislating to make the code admissible?
The question of what constitutes unfair exclusion from a union is fundamental. It should be either dealt with fully by primary legislation or left to the tribunals to decide. In this latter case in the words with which my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State used to charm the Standing Committee on the Bill, the question should be decided by the tribunals according to equity and the substantial merits of the case. It should certainly not be left to the nudging ambiguity of a code of practice. If the codes have a privileged role in evidence given to them by statute, they should not seek to depart from or to extend the legislation that gives them life.
My second example is also taken from 732 the closed shop code. It arises on page 11, on periodic reviews. Again, nothing in the law requires a periodic review. But there is a practical problem here as well as one of principle. Does the code and its privileged role in evidence mean that industrial tribunals can now say "There has been no review of this closed shop for six or seven years and, therefore, the agreement lapses"? I do not believe that a tribunal could come to that conclusion on the Act as it stands, but with the code of practice I am not so sure. I shall appreciate it if my hon. and learned Friend can advise hon. Members about that.
Even if the parties accept the advice in the code and conduct periodic reviews, there is a danger that it could harm and not help industrial relations and defeat the stated overall objectives of the code. The suggestion is that the review should be conducted on the same balloting grounds as those applied to brand new closed shops. That means an 80 per cent. majority. When a workplace is changing from an open shop to a closed shop, it is reasonable to say that this fundamental change should be approved only by an overwhelming majority. There is a good case to be made for that. It is quite another thing when the closed shop is the status quo and has been in being for years. A minority vote of 25 per cent. could overthrow it. Is the 75 per cent. to acquiesce in the removal of the closed shop? I do not think that that would be easily accepted. Alternatively, does it just mean that employers will lose their defence in claims of unfair dismissal over non-union membership? The danger is that where a closed shop already exists these guidelines will provoke management to co-operate with unions to ensure the necessary 80 per cent. majority at any review and to put off the review for as long as possible. It may be that that is a good reason for perceptive Opposition Members to support the codes, but it is a depressing prospect for Government supporters who believe that closed shops are wrong, who do not believe that they can be outlawed by statute but who do not want to see the law strengthen them in any way.
These codes have to be approved in toto. Although I believe that there is a great deal wrong with them, there is also a great deal of good, which will benefit industrial relations in general and the 733 effectiveness of the Act in particular. For that reason I shall vote for the two motions, but I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the criticisms that have come from both sides of the House and, after he has gained some experience of the codes in practice, to come back to the House at an early stage with revised versions that will meet those criticisms.
§ Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)
Several hon. Members have hypothesised what may be the consequences of the adoption of this code of practice by a vote of the House tonight. For some of us, however, it has not been hypothesis. It has already been an experience during the period following the publication of the codes.
In the dispute at the Brixton unemployment benefit office, which had proceeded for a number of weeks before publication of the codes, there had been no problems about peaceful picketing and no limiting of pickets to six persons. Following the declaration of the Secretary of State that he was considering limiting pickets in this way and following the publication of the codes, the police limited the number of pickets in the dispute to six persons.
That gave rise to real confusion and disorder in the conduct of the dispute. As the Member of Parliament for one of the two men who had been dismissed in that case, I put down a question to the Home Secretary asking him whether any informal or formal guidelines had already gone to the police to limit the number of pickets to six. I was told that they had not, and I was advised to address my question to the local police, as would normally be the case.
At one morning demonstration, which coincided with the hearing of one of these cases and also coincided with the appearance of the Secretary of State before the Select Committee, which was widely misconstrued, I agreed to lead a delegation of fewer than a dozen people to ask the police on what basis they were limiting pickets to six persons. Several members of the delegation were arrested by the police on the ground that they were pickets. The police had taken the line that pickets should be limited to six. That shows that the confrontation implicit in a recommended limit of six is bound to occur in specific cases and that the 734 situation is aggravated rather than clarified by the guideline practice.
The Secretary of State took considerable umbrage over the fact that Members of Parliament were even involved in such disputes. I am not sure of the legal status of the so-called guidelines. I found myself the recipient, arising from what had been shown on television, of certain letters from him to myself giving me guidance on how to conduct myself in relation to any kind of picket. The Secretary of State said in a release to the press—I have no complaint about that—that he hoped I would not associate myself withattempts at intimidation through demonstration in the dispute.One of the most ironic aspects of the matter, if Members of Parliament are not able to go to see picketing, is how we can have an informed debate in Parliament on the issues. How can any Member of Parliament assess directly how the codes of practice operate?
I indicated to the Secretary of State in a letter, although I should have preferred to do so in the House in a debate clarifying the issue before it happened, that the question of limiting the number of pickets to six was not crystal clear, as the right hon. Gentleman claims it to be, in paragraph 30 of the draft code of practice. What, for instance, is an entrance? In the Brixton unemployment benefit case, there is a frontage of 140 ft. The pavement is 11 ft. to 12 ft. wide and there are three gates. The police limited the number of pickets to six in all and two per gate after previously allowing a far larger number of pickets on that side of the street.
What does "six" mean? Does "entrance" mean a gate, or does it not mean a gate? What force do the guidelines have in relation to such a dispute? The code is not clear. It should be subject to amendment. Even if it is only to be a code of practice rather than law, it should be subject to the traditional processes of challenge and amendment by Members of this House. Otherwise, this lack of clarity will continue and will confuse the situation.
Section E of the draft code of practice on closed shop agreements and arrangements, this neatly produced little document clearly designed to slip into people's 735 pockets, deals with the closed shop and freedom of the press. If there is to be anything concerning freedom of the press, I should like to see the Government publish a recommended code of practice for press and media coverage of trade union disputes. The Secretary of State declared on television during the summer—this is where most of the activity was seen to be taking place—that the British people were sick and tired of the scenes of violence on picket lines that they had seen. Well might they be sick and tired when the only event that goes across on television is the confrontation itself, when weeks of peaceful demonstration are not represented and when there is no right of representation or reply for those directly involved to charges and allegations concerning picketing disputes.
I am serious in suggesting that one of the best ways in which to remedy public misconception about the nature of picketing is to introduce a recommended code of practice for the press and media covering such disputes. The Independent Broadcasting Authority has a code in a general sense. It must seek to maintain a broad balance in its representation of views. No such broad balance exists when a television news programme shows tens or hundreds of people crossing a road in confrontation with the police before showing the incident that gives rise to that confrontation.
I checked the video tapes relating to the Brixton unemployment episode. The first item to be shown involved the confrontation and not the build-up of events that caused the confrontation. We should recommend that in television news items events should not be shown out of sequence. When that happens, members of the public can be widely misled.
People involved in picketing disputes also should be allowed the right of reply. The letter to me from the Secretary of State claiming that I was involved in "intimidation through demonstration" might not have been unrelated to a report in The Sunday Times, about two days before the letter, headlined:Battle over pickets was planned in advance.When I first saw the 14-in. long report in The Sunday Times, I thought "That is interesting. I had something to do with 736 the dispute but knew nothing of it being planned in advance." Further down the report I discovered that, lo and behold, the night before the incidents leading to the arrests I had allegedly been engaged in a meeting with the Socialist Workers Party to plan a confrontation with the police. That was, indeed, a surprise, since I had been at home with my wife and family having supper with friends.
The issue whether pickets are threatening is crucial to the whole public perception of the issues, and that is more important than my individual involvement in the case. I represented to The Sunday Times that its claim was totally without foundation. I said that I was surprised at the lapse in its standard of reporting. I recommended that in the next issue it should publish the reply that I wrote to the Secretary of State for Employment. It would have been, exactly the length of the initial report. Surprise, surprise! There was no readiness to publish the retraction. That conforms with an image which some of my hon. Friends have that the media is more interested in confrontation itself than in the issues, although the confrontation really comes from the Government in relation to trade unions.
It took the threat of legal action to persuade The Sunday Times to retract. The retraction was about the size of the headline on the original article. Instead of being placed in a prominent place, it was pushed alongside the classified advertisements. In German law, any misrepresentation of fact that can be proved can be corrected by the maligned person in the same layout and in the same space. That is extremely important in relation to picketing and industrial relations disputes. If we cannot debate the issues in Parliament, and if we cannot have open and balanced access to the press and the media, hon. Members should not be surprised that people take to the streets to demonstrate their protest at the failure of the system to represent their views fairly.
I turn to the question of co-called trade union blackmail of employers. I was impressed by the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), who said that the vast majority of working people in Britain invest and spend their lives here 737 rather than abroad. In the whole question of whether trade unions can blackmail or drag the economy to a halt and whether picketing and the closed shop have any relation to that, it is important to bear in mind what companies do—why they do it, where they do it, how they do it, when they do it and at what cost. All those decisions on the allocation of investment capital and jobs are taken actively by management and are reacted to by labour.
Capital disposal of resources in Britain and abroad is multinational in character, whereas labour is national or local in character. Trade unions at the present time have the right only to oppose what capital decides. We talk about two or three unions dominating a certain industry. We are also in a position where two or three companies dominate two-thirds or more of a given industry. They are multinational in character. Their blackmail is quite effective, because they say "Either you fall into line on wages or we unemploy you by taking our investment elsewhere."
If the Government are seriously interested in bettering labour relations, if they are really against the closed shop as such, why is there no code of practice for employers on opening the books about what is happening in business? If there is to be any change in the climate of labour relations in Britain, why is there resistance to allowing the labour force, in confidence, to see the plans? The magical figure of six appears in the picketing recommendations. Let us go for six factors for opening the books, rather than the closed books of which we hear so little.
We hear much about the closed shop, but we do not hear about the closed boardroom in British business, which is the reality that frequently gives rise to resistance from trade unions. Let us go for six factors in the negotiations with trade unions that will benefit industrial relations in Britain, I have in mind the nature and source of profits, future employment and redundancies, trade and transfer pricing by big business—whereby it frequently overstates an import price and understates a profit and thereby weakens the bargaining position of unions—and investment and capital flows.
We have the situation that the Government and some of the more expressive 738 Members on the Conservative Benches—their expression based largely on volume rather than merit—have been talking about the way in which the trade unions, the closed shop and picketing need to be restricted, without recognising that there are double standards in the argument.
Parliament itself arose through the exercise of rights that were equivalent in practice to picketing. Without the process of actually pinning down the Crown and the barons, there would have been no Parliament in the first place. What would have happened at Runnymede in 1215 if the King had been able to say "I will talk with six of you, but the remainder of you stay the other side of the river"? In a physical sense they pinned down the King, because otherwise there would have been no real negotiations. What happened from Simon de Montfort in the thirteenth century through to 1688, even in the very terms that the monarchy described those closest to it? Let us take a few of the most highly favoured in the land, such as the Ladies of the Bedchamber, the Knight Commander of the Bath, the Knight of the Garter. We cannot get physically closer than that.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. We are talking about codes of practice, not history.
§ Mr. Holland
With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my point is that if Conservative Members look at the best supportive analysis of why those jobs were held, they will find that former Members of this House and of the other House felt that they had to be physically near to the Crown to restrain it, lest the Crown restrained them. I suggest that there are double standards in the view that there can be picketing, provided that it is on the other side of the road and that it is ineffective. There is a contradiction here, even in the question as posed tonight.
Effective picketing and the right to protest are crucial elements in the effective exercise of rights within a democratic society. A democratic society is one in which people have the right both to agree and to disagree. If one restrains their ability to express that disagreement on the shop floor, it will lead to demonstrations on the streets.
§ Mr. David Mellor (Putney)
The principles covered in both these codes of practice are well trodden ground, because the views set forth in them have been articulated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State over a number of years. They were particularly forcefully articulated by my right hon. Friend and the rest of the Conservative Party during the election. There can be no doubt that it was the promise that the Government would do something about the closed shop and picketing that led to the massive victory that we achieved. There can be little doubt that although the substance of the proposals is controversial in this House, that is more a sign of the extent to which some hon. Members are out of touch with the public mood than any indication that the Government are not capable of responding to the public interest as they see it.
The vast majority of the public, whether they live in the North or South of England, Wales or Scotland, will find almost entire agreement with the principles that are set forth in these codes. That being the case, it is the Government's duty to bring them forward. It is their duty to make plain what the atmosphere in industrial relations that we seek to create should be, as well as to state what is proper conduct and what is not.
There are two ways in which that can be achieved. One is through legislation, but my right hon. Friend has properly rejected that course. If and in so far as it can be clearly established that industrial relations 18 months after this Government came to power are happier than the equivalent situation 18 months after the Government of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) came into office, I attribute quite a lot of that to the fact that we did not press forward with a full-scale Industrial Relations Act which covered all the ground that we would wish to cover.
We have heard a great deal tonight about the validity and constitutional propriety of these codes. The statutory basis for the codes is contained in section 3 of the 1980 Act. Section 3(1) is of particular importance as it gives the Secretary of State power to issue them, as is section 3(8), which gives these codes a certain status in courts of law. Section 3 740 did not attract a great deal of attention when the Act proceeded through Parliament, for one clear and obvious reason—that it simply reiterated section 6 of the 1975 Act, which itself merely continued a statutory provision contained in the 1971 Act. I therefore have some difficulty in taking as seriously as do some hon. Members the constitutional propriety argument, having regard to the fact that, far from being a new creation, codes of practice and their alleged quasi-legal status have been with us for nearly 10 years. The only difference between these two codes and some of the earlier ones is that their contents do not find favour with certain hon. Members. It is not that they constitute a novel constitutional position.
The truth is that in so far as the codes have any legal force, they have exactly the same legal force as the code of practice under the 1971 Act, which, notwithstanding all the sound and fury of the Opposition during the lifetime of the Industrial Relations Act, was substantially continued by them under the 1975 Act.
The courts are required only to take account of the views contained in the codes where that is relevant to any issue in the case. It is suggested that that will somehow pose enormous difficulties for the courts. However, the only thing which can be cited in favour of that proposition is one observation of Lord Diplock. I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary will be able to quote chapter and verse when he replies to the debate, but the truth is that a long line of decided authorities in the industrial courts makes it plain that the courts are well aware that this is not law.
For example, they make it plain that there is no question of a dismissal being fair or unfair merely because an employer or employee follows the code or does not. The courts are fully entitled to look at a code. If they think that it is relevant to the issue before them, they must look at it, but they do not have to follow the principle set out therein unless, in exercising their proper judicial discretion, they independently reach the conclusion that it is appropriate to do so.
I am not convinced by the argument on the constitution. Neither am I convinced by some of the arguments about objections to the code on picketing. It is made abundantly clear in the document 741 that picketing and the control of picketing remain the exclusive preserve of the police. That could not be more plainly stated. In so far as a guideline of six pickets is given, that is a commonsense guideline to anyone who may contemplate taking part in picketing. It is clear that criminal cases like the Piddington v Bates case established a tighter restriction, and in all the circumstances it is difficult to take the objections particularly seriously having regard to the closeness with which this code on picketing resembles some of the statements contained in the TUC code.
I hope that these codes will be given a fair wind. It is disappointing to see the petulant reaction of Mr. Len Murray and others to the codes, notwithstanding the common sense of their proposals. I hope that the codes will be given a fair wind and that they will create the right climate. However, the fact remains, and none of us must shirk it, that if they do not have the effect that we want we shall be driven to legislation, and those who oppose us unreasonably will have only themselves to blame for that.
§ Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been here all day waiting to be called. Not one Welshman has participated in the debate. Further, it would have been a refreshing change for a Welshman to talk about the employed—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. That is an abuse of the procedure for raising points of order. Many hon. Members would like to have been called to speak in this important debate. I am sorry.
§ Mr. Powell
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Am I given to understand that Front Bench Members will speak until 11.30 pm?
§ Mr. Harold Walker (Doncaster)
I shall not detain the House for long, because I sense some impatience by hon. Members to reach a conclusion on these matters. What happens after I sit down is not a matter for me.
I have been doing a quick thumbnail check on the conduct of the debate so far. 742 Speakers have been called equally from both sides of the House, which does not necessarily mean—I intend no reflection on the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker—that Members who have been called from this side have been Labour Members. The score so far is 11 in favour of the Opposition view, shortly to be 12, four in favour of the Government, and three who are not sure. Therefore, we are winning the debate, even if we do not win the vote. But we shall vote.
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) spoke about an improvement in industrial relations. He means that bad industrial relations are not receiving the same publicity as they received under the Labour Government. I am not criticising the media for that. I am saying that the media overplayed bad industrial relations previously. Last winter we lost immeasurably more days' production under this Government than we did during the so-called winter of discontent, and last year was an appalling year for industrial relations according to the Department of Employment figures.
The Secretary of State made a firm declaration, not for the first time, that his proposals did not extend the law, but as the debate continued it became increasingly apparent that he was becoming isolated in that view It was pointed out that many provisions in the codes are not included in the Employment Act and were not mentioned during the passage of the Bill but are presented in the same style and language as those matters that derive directly from the main statute.
The Secretary of State pointed out that he included a clarifying provision in the introduction to the codes. That does not alter the facts, but, if we were confused about what provisions were part of the statute and what were merely the opinions and prejudices of the Secretary of State and the Government, how much more difficult it will be for shop stewards and others who have not had the benefit of participating in our debates, who do not plough their way through Hansard and who cannot understand the structure of Bills but are expected to conduct our industrial relations and manage our affairs in the practical world in which they live.
The hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) described the codes as a mixture of law, of the interpretation of law 743 and of pious hope. I would say that the other ingredients missing from his description are arsenic and old lace and a bit of hemlock.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) described the present process as legislation by code, and barely a speaker has got by without referring to quasi-legislation. That is what we have before the House—neither code nor statute but some kind of weird hybrid falling between the two and yet overlapping both.
Let me make my own position clear. I have no objection to the use of codes of practice in industrial relations, nor could I, because I was one of those who helped to take the 1975 Bill through the House. I remember very well winding up the debate on the code of practice under the Industrial Relations Bill. But there is a fundamental difference between that occasion and the present.
Under the 1975 Act we delegated the responsibility for preparing the codes, subject to endorsement by Parliament, to the independent body, ACAS, the council of which is made up not of lawyers or Members of Parliament but of those who are engaged, day in and day out, in the practical realities of industrial relations.
Furthermore, we provided that the codes could be used—[Interruption.] I wish that some hon. Members would listen to these matters, because their ignorance is one of the contributory factors to the difficulties that the country endures. They come reeling into the House from the Smoking Room every time we have a major debate, sending whisky and brandy fumes across the Floor of the House, only in order to form a claque. They are the equivalent of the Spion Kop lads at Liverpool, the hooligans on the terraces—[Interruption.] I apologise to the Liverpool Members.
There is not only the fact that these codes are not made by an independent external body but are the product of a politically motivated, highly prejudiced Secretary of State, who has litle practical experience of industrial relations. I am not saying that in an accusing sense. Unlike the codes provided by the 1975 Act—the use of which was limited in judicial terms to the industrial tribunals and the Central Arbitration Committee, 744 where those who had to make judgments were people involved in the practical day-to-day realities of industrial management and the management of industrial relations—here we are putting them into the courts. Once again, industrial relations are being taken back into the courts to become the territory of lawyers, with all the fallibility and weakness of lawyers in these matters.
I now turn to some of the matters which have been dealt with in the debate and to others which perhaps have not been mentioned. I have no wish to repeat what has been said today or on other occasions, and I shall confine myself to one or two points.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) referred to the kind of language that is used in the codes. I draw to the attention of the House the kind of thing to which we are entitled to object. In the introduction to the code of practice on picketing, we immediately see the prejudice and bias on which the codes are based. Paragraph 2 starts with the sentence:There is no legal 'right to picket' as such but peaceful picketing has long been recognised as being lawful.The code does not say what it ought to say; it does not mention the fact that it is lawful. Instead of starting with the words "There is no legal 'right to picket'", why could not the code have said, in straightforward language, "It is lawful to picket"?
I do not want to go through the code and give example after example of the weighted and loaded language in which the codes are written. It seems that an arbitrary number has been plucked out of thin air for the number of pickets who may be on a line. I do not want to repeat the arguments that have been advanced earlier in the debate. However, the Secretary of State says that he is legislating only to enable employers to take civil action and that there is no extension of the criminal law. Is he expecting us to believe that the arbitrary six, a number that has been plucked out of thin air, will not be used before the courts? It is inevitable that the arbitrary six will seep into the lialogue of lawyers then they deal with the behaviour of pickets. It is inevitable that the police will observe and adhere to the arbitrary six. Increasingly it will be a maximum of six with 745 a preference for fewer than six, as the code suggests.
The code is drafted in terms that suggest that industrial disputes involving picketing are limited to trade unions and their members or to official disputes. If the right hon. Gentleman reads the relevant passages about the organisation of pickets, for example, he will take the point that I am seeking to make. The code is drafted in terms that seem to assume that, even in unofficial disputes, responsibility for organising pickets should fall on the trade union organisation.
The codes are entirely one-sided because they assume that the handling of picketing during industrial disputes is the responsibility and concern of only one party to the dispute. It takes two to make a dispute. That is a point that was well made by the British Institute of Management. I understand that in the advice that it has submitted to the Department of the Environment it suggests that a new clause should be introduced to describe the duties of management. It states:This would contribute to the balance of the document, besides being helpful in setting down best practice' for managers. BIM did not attempt to draft such a clause, but a majority of the respondents thought that it should cover such responsibilities as the duty of managers at all times to be aware of any fluctuations in the situation, to maintain an amicable communication with the pickets, foster and maintain peaceful relations with all employees, and avoid any action which could be interpreted as provocative.There is a clear recognition that employers have a role, responsibility and duties. It is regrettable that the Secretary of State did not heed the advice that came not from the TUC or the workers' side of industry but from those who as much as any are at the sharp end of the matters that we are discussing.
The weakness of our procedures is that we are forced either to take the codes or to leave them. We cannot amend them. At this stage we cannot persuade the right hon. Gentleman that he should take the advice of his hon. Friends and my hon. Friends on the management of British industry. The codes will continue to be silent about the responsibilities of management.
Those who were involved in considering the Employment Bill in Committee and 746 on the Floor of the House will recall that there was much debate about the joining of others for the purpose of the award of compensation. It was said that a person who had been unfairly dismissed because of his refusal to join a union, or because of his expulsion from a union for refusing to engage in industrial action, could claim before a tribunal that he had been unfairly dismissed and the employer who had dismissed him, if he had done so as a consequence of pressure brought by another person, could join the other person for the purpose of the award of compensation. The issue before the House on more than one occasion was whether the Bill should limit the joinder to the person put under pressure or whether the union should be included and similarly exposed to being joined.
The Secretary of State and the Minister repeatedly resisted attempts by their hon. Friends to make the unions subject to being joined. Paragraph 11 states that not only the person but the union can be joined. I cannot find any provision for that in sections 10 or 11 of the Act. I am sure that the Minister knows them by heart. Perhaps he will tell us why that measure has been slipped in by the back door. The House specifically rejected its inclusion on the urging and prompting of the Secretary of State.
The code of practice on closed shop agreements is shrouded in doubt and uncertainty. It gives rise to many problems. Not only does it raise the question of where the law should give way to guidance and advice it will also give rise to many problems as regards its practical implementation. For example, who should be responsible for the administration of the ballots? Who should be responsible for their cost? There is a problem about the framing of the question on which the ballot is held. The Secretary of State insists that in a ballot for a new closed shop the question must be simple and straightforward. There must not be more than one question.
If the Transport and General Workers Union were to put in a bid to have a closed shop agreement in an establishment that employed 100 people, the Secretary of State would like the following simple question to be asked: "Do you wish the TGWU to be able to operate a closed shop? Answer 'Yes' or 'No'." The result of the ballot might be 70 per 747 cent. in favour and 30 per cent. against. That would be 10 per cent. below the minimum required. It could mean that 30 per cent. were non-union people and that they did not wish to join a union. The reality might be that 30 per cent. were keener union members who belonged to the General and Municipal Workers Union. Deprived of the opportunity to express their wishes, they might be trying to say that they want a closed shop, but that they want it to be a GMWU closed shop. The provision will give rise to many misunderstandings.
I shall resist the strong temptation to dwell on some of the difficulties that will inevitably result. However, the right hon. Member for Down, South spoke about the wording of paragraph 46. His point illustrates something about which hon. Members and those who will have to operate the codes are concerned. Paragraph 46 states:Closed shop agreements which require people to belong to a trade union before they can be employed (the pre-entry closed shop) may particuarly infringe the freedom of individuals to work. No new agreements of this type should be contemplated".The right hon. Member for Down, South picked up the word "contemplated". However, the fundamental point concerns from where the Secretary of State derives his authority for such a dogmatic and categorical assertion. It will probably be read by many as a declaration that there should be no new pre-entry closed shops. The Secretary of State has no authority for that.
I wish to make one further point. You will notice, Mr. Speaker, that I am casting aside many of the pieces of paper before me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that hon. Members are pleased.
Tucked at the back of the code on the closed shop are extraordinary provisions dealing with the freedom of the press. I make these remarks with some feeling. Perhaps more than anyone in the House, I was involved in an enormous amount of work to try to draw up the press charter that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) made provision for in an earlier statute. The code states that any requirement on journalists to join a union creates the possibility of a conflict with press freedom. On what evidence has the Secretary of State reached that 748 conclusion? Why does he single out journalists from everyone else in the land and say that in their case there are special and exceptional reasons why they should not organise as effectively as they can to try to improve their terms and conditions of employment? It is an argument unsupported by reason or experience. It is inconsistent with what was said to me by most people I consulted when we were last in Government.
There is the question of the exclusion of editors from the obligation to join a closed shop. Those who have to apple the code are entitled to know what that means. What is meant by "editor"? Is it the person who has the overall responsibility for the content of the newspaper? Does the term include the sports editor, the crime editor, the night editor, the sub-editor and the bloke who looks after the shop while the editor goes on holiday?
There is a reference in paragraph 59 to "generally accepted professional standards". Accepted by whom? Does it mean the code of the National Union of Journalists? To the best of my knowledge, that is the only existing set of professional standards available for guidance. If that is what the right hon. Gentleman means, he should put it in the code so that everybody knows what he is talking about, instead of relying on a vague and ill-thought-out concept of "accepted professional standards" There are no such alternative standards.
I have already made my view of codes of practice clear to the House. I believe that they can have a role, although I do not believe that these codes will improve industrial relations. On the contrary, they will contribute towards bad industrial relations. When we developed the concept of codes of practice, I hoped that one of the benefits would be increasingly to take industrial relations out of the hands of the lawyers and out of the courts. These codes will have the opposite effect. They will provide fertile ground for barrack-room lawyers, incentives for every litigious-minded employer and a lucrative income for the legal profession as a whole. The codes will take industrial relations back into the courts. The experience of the years immediately following the Industrial Relations Act 1971 may well be recreated, not merely 749 by the codes but by the Government's step-by-step approach of which they form a part. It is for those reasons that we shall vote against the codes in the Lobby tonight.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)
We have had an exceptionally wide-ranging and serious debate, which the gravity and importance of the subject warrant. I hope to reply to as many of the points that have been raised as I can.
It will be helpful, first, to try to identify the common ground that has emerged. It is common ground that the subject of industrial relations is of central importance to this country and to everything that we are trying to achieve, that the scope for improvement in our industrial relations is too wide and that codes of practice, statutorily based, have an important part to play. They can help. They can set standards that reflect good industrial relations practice.
In the earlier parts of his speech, the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) took exception to a passage in the introduction to the code of practice on picketing. It states that the code seeks to set standards that supplement the standards set in the Act. I find nothing wrong in that. It must surely be a mistake, for the reasons that the right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) outlined, to seek to put into statute, with all the necessary rigidity that goes wih statutory language, every provision that one believes might be of help in securing good industrial relations.
The Employment Act establishes standards, just as the Employment Protection Act establishes standards, but I do not believe that there is anything impractical or unconstitutional in seeking, by codes of practice, which are mere guidance, to supplement, by which I mean to explain and to illustrate, standards set by statute. That is exactly what our codes of practice seek to do.
§ Mr. Gorst
It has been alleged that the codes will have either a quasi or fully statutory effect. The Government have denied that, but will my hon. and learned Friend undertake that if the allegation is proved correct in the coming months 750 the parts that are quasi or fully statutory will be either removed from the codes or enshrined in legislaton, but not left as they are?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Certainly not. There is no secret about the status of the codes. They have the same status as the codes introduced by ACAS under the 1975 Act and the code of practice introduced under the 1971 Act. They are codes representing such guidance as the Secretary of State thinks fit to promotethe improvement of industrial relations".That is the wording of the empowering section of the Employment Act. Courts, tribunals and the Central Arbitration Committee are required in such cases to which they consider the provisions relevant to take the codes into consideration. It does not matter whether the status is called quasi judicial, quasi legislative or quasi anything else. What matters is that the codes represent the guidance that my right hon. Friend thinks fit to offer for the promotion of better industrial relations.
The argument about unconstitutionality would have been better made when the empowering section of the Employment Act was being discussed. My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) said that he did not vote against that provision. There can be nothing unconstitutional in codes of practice being issued by the Secretary of State and put to Parliament for approval when they fall four square within the power conferred on my right hon. Friend by section 3.
Most of us accept that in such matters mandatory rules in the concrete form of legislation are often too rigid and that guidance is often better than command. It would be surprising if that were otherwise, because such codes are no strangers to our scene. The right hon. Member for Doncaster conceded that he was responsible for the three codes issued by ACAS.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Well, ACAS has the responsibility of issuing them, but it is for the Secretary of State to give them his approval and bring them into effect.
§ Mr. Budgen
Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that there may be a distinction on the constitutional point 751 between those parts of the codes that either set out the existing law or give an interpretation of it and those parts that set out to extend the existing law and to restrict what are now the rights of those who have a closed shop or who picket?
§ Mr. Mayhew
If there were material for such a distinction to exist in either code of practice, I should, of course, acknowledge it. Where I part company from my hon. Friend is where he implies that any part of the codes extends the law. There is no part that extends the law, nor could there be. This is very important.
Paragraph 4 of the introduction to each code explains what the various sections do. Paragraph 4 of the code on picketing says:Sections B and C outline the provisions of the civil and criminal lawSection D, which deals with the role of the police, again is explanation of the existing law. The code, in sections E, F and G, givesguidance on good practice in the conduct of picketing.It is of prime importance to note that each code represents simply the Secretary of State's guidance on what he believes to be necessary and desirable for the promotion of good industrial relations.
Of course, it is true that under the Act the codes must be taken into account where they are relevant to any question that falls to be determined by a tribunal or by a court. If there is anything unconstitutional about that, it was unconstitutional in 1977 when the ACAS codes were introduced under the aegis of the 1975 Act; it was unconstitutional when the 1972 code was introduced under the 1971 Act.
Some right hon. and hon. Members have suggested that somehow the constitutional point is made right by the fact that ACAS produced the codes in 1977. But the 1971 Act was introduced by the Secretary of State of the day. I cannot see that it makes any difference to the constitutional point whether ACAS or the Secretary of State produced the codes.
The Secretary of State produced the code in 1972. It has 133 paragraphs, of which 123 remain in force. That is because the Labour Government, of which 752 the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished member in dealing with this part of the law, considered not only that that code was not unconstitutional but that it offered desirable, sensible and practical advice.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, because I had the misfortune to miss hearing his speech.
§ Mr. Leighton
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. Does not he agree that there is an important distinction between the ACAS code, which was admissible only before tribunals, and his own codes of practice? In the introduction to both, we read that they areto be admissible in evidence and taken into account in proceedings before any court".That is the major difference.
§ Mr. Mayhew
It is not a major difference. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] It has, and can have, no bearing on constitutionality. The codes produced by ACAS were not the subject of material that would fall to be determined in any circumstances by a court, but the picketing code may in certain circumstances—I think rare—be considered by a court to be relevant. Therefore, we thought it right to extend to courts exactly the same provision as has applied to the ACAS codes and to the 1971 code.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North considered that the codes were wrong in principle because of the constitutionality point. I have dealt with that, but I wish to deal in more detail with the speech of the right hon. Member for Down, South. He considered that it was really legislating to say that there should be a maximum number of six and that this was legislating by the back door. It cannot be legislation where the code itself expressly denies that there is any legislative effect. I look at paragraph 5 of the introduction:The Code itself imposes no legal obligations and failure to observe it does not by itself render anyone liable to proceedings. But Section 3(8) of the Employment Act 1980 provides that any provisions of the Code are to be admissible in evidence and taken into account in proceedings".753 When we come to the passage dealing with the role of the police and the numbers of pickets, under section D we read:nor does this Code affect in any way the discretion of the police to limit the number of people on a particular picket line. It is for the police to decide, taking into account all the circumstances, whether the number of pickets at any particular place is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), who is the Chairman of the Select Committee of this House dealing with employment matters, gave, I thought, a misleading impression—no doubt it was done inadvertently—of the reaction that the police have had to this code. The chief constables are now happy with the way in which this matter is dealt with. They are content that the discretion of the police is expressed to be unaffected in any way. We did that at their request. They are content and, indeed, happy that there should be reference to six, expressed as it is in section E of the code as being necessary as a limit to avoid the "fear and resentment" amongst those seeking to cross a picket line which is occasioned by large numbers. Every one of the three police organisations, be it federation, association or representative body, has stated publicly that it is happy with the code in this respect.
On the question of a maximum of six, I noticed with particular interest that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) said that he considered that the maximum of six was no more than the Secretary of State's opinion. He said that it was plucked out of the air and that a maximum of six on any picket line was an absurdity.
I always thought that the right hon. Gentleman had close associations with the National Union of Mineworkers and that, coming from a constituency such as his, he knew what the miners and his constituents were thinking. I ask him to take his mind back to 1974, when the House was about to deal with the first of the Trade Union and Labour Relations
Acts. At that time the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot), who is now the Leader of the Opposition, indicated that he would put into the Official Report the text of a consultative document on the Government's Trade Union and Labour Relations Act. That was what he did. It appears in Hansard for 22 March 1974. It has some bearing upon what the right hon. Member for Chesterfield said. It says:
The fact that very few incidents occurred in the 1974 strike"—
that was the miners' strike—
was largely due to the fact that the NUM laid down strict rules ensuring that the number of pickets in any local situation was not to exceed six, that the six were to be nominated by a branch or lodge official, and identified by an armband or other badge, and, further, that all the six were to be members of the lodge or branch concerned. Thus, when potentially disruptive elements from outside the industry offered their services, they were rejected and dismissed from the scene."—[Official Report, 22 March 1974; Vol. 870, c. 1490–91.]
§ That was what the right hon. Gentleman's coalmining constituents thought it right to do in 1974, and that, in the footnote in the Official Report, was the cause of very few incidents taking place in the 1974 strike.
§ Many points have been raised and I have not the time to deal with all or even many of them. However, I say this. My hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) had it right when he said that Opposition Members were out of touch if they felt that there was no demand in the country for control over picketing by guidance and for guidance over the closed shop. I believe that both of these matters call for guidance. My right hon. Friend has given it. He has consulted upon these matters to a greater extent than any similar codes have been consulted upon, and I commend them to the House.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 231.759
|Division No. 499]||AYES||[10.00 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East)||Bevan, David Gilroy|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Biffen, Rt Hon John|
|Alison, Michael||Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Biggs-Davison, John|
|Alton, David||Beith, A. J.||Blackburn, John|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Bell, Sir Ronald||Body, Richard|
|Ancram, Michael||Bendall, Vivian||Bonsor, Sir Nicholas|
|Arnold, Tom||Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon)||Boscawen, Hon Robert|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Best, Keith||Boyson, Dr Rhodes|
|Bright, Graham||Hayhoe, Barney||Page, Rt Hon Sir Graham (Crosby)|
|Brittan, Leon||Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Heddle, John||Parris, Matthew|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Henderson, Barry||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Hicks, Robert||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Pawsey, James|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Hill, James||Penhaligon, David|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Burden, Sir Frederick||Hooson, Tom||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Butcher, John||Hordern, Peter||Porter, Barry|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)||Price, Sir David (Easteigh)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Raison, Timothy|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Hurd, Hon Douglas||Rathbone, Tim|
|Chapman, Sydney||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Rees, peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Jessel, Toby||Renton, Tim|
|Clark, Sir William (Croydon South)||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Cockeram, Eric||Kershaw, Anthony||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Colvin, Michael||Kilfedder, James A.||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Cope, John||Kimball, Marcus||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Corrie, John||King, Rt Hon Tom||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Costain, Sir Albert||Knight, Mrs Jill||Rossi, Hugh|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Knox, David||Rost, Peter|
|Critchley, Julian||Lamont, Norman||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Crouch, David||Lang, Ian||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Latham, Michael||Scott, Nicholas|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Lawrence, Ivan||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Lawson, Nigel||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Dover, Denshore||Lee, John||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)|
|Durant, Tony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shersby, Michael|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||Silvester, Fred|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Sims, Roger|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke)||Loveridge, John||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Eggar, Tim||Lyell, Nicholas||Speed, Keith|
|Elliott, Sir William||McCrindle, Robert||Spence, John|
|Emery, Peter||Macfarlane, Neil||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)|
|Eyre, Reginald||MacGregor, John||Sproat, Iain|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||MacKay, John (Argyll)||Squire, Robin|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)||Stainton, Keith|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Farr, John||McQuarrie, Albert||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Fell, Anthony||Madel, David||Steen, Anthony|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Major, John||Stevens, Martin|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Marland, Paul||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Marlow, Tony||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Marten, Neil (Banbury)||Stokes, John|
|Forman, Nigel||Mates, Michael||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Mather, Carol||Tapsell, Peter|
|Fox, Marcus||Maude, Rt Hon Angus||Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)|
|Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Mawby, Ray||Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)|
|Fry, Peter||Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.||Mayhew, Patrick||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Mellor, David||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thompson, Donald|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Gow, Ian||Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Miscampbell, Norman||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)|
|Gray, Hamish||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Trippler, David|
|Greenway, Harry||Moate, Roger||Trotter, Neville|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)||Monro, Hector||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Moore, John||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)||Viggers, Peter|
|Grist, Ian||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Waddington, David|
|Grylis, Michael||Murphy, Christopher||Wakeham, John|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Myles, David||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll)||Neale, Gerrard||Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Needham, Richard||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Nelson, Anthony||Wall, Patrick|
|Hannam, John||Neubert, Michael||Waller, Gary|
|Heselhurst, Alan||Newton, Tony||Walters, Dennis|
|Hastings, Stephen||Nott, Rt Hon John||Ward, John|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Onslow, Cranley||Warren, Kenneth|
|Hawkins, Paul||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally||Watson, John|
|Hawksley, Warren||Page, John (Harrow West)|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)||Wickendon, Keith||Younger Rt Hon George|
|Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Wheeler, John||Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Whitelaw, Rt Hon William||Wolfson, Mark||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Whitney, Raymond||Young, Sir George (Acton)||Mr. Anthony Berry.|
|Abse, Leo||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Adams, Allen||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Newens, Stanley|
|Allaun, Frank||Ginsburg, David||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Anderson, Donald||Golding, John||Ogden, Eric|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest||Gorst, John||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Ashton, Joe||Gourlay, Harry||O'Neill, Martin|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Graham, Ted||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Park, George|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Hardy, Peter||Parker, John|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Parry, Robert|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Haynes, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)|
|Bradford, Rev. R.||Heffer, Eric S.||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Bradley, Tom||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)||Race, Reg|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Home Robertson, John||Radice, Giles|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Homewood, William||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith)||Hooley, Frank||Richardson, Jo|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Horam, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Buchan, Norman||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Huckfield, Les||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Hudson Davies, Ednyfed||Robertson, George|
|Campbell, Ian||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Cant, R. B.||Janner, Hon Greville||Roper, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||John, Brynmor||Ross, Wm, (Londonderry)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Ryman, John|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Johnson, Walter (Derby South)||Sever, John|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)||Sheerman, Barry|
|Coleman, Donald||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Short, Mrs Renée|
|Conlan, Bernard||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Cook, Robin F.||Kerr, Russell||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cowans, Harry||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Silverman, Julius|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Lamble, David||Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)|
|Crowther, J. S.||Lamborn, Harry||Snape, Peter|
|Cryer, Bob||Leadbitter, Ted||Soley, Clive|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Leighton, Ronald||Spearing, Nigel|
|Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||Litherland, Robert||Stallard, A. W.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Stoddart, David|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Stott, Roger|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||Strang, Gavin|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central)||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Straw, Jack|
|Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||McCartney, Hugh||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Dempsey, James||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)|
|Dewar, Donald||McElhone, Frank||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Dixon, Donald||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Dobson, Frank||McKelvey, William||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)|
|Dormand, Jack||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Douglas, Dick||Maclennan, Robert||Tilley, John|
|Dubs, Alfred||McNally, Thomas||Torney, Tom|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||McNamara, Kevin||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)||McTaggart, Robert||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||McWilliam, John||Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)|
|Eadie, Alex||Magee, Bryan||Watkins, David|
|Eastham, Ken||Marks, Kenneth||Weetch, Ken|
|Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Welsh, Michael|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Ewing, Harry||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Field, Frank||Maxton, John||Whitlock, William|
|Fitch, Alan||Maynard, Miss Joan||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Flannery, Martin||Meacher, Michael||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)|
|Ford, Ben||Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Forrester, John||Molyneaux, James||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Foster, Derek||Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshaw)||Winnick, David|
|Foulkes, George||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)||Woodall, Alec|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Joseph Dean and|
|Mr. George Morton.|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|That the draft Code of Practice on Picketing, which was laid before this House on 5 November, be approved.|
|Motion made, and Question put,|
|That the draft Code of Practice on Closed Shop Agreements and Arrangements, which was laid before this House on 5th November, be approved.—[Mr. Prior.]|
|The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 232.|
|Division No. 500]||AYES||[10.15 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Costain, Sir Albert||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Cranborne, Viscount||Heath, Rt Hon Edward|
|Alison, Michael||Critchley, Julian||Heddle, John|
|Alton, David||Crouch, David||Henderson, Barry|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Ancram, Michael||Dickens, Geoffrey||Hicks, Robert|
|Arnold, Tom||Dorrell, Stephen||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Hill, James|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Dover, Denshore||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)|
|Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East)||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Holland, Philip (Carlton)|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Hooson, Tom|
|Banks, Robert||Durant, Tony||Hordern, Peter|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Dykes, Hugh||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Beith, A. J.||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)|
|Bell, Sir Ronald||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Egger, Tim||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon)||Elliott, Sir William||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Emery, Peter||Hurd, Hon Douglas|
|Best, Keith||Eyre, Reginald||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Fairbairn, Nicholas||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fairgrieve, Russell||Jessel, Toby|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Faith, Mrs Shella||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Blackburn, John||Farr, John||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Body, Richard||Fell, Anthony||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Finsberg, Geoffrey||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Kimball, Marcus|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Fookes, Miss Janet||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Forman, Nigel||Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Bright, Graham||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Knox, David|
|Brinton, Tim||Fox, Marcus||Lamont, Norman|
|Brittan, Leon||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Lang, Ian|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Fry, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.||Latham, Michael|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Lawson, Nigel|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Glyn, Dr Alan||Lee, John|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Goodlad, Alastair||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Gow, Ian||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Burden, Sir Frederick||Gower, Sir Raymond||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Butcher, John||Gray, Hamish||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Greenway, Harry||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)||Loveridge, John|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Grimond, Rt Hon J.||McCrindle, Robert|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Grist, Ian||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Grylls, Michael||MacGregor, John|
|Chapman, Sydney||Gummer, John Selwyn||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm & Ew'll)||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Clark, Sir William (Croydon South)||Hampson, Dr Keith||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hannam, John||Madel, David|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Haselhurst, Alan||Major, John|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hastings, Stephen||Marland, Paul|
|Colvin, Michael||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Marlow, Tony|
|Cope, John||Hawkins, Paul||Marten, Neil (Banbury)|
|Corrie, John||Hawksley, Warren||Mates, Michael|
|Mather, Carol||Proctor, K. Harvey||Tapsell, Peter|
|Maude, Rt Hon Angus||Raison, Timothy||Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)|
|Mawby, Ray||Rathbone, Tim||Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret|
|Mellor, David||Renton, Tim||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Rhodes James, Robert||Thompson, Donald|
|Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Ridsdale, Julian||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Rifkind, Malcolm||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Trippler, David|
|Moate, Roger||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Trotter, Neville|
|Monro, Hector||Rossl, Hugh||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Moore, John||Rost, Peter||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)||Royle, Sir Anthony||Viggers, Peter|
|Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Waddington, David|
|Murphy, Christopher||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman||Wakeham, John|
|Myles, David||Scott, Nicholas||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Neale, Gerrard||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)|
|Needham, Richard||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Shelton, William (Streatham)||Wall, Patrick|
|Neubert, Michael||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Waller, Gary|
|Newton, Tony||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)||Walters, Dennis|
|Nott, Rt Hon John||Shersby, Michael||Ward, John|
|Onslow, Cranley||Silvester, Fred||Warren, Kenneth|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally||Sims, Roger||Watson, John|
|Page, John (Harrow West)||Skeet, T. H. H.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Page, Rt Hon Sir Graham (Crosby)||Speed, Keith||Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)|
|Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)||Spence, John||Wheeler, John|
|Parris, Matthew||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Sproat, Iain||Whitney, Raymond|
|Patten, John (Oxford)||Squire, Robin||Wickendon, Keith|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Stainton, Keith||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Pawsey, James||Stanbrook, Ivor||Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)|
|Penhaligon, David||Steel, Rt Hon David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Percival, Sir Ian||Steen, Anthony||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Peyton, Rt Hon John||Stevens, Martin||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Porter, Barry||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Stokes, John||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Price, Sir David (Easteigh)||Stradling Thomas, J.||Mr. Anthony Berry.|
|Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Abse, Leo||Crowther, J. S.||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Adams, Allen||Cryer, Bob||Ginsburg, David|
|Allaun, Frank||Cunliffe, Lawrence||Golding, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Gorst, John|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest||Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Ashton, Joe||Dalyell, Tam||Graham, Ted|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Davidson, Arthur||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||Hardy, Peter|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Dempsey, James||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Dewar, Donald||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Dixon, Donald||Haynes, Frank|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Dobson, Frank||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough)||Dormand, Jack||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bradford, Rev. R.||Douglas, Dick||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)|
|Bradley, Tom||Dubs, Alfred||Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhail)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)||Home Robertson, John|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Homewood, William|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Eadie, Alex||Hooley, Frank|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith)||Eastham, Ken||Horam, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Huckfield, Les|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Ennals, Rt Hon David||Hudson Davies, Ednyfed|
|Campbell, Ian||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Evans, John (Newton)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Ewing, Harry||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Cant, R. B.||Field, Frank||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fitch, Alan||John, Brynmor|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Flannery, Martin||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Johnson, Walter (Derby South)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Ford, Ben||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Forrester, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Foster, Derek||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cook, Robin F.||Foulkes, George||Kerr, Russell|
|Cowans, Harry||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Lamble, David|
|Lamborn, Harry||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Spearing, Nigel|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Ogden, Eric||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Leighton, Ronald||O'Halloran, Michael||Stallard, A. W.|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||O'Neill, Martin||Stoddart, David|
|Litherland, Robert||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Stott, Roger|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Strang, Gavin|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Palmer, Arthur||Straw, Jack|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||Park, George||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Parker, John||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Parry, Robert||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Pavitt, Laurie||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)|
|McElhone, Frank||Pendry, Tom||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)||Tilley, John|
|McKelvey, William||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Torney, Tom|
|MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Maclennan, Robert||Race, Reg||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|McNally, Thomas||Radice, Giles||Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)|
|McNamara, Kevin||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)||Watkins, David|
|McTaggart, Robert||Richardson, Jo||Weetch, Ken|
|McWilliam, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Magee, Bryan||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)||Welsh, Michael|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)||Robertson, George||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William||Whitlock, William|
|Martin, Michael (Gl'sgow, Springb'rn)||Rooker, J. W.||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Roper, John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Maxton, John||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)|
|Meacher, Michael||Ryman, John||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Sever, John||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Sheerman, Barry||Winnick, David|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)||Woodall, Alec|
|Molyneaux, James||Short, Mrs Renée||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshaw)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)||Silverman, Julius||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morton, George||Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Moyle, Rt Hon Roland||Snape, Peter||Mr. Joseph Dean.|
|Newens, Stanley||Soley, Clive|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Code of Practice on Closed Shop Agreements and Arrangements, which was laid before this House on 5 November, be approved.