HC Deb 18 May 1982 vol 24 cc247-96
Mr. Radice

I beg to move amendment No. 57, in page 14, line 27, leave out clauses 13 to 16.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment it will convenient to take the following:

Amendment No. 36, in page 15, leave out line 4.

Amendment No. 37, in page 15, leave out lines 40 to 43.

Amendment No. 58, in clause 14, page 16, leave out line 24 to 29 and insert—

  1. '(a) £5,000, if the union has less than 5,000 members;
  2. (b) £25,000, if it has 5,000 or more members but less than 25,000 members;
  3. (c) £75,000, if it has 25,000 or more members but less than 100,000 members;
  4. (d) £150,000, if it has 100,000 or more members but less than 300,000 members; and
  5. (e) £250,000, if it has 300,000 or more members.'.
Amendment No. 39, in page 16, line 24, leave out from £10,000' to end of line 29.

Amendment No. 40, in page 16, line 30, leave out front `orders' to end of line 37 and insert `vary the sum for the time being specified in subsection (3) above, but no order shall be made under this subsection unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament'. Amendment No. 41, in clause 16, page 18, leave out lines 9 and 10.

Amendment No. 42, in page 18, leave out lines 11 and 12.

Amendment No. 43, in page 18, leave out lines 13 and 14.

Amendment No. 44, in page 18, leave out lines 20 to 28.

Amendment No. 45, in page 18, line 29, leave out from beginning to end of line 32.

Amendment No. 46, in page 18, line 32, at end insert '(5A) After subsection (5) there shall be added the following subsection:— (5A) A dispute between an employer's Association and any workers shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as a trade dispute between workers and their employer notwithstanding that those workers have no actual dispute with their individual employer if the dispute relates to matters which cannot be settled otherwise than by agreement between representatives of those workers and the employer's Association.".

Mr. Radice

Clauses 13 to 16 go to the heart of the Bill and raise fundamental issues about the nature of trade unionism, about industrial relations and about relations between trade unions and the community. There are two key clauses, of which the first is clause 13 which repeals section 14 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974. That gave trade unions and employers' associations immunity from action in tort. As a consequence of clause 13, trade unions and their funds will become liable to actions in court.

Clause 16 should be taken together with clause 13. It substantially restricts the definition of a trade dispute in section 29 of the 1974 Act. This widens the area for which trade unions would be liable under clause 13. Before I develop the case against the clauses, I should like to say a word about the issue of immunities.

7.45 pm

Ministers often talk very loosely as though trade unions were above the law. Of course, they are not. If they have any doubt, they have only to look at paragraph 34 of the Green Paper, "Trade Union Immunities", which makes it abundantly clear that in our system of law immunities are the equivalent of rights in other systems. What has happened is that under the British system of trade union law the trade unions have sought immunities to become free of the restrictions imposed by common law and by judicial decisions, under clause 4, that are clearly inappropriate to modern industrial relations.

As the Green Paper showed, industrial relations law in this country is a step by step development of statutory protection against common law liability. Trade unions do not have total immunity; it is inaccurate to say they have. Section 14 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act provides that trade unions can be sued for any negligence, nuisance or breach of duty in connection with property in respect of acts not in contemplation or furtherance of a trades dispute". Clause 13 goes well beyond that. It removes trade union immunities and so opens up their funds to actions in tort. We oppose this for a number of reasons. The first is what I call an historical, psychological, symbolical reason. The second is the practical consequence that they could lead to internal dissension and disruption within the unions. Thirdly, they could substantially reduce trade union funds. Fourthly, they could damage industrial relations.

We discussed the historical background at some length in Committee. I shall not go over that ground, except to say that I think that there was agreement in Committee that the Taff Vale decision in 1901, when the House of Lords decided that a union could be sued for damages, was relevant to clauses 13 to 16. It was relevant for two reasons. First, it was then, for the first time, that union funds became liable for actions in tort—a situation reversed by the 1906 Act, which gave trade unions their present immunity. Secondly—and again I quote from the Green Paper: The Taff Vale case has assumed a symbolic and psychological significance which is still very potent today. Trade unions have come to regard the House of Lords' decision as the moment when the whole development of the trade union movement was in greatest danger … The immunity … has acquired immense symbolic and psychological significance for the trade union movement so that the practical consequences of any change which put union funds at risk need to be weighed up very carefully. There are some practical consequences that the Government have not taken into account, despite the fact that they have been warned by their Green Paper. They have not taken into account the threat to trade union funds. I know that, in contrast to the 1971–74 period, there is the limitation on damages as regards each single case. However, as the president of the Conservative trade union group, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton), pointed out in Committee, this will still create difficulties for small unions. Secondly, £250,000 is a big sum for even the biggest unions when one considers that that could be for only one case and when one takes into account the costs. We all know that the costs are sometimes more than the damages themselves. There could also be fines arising out of contempt of court, although I do not advocate that.

It is inevitable that cases involving attacks on trade union funds will have an industrial relations impact. I speak with the experience of seeing the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 in operation. We can all remember what happened in the anonymous donor case in which the AUEW threatened a national strike. To many trade unionists, union funds are an emotive issue, particularly as the courts are also involved.

It may be said that damages will not often arise and that most employers will seek the making of an injunction. That is an inefficient and dangerous way of dealing with industrial relations problems. Using injunctions is not the way to proceed, but the Bill will encourage their use.

My final objection to the clauses is the issue of internal cohesion of trade unions. Ministers will say that we can avoid the problem if union executives say firmly where they stand. The Green Paper said that this is a complicated issue and involves the technical subject of vicarious liability. Many lawyers make a great deal of money explaining it in the courts. After the Heaton and GAS cases, the position on vicarious liability became confused. The Government say that they are producing a new formulation which avoids some of the difficulties. My understanding is that a union will be vicariously liable unless it has repudiated the actions complained of.

A number of questions immediately arise. What does "repudiation" mean? Do unions have to discipline officials and shop stewards? What does "union rules" mean? Does it mean simply the union rule book, or other documents in possession of the union which may be important to the membership? The question of responsibility and liability is not just a technical one. As legislators we must ask ourselves whether the unions should be prepared to exercise this kind of authority and discipline over their members.

In Committee we quoted on numerous occasions the classic paragraph 122 of the Donovan report. I shall quote it again because Ministers do not seem to listen. It states: Trade union leaders do exercise discipline from time to time, but they cannot be industry's policemen. They are democratic leaders in organisations in which the seat of power has almost always been close to the members. If trade unions are to be made more authoritarian, the risk that that may be counter-productive must be taken. It could weaken the authority of the trade union leaders because they would be forced to discipline their members. They might be forced to expel them, which could lead to dissension and disruption in the union, and to splintering and break-away groups.

Such problems cannot be new to Ministers. I know that they have not bothered to read the Gennard report on the closed shop, despite the fact that the Bill is concerned with the closed shop. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State says that he has not read the report, but I hope that he has read the Green Paper entitled "Trade Union Immunities". There is nothing new in what I say. It is all in the Green Paper which the Government should have looked at.

For the highly practical reason of internal union cohesion and to preserve good industrial relations as well as the psychological and symbolic reasons that have already been mentioned, we strongly oppose clause 13.

I wish to put the case for the Government on this issue. It would be helpful if I did that because the Government have not put forward a good case for themselves. They argue that they are only putting unions in the same position as individuals. They go on to say that we now live in a different world from the Taff Vale position because unions now have a wide variety of immunities which they could not be guaranteed after the Taff Vale decision in 1901. But the Government ignore the fact that they have been steadily chipping away the immunities ever since they were elected in 1979, thereby widening trade union liability. Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Employment Act 1980 removed immunities from most types of picketing and most types of secondary action. Clause 16 of the Bill further removes immunity by narrowing the definition of a trade dispute.

Although the definition of a political dispute is not mentioned in the Bill, it was mentioned in the Secretary of State's White Paper. The Secretary of State argues that political disputes have always been illegal and cannot understand what the Opposition are making a fuss about. We can turn that argument on its head. If it has been illegal, why are the Government bothering to introduce a new definition in the Bill?

Mr. Tebbit

Where in the Bill is there a definition, let alone a new definition, of a political strike?

Mr. Radice

I have just said that there was not a definition. Perhaps the Minister was not listening. By the use of the words "wholly or mainly", the Secretary of State is trying to exclude political strikes. He made that clear in his White Paper.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman said that I had introduced a new definition of a political strike. I have not, and the Bill does not. The hon. Gentleman should understand that political strikes are unlawful today under the legislation which the Labour Government introduced.

Mr. Radice

If that is the case, why is the Secretary of State bothering to reintroduce the 1971 definition of "wholly or mainly"?

Mr. Tebbit

indicated dissent.

Mr. Radice

Paragraph 192 of the Green Paper points out that Lord Justice Roskill said: Although the phrase 'political strike' has from time to tune been used in reported cases, it is to my mind a phrase which should be used, at any rate in a court of law, with considerable caution, for it does not readily lend itself to precise or accurate definition. It is all too easy for someone to talk of a strike as being a 'political strike' when what that person really means is that the object of the strike is something of which he as an individual subjectively disapproves.

Mr. Tebbit

indicated assent.

Mr. Radice

I am glad that the Secretary of State nods his head. That is an important advance because he was not pleased when we quoted that in Committee. It is an important point and I am glad that he takes it. The difficulty is that the Government are trying to change the definition by going on to this "wholly or mainly" issue.

Mr. Tebbit

indicated dissent.

Mr. Radice

Yes, the Government are trying to change the definition—

Mr. Tebbit

indicated dissent.

Mr. Radice

My hon. Friends asked a number of questions about the definition of "wholly or mainly" in Committee. What that revealed was the difficulty that will arise about disputes in the public sector. Will it be possible to have strikes in, for example, the gas industry over the closure of gas showrooms? Will such disputes be "wholly or mainly" within the definition of a trade dispute? What about a dispute arising from public spending cuts or from the loss of jobs at the British Rail workshops in Shildon and Swindon?

8 pm

All those questions were asked and it became clear that the Minister who was answering—not the Secretary of State—had considerable difficulty in deciding whether those disputes would be allowed within the definition of section 29 of the 1974 Act. The difficulty is created by the new words "wholly or mainly". The judges must decide whether a dispute is wholly or mainly concerned with the issue and it could mean that they will be involved in the question of political strikes—against which they were warned by Lord Justice Roskill—and trade unions may object to an interpretation because they will say that the judges are biased. We all know what Winston Churchill said about judges and political bias. The Government have not considered the problem properly.

The definition of a trade dispute has been narrowed in three further areas. The first is worker versus worker, the second is employer versus workers who are not directly his employees, and the third is international solidarity in industrial action. It is rather difficult to know exactly what is meant in each of those points. Although the Minister who was in the Committee is a lawyer, he had some difficulty in explaining what is meant by the new definitions, but I have no doubt that the Secretary of State, with his way of explaining matters simply, can come up with a definition. It would be helpful if he could do that.

It is clear that the Government are introducing in clause 16 a new range of restrictions which, added to the restrictions in the 1980 Act, considerably narrow the immunities that trade unions now possess. Further industrial relations legislation is promised by the Government, although perhaps not in this Session. Almost every Sunday we read about hints of new Bills promised by the Secretary of State. It may be pure press speculation, but I suspect that it has something to do with the Secretary of State.

Clauses 13, 14, 15 and 16 taken together are not modest clauses and this is not a modest measure introduced to correct an anomaly. On the contrary, it is a direct attack on the trade unions to appease the hard men in the Conservative Party. The hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst), whose judgment I respect, made a revealing comment. He knows about industrial relations and has followed the matters. On Second Reading he said that the Bill, especially the part that we are now discussing, is far-reaching. It is not a modest Bill at all and it could have a very considerable effect.

I must mention the behaviour of the Social Democratic Party on industrial relations because it is somewhat mystifying. I know that the vast majority of Members of that party, when they were Labour Members, voted determinedly against the 1980 Act, which is now considered to be far too modest by some Conservative Members. However, the majority of them voted for the Second Reading of the Bill, although it is true that some were against and some had doubts about it.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) has just entered the Chamber because I was about to refer to him. I welcomed his presence on the Committee because I hoped that he could help us to understand the position of the Social Democrats on this issue. However, as my hon. Friends would agree, he did not do that. On clauses 13 to 16, from his reaction to remarks of mine and from the tone of his speech, I believed that we would carry him with us. However, when I examined the record afterwards, I found to my surprise that he voted with the Government on all the clauses that we are now debating, except clause 14, on which he abstained. The question that we are entitled to ask is, how serious are the Social Democrats about industrial relations and trade union reform? To us, their behaviour looks suspiciously like the courting of short-term popularity. I predict that they will come to regret their part in the passing of those clauses and the passing of the Bill.

What is so disturbing about the Bill—nowhere is it more apparent than in the clauses that we are now discussing—is the complete lack of interest in the improvement of industrial relations. There was almost no mention of the improvement of industrial relations in Committee. Instead, a series of industrial relations flash points have been created by the Government, any one of which could set back industrial relations for many years. We oppose the clauses, not just because they are based on a wrong approach to trade unionism and industrial relations but because they could set back industrial relations for a long time. I urge my hon. Friends to vote to delete clauses 13 to 16.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

I wish to speak in favour of amendment No. 46, which seeks to ensure that a dispute between an employers' association and any workers shall be treated in the same way as a trade dispute between workers and an individual employer with regard to protection for employees taking industrial action.

The aim of the amendment is to clarify the position of groups of employees who could be placed in an anomalous position by the Bill as it now stands, which is not the intention of those who framed the measure. As such, I hope that the objective of the amendment may be viewed as non-contentious and may even be acceptable to the Secretary of State.

The amendment wishes to ensure that all workers acting in furtherance of their claims would be entitled to the protection afforded under section 13 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974. That is the broad intention of the Secretary of State. The present position in education is that, although teachers are the employees of local education authorities, no education authority has the power to reach an agreement on salaries and conditions with its employees but is bound by the majority decisions of the management panel within the Burnham committee. For example, the Inner London Education Authority could not reach an agreement with its teachers and pay them according to that agreement but must adhere to the decision reached by the majority of the management panel within the Burnham committee. That means that a local education authority could reach an agreement acceptable to its employees, or even support the case being advanced by its employees in full, but it would be unable to implement a settlement based on that unless it could persuade a majority of the management panel within the Burnham committee to agree.

In those circumstances the employees of such a local education authority would be in dispute not with their employers but with the management panel of the Burnham committee. Therefore, if the employees of such a local education authority, perhaps in response to a national decision of their trade union, took industrial action which would of necessity affect their immediate employers, could they be sure of the protection provided under section 13 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974? Common sense surely dictates that they should and would be entitled to such protection. Unfortunately, judges' decisions are not always in accord with what the layman, or even the legislator, regards as common sense, as has recently been demonstrated.

One could envisage circumstances in which a parent or ratepayer took legal action, the objective of which would be to seek a judgment that such teachers were not in dispute with their employer and, consequently, were not entitled to the protection that they had taken for granted in taking industrial action. The aim of amendment No. 46 is to ensure that in no circumstances would teachers, or similar employees, be denied the protection that they anticipated in the conditions that I have postulated.

I am sure that the Government have no intention of removing protection from employees who are placed in the predicament that I have outlined. Therefore, I hope that they will accept the case for the amendment. I am not familiar with other groups of workers who might be in dispute with their immediate employer, but whose claims could be settled only by agreement with their employer's association, but I do not imagine that the teachers' case is unique.

I have fundamental objections to the Bill, but my present purpose is not to develop those. My objective is to point to an anomaly that I hope the Government will consider, and even, on the basis of their own objectives, seek to meet. If it is necessary to declare an interest, I make it clear that I am a member of the National Union of Teachers and have been so for more than a quarter of a century. I am pleased that my union is not in favour of the Bill's approach to industrial relations. However, the amendment does not attempt to raise the fundamental issues that are at stake. Therefore, I hope that the Government will recognise that it would be unfair for employees of an organisation that is not empowered to go against the wishes of a majority of employers to be vulnerable, while the employees of an organisation which retains the power to settle a claim individually in defiance of the views of a majority of members of an employer's association are protected. That would certainly not make sense and it is in that frame of mind that I ask—

Mr. Tebbit

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making plain that, while he has deep objections to the Bill, he is making a particular point here. I will come back to it in my reply, but I can assure him now that the point that he is anxious about is covered. I will explain that further later.

8.15 pm
Mr. Newens

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his consideration of that matter. I am anxious that the matter should be aired clearly because, as he knows, once the Bill becomes law it is then for the judiciary to decide what exactly it means. In those circumstances, if the sort of case that I have suggested was brought by an individual, and a decision was given by the court that was completely unintended by hon. Members, including the Secretary of State, it would be particularly unfortunate. Some action should be taken to ensure that no such possibility arises. I and members of the National Union of Teachers will be only too happy if the Secretary of State can take some action, or give a reassurance that that is not his intention, so that we do not produce an Act that results in consequences that were not desired by any hon. Member.

Mrs. Shirley Williams (Crosby)

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice) inquired why the Social Democrats' position on this aspect of the Bill was not clear. The whole of clauses 12 to 18 were dealt with in one single day in Committee and there was no time to look at these crucial clauses in anything like the adequate detail that they require. The House is now considering passing legislation that will have the greatest possible repercussions on industrial relations in Britain, and we are doing so by what anybody must describe as an inadequate examination of the matters that are involved in the Bill.

I have looked through the Committee reports and I do not think that some of the issues that have been raised on these clauses have been adequately answered by the Secretary of State. There was no time for him or his colleagues to give such answers. Therefore, I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to give us fuller answers to some of the matters that I wish to raise now.

There can be few clearer examples of ping-pong politics than these clauses. Once again we are seeing a swing of the pendulum in clauses 13 to 16—it is suggested that they should be taken out of the Bill—from the original Taff Vale judgment, to the Trade Disputes Act 1906, to the subsequent changes made in 1927, 1946, 1971, 1974 and 1980, and now in 1982 we are seeing efforts to change industrial relations in a way that will unquestionably lead the Opposition to announce their intention to repeal such efforts yet again. That is one reason why we never make any constructive move forward in industrial relations.

The Secretary of State knows that the Employment Act 1980, which limited the protection of individuals against actions in tort with regard to secondary action, secondary picketing and industrial action to compel union membership—a relatively limited narrowing of the immunities of unions—has not led to many injunctions or cases being laid. The reason for that is simply that employers are reluctant to take such action in the tight of what they fear may be the reaction of trade unions. I hope that the Minister will explain why so few injunctions have been sought or actions taken under the terms of the 1980 limitation and why he considers it suitable to limit immunities still further.

Secondly, I ask him why he believes that it is wise to introduce a further limitation at a time when disputes have reached their lowest level for 40 years and are largely limited to the public sector, in which there are a small number of rather substantial strikes. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the number of days lost has declined to the level that was achieved at the time of the social contract in 1975–76, and is now at one of the lowest levels for many years.

In Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) asked a question that was not dealt with fully and, therefore, it is appropriate to deal with it while speaking to the amendments. My hon. Friend asked why the Minister was not willing to consider whether the loss of immunity should be limited to instances where injunctions are sought by employers. The use of injunctions has been accepted by both sides of industry. There was, for example, the case of Duport Steel v. Sirs, which was the result of a strike that affected a private company. The injunction was brought by the private company, was recognised by the trade union, was complied with by the trade union and was subsequently set aside only when an appeal was taken to the House of Lords.

It is clear that unions are willing to accept the use of an injunction in the case of loss of immunity. Loss of immunity when no injunction is sought is a much less reliable legal remedy, but the Government have never offered a full explanation of why they intend to go ahead without the seeking of an injunction by the employer or some other affected party, which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East sought to achieve in Committee.

When an injunction is brought, the court has to be satisfied that the terms and spirit of the limitation of immunities have been fully considered and taken into account. Therefore, I urge the Minister at least to explain why he felt unable to accept the amendment that was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East, which is now before the House as amendment No. 64, and which would bring the proposed legislation very much more within terms with which unions would be willing to comply than anything now embodied in the Bill.

Mr. Radice

The right hon. Lady rightly says that few employers have used the law that is enshrined in the 1980 Act. They did not approve of it and they do not believe in bringing the law into industrial relations. Surely she is not arguing that injuctions are a good way of conducting industrial relations.

Mrs. Williams

I am arguing that in cases where injunctions have been brought under the terms of the restrictive legislation set out in the 1980 Act, the unions have been willing to comply with the law. However, the clauses that we are discussing represent a wide opening of the doors to actions in which I do not believe employers will wish to enagage. The purpose of my remarks is to ascertain why the Secretary of State believes that the clauses, without amendment, will bring about any of the purposes that he purports to wish to achieve.

Under clause 14 the limits of the fines that are allowed to be charged to a union following an action in tort are so high as to be virtually punitive. Attempts were made by representatives of the Social Democratic and Liberal Parties in Committee to persuade the Government that such punitive damages made no sense if a serious attempt is being made to reform industrial relations as distinct from an attempt to try to break certain unions.

The understanding of my colleagues and myself is that unions will be liable to any number of different proceedings by any number of plaintiffs and that punitive damages may apply in many cases and not in only one. The multiplication of punitive damages could virtually eradicate any union funds apart from the limited number that the Bill excludes that ensue from action in tort.

If that is so, the Secretary of State must respond to what is bound to be the suspicion that he is not trying to improve industrial relations or attempting to introduce the concept of limited damaged in cases where he believes that a union has exceeded the limitations within the Bill. There is the suspicion that he is seeking to introduce provisions that will enable plaintiffs literally to break unions, in some cases without full information about the actions taken for them by a committee or by one union official. I shall be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman devotes himself to that question when he replies to the debate.

Those of us who believe that there is room for some change in union immunities and some change in the reform of industrial relations are bound to be worried to the point where we cannot support the Government unless the Secretary of State's answer is much clearer than the one that he has given so far in defence of what appears to be a deliberate and punitive step in a highly sensitive area.

Mr. Leighton

In view of the formidable case that the right hon. Lady is making against the Bill, and bearing in mind that she voted against the 1980 Bill, will she indicate how she and her colleagues intend to vote on this obnoxious and repugnant Bill?

Mrs. Williams

We supported the Bill's Second Reading because we believed that crucial steps were required to be taken in respect of the closed shop. We have always been extremely doubtful about clauses 13 to 16. I shall advise my colleagues to vote to remove these clauses unless the right hon. Gentleman gives a much more adequate reply than any that he has given so far on the inclusion of clauses 13 to 16. As for Third Reading, I ask the hon. Gentleman to await the speech that will be made on behalf of the SDP on that occasion.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) has referred to ping-pong politics. I trust that when the next Labour Government are returned the contents of the Bill will be smashed out of existence. It is a nasty, unpleasant and unhelpful Bill that will only harm industrial relations.

The right hon. Lady's questions will be answered by the Minister when he replies to the debate, no doubt in his usual uncontentious fashion. The truth is that the answers are fairly simple. The Government believe that unions are too strong and that their strength should be weakened. They believe that management is too weak and that its powers should be strengthened. The Bill in general, and the clauses that we are considering in particular, are specifically designed to right what the Government wrongly regard as an imblance.

Management has not been afraid to initiate a few injunctions but, happily, some management is sufficiently enlightened to realise that the courts are poor places in which to sort out industrial relations disputes.

8.30 pm

The fact that the Government are sufficiently ill-advised to provide powers under which management may take unions to court does not mean that intelligent managers will accept that invitation, particularly when it means immediate chaos and enduring It will be an invitation to certain people to seek the sort of martyrdom which was renowned in the case of the Pentonville Five. Most management approaches industrial relations sensibly. The Government may bring in clauses to ban closed shops—as their predecessors did in 1971—but they will continue as before. That is not merely because unions believe it part of their freedom to retain them, but also because the vast majority of managements like them and prefer to work with them. They regard it as more efficient than working with a fragmented work force. The fact that the clauses give management power to take action against unions will not induce many of them to accept that extremely dangerous invitation.

If one examines why the clauses are brought in, the reason must be that the Government hope—either in the public sector where they have power, or by inducing less wise employers in the private sector—to attempt to break the trade union movement. The Government are sensible enough to recognise—as all Governments in free countries do—that the basic distinction between a free country and a totalitarian State is the right of individuals to withdraw their labour and to say "We are not prepared to work for you unless you pay what we regard as reasonable remuneration for our services".

It is precisely because Poland overstepped that particular brand of totalitarianism that the coup occurred. The danger is that in increasing restrictions on the right to engage in industrial action the Government are moving towards a position that I do not believe they want, where industrial action becomes a peril to those taking part, except for those who seek to be martyred as its result.

In clause 13 the basic position is a simple one. When anyone engages in industrial action he is almost invariably involved in a breach of contract, or he induces others to do so. The protection given by the law is necessary so that people who are individually weak may together have a power and firmness that ordinary working people do not otherwise achieve. Once that protection is removed they are naked before the blast. That is no doubt a position that the Minister seeks. This clause will achieve that if it is put into operation.

The damages awarded against the unions are, as the right hon. Member for Crosby said, potentially punitive. The Government's memory is singularly short, because there were heavy fines on unions before. I recall that now great pillar of the establishment Lord Scanlon—in his previous incarnation as the terror of the Daily Mail—refusing to pay fines which were levied upon his union. There were some anonymous benefactors who forked out the money and saved the country from a complete shut down.

When unions as a whole are to be—to use the Minister's own term—clobbered, they react accordingly. Where unions are already hamstrung by recession there is no need to introduce the legislation. Its purpose is to prepare possible weapons for future use and to rally Conservative troops in a way that their other home policies singularly fail to do. It is a cosmetic Bill designed to achieve standing ovations for those who propose it at Conservative conferences in a way that no other home rallying call could possibly achieve.

The clause dealing with recovery of sums awarded simply makes it easier to get hold of union funds and is scarcely designed to achieve industrial harmony and peace. The limitation of the meaning of the words "trade dispute" is a disgrace. It means that many industrial disputes that will inevitably take place will be outside the protection of the law so that perfectly respectable and decent trade union people who would not normally wish to be beyond the pale of the law will find themselves in breach of it in a way that they did not want and which no one else wants.

The Bill propels law-abiding people into law breaking. That is very bad government. If one believes in the rule of the law, as I do, a Bill that deliberately invites the flouting of the law is as bad in the field of parliamentary business as the action of a parent who makes threats that he does not intend to carry out or who carries out threats that he should not have made. The whole Bill is intended to produce greater restrictions on the unions and is an invitation to law breaking. How can it possibly succeed? How can these clauses help? The first thing that they will not do is to restore one job.

The loss of strength by the unions has nothing to do with the 1980 Act or, at the moment, this Bill. It is the fact that union leaders cannot bring the troops behind them, even when their cause is entirely just, because people are terrified that they will join the long queue of the unemployed stretching from one end of the country to the other without a break even in cities such as Leicester which were once so prosperous.

When jobs are in peril, when there are several million people unemployed and when the number of people who have been made redundant over the years—many of whom have been re-employed—stretches towards 10 million, it is scarcely surprising that people dare not withdraw their labour. They are afraid of what will happen to them and to their families. It is a disastrous form of industrial relations for the Government to rely upon the sort of miseries that this Government have created and which the Bill will not mitigate by one iota or one jot.

This is a thoroughly bad Bill and these clauses are the worst part of it. They provide weapons for people whom even the Secretary of State would not wish to see use them. They are a maverick's charter on one side and a martyr's invitation on the other. I believe that the House should reject the clauses while it still has a chance.

Mr. Mikardo

My hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) and also the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) have made such a massive case, on its merits, for the amendment by exposing the demerits of the four clauses that the amendment seek to remove that there is little need for me to add to their remarks. I propose to direct ray observations to a single, narrower, and rather precise point that arises on a later amendment that is not included in this group and that, almost certainly, due to the operation of the guillotine, will not be reached. It is precisely relevant to the four clauses now under discussion and would have been relevant to the two clauses whose existence hon. Members discussed in the previous debate.

I wish to direct the attention of the House to the vital question of the Minister's intention over the timing of the activation of the whole or parts of the Bill, including the timing of the activation of clauses 13, 14, 15 and 16. The intention of the amendment to which I have just referred was precisely to probe his intentions in this regard. We were left in a little confusion in the course of our proceedings in Committee, notwithstanding an effort made by the Secretary of State at our very last sitting, and in the last moments of the last sitting. It was slightly out of order because he was making a ministerial pronouncement in the course of thanking the Chairman of our Committee. However, we forgave him for that because we all agreed with what he was saying by way of thanks to that hon. Lady. But he did make a statement that purported to clarify some of the questions that had been left unanswered during the Committee proceedings in connection with the dates of activation of various—

Mr. Tebbit

I am just looking at the official record, at the remarks to which the hon. Gentleman has referred and to the paying of the tribute to the Chair. I must confess that I cannot immediately find the passage to which the hon. Gentleman is referring.

Mr. Mikardo

If the right hon. Gentleman will cast his eye back a little earlier in the report, he will find the passage to which I am referring. I am surprised that he paid so little attention to what he was saying at the time that he has now completely forgotten that he ever said it.

Mr. Tebbit

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have not forgotten what I said but I sought to correct the hon. Gentleman who suggested that I had gone so far outside the limits of order as to discuss the merits of a Bill after the Committee stage had been concluded and during the formal procedure of paying tribute to the Chair. The hon. Gentleman should know me better than to think that I would be that far out of order, or that the Chair would allow it.

Mr. Mikardo

If I have done the right hon. Gentleman an injustice, I withdraw and I apologise. I am sure that that will make him very happy indeed. I would not go along with his remark that anyone who knows him well would know that he would never be out of order. That is totally contrary to the realities of life as we have experienced them in the years in which we have had dubious pleasure of the right hon. Gentleman's company.

However, now that the wounded pride of the right hon. Gentleman has had a little salve applied to it, let us get back to the muttons. The right hon. Gentleman, right at the end of our proceedings, made a statement that purported to shed some light, if not on the darkness, at least on the penumbra of the preceding statement made by the Minister about the timetable for the implementation or the activation of various parts of the Bill.

The Bill as drafted provides that the Secretary of State may, by order, set down a date for implementation of the Bill or separate dates for implementation of different parts of the Bill. At a quite early stage in our proceedings, when we were debating the subject of union/management agreements, closed shops and all that, the Under-Secretary somewhat belatedly came up with the fact that some union/management agreements have a clause in them providing a term—sometimes quite a long term—of notice for any cancellation or amendment of them. It would not have been possible, therefore, to have had an immediate implementation of some of the provisions of the Bill.

When that was pointed out to the Under-Secretary, he said—I do not quote his exact words, but I think that I recall them correctly—that the intention was not to implement that part or those parts of the Bill for one year or two years. We were all a little taken aback by that. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) nods his head in agreement. He remembers it well. We pressed the matter, but we did not get much further. What was not clear then and is not clear now is which part or parts of the Bill were covered by the statement that the hon. and learned Gentleman made at that time.

8.45 pm

We therefore tabled an amendment to try to get elucidation. We did not move it in Committee, because, on reflection, we decided that it would be better to deal with the matter at this stage. It was because the matter was raised in general terms that the right hon. Gentleman made the statement to which I referred a little time ago, of which his recollection is apparently not as sharp as it should be. However, that statement did not throw any light on the matter. He said that some other parts of the Bill, not specified, would be activated as soon as possible—or words to that effect. That is about as precise as "How long is a piece of string?"

It is extremely important for the House to know, and it is extremely important for trade unions, employers and employers' organisations to know, at least roughly, when the various measures in the Bill, especially those in clauses 13 to 16, will be implemented, because they need notice. They need to prepare themselves. They need to take advice, including legal advice. Employers, as much as trade unions, will have to try to estimate how, in cases taken under these four clauses, the courts will react. We all know from experience over the past few years that in matters of industrial legislation the job of estimating how the courts will react is even more complex than the job of those pundits in the back pages of the newspapers who try to forecast eight draws in the football matches on a Saturday afternoon. It is a most imprecise and inexact science predicting how the courts will react on these matters.

Everyone will want to take advice—employers, trade unions, employers' organisations, and everyone who is concerned, including management associations. We have seen how organisations of professional managers have taken a close interest in the Bill, much more than I recall with previous legislation in this connection. Nearly all of them are opposed to nearly all of the Bill. They have a job to do. They will have to live with their work force, unlike Ministers who sit there and call down diktats from the top of Mount Olympus. Working managers have to live with the consequences of the Bill and have to go on maintaining relations with the workers. They have to continue to get output and get the full co-operation of workers. They will want to know whether it will be six months, a year or two years, before they will have to face all the complications that will spread from the Bill as a whole and from these four clauses in particular.

When the Minister replies I hope that we shall have a little information—better than we have had so far—on the programme for activation. I have a hunch about it. If I am wrong, I look forward to being corrected by the Minister. My hunch is that no part of the Bill will be activated before the next general election. The Government have been taken aback by the huge opposition to the Bill. It may have been predictable that the trade unions would oppose it but I suspect that the Government did not anticipate opposition from employers and employers' organisations.

The Secretary of State may have a good giggle about this, but he will giggle on the other side of his face when employers' organisations complain about the trouble that he has caused in their industries. I know that he thinks the matter is funny but we are discussing the lifeblood of the country. It may be a joke to him but it matters a great deal to the 3 million people out of work. That also may be a joke to him but he is responsible for it, too. Let him laugh about that. He can get on his bike, take a deep breath and laugh about it.

The House is debating a serious issue. The Secretary of State cannot laugh it off. The trade unions are opposed to the Bill. Major employers are also opposed to it, or at least to some of its provisions. The overwhelming majority of management associations are opposed to it. Now even civil servants have come out against it. We have never witnessed that in Britain before. It is unprecedented. The chaps that he and his colleagues were dependent upon in Committee are opposed to it.

I have sat through many Committees in the 30 years that I have been a Member of Parliament. I have never sat in one in which the flow of chits on bits of paper from advisers, sitting at the top table in the south-east corner of the Committee Room, were so continuous, voluminous and necessary as in the Committee stage of this Bill. There was one after another, as if on a conveyor belt.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to clauses 13 to 16.

Mr. Mikardo

Those were the clauses on which the flow of paper was continuous. One conveyor belt, represented by the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills) who acts as Private Parliamentary Secretary, was adequate for most of the Bill, but another was necessary for this part. All the information on those pieces of paper was read with impeccable diction and, occasionally, with comprehension. Ministers were like ventriloquists' dummies, putting out words that were fed into them by someone else. Now it seems that the chaps who wrote those bits of paper are opposed to the Bill. Everyone is opposed to it.

My suspicion about implementation is that, whatever the Secretary of State may want, some of his Cabinet colleagues will not be too pleased about the prospect of a winter of discontent, perhaps preceded or followed by a long, hot, summer, before the next general election. That is why I guess that there will be no implementation of any significant or worthwhile part of the Bill before the next general election. I shall be surprised if the Secretary of State tells me that I am wrong. I shall listen to him with my ears pinned back if he does, but I should be surprised.

Finally, I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman should regard what we have been debating today as a suitable subject for mirth. There are many homes in this country where his sense of humour will not be shared.

Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) that not only trade union organisations but industrial organisations and companies oppose the Bill. As the Secretary of State knows, the Co-operative movement with its experience of closed shops has said categorically that the legislation will be disadvantageous to industrial relations.

To call this an Employment Bill is a sick joke—as sick as the Secretary of State talking about his father cycling to the ordnance factory and the right hon. Gentleman telling the unemployed now to get on their bikes.

I wish to deal particularly with amendment No. 57, because I believe that clauses 13 to 16 will do a great deal to undermine the trade union movement in this country. The Bill is a major and unacceptable attack on trade union rights. The legal position of workers will be worse than at any time since the turn of the century. The Bill is worse than the industrial legislation passed by the previous Tory Government to curb the trade unions. Moreover, just as that legislation landed the country in industrial chaos, so I believe that the Bill is a recipe for grave industrial unrest in the years ahead.

As has been said, the tape shows that at the union conference being held today it has been said that the first time that this legislation leads to an industrial dispute it will call on the trade union movement in this country to support a general strike. That is the present state of affairs. The TUC has launched a vigorous campaign of opposition to the legislation. The Bill will soon receive its Third Reading and go on to another place. I hope that the TUC will increase its efforts to alert the 11 million or more trade unionists in this country to what the Government are doing. It is essential that the campaign should be supported and that effective resistance be mounted to prevent the Bill reaching the statute book and to resist its consequences if it should become—temporarily, like the previous Tory legislation—an Act of Parliament.

The Government's policies have been responsible for soaring unemployment, falling living standards, drastically reduced social services and slashed social security benefits. The attack on the trade union movement is an integral part of that strategy. These clauses are an integral part of a massive attack by the Government on the British trade union movement which has been accepted by successive Governments of all political persuasions as an important part of the lives of people in this country.

Therefore, I hope that the trade union movement outside will maintain its resistance if the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. The only defence that working people have against the effect of the various other policies being pursued by the Government—the undermining of the Welfare State, the creation of 3 million unemployed and the attack on public industries—is a strong trade union movement. That is why the Government want to weaken it, because they know that it will resist the pernicious policies that they are pursuing.

The trade union movement has a long tradition in South Wales, and people there realise that it has played a great part in improving their living standards. At a miners' rally at the weekend, I spoke to some of the old miners who have devoted 25 or 30 years of their lives to doing a tremendous amount of work as lodge secretaries. They realise what the Government are doing in trying to weaken the only organisation that has given them some power to negotiate with employers. I do not speak with the experience in the trade union movement that many others have. But in my life I have been in touch with trade unions and as a Member of Parliament—I defy Conservative Members to deny this—I have found that when working people come to my surgery with problems in industry that they are unable to contend with they are not members of a trade union. If they are involved in an injury the employer will not deal with them. If they are given short notice, they cannot obtain redress to meet their grievance.

9 pm

Mr. Keith Wickenden (Dorking)

If the hon. Gentleman's argument is right, why is it that the area of the country with the highest productivity, the highest wages and the lowest union membership is the South-East?

Mr. Evans

I thought for a moment that the hon. Gentleman was referring to the Stock Exchange belt. I do not see the point of that intervention. Even employers form their own associations. No doubt the hon. Gentleman's business, now involved in the present fiasco in the Falklands, is in an organisation. Is the hon. Gentleman a member of an employers' organisation?

Mr. Wickenden


Mr. Evans

Most employers tend to be involved' in organisations.

It stands to reason that if individuals have to negotiate their working conditions with an unscrupulous employer they are in a far weaker position than if they collectively join a trade union. Unions have people who can advise on the best way of dealing with their problems. If employees are involved in a legal dispute with an employer, a trade union with a large membership can employ leading counsel to defend them. The hon. Gentleman knows that he cannot deal with an employee's case properly unless he is a member of a trade union. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he is denying his employees the opportunity of joining a trade union?

Mr. Wickenden

If the trade unions have done so well for their members, why is it that the bottom 10 per cent. of the earning population of this country have exactly the same share of the gross national product as they did 100 years ago?

Mr. Evans

Because we have not had a Socialist Government long enough.

Mr. Radice

Most of the bottom 10 per cent are not in trade unions.

Mr. Evans

My hon. Friend makes a relevant point. The biggest group of exploited people in the country, the real lower band of wage earners, are those who do not join trade unions—part time workers, home workers, and so on.

Why are big business organisations and the Government so opposed to the trade union movement if the hon. Gentleman's argument is that a trade union member gets lower wages? Is the Secretary of State for Employment saying that he wants to reduce membership of trade unions because trade unions are holding back wages? That is nonsense. We know that working conditions have improved most in the leading industrial countries in the Western world with strong trade unions.

Mr. Wickenden


Mr. Evans

I shall not give way again to the hon. Gentleman. We shall only have a dialogue, and in any case he is strengthening my case.

The trade union movement has been a bastion of the defence of the interests of working people. In our surgeries we hear of the suffering that has been caused to individuals who are not members of a trade union. The purpose of the clauses that we are discussing is the weakening by the Government of the trade union movement.

There are problems in the trade union movement. They are problems not because the trade unions are too strong but because they are not strong enough. Parliament and a future Labour Government should see how we can strengthen that movement. It is because of the weakness of trade unions that there is lack of communication between employers and employees and unnecessary disputes. There would be more industrial disputes if there were industrial anarchy on the shop floor. We must ensure that strength is given to the trade unions.

Clause 14 states that the damages for which unions can be sued will be on a sliding scale with a maximum of £250,000 for unions with over 100,000 members. Clause 13 also refers to that matter. We wonder what effect that will have on the organisation of trade unions. I am a member of the TGWU. There are 1 million or more members in that union. Will that union be split into sections? Employers often disagree with having to negotiate with a large number of unions. If there is a small membership, there will be a small penalty. The larger the membership, the bigger the penalty. One wonders what the effect will be on trade union organisation.

The threat that such claims could be made by firms could make it impossible for unions to defend their members' interests properly. They might have to choose between being bankrupted or not taking action. In the last three years there have been massive bankruptcies and liquidations in the private sector. There are queues of people going into the bankruptcy courts. Will the trade unions now be bankrupted similarly? The proposals are designed to try to change the trade union movement from being a democratic organisation that exists to serve the interests of the mass membership into an industrial relations police force. We must resist clause 13 because of its effect on the trade union movement.

In clause 15 the definition will be restricted so that action should relate wholly or mainly to a trade dispute rather than simply be connected with it. The change in the law is designed to create uncertainty and anxiety so that workers will be reluctant to take action to defend their conditions. The precise effect will depend on the judges.

I was at a meeting of a miners lodge on Saturday. I was asked whether I could name a Left-wing judge. Even if there had been one, I could not think of any names. Judges receive a salary of about £40,000. When they have interpreted the law in the past they have not been known to adopt trade union stances in their deliberations. In practice many disputes could fall foul of their interpretations. This is history repeating itself. We know what happened last time we had Tory legislation on trade unions. The Official Solicitor had to be brought in from goodness knows where.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Up to then we had never heard of him.

Mr. Evans

Indeed, we had never heard of him before. One learns many things when there is a Tory Government. The Official Solicitor emerged because we were heading for industrial chaos. The hon. Member for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden) would be affected in his shipping business at that time. In practice, therefore, many disputes could fall foul of the judges' interpretation. For example, action against cuts in services such as hospitals or old people's homes or cuts in education services could all be unlawful.

The Bill is not even a curate's egg; it is bad in all parts and these clauses are particularly bad. I hope that we can minimise the extreme damage caused by the Secretary of State, who is undoubtedly a bitter opponent of the trade union movement although he was himself a member of BALPA. He knew that at that time it was in his interests to be a member but now he is trying to deny the same rights to working people.

We should be strengthening the trade union movement but this Bill, and these clauses in particular, weaken it. To take up the point of the hon. Member for Dorking, we should be trying to make those who are not in trade unions realise how important it is, in their own interests, to join trade unions. That is why, although this Government have put three million people on the dole queue, which has led to a reduction in union membership, I hope that the Bill will make the trade union movement realise that attack is the best form of defence. If we are to defend the rights of union members, we must throw out not this Bill but the Government as early as possible.

Mr. Renton

I had not intended to speak on this amendment because I have been out of the Chamber since I spoke some time ago. However, I have been so depressed by the blind and blinkered speech of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) that I feel bound to make a few remarks.

The hon. Member speaks of the need for strong unions. I want strong unions, too.

Mr. Ioan Evans


Mr. Renton

Of course I do—but I want responsible unions, democratic unions, unions that are accountable as well. Trade unions should be accountable to their own members, which is why I think we should have more secret ballots. I hope that we can discuss secret ballots later tonight. Above all, I want unions that are seen to be responsible, considering the tremendous influence that they have, and should have, today.

Thus, the sort of blinkered speech made by the hon. Member for Aberdare—which implies that everything is right with the trade union movement, that nothing is wrong with it and that it needs no reform—gives hon. Members cause to despair about where the trade union movement is likely to go.

Mr. Ioan Evans

I did not say—the hon. Gentleman can read my speech in Hansard tomorrow—that the trade union movement had no need of reform. There could be changes. The hon. Member talks of secret ballots. Many trade unions have secret ballots; they are written into their constitution. We are saying that if the trade union movement is to be put right, it should do it itself, and the Government may help in putting it right. What we believe to be wrong is that this Government are proposing methods for reform which disadvantage the unions and will weaken them. That is what we will resist.

Mr. Renton

I am delighted to hear what the hon. Member has said. If we can get on to the new clauses later tonight, I very much hope that he will support my new clause which seeks to give trade unionists the right to ask for secret ballots in the election of national union officials.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Aberdare is a trade unionist himself.

Mr. Ioan Evans


Mr. Renton

He is. I am delighted to hear it. Labour Members who are trade unionists remind me of the definition of an Australian. For that reason I am very pleased that the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) has just entered the Chamber. It is always said that Australians are better balanced than the British because they have chips on both shoulders. That applies very well to Labour Members who are also trade unionists, but they should not have chips on their shoulders about the trade union movement.

Unions should be strong, but they should also be responsible, accountable and democratic. Like other hon. Members today, the hon. Member has tried to bring tears to our eyes at the prospect of poor little unions not being able to pay the civil damages to which clause 14 will make them liable if they are found guilty of authorising unlawful acts.

The hon. Member for Aberdare is far too intelligent to believe what he was saying and I suppose that the only reason that he said that was that he had read the TUC's speaking notes on "Fight Tebbit's law". I have those notes in my hand. Throughout the afternoon it has been instructive to see which points in the speaking notes have been taken up by which Labour Members. The section that the hon. Gentleman used as his cue for going on stage states: Unions' funds are small. They will not be able to stand many bites into them by employers without facing bankruptcy. That is a good arguing point, but fortunately we can balance it against the information published by the TUC only two days ago in its annual survey, which was reported in yesterday's edition of The Times. It shows that the affiliated unions now have assets amounting to over £250 million and an annual income of nearly £200 million. Therefore, they are not the sad pathetic little creatures that the speaking notes would have us believe.

9.15 pm
Mr. Radice

That is only about £20 per member, which is not very much. I understand that the hon. Gentleman, as president of the Conservative trade unionists, led a high-powered delegation to complain to the Secretary of State about the level of fines, particularly for small union.

Mr. Renton

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman said that, because it enables me to move from the general to the particular and to make two specific points about the two clauses. The first concerns clause 13 and the question of vicarious liability established in that clause. In Committee, changes were made to the clause. At one stage the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo)—who is unfortunately not in his place—and I had our names down to the same amendments to the clause. That caused a stir among some of the national newspapers. They wondered whether there was a new unholy alliance between the hon. Gentleman and I. It would help if the Government explained the position of shop stewards, for example, when the Bill has been enacted. As unpaid union officials, will they have the power to authorise acts on behalf of the union? What will be the position as regards the repudiation of those acts? That is clearly an important issue.

In Committee, hon. Members on both sides said that the clause could lead to an increase in the number of unofficial strikes. That is a valid comment. The executive or emergency committee of a union such as the National and Local Government Officers Association—which., I believe, must authorise every strike action—would try to establish that strikes were unofficial to ensure that no compensation would be due from the union in the event of action. I hope that the Minister will tell us more about that.

I return to the point raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice). The Conservative trade unionists, of whom I have the honour to be president—[Interruption.] Mention of the Conservative trade unionists always produces an almost Pavlovian reaction from Opposition Members. It gives me some pleasure that it produces such a reaction. However, the organisation is growing and is successful. About 5 million trade union members voted Conservative at the last general election. About 40 per cent. of the membership of affiliated unions within the TUC voted Conservative. I hope to see that number increased at the next general election.

It is against that background that, as president of the Conservative trade unionists, I am proud to say that I and some other officers went to see the Secretary of State when the Green Paper was published. We made the point that we thought that the penalties and compensations for damages lay too heavily on the smaller unions. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Aberdare said, I think that that is still the case. The ratio should be altered so that the scale was not only attributed to the number of members in a union but had a relationship either to its assets or to its annual income—in fact, to its ability to pay.

If the hon. Member for Aberdare looks at some of the figures, he will find that the scale in clause 14 represents a higher percentage of annual income in a small union such as the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers, for example, than it does of the annual income of the Transport and General Workers Union. In that case, although the maximum figure is £¼ million, it represents a much lower percentage of the annual income.

Also, the larger unions are better able to staff themselves and have paid union officials, some of whom may be lawyers, who will be able to ensure that the union does not get into a position in which any claim can be brought against them. A smaller union might not have that ability, which is another reason why the scale in clause 14 should be reviewed, perhaps after the Bill has been law for a little while so that we can see how it works in practice.

Mr. Leighton

We all recognise the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) as a horny-handed son of toil and a leader of millions of trade unionists. Therefore, we are grateful to hear his words of wisdom and his guidance, and his claim that the fines are far too swingeing and should be reduced. In his representations—and perhaps he will have the ear of Ministers more than some of us—will he bear in mind that unions such as the Transport and General Workers Union are virtually amalgamations of unions with many sections? They could be involved in a multiple case, with the attendant legal costs, and could go bankrupt just as easily as the smaller unions, with which he has such great sympathy.

Mr. Renton

Obviously, the point of multiple cases is well known, and was made in Committee. However, there is every bit as much likelihood of multiple cases in a case against a small union. At the end of the day, the clause rests on staying within the law. These damages are only to be paid if a union official authorises illegal action. The definition and the scope for authorising legal action such as strikes and picketing is enormous.

Labour Members seem to forget that when the Bill becomes law unions in this country will still have greater powers and immunities than any other body in the country, except the Crown in Parliament. I do not object to that. I want powerful, strong unions but I want them to be strong, accountable and democratic. They should be accountable to their members and to the country.

Mr. Dixon

Earlier, an hon. Member said that the Bill had nothing to do with industrial relations. He was correct. If we could legislate for industrial relations the Secretary of State for Employment would come along with a one-clause Bill saying "That man should get up at half-past seven in the morning and start work, not finish work until the buzzer goes at five o'clock, never complain about working conditions and not worry about wages." Everything would be fine if we could legislate for industrial relations in that way. We should have the finest industrial relations in the world. Poland would have no problems now if it could legislate for industrial relations like that.

Unfortunately, Ministers do not understand what happens on the factory floor. I do not think that Ministers would know what a person in a boilersuit looked like, except for the fact that some character got up at the Tory Party conference two years ago wearing a boilersuit, saying that he had just come from a picket line or something like that. Millions of people go to work every day with no problem other than earning their living and making sure that they have reasonable pay and conditions.

In Committee, Ministers seem to believe that workers get up in the morning and that when they have their cup of coffee or, if they are in Scotland, their porridge, they are exercising their minds as to how best they can disrupt British industry. That is not correct. The Secretary of State seems to believe that workers wish to subvert industry and cause as many problems as possible. That is not true. Those who are allowed to go to work—it is fewer every day that the Government are in power—wish only to do their work.

It is true, as the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) said, that clause 13 undermines the authority of trade union officials. At line 41, it says but only if it was authorised or endorsed by a responsible person. People do not take industrial action lightly. If, when they send for a full-time official it will result in the employer taking the trade union to court and attacking its funds, the members will not send for a trade union official. But it will not stop them taking action. If they wish to take action, they will. The unofficial shop stewards committees, which were rife in Britain some time ago, will sprout up again. The Secretary of State says that unions should have more discipline over their members, but this clause will have the reverse effect.

Many years ago I was a shop steward in the shipyards. When we had a dispute the men used to ask me not to send for a trade union official because he would tell them that they must work according to the agreement that had been signed at the district office. I hope that the Secretary of State understands that.

Many Conservative Members do not understand trade union funds. They believe that they are talking about the money in the back pockets of a dozen or so general secretaries. But what they are talking about is money that men and women have paid as union contributions, which have been built up into funds to look after their employment interests and to educate them. That is the reason why clause 13 will ensure that any future action, if the Bill ever gets on the statute book, will be unofficial action. If the Secretary of State wishes that and wishes to undermine the authority of trade union executive members and general secretaries, this is precisely how to do it. He will not get the so-called discipline for which he calls.

Clause 15 could have an effect on the International Transport Workers Federation if it tries to obtain reasonable wages for those who work on ships that fly flags of convenience. The clause will inhibit any action that it could take or any action that it could get trade unions in Britain to take to achieve even minimum earnings. Some of the seafarers who sail on flag of convenience ships do so for board only and receive no wages. When they are recruited in their countries they sign pieces of paper which say that they will accept the terms of employment. The International Transport Workers Federation has received many millions of pounds for those sailors who have been exploited under flags of convenience.

9.30 pm

This group of clauses is the worst group in the Bill. the Bill is possibly the worst Bill from the Government to date. The Government have introduced some bad legislation since 1979. When the Government refer to step by step trade union legislation they mean putting the boot into the trade union movement. The first boot was clause 6 of the Social Security (No. 2) Act 1980, which deprived the dependants of strikers of supplementary benefit.

The Employment Act 1980 was the second boot. The Government then created more than 3 million unemployed in Britain. That is the climate in which the Bill is introduced. It is only in that climate that the Government would dare to introduce such a Bill.

Mr. Neale

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon). We both served on the Standing Committee of the Bill and he, among all Opposition Members of the Committee, spoke with great passion and with great knowledge of the trade union movement. He sought to discuss certain clauses—some Conservative members of the Committee thought at far too great a length in the early stages—at the expense of being able to debate properly the clauses before us today.

It emerged in Committee that Conservative Members feel that legislation could be introduced to make those on both sides of industry work more harmoniously, but we know full well that we cannot legislate to do that.

We believe that there are certain elements not of industrial relations but of industrial disruption. There are elements of trade union power which go beyond what is fair and just. It is those elements that the Bill seeks to cover. Nothing that I heard in the many hours of debate in Standing Committee, on Second Reading or in the debate today has changed my view. I favour the introduction of these clauses inasmuch as they begin to bring the unions within the law and to make them more accountable, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) said.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), who is no longer in the Chamber, claimed that a great number of organisations across the United Kingdom were opposed to the Bill. I believe that he totally overstated the case. There are some organisations which are opposed to it, as there would be to any legislation, but a great number of organisations are in favour. Many hon. Members, and certainly I, feel that the Bill is a welcome step in the Government's step by step approach, but that it does not go far enough.

Mr. Leighton

The hon. Gentleman said that he was speaking for himself. He is a lawyer and we all know what lawyers think. Does he agree that the Engineering Employers Federation, a major employers organisation, is against the provisions on the closed shop?

Mr. Neale

On the hon. Gentleman's implication about lawyers, may I say, speaking as a lawyer, that if the sort of terms and conditions laid down by statute, affecting the way in which consumers are protected from lawyers' actions, applied to the trade union movement as a whole, many people would feel happier about trade unions.

The Engineering Employers Federation does indeed have reservations about elements of the closed shop law, but it also has a strong view that some elements could be included in the Bill which are not, including lay-off clauses in the event of selective strikes within a member company and in other industries.

Mr. Flannery

This is not an exercise in semantics across the Chamber. We are talking about three clauses that are so brutal and draconian that the whole of the trade union movement is planning to combat them. Will the hon. Gentleman accept from me that last Sunday morning the entire trade union movement of South Yorkshire, including the great coalfield, had a meeting in Sheffield at which Mr. Scargill spoke? It pledged itself to fight the Bill tooth and nail and began a massive fund to do so. Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that we are talking about such a monstrous provocation to the trade union movement that if the clauses are violated by the movement, as they will be, some people will have to be put in jail, which will require a thousand Official Solicitors because the struggle will be so massive and intense that there will be a general strike?

Mr. Neale

I know that the hon. Gentleman has deeply held reservations about the Bill. He expresses them on every occasion, and I know that he can claim to speak for others in those reservations. However, he must ask himself who are the people expressing the opposition. They may be the leaders of trade unions or senior officials within those unions, but how many of those leaders and officials have balloted their members to see what the depth of feeling is about these measures?

If the hon. Gentleman cares to go to the Library and look out all the occasions on which people have been balloted in any poll concerning trade union membership, he will find that there is an overwhelming majority in favour of these measures.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)


Mr. Neale

I must continue because I have already given way once.

Democracy cannot operate satisfactorily if one group, namely the trade union movement, has legal immunities which no other group has, and seeks to obtain a degree of subservience from other groups to its main aims, ignoring the damage which it can inflict on those other groups.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) referred to the fact that I am a lawyer. The unions are immune from many actions relating to defamation. Why should that be? Why should they and nobody else have that immunity? The Bill limits the total amount of damages that can be paid. It is not just trade unions that have finite resources. All other companies and institutions have finite resources. Many have members making payments. There are friendly societies of one kind or another liable to unlimited damages. They are all subject to the law. In this case the trade union movement is not, and there is no logical or factual justification for that to continue to apply to the trade union movement.

No one can pretend that the trade union movement has the same tasks to perform in 1982 as it had in 1906 and before. Unions are now far larger and there are fewer of them. There are industry-wide unions and company links with unions. There are many new technological aids in industry. It may be the lawyer in me, but I cannot understand the case for immunising the trade union movement against irresponsible action, which is the only action that will be dealt with by the Bill. A wide element of legitimate union action will remain available to enable unions to further the case of their members.

There is considerable power within the trade union movement and it can be used to disrupt or to improve. It can be used, for example, to improve pension funds and to invest or it can used to bankrupt companies. Unions have the power to lead their membership and improve industries and they have a power similarly to misuse their strength.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex. I accept that there are many and recurring examples of trade unions that behave responsibly and contribute to their industries and the rights of their members, but there are other examples, such as upholding the right to strike, where action is not confined to withdrawing the labour of individual members of unions. The right to strike has become almost a right of siege. It seems that it has to be carried to the limit to ensure that the case of the individual union member is taken beyond all good sense and judgment.

On another major issue Labour Members have been vocal in imploring the Government to pay far greater heed to the role of the United Nations. I am sure that some Labour Members have examined the various charters of rights that have emerged from the United Nations, many of which have been repeated at European level. They will know that they contain interesting statements on the rights of individuals within trade unions. One example is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which states that it is the right of everyone to join a trade union. It adds: and join the trade union of his choice, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, for the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests. No restriction shall be placed on the exercise of that right"— I suggest that Labour Members consider the range of the United Nations charters— other than those prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedom of others. It is that responsibility which the trade union movement has in part not discharged to other organisations and to others who do not wish to be part of the movement. It has fallen short of meeting that responsibility and it is that shortcoming that has brought Bills of this sort before the House.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

There is one feature of the hon. Gentleman's argument that I do not understand. If a person has a conscientious reason for not wishing to join a trade union—for example, the fact that he is a Jehovah's witness—there has never been any difficulty. That is a reason that has been met on many occasions. It is more than likely that the person concerned will be asked to make a donation to a charity. Has the hon. Gentleman considered the resentment of those who join a union, make their financial contribution to it and, as a result of their membership, assist the union in successfully negotiating reductions in working hours and wage increases? These trade unionists want to know why others who do not pay subscriptions to the union receive all the benefits that are achieved by the union.

9.45 pm

There is hardly a case where a non-trade unionist, no matter how he goes on about his rights, says to management "Those are increases and benefits that have been negotiated by the union of which I am not a member and because of that fact I will not have anything to do with them." The truth is that the non-unionist is willing to take all the benefits without paying a penny towards the union that has negotiated the increase.

Mr. Neale

I am quite certain that there are occasions when that happens. If in a company there is someone who is not a member of a trade union and who does not wish to become one, that would be sufficient. He may say that he can do that only on grounds of conscientious objection. In either of those circumstances the individual employee might see a way in which he can work harder, be more productive and in fact earn more doing his job than under the arrangement that the union has struck with the employer—If he does that he immediately creates disruption. The union presumably is embarrassed because it has someone in its midst who is not a member willing to produce more and work longer hours and do various things which would give him better pay. Then we have the problems that the Bill seeks to cover.

I have some hesitation in saying this after the Secretary of State's experience with the bicycle, but my father was in that position. He had to leave his job because he was willing to produce more and get better rates than the union people.

Mr. Winnick

The hon. Member is putting the classic case for non-trade unionism. The strength of working people—although I shall not persuade the hon. Gentleman because clearly he has pronounced political views, as I and my right hon. and hon. Friends have—certainly in large establishments, rests on their collective power. The average person working for a large company has no power on his own. He cannot possibly have against remote management.

Trade union strength comes when working people at a given place combine. That organisation is constantly undermined by the type of person who wants to take all the benefits without paying any contribution towards the union—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has perhaps forgotten that we are discussing clauses 15 and 16.

Mr. Neale

The critical point about immunities is that if one looks at the legal justification for applying the law to all forms of institution—whether they be a trade union or anything else—one finds the same argument applied in 1930, 1940, 1960 and 1980. It is no different now from what it was then. The right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) said that in 1980 the Government felt that we should not go along the road of those immunities as we are doing now.

He asked why, if it was right then, it is wrong now. The fact is that there was exactly the same underlying belief, certainly on the Conservative Benches, backed by a substantial number of people in the country, that the level of immunity of the trade union movement was wrong and unjust and that it had to be made more accountable. The changes were not introduced, I believe, for two reasons. The first was the level of baying and protests from some union leaders that cowed people into feeling that reductions of immunity should perhaps not be introduced. The second was that too many cowardly noises from management made it appear that there was not the national will for change.

I believe that such a will now exists and that it is growing. It is also to the credit of the trade union movement that a far greater degree of reality exists among union members and leaders. There are, of course, exceptions. But there are also exceptions in management. This greater sense of reality has produced collaboration and improved industrial relations. There is, however, still the feeling among many people that the immunity of the movement from secret ballots and immunity from being accountable to the membership is wrong. The same feeling applies about the immunity from holding ballots on such issues as the election of union officers and immunity from selective action which means that employees can be rendered without work but that they still have to be paid by companies in a way that gradually places a financial stranglehold on companies and reduces their viability and security of employment.

I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly but urge that my right hon. Friend, as a matter of urgency, should consider consulting on the widest level with both sides of industry about further measures that have been mentioned during the debate and in Standing Committee with a view to introducing another Bill at an early date.

Mr. Michael Welsh (Don Valley)

I support the amendments to clause 13 relating to actions in tort against trade unions. I shall refer first, however, to the remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) to the effect that trade unions should be responsible. The definition of "responsible" can be subjective. I believe that responsible unions are those that fight hard for their members and achieve the best possible return through negotiations or other means of collective bargaining with which the Conservative Party agree and which it upheld in its election manifesto. Responsible trade unions are those that pursue free collective bargaining. If, at the end, there is need for a show of strength, so be it. That is what is meant by responsible trade unions according to the Tory party definition. I agree totally.

The hon. Member for Mid-Sussex also referred to ballots. There is nothing wrong with ballots so long as individual trade unions agree with them. I do not think that they should be foisted upon us by the State. My union, the National Union of Mineworkers, has a very moderate president called Arthur Scargill. Arthur is not opposed to ballots. I give the assurance that when we do not get what we desire in November and a ballot takes place the miners will support the executive. Any strike will be brought about by the actions of this Tory Government. Once a strike is in progress it is the most dangerous thing that one can have. How does one get the miners back? If there is a strike after a ballot which has been legally enforced, one can only get the strikers back by a ballot that has also to be legally enforced.

May I talk briefly about my own union? If the union gets all that it may desire through negotiations, Arthur Scargill will not be able to say to his men that they should return to work on Monday and get the coal coming out again. There would have to be a postal ballot which will take a week to operate and another week's production will be lost—not because of the trade union movement but because of the law of the land. That will be the result of enforced ballots. One cannot legislate in depth for industrial relations. That will be the embarrassment; if the Government decide to throw down the gauntlet, my union will pick it up. The result will be anybody's guess but it will not be very nice.

That is the position with ballots. I have been involved with them over many years and I would not push too hard on ballots.

The clause makes it unlawful to strike in respect of things that happen in foreign countries. Such strikes might be vital. Many tears have been shed—some may suspect crocodile tears—about the situation in Poland. What would happen if the miners in Gliwice which I have visited—I went down the mines in Gliwice only four years ago and very good mines they are—were exporting coal to our country against our wishes? What if we said that we did not want that, that it was forced labour in Poland, undermining everything? Would we strike? If we were to strike in favour of the workers in Poland, would the Government support us? I sometimes think that they will not because this law will not allow it. Let us he careful with our tears for Poland and the working class and trade unionists of Poland. Let us have tears by all means, but let them be sincere and not crocodile tears. That is vital.

This Bill also allows for judicial interpretation. Why, if we want good industrial relations, do we have to go to the judiciary? Why do lawyers cream off the money from industrial problems? What is wrong with tribunals being agreed between unions and management? Why should we always have a legal man in the chair? It does not happen in other countries; why should it happen here? If we like industrial relations to be smooth, as I like them to be—my comrades rarely come out on strike; sometimes we go a whole week without a strike—there is no reason why important problems cannot be solved by a selected group of senior trade unionists and management who may not be directly involved. Why do we have to go to the Lord Dennings, who always come out against us? We are engaged in a class war.

Instead of using the law of tort, it would have been better if the Minister had come forward with some progressive thinking on industrial relations, as they have in other countries. There, management and men get together to stop industrial disputes and ensure smooth running, from which everyone benefits. I am afraid that on that issue we shall have to wait for a Labour Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) referred to flags of convenience.

Mr. Winnick

What happened to the 1974 Act?

Mr. Welsh

I have always opposed flags of convenience because all workers are brothers. Although all hon. Members here may be classed as brothers, in the practice of the House I accept that we call them hon. Members. All trade unionists are brothers, but few could be called that on the Conservative Benches.

Many ships which fly flags of convenience have few British men on board. They have mostly people from the Third world countries, and safety on board leaves much to be desired. What would be the position, under the law of tort if, for safety reasons alone and for no personal gain, the workers or British sailors on board a flag of convenience ship went on strike? Would they be allowed under the law of tort to sue British sailors when the only purpose of the strike was to save their brothers' and sisters' lives? This is a serious matter.

10 pm

Mr. Michael Martin

My hon. Friend will be aware that no British Merchant Navy ship is allowed to sail without a non-asbestos insulation. In other words, there is no asbestos in the bulkheads or any part of the ship, for safety reasons. Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be extremely unfair if British sailors were forced to sail in foreign ships which were not covered by such legislation, and the union was sued because they refused to sail in such ships?

Mr. Welsh

That is a good point. If sailors do not sail, for reasons of safety alone, can we be charged with implementing legislation which may cause death or serious injury, when the unions involved in that industry cannot strike for safety's sake? It is important to realise that we are legislating for things that happen overseas or on ships flying flags of convenience.

Mr. Tebbit

Will the hon. Gentleman point to the part of the Bill which worries him about British seamen being forced to sail in unsafe ships?

Mr. Harold Walker


Mr. Tebbit

The right hon. Gentleman might care to send his hon. Friend a note. He will have a hard job in finding such a provision, because there is no such provision in the Bill.

Mr. Welsh

If that is an assurance from the Minister, I accept it. Let us hope that when the sailors come out on strike, they will be able to quote the Minister and that no action will be taken against them. They will be able to call the Minister as a witness in court. I have nothing against that, and I am grateful for the Minister's intervention to confirm that if the lads take this action on board ship they will not be prosecuted under this legislation.

The other important issue involved in the law of tort is the unlawful industrial action which is authorised or endorsed by different members. It may not be parliamentary to say so, but in my language that is daft. There are chargemen in pits who are not elected to that position by the trade union movement. The lads at the face elect them because they know about the work and they are responsible, along with the deputy, for the lads' safety. All colliery walkouts are led by chargemen, who may not even go to union meetings. That does not matter one iota. The provision says that they have to have some status in the trade union movement, but chargemen do not have that status. Strikes can be brought about by chargemen who are not involved in trade union activity. That will do nothing to improve industrial relations.

My last point concerns damages. My union could be sued several times for £250,000, as could any union as big as mine. But the National Union of Mineworkers makes it plain—I am not looking for a fight between myself and the Minister or between the Conservative Party and the Opposition—that no one will take away the hard-earned money that mineworkers have paid to their union. They work too hard for it. They will not allow legislation to take it off them.

There was a NUM meeeting in Sheffield on Sunday. The President is a moderate man—Arthur Scargill. He is probably the most moderate trade union leader about. He has been president of the Yorkshire miners for 10 years, during which time there has never been a strike.

Mr. Neale

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to explain to members of the NUM that the legislation will not automatically take money from the union membership or the union funds as he, perhaps unintentionally, implied? Will he also explain to the members for whom he is responsible the scope of action that is still available to the NUM without liabilities or damages under the Bill?

Mr. Welsh

Yes, I shall explain everything to my constituents. They are well aware of the fact. I have had at least four meetings with my miners. I do not mind a ballot, but not one miner will be in favour of the legislation. If the miners, for various reasons, come out in support of the nurses because of the terribly small sum that is being offered to them, and the National Coal Board wanted to sue them under the law of tort, no money from the NUM would be forthcoming. Someone might then be sent to gaol.

Mr. Cyril Smith

The feeling that the hon. Gentleman finds among miners is not the same as that which I find among my constituents, although my constituency is heavily industrial.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) speaks as a member of the employing classes.

Mr. Smith

No hon. Member has knocked on more doors in the past few weeks than I. I have addressed public meetings in at least 12 constituencies. Not once, during canvassing for the local elections or during public meetings, have I been asked about the Employment Bill. I have canvassed on council estates. No one, during all that time, has asked me what is happening with the Employment Bill or has said that he is opposed to it.

My views on the Employment Bill are well known in my constituency. I have expressed them in articles in the local press and I have spoken in public about the matter. I have made them absolutely clear. Yet in the local elections in Rochdale last week, my party polled 45 per cent. of the vote as against 32 per cent. for Labour and 23 per cent. for the Conservatives. I accept that feelings may be different in Sheffield or among the miners that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh) represents but there is no such feeling in my constituency. I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is getting worked up about.

Mr. Welsh

If what I am saying is the definition of getting worked up, I hope that the hon. Gentleman never comes to one of our strike meetings.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Member for Rochdale goes to Rotary clubs. He is just an entertianer now and makes more money at it than the Minister.

Mr. Welsh

I assume that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) was flying the flag for the Liberal Party only in the local elections. I fail to see the relationship between the present legislation and local issues such as emptying dustbins. Surely it is Liberal philosophy just to debate small, local issues. In fact, they have a different policy for every ward.

Mr. Winnick

Was not the same argument used by Tories and Liberals about the 1971 legislation? When that legislation was before the House, we warned them what would happen, but their response was the same. They said that they had knocked on doors but that nobody was interested and they had been asked no questions about it.

Is my hon. Friend aware that Apex, whose leadership is moderate even by media standards, after a two-hour debate at its conference last weekend, unanimously passed a resolution condemning every aspect of what it described as the vicious nature of the Tebbit Bill?

Mr. Welsh

Yes, and I suppose that the people who passed that resolution also pay rates and vote in local elections, so it is strange that at its first conference this year there should be so much interest in people who pay local rates and vote just like everyone else.

Mr. Winnick

And they do not like the Tebbit Bill.

Mr. Welsh

I am not one of the many who believe that this will have to be fought in the factories and the mines of this country. I should not like to see that because I do not like strikes. I believe that strike action should be taken only when it is vitally necessary. But if the Government try to take hard-earned money from the NUM, whether it is in contempt of court or not, that will be enough to cause a dispute and for the NUM and other unions to fight. Arthur Scargill has said that he is prepared to go to gaol if necessary.

Mr. Wickenden

That is exactly what he said to the Select Committee on Employment in relation to the 1980 Act. As always, his words were a great deal louder than his deeds and he has done nothing about it at all.

Mr. Welsh

That Act has not yet had time to be worked on. We fought that legislation strongly, but one would have thought that it would be given time to develop so that we could see the consequences before more legislation was thrust upon this great country for the industrial workers to suffer again.

What I am saying is plain and simple. I wrap no wool about it. If it is decided that members' money is to be taken away from them, whether there is contempt of court or whatever, the NUM and other trade unions will not tolerate that. The Government will then have lost the opportunity to make a good industrial relations measure which would have helped the nation—it needs help tremendously—management and workers alike. The Government will have lost that opportunity by courting what may be a great catastrophe in the near future. Therefore, I ask Conservative Members to support the reasonable and rational amendments proposed by the Opposition.

Mr. Bill Walker

The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh) made some interesting comments. I would not disagree with some of them. He said that fighting for their members was the purpose of trade unions and that this should be done through free collective bargaining. I would not disagree with that. But I do not think that the hon. Gentleman or anyone else seriously believes that that can be done without any parameters at all.

If there were no restrictions whatever and no holds barred, I suggest that the employees would suffer far more than the employers. It is surely right that the job of trade unions is to look after the best interests of their members. Sadly, in recent times that has not been what trade unions have been noted for, or why they have made the headlines. The hon. Member for Don Valley told us about a gentleman who is a moderate and a splendid chap. I hardly think that that image is one supported by the British public, particularly in areas not directly related to the best interests of members of the National Union of Mineworkers. That gentleman has got himself embroiled on the political stage, as so many trade union leaders have done. It is an interesting stage, all the more so if people can get on it without having to stand for Parliament.

10.15 pm
Mr. Welsh

Would the hon. Gentleman say that politicians are getting involved in the industrial scene and in relations between employer and employee, which they should not be doing?

Mr. Walker

I hope to answer that more fully if the hon. Gentleman will give me time to develop my speech.

I see organised labour as an essential part—I emphasise the word "essential"—of the balance in the employment market. If there were no balance, one side would exploit the other. There is no doubt about that. The real problems in industrial relations in Britain today are historical. It has been properly said many times in our debates that to get the balance light we must look at the question of good human relations. One of the reasons for including these clauses in the Bill is that in recent years the balance has been tilted too far one way. Equally, it would be bad for industrial relations if the balance were tilted too far the other way. The job of Government—this is where in part I am answering the hon. Member for Don Valley—is to find a balance that will give the best results in any given circumstances.

We must find a way that will deter trade unions from using muscle against innocent parties. That is an essential part of Government. It is the Government's job to protect the majority of citizens from any group, whether unscrupulous persons, bad employers or badly organised trade unions. I refer to trade unions that are badly operated generally, and in the way they elect their active members.

I understand the anxieties of trade union members who feel that they may be seeing part of trade union funds being used as compensation for irresponsible actions.

Mr. Winnick

Part of the responsibility of Government is to act where necessary—referring to the hon. Gentleman's party—against bad employers. My union was involved in the Grunwick dispute. Long before any mass picketing, employees were denied the elementary right to belong to a union and to have that union recognised by the management at Grunwick. I am not aware of a single Conservative Member who, during 1976 or 1977, took up the case of the workers. What happened, as the hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware, is that the prime Minister in particular made a great hero of the employer who refused to give working people the right to belong to a trade union.

Mr. Walker

It is unfortunate for the hon. Gentleman that he chose a dispute that does not help his case. If one wanted to look for a weak case that would be it. The majority of the actual operatives in the company did not want to be registered under the clauses relevant at that time. The problem at Grunwick was common to so many other places. It was being created not by the people inside but from outwith to within. That was proven by the number of people who continued to work in the company under those extremely difficult circumstances. They were difficult circumstances for the inoffensive people who had to be bussed in.

Mr. Winnick


Mr. Walker

I have given way to the hon. Gentleman. I do not need any lessons from him on the Grunwick dispute. I had a similar dispute in one of the companies that I ran at that time. It did not make the headlines. There was a dispute not because I did not want my people to be members of a trade union but because I was not prepared to recognise one trade union as the sole bargaining union on site. There was a good reason for that. There were five other unions on site. It was nonsense to suggest that a sole bargaining union would be in the best interests of all the employees.

That dispute was resolved amicably through sensible trade union practice and good officials coming in and getting the people who had got in difficulties out of those difficulties. That often happens. It happens more often than we can tell from the headlines. The majority of trade union activists and officials are responsible people, but unfortunately some are irresponsible and behave irresponsibly. Because they behave irresponsibly and because innocent parties are affected, they cannot be allowed to continue to operate outside the law. The clauses deal with that matter.

All Conservative Members accept that organised labour is an essential part of the balance in the industrial and employment market. Many people have said that the Bill will do nothing for industrial relations. unless I have misread the Bill, it is called the Employment Bill. It is concerned primarily with the practices in the employment market. Not all those practices are connected directly with industrial relations. Often they affect third and fourth parties. Employers properly are subject to laws to protect employees from irresponsible and bad employers. That is important.

I could give an illustration of a bad employer. I did so in Committee and it was not well received by Opposition Members. I shall give that illustration again because the Dundee Labour Party was a shocking employer. It employed individuals for a news-sheet called the Dundee Standard. It did not pay the trade union rates. Consequently there were problems. That was not surprising. Of all people not to be paying trade union rates, who would have thought it would be that assorted bunch of people who called themselves the Dundee Labour Party?

I do not believe that the majority of people who vote Labour in Dundee would support the view by that group of individuals, who were shocking employers and tried to exploit people. They did not pay the NUJ rates. They did not pay the rates for the people on the production side. I give that illustration to show that all bad employers are not Tories. All bad employers are bad employers regardless of their political affiliations. Trade unions must also be subject to laws.

Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Walker

I am always delighted to give way to the hon. Gentleman, who is one of the few people in the House who understands trade unions.

Mr. Hamilton

Bearing in mind that the Dundee city councillors were bad employers, will the hon. Gentleman recognise that at the regional elections the Labour candidates in Dundee won handsomely?

Mr. Walker

I wish I could support that view, but Tayside as a whole

Mr. Hamilton

I am talking about Dundee.

Mr. Walker

I shall deal with Dundee. The hon. Gentleman is good on industrial relations and he understands the trade unions, but I hope that he will do his sums for Dundee a little more carefully. If he does, he will find that the Conservative vote has increased. Where we have been returning councillors, we have returned them with increased majorities. I could cite an example in which the Labour Party came not second, not third but fourth in a city in which it normally comes second. It came fourth, because its old friends, now called the Social Democrats, pinched some of the votes.

Trade unions must also be subject to laws to protect individuals, employees and employers from irresponsible and damaging action by bad trade union practices. That is why the measure is so important. There has been a demand for changes in the law—[interruption] I am sorry about the comments that are being made. It reminds me that someone said that the Bill had nothing to do with local authorities. That comment obviously came from an hon. Member who had not spent any time in Committee. If he had, he would have known that we spent hours talking about the problems of local authority employment. We discussed the introduction of political action into an area that should primarily be concerned with good employer/ employee relations. The situation has been damaged by such political intervention.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) probably received no comments because for some time the people have been asking for something like the Bill to be put on the statute book. That is the result of the abuses of recent years. Every Parliament will rightly introduce laws if the public sees abuse—whether they are the abuses of employers, corporations, those selling goods and products and providing services or the abuses arising from bad trade union practices. There has been a demand for the balance to be redressed. The balance has been tilted too far one way.

Mr. Crowther

If a company secretly decides to close a factory, virtually forces trade unionists in the factory to strike over a pay dispute, and then issues dismissal notices to avoid making people redundant, is that not an abuse? The hon. Gentleman will recall that in Committee I described such an occurrence.

Mr. Walker

I clearly remember the hon. Gentleman mentioning that. I am not here to defend bad employment practices or bad employers. In my career I have had to fight bad employers and—

Mr. Cryer

Now the hon. Gentleman is fighting for them with the Bill.

Mr. Walker

I have been an active trade union official. The hon. Gentleman does not know that. I probably know as much as he does about dealing with bad employers. Bad practices cannot be excused simply because those involved are on one's side. That is not good enough. The problem is that we try to push people into given positions, to remain there, come what may. I have been in the House for a short time, but I have always voted with my conscience and will continue to do so.

Mr. Cryer

With the Tories.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman probably does not know that I have voted against the Government on several occasions. We were not sent to Parliament to be the puppets of some obscure outside outfit—whether that outfit be the National Union of Mineworkers or, in my case, some employers' organisation. Within the limits of my very limited ability I have tried to do the best that I could. I never doubted that the world was full of people who were abler and cleverer that I. However, they were rarely my employers or my superiors in the trade union movement. It was because of that that I occasionally rebelled and made it obvious to my superiors in the trade union, or to my employers, that I did not agree with them, and thought that they had got it wrong.

10.30 pm

The Committee stage of the Bill was interesting. We heard some fascinating views and I must be complimentary to those who understand something about trade unions and industrial relations. Many wise comments came from both sides of the Committee. If those who jeer and think that we do not care read the reports of the Committee proceedings, they will realise that there were people on both sides who were genuinely concerned to debate properly. What disturbed me was the rather obscure points that were made simply to fill in time. That was disastrous because it meant that we did not fully debate the Bill as it should have been debated.

Mr. Tebbit

It is, as always, a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker), who debates these matters not only with a great depth of experience, but in his usual robust style. It was interesting that, in commenting on the support in the country for the Bill and these clauses, he made the point of the recent local elections and the great increase in support that had come to the Conservative Party in recent times.

That rather jelled with something that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) said. As I understood it, the Liberal Party in Rochdale had a considerable success. The hon. Gentleman made the point that nobody he canvassed criticised the Bill or raised it as an issue with him. That may be a lesson not just for the House in general, but particularly for the hon. Gentleman's Social Democratic allies. They were distinctly less robust in their attitude to the Bill, split three ways on Second Reading, and did not seem to do nearly as well as the Liberals in the recent local elections. Perhaps they should consider their position carefully on Third Reading.

My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire was on his usual good form and the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice) was on his usual form. Once again, the hon. Gentleman showed that he did not understand the Bill, that, in particular, he did not understand clause 11, and that he does not understand vicarious liability. He got it wrong in Committee and he has got it wrong again.

Mr. Radice

Clause 13.

Mr. Tebbit

I am sorry, clause 13. The hon. Member does not understand how the clause works.

The basic rules on liability are clear in the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Bill, he will see that it is clearly set out there that there are those whose actions can automatically and irrevocably commit the union. They include "the principal executive committee", any person or committee empowered to call industrial action by the rules of the union, and its top officials. The second type of person is covered by subsection (3) and is mentioned in paragraphs (d) and (e). They are, in paragraph (d), the middle ranking and junior employed officials such as the regional secretary or the district organiser and in paragraph (e) the committee to which such officials regularly report—for example, the district secretary to the district committee, or the regional secretary to the regional committee.

These categories of people and committees are presumed, under subsection (3), to make the union liable unless under subsection (4) they are prevented by the rules from authorising or endorsing industrial action, or their action has been repudiated by the principal executive committee or by the president or general secretary. The position could scarcely be more clear, nor more frequently misunderstood by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street. Not only is it clear, but it is reasonable.

The rules are not based on some remote idea that trade union organisations are centrally manned, and that they are great powerful organisations where, if the general secretary flicks his fingers, people move all the way down the line. We know that it is not like that. The rules are firmly based on the reality of trade union organisation.

The union is to be held liable only for the actions of those employed officials and committees which are fully within the official structure of the trade union. The union is not presumed liable for unlawful action by lay officials such as shop stewards, or by its members, unless someone within the official union hierarchy has authorised or endorsed their action or unless the rules give these lay officials specific powers to authorise industrial action.

The clause makes it plain that the final say about union liability lies with the national executive of the union and its most senior officials by giving them the authority to repudiate the action of lower ranking committees and officials.

The clause leaves scope for the union to specify in its own rules who should have the authority to call industrial action. Under subsection (3), the union is always presumed to be liable for action authorised or endorsed by its principal executive committee or its most senior officials. That would appear to be reasonable.

Mr. Harold Walker

The Secretary of State will recall that one matter of controversy in Committee concerned the problem that might arise if the president or the general secretary of a union who cannot be repudiated by the executive, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman described accurately, happened to be a Member of the House of Commons. That has frequently been the case and, I believe, is currently the case. If a Member of the House who is a general secretary or president of his union were, by a speech in the Chamber or by action or words in Chamber, to endorse or appear to have endorsed the action of his members taking industrial action outside, could those words be invoked against him in the courts? Would he, by his words in the House, be deemed to have endorsed that action? How would that be reconciled with parliamentary privilege?

Mr. Tebbit

The matter is perfectly clear. In the case of the Church of Scientology of California v Johnson-Smith in 1972, it was held that what was said or done in Parliament in the course of proceedings may not be examined for the purpose of supporting a cause of action itself arising out of something done outside. These rights of the House are emphasised by a resolution in 1818 which directs that no clerk of the House or officer of the House, or shorthand writer employed to take minutes of evidence before the House, or any of its Committees, shall give evidence elsewhere, in respect of any proceedings or examination had at the bar, or before any Committee of the House without the special leave of the House. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman was not aware of that. Everyone is familiar with the Session of 1818. One thinks of almost nothing else all day long.

Clause 13 leaves the final say about union liability with the national executive of the union and its most senior officials by giving them authority to repudiate the action of those lower ranking committees and officials to which I have referred. It leaves scope for the union to specify in its own rules who should have the authority to call industrial action. Under subsection (3) the union is always to be presumed liable for action which has been authorised or endorsed by its principal executive committee or by its most senior officials. It is worth restating that because it needs to be made clear and it is perfectly logical.

Apart from that, it is open to the union to decide in its rules whether officials and committees should have the authority to call official action. Provided that those rules are clear, they will be paramount in deciding whether a trade union is to be held liable. The claim that clause 13 is unrealistic and takes no account of how unions operate can hardly be upheld.

Mr. Leighton

Does the Secretary of State accept that it is not possible to abolish industrial action by legislation? If he is saying that it cannot be organised by the official leadership and that it must repudiate any such action, he is saying that, to be lawful, all industrial action must be unofficial. He is putting a great premium on unofficial action, which is a recipe for industrial anarchy. That will be the major result of his legislation.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood matters once again. Whether action is lawful or unlawful does not and cannot depend upon whether it is official or unofficial, and vice versa. Those matters are not connected. If action is unlawful and it is endorsed, supported, procured or authorised by the trade union, the trade union may become liable. If it is not so endorsed the position would not be dissimilar to that which it is today where only the individuals who organise and take part in the action would be liable. That is not a difference between lawful and unlawful action or between—

Mr. Leighton

They may go to prison.

Mr. Tebbit

It is possible today for someone to fight his way to prison for such a trivial matter as, for example, refusing to abate a nuisance that he is causing to his neighbour and persistently refusing to obey a court injunction. People have gone to gaol for failure to send their children to school. That is possible under existing law, and under law initiated by the Labour Government.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Tebbit

Of course. How could I resist?

Mr. Lewis

Why talk about schools? Why cannot we talk about the case of the five dockers who went to prison? Then the Official Solicitor dug up some new law and they were released.

Mr. Tebbit

If the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) had managed to be in the Chamber earlier today, he would have heard that matter discussed. I suggest that he reads the Official Report.

Under the legislation for which the hon. Member for Newham, North-East voted, it is possible for someone to go to gaol if he insists. But what is important about this Bill is that, whereas at the moment one can proceed only against an individual, in future one will be able to proceed against the union.

Mr. Leighton

The moral of the story is that the official leadership of the union must distance itself in future from all industrial action if the union's funds are not to be endangered. The leaders must keep out and leave it to be an unofficial strike.

Mr. Tebbit

I am glad that I allowed the hon. Gentleman to intervene, because it enables me once again to say that he has got it wrong. If a union supports lawful industrial action, its funds cannot be at risk. If it chooses to support unlawful industrial action, its funds may be at risk.

10.45 pm

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is saying that unions should support action that is unlawful even today. He asks "How do we know what is lawful?" How does a company know what is lawful before it acts? How does the hon. Gentleman know whether what he is doing outside is lawful? He has to understand and think carefully before he harms or damages some other person.

I hope that I have cleared up the problems that have been troubling the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street and can now move on to those that have been troubling the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams). I can understand her concern about ping-pong politics. I only wish that at times she and her colleagues would engage in the game of ping-pong, tennis, or whatever it is that we play, instead of contracting out. For example, I notice that on the first Division eight Liberals supported the Government and on the second seven did so. On the first Division none of the Social Democrats supported us and on the second two voted against us. First, the Social Democrats should have taken some part in the proceedings, and, secondly, they might have been a little more consistent towards their allies as well as their principles.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The right hon. Gentleman will be well aware that the attempts that we made to table amendments reflecting the views of the Social Democrats and Liberals were consistently not called and we were not given time to debate the matter. The right hon. Gentleman knows the reason for that.

Mr. Tebbit

If the right hon. Lady and her colleagues could not find amendments that the Chair thought suitable to be called, that is a matter for her, not for me. I am surprised that she should say that.

The right hon. Lady complained that when the clauses were discussed in Committee there was too little time to discuss them. I must tell her that that evening, as on many others, although the time limit under the timetable motion would have allowed the Committee to run on until 11 o'clock at night, on that occasion the Committee finished at 7.40 pm. Clearly the members of the Committee thought that they had had ample time to discuss the matter.

The right hon. Lady also made great play about ping-pong politics and her claim that trade union immunities, which is what we are discussing this evening, had been ping-ponged back and forth since the 1906 Act. She mentioned the 1927 Act and the 1965 Act, and so on, right the way through to the 1980 Act. I must tell her that the only Act that affected trade union immunities was the 1906 Act, after which the trade union immunities remained completely unchanged until the 1971 Act following which they were broadly returned to their original state by the last Labour Government. The other Acts that the right hon. Lady mentioned in her litany, trying to portray instability, were totally irrelevant and had nothing to do with trade union immunities.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that an Act passed to repeal an earlier Act in 1971, followed by an Act to repeal that in 1974, followed by an Act to repeal that in 1982, is ping-pong politics? It sounds very like it to me.

Mr Tebbit

The right hon. Lady is still a little muddled. She is including in this matter such Acts as the 1980 Act, which did not affect trade union immunities. [Interruption.] One still could not sue a trade union. The right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) is getting muddled. He spent so much time listening to the right hon. Lady's views when she was in his party and out on the Grunwick picket line that he falls back into the habit of it. He should cure himself.

Mr. Crowther

The right hon. Gentleman has just quoted some dates accurately. Does he realise—I am sure that he does—that what he has just said means that the Government are now about to change the rights that trade unions have enjoyed for 72 out of the last 76 years?

Mr. Tebbit

I shall change the privileges that they have enjoyed at the expense of those whose rights have been abridged.

The right hon. Lady harped on again about whether one should have to seek an injunction against a trade union before being in a position to sue the union for damages. If she reflects upon the issue, she will realise that the amendment is defective in principle—I do not cavil at that because it is not easy for those without the resources of parliamentary draftsmen and advisers to get these things right—because it would remove the main incentive for trade unions to act within the law.

The normal principle of law is that a person who acts unlawfully is liable for damages that result from the moment that he takes unlawful action. Therefore, he should think carefully before he takes action about the likely consequences that may follow and the chances of legal proceedings. If the amendment were accepted, even in principle, there would be no such incentive for a union to think before it acted. There would be an invitation for unions to chance their arm with unlawful action in the knowledge that they had nothing to fear unless and until somebody sought and gained an injunction against them.

There may be cases where the action is extremely damaging but of short duration. The employer would not have time to get the injunction and then proceed. He would therefore be unable to obtain damages but damage would have been done to him. I cannot think that the right hon. Lady, when she considers the matter more maturely, will decide that she wants to continue on that route.

I follow the line of concern of the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) about teachers. I do not think that amendment No. 46 would help him, but I do not take issue with him over that because I understand his anxiety. I am informed—I have to say that because the hon. Gentleman raised the issue in a way which went slightly beyond what I had expected from the amendment—that section 29(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 is meant to cover teachers. It allows teachers to be in dispute with a Minister of the Crown when their terms and conditions of employment are settled by a joint body such as the Burnham committee, on which the Minister is represented. There is no problem. The section and subsection were inserted in the Act to cover the case that the hon. Gentleman envisages and I am advised that it would so do. I am willing to assure him that I shall reconsider the issue tomorrow to be as certain as I can that what I have been told is correct.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) asked whether shop stewards and others can authorise industrial action. I think that I have already covered that question, as I have official and unofficial strikes. The limits on liability of trades unions that are within the Bill are a luxury that are not enjoyed by anybody else. It does not matter to the victim who has been hurt whether he has been hurt by a small union or by a large one. His concern is redress, and that means that others should think carefully before they act.

Mr. Cryer

The Minister said that immunities are not enjoyed by any other body. Does he recall that a few weeks ago he and his fellow Conservatives voted for the Lloyd's Bill which gives absolute immunity to the council of Lloyd's from any kind of action? Is it not true that there are double standards?

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman is completely and absolutely wrong in what he says. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) did not raise any issue of either relevance or importance in his speech. He asked about clause 18, which is not concerned with the amendments that we are debating. I refer him again to columns 1321 and 1322 of the Official Report of Standing Committee G which cover the point that concerns him.

The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West ( Mr. Janner) is responsible for the production of one of the most comprehensive compendiums on industrial relations law, which is to the best of my belief an entirely factual guide—so nobody should worry about reading it. They will not be put off by any of the views he expressed tonight that had nothing at all to do with facts.

The hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) talked about official and unofficial strikes. I have covered that point. To my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Neale) I say that the Engineering Employers Federation supports the Bill, as do all the employers' federations. 'The CBI, for example, said that I had got it just about right. The EEF wants the Bill toughened up by the introduction of lay-off clauses, and its only reservation is that it does not put action to protect workers against the excesses of the closed shop as high on its list of priorities as I do. That is the only difference between us.

I do not believe that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh) had entirely wrapped his mind around the subject. There are no proposals in the Bill to enforce strike ballots. There is no need to get into the courts. There is no restriction on the ability of management and employees to negotiate and settle their own grievances. I noted the way that he harked back to the harmonious industrial relations under the Labour Government during the winter of 1978–79 when everybody was taking industrial action to obtain more wages for nurses. Any action workers might take in support of strikes in Poland would be unlawful under the law enacted by the Government that he supported.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street rightly said that trade unions had been given exemption from the common law. They have to a great extent. He mentioned a few areas where they do not have immunity, but he did not mention those where they have. I remind the House of some of the areas of immunity. Trade unions are immune from actions for tort involving interference with contracts, libel, defamation, negligence, nuisance or breach of duty, regardless of whether the union is acting in furtherance of a trade dispute or not. Under the Bill trade unions will become liable for interference with contracts where they are responsible for industrial action that is outside a trade dispute. They will be liable if they organise unlawful secondary picketing or secondary action of any other description. The clauses make the trade unions liable for actions that are unlawful for the individual.

Mr. Cryer

What about the Lloyd's council?

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) still does not understand the Bill. If he understood the Lloyd's Bill, he would know that it protects members from actions against each other within the community of Lloyd's. It does not protect them against action by outsiders. That is the fundamental difference between us. The hon. Gentleman wants to maintain the rights, if that is the correct word, of trades unions to libel, defame, harm, obstruct and break contracts in defiance of the law. No one else, except a small minority of people in the country does. That is why I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 307.

Division No. 155] [11 pm
Abse, Leo Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Adams, Allen Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)
Allaun, Frank Cohen, Stanley
Anderson, Donald Coleman, Donald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Ashton, Joe Conlan, Bernard
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Cook, Robin F.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cowans, Harry
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Crawshaw, Richard
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Crowther, Stan
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN); Cryer, Bob
Bidwell, Sydney Cunliffe, Lawrence
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Cunningham, G. (IslingtonS)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Bradley, Tom Dalyell, Tam
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davidson, Arthur
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Davis, Clinton (HackneyC)
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'yS) Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Deakins, Eric
Buchan, Norman Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Dewar, Donald
Callaghan, Jim (Midd'tn & P) Dixon, Donald
Campbell, Ian Dobson, Frank
Campbell-Savours, Dale Dormand, Jack
Canavan, Dennis Dubs, Alfred
Cant, R. B. Duffy, A. E. P.
Carmichael, Neil Dunn, James A.
Carter-Jones, Lewis Dunnett, Jack
Cartwright, John Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Eadie, Alex Marks, Kenneth
Eastham, Ken Marshall, D(G'gowS'ton)
Ellis, R.(NE D'bysh're) Marshall, Jim (LeicesterS)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Martin, M (G'gowS'burn)
English, Michael Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ennals, Rt Hon David Maxton, John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Maynard, MissJoan
Evans, John (Newton) Meacher, Michael
Ewing, Harry Mikardo, Ian
Faulds, Andrew Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Field, Frank Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Fitch, Alan Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Ford, Ben Morton, George
Forrester, John Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Foulkes, George Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Newens, Stanley
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Ogden, Eric
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) O'Halloran, Michael
George, Bruce O'Neill, Martin
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Golding, John Palmer, Arthur
Graham, Ted Park, George
Grant, John (Islington C) Parry, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pendry, Tom
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hardy, Peter Prescott, John
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Race, Reg
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Radice, Giles
Heffer, Eric S. Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Richardson, Jo
Holland, S.(L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Allan(Bootle)
Homewood, William Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hooley, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Horam, John Robertson, George
Hoyle, Douglas Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Huckfield, Les Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Hughes, Mark(Durham) Rooker, J. W.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roper, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Janner, HonGreville Rowlands, Ted
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ryman, John
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillhead) Sever, John
John, Brynmor Sheerman, Barry
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Short, Mrs Renée
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Kerr, Russell Silverman, Julius
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Skinner, Dennis
Kinnock, Neil Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Lambie, David Snape, Peter
Lamborn, Harry Soley, Clive
Lamond, James Spearing, Nigel
Leighton, Ronald Spriggs, Leslie
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Stallard, A. W.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stoddart, David
Litherland, Robert Stott, Roger
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Strang, Gavin
Lyon, Alexander (York) Straw, Jack
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
McCartney, Hugh Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)
McElhone, Frank Thorne, Stan (PrestonSouth)
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Tilley, John
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Tinn, James
McKelvey, William Torney, Tom
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Maclennan, Robert Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
McMahon, Andrew Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
McNamara, Kevin Watkins, David
McTaggart, Robert Weetch, Ken
McWilliam, John Wellbeloved, James
Magee, Bryan Welsh, Michael
White, Frank R. Winnick, David
White, J. (G'gow Pollok) Woodall, Alec
Whitehead, Phillip Woolmer, Kenneth
Whitlock, William Wrigglesworth, Ian
Wigley, Dafydd Young, David (Bolton E)
Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W) Tellers for the Ayes:
Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby) Mr. Frank Haynes and Dr. Edmond Marshall.
Wilson, Gordon (DundeeE)
Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Adley, Robert Dover, Denshore
Aitken, Jonathan du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Alexander, Richard Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Durant, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dykes, Hugh
Ancram, Michael Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Arnold, Tom Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Aspinwall, Jack Eggar, Tim
Atkins, Robert (Preston) Elliott, Sir William
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E) Emery, Sir Peter
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Eyre, Reginald
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Banks, Robert Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Faith, Mrs Sheila
Beith, A. J. Farr, John
Bendall, Vivian Fell, Sir Anthony
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Best, Keith Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bevan, David Gilroy Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Forman, Nigel
Blackburn, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Blaker, Peter Fox, Marcus
Body, Richard Freud, Clement
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fry, Peter
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bowden, Andrew Garel-Jones, Tristan
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Braine, Sir Bernard Glyn, Dr Alan
Bright, Graham Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brinton, Tim Goodhew, Sir Victor
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Goodlad, Alastair
Brooke, Hon Peter Gorst, John
Brotherton, Michael Gow, Ian
Brown, Michael (Brigg&Sc'n) Gray, Hamish
Bruce-Gardyne, John Greenway, Harry
Bryan, Sir Paul Grieve, Percy
Buck, Antony Griffiths, E (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Peter Portsm 'thN)
Bulmer, Esmond Grist, Ian
Burden, Sir Frederick Grylls, Michael
Butcher, John Gummer, JohnSelwyn
Cadbury, Jocelyn Hamilton, Hon A.
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carlisle, Rt Hon M.(R'c'n) Hannam, John
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Haselhurst, Alan
Chapman, Sydney Hastings, Stephen
Churchill, W. S. Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hawksley, Warren
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayhoe, Barney
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Heddle, John
Clegg, Sir Walter Henderson, Barry
Cockeram, Eric Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Colvin, Michael Hicks, Robert
Cope, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cormack, Patrick Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Corrie, John Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Costain, Sir Albert Hooson, Tom
Cranborne, Viscount Hordern, Peter
Critchley, Julian Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Crouch, David Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Howells, Geraint
Dickens, Geoffrey Hunt, David (Wirral)
Dorrell, Stephen Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Penhaligon, David
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Percival, Sir Ian
Jessel, Toby Peyton, Rt Hon John
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Pink, R. Bonner
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Pollock, Alexander
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Porter, Barry
Kaberry, Sir Donald Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Proctor, K. Harvey
Kitson, Sir Timothy Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knox, David Rathbone, Tim
Lamont, Norman Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Lang, Ian Rees-Davies, W. R.
Langford-Holt, Sir John Renton, Tim
Latham, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Lawrence, Ivan RhysWilliams, Sir Brandon
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Lee, John Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rifkind, Malcolm
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Lewis, Kenneth(Rutland) Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rossi, Hugh
Loveridge, John Rost, Peter
Luce, Richard Royle, Sir Anthony
Lyell, Nicholas Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
McCrindle, Robert Scott, Nicholas
Macfarlane, Neil Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
MacGregor, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
MacKay, John (Argyll) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McNair-Wilson. M. (N'bury) Shepherd, Richard
McNair-Wilson, P. (NewF'st) Silvester, Fred
McQuarrie, Albert Sims, Roger
Madel, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Major, John Smith, Cyril(Rochdale)
Marland, Paul Speed, Keith
Marlow, Antony Speller, Tony
Marshal, Michael (Arundel) Spence, John
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Mates, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Sproat, Iain
Mawby, Ray Squire, Robin
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stainton, Keith
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stanbrook, Ivor
Mayhew, Patrick Stanley, John
Mellor, David Steel, Rt Hon David
Meyer, Sir Anthony Steen, Anthony
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stevens, Martin
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Miscampbell, Norman Stradling Thomas, J.
Mitchell, David(Basingstoke) Tapsell, Peter
Moate, Roger Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Monro, Sir Hector Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Montgomery, Fergus Temple-Morris, Peter
Moore, John Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Morris, M. (N'hamptonS) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Thompson, Donald
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Thorne, Neil(Ilford South)
Mudd, David Thornton, Malcolm
Murphy, Christopher Townend, John (Bridlington)
Myles, David Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Neale, Gerrard Trippier, David
Needham, Richard van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Nelson, Anthony Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Neubert, Michael Viggers, Peter
Newton, Tony Waddington, David
Normanton, Tom Wakeham, John
Nott, Rt Hon John Waldegrave, Hon William
Onslow, Cranley Walker, B. (Perth)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Osborn, John Wall, Sir Patrick
Page, John (Harrow, West) Waller, Gary
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Walters, Dennis
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Ward, John
Parris, Matthew Warren, Kenneth
Patten, Christopher(Bath) Watson, John
Pattie, Geoffrey Wells, Bowen
Pawsey, James Wells, John (Maidstone)
Wheeler, John Wilkinson, John
Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Williams. D. (Montgomery)
Whitney, Raymond Winterton, Nicholas
Wickenden, Keith Wolfson, Mark
Wiggin, Jerry Young, Sir George (Acton)

Question accordingly negatived

Younger, Rt Hon George
Tellers for the Noes:
Mr. Carol Mather and Mr. Anthony Berry.