HC Deb 24 May 1988 vol 134 cc219-51

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 9, leave out from "endorsed" to end of line 15 and insert any industrial action in which members of the union (including that member) are likely to be, or have been, induced by the union to take part or to continue to take part".

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Norman Fowler)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following Lords amendments: No. 2 and amendments (a) and (b) thereto: No. 3 and amendments (a) and (b) thereto; No. 4; No. 5 and amendment (a) thereto; Nos. 6 and 7; No. 8 and amendment (b) thereto; Nos. 23, 27 and 54.

Mr. Fowler

The purpose of clause 1 is very simple. It is designed to safeguard the position of trade union members whose union refuses to consult them before calling on them to take industrial action. The 1984 Act made proper secret ballots of those involved a condition of a union's immunity against actions in tort. This enabled employers to restrain most official industrial action called without a ballot. We believe that union members should similarly have a right to restrain their union if they are subject to inducement to take action. That is what the clause is all about.

The clause was thoroughly considered in Committee, when much of the discussion focused on the precise forms of industrial action to be covered by the balloting requirement. We thought it important that the same ballot should be capable of satisfying clause 1 of the Bill and the 1984 Act. Therefore, clause 1 was initially based on the terms describing the torts that underpin the 1984 Act. The right that it gave to members applied where they were induced to break their contract of employment or interfere with their performance of it.

In Committee it was argued that there could be difficulties in applying those terms to some circumstances of working life. We would not want individual trade union members to be in difficulty over, or uncertain about, the scope of their rights. On consideration, therefore, we concluded that the new right should apply to any industrial action. "Industrial action" is a term that unions and their members recognise and use to describe some of their activities. It is the term used in one of the statutory questions that the 1984 Act requires a union to put to its members in a pre-strike ballot. A member who had no idea whether he was being asked to interfere with the performance of his contract could not, in my view, possibly fail to recognise a call to industrial action.

There can be little doubt in practice about the scope of clause 1 on this new basis, and I believe that the House should welcome the improvement in clarity. Nor does it represent a massive extension of the balloting requirement. We can debate how much industrial action lies beyond the kind of interference with contracts that may be lawfully induced, but that is the measure of the extension.

Even if the extension of the balloting requirement were larger, that would, I think, be justified by the position of the union member. An individual who takes part in any form of industrial action and is dismissed by his employer may be unable to claim unfair dismissal. That applies whether or not he has broken his contract of employment. The question is whether he should have the right to be properly consulted before running that risk, and we believe that he should.

Our amendments introduced in the Lords make for increased clarity and certainty, and also put the union member's rights to be consulted on the same basis as the risks that he runs in respect of dismissal. They do that by applying clause 1 to any official industrial action, rather than just to action that would involve breach of or interference with contracts.

It naturally follows that some adjustment is required to the statutory questions. Under the 1984 Act and clause 1 as originally drafted, the member voting in a pre-strike ballot is required to say whether he is prepared to take part in a strike, or in industrial action, involving him in a breach of his contract of employment. It is clearly inappropriate when ballots are to be held for any form of industrial action. If clause 1 no longer refers to breach or interference, unions cannot properly be required to ask questions framed in those terms.

On the other hand, it is right that members should have a clear sense of the seriousness of the matter on which they are voting. That is why our amendments remove from the question the reference to breach of contract, but require the ballot paper to carry a statement in standard form that "If you take part in a strike or other industrial action you may he in breach of your contract of employment".

A number of Opposition amendments have been tabled and we shall listen carefully to what is said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang). Some of the amendments, in particular those to Lords amendments Nos. 2 and 3, would undermine the effectiveness of the clause and are undesirable for that reason. Some also have technical deficiencies.

There may be a genuine misunderstanding about the amendment to Lords amendment No. 8. I mentioned earlier the importance that we attach to the principle that a single ballot should be able to satisfy both clause 1 of the Bill and the 1984 Act. Some have assumed—and I understand the difficulty—that any extension of the liability in clause 1 must necessarily carry with it an equivalent extension of liability under the 1984 Act, and thus an equivalent extension of the rights of employers. That is not the case, and if it is the concern underlying the proposals to modify Lords amendment No. 8, I hope that I can satisfy the hon. Gentleman on that at least.

The Lords amendments represent a coherent package of improvements. They cannot be treated selectively, and any modification is liable to dislocate the interlocking provisions to which they apply. I believe that they will produce a clearer and simpler set of requirements that will effectively protect the right of union members in this important area, which is the purpose of clause 1.

Mr. Strang

The Secretary of State has rightly pointed out the importance of the clause and of the amendments that the Government moved in the other place. I believe that the amendments are of considerable importance. First, they change substantially the requirements of clause 1, and to that extent place more demands on trade unions. I would go so far as to suggest that, in one instance at least, the court may be required to make wholly unreasonable orders against the trade unions as a consequence of the amendments.

Secondly—this was to some extent implied by the right hon. Gentleman's latter remarks—the amendments make the clause less intelligible. It would be undesirable, when enacting legislation on such an important issue, to create circumstances in which, when a case went to court, neither the employer, the trade union nor anyone else could be confident of the likely outcome. The Bill's provisions are convoluted and complicated, to put it mildly.

As the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged, the importance of Lords amendment No. 1 is that it extends the definition of industrial action. Every imaginable type of industrial action, no matter how minor, will now be covered by clause 1. Anyone who is in any doubt about the effect of the Government's approach to trade unions has only to look at some of the consequences that have already arisen in the courts.

For many Opposition Members it is a matter of shame that the National Union of Seamen, for example, in legitimately advancing the interests of its members, should find itself pilloried and its funds sequestered by the court. This would not happen to any other trade union in Europe taking similar action in defence of its members' interests. That is why all these changes, and the further change to extend the scope of the Bill and thus reduce the opportunity for legal trade unionism, are against the interests of not only working people but the democratic tradition of this country.

As the right hon. Gentleman has reminded us, the purpose of clause 1 is to give an individual trade union member the right to go to court and insist on a ballot in advance of any industrial action. That extends, in a sense, the provisions of the 1984 Act whereby an employer, a customer, a supplier or some other individual or company affected by the action could go to court. The importance of that is that in practice we have found under the 1984 Act that when employers have gone to court to enforce a ballot—or for any other purpose—it has invariably meant that the trade union official is on the spot. I am talking not about a highly publicised national dispute, but about the hundreds of disputes that take place all the time but are never reported in the newspapers.

The trade union official is on the scene as soon as the employer goes to court. In a high proportion of cases the matter then becomes the subject of negotiation. The dispute is often resolved. In some instances there may be a decision to hold a ballot. Consequently, the employer no longer has an interest in pursuing the court case and therefore it is withdrawn. We do not know how frequently the measure will be invoked and how many cases will arise, because a dissident trade unionist—to whom the measure is addressed—does not have the same interest in the company. If the action is withdrawn, he does not have the same vested interest as the employer in maintaining production, or a similar concern to that of the employer about the economic consequences of industrial action.

We could be opening a Pandora's box. A considerable number of employers may find that individual trade unionists take their trade unions to court on the basis of clause 1, thus causing considerable problems which both the trade union and the employer would prefer to do without.

5 pm

The Secretary of State acknowledged that Lords amendment No. 1 extends the definition of industrial action. I shall not repeat what was said in Committee, but we thought that the initial extension from the Green Paper was unfair. The Green Paper was quite clear. When they consulted trade unions, employers and others, the Government asked: Whether it is right in principle that trade unionists should invariably and automatically have a duty to their members not to authorise or endorse industrial action involving breaches of contracts of employment without first conducting a secret ballot of those due to take part in the action and obtaining a majority agreement to authorisation or endorsement. The important words are: industrial action involving breaches of contracts of employment. The Bill went beyond that and referred to interference with the implementation, the operation and the performance of a contract of employment. We were very critical of that in Committee. We now find that the Government have decided to go even further and include the slightest action—perhaps even a think strike. Some discussion was introduced in the other place by Lord Wedderburn on the so-called think strike, which years ago one would have described as a very moderate form of work to rule. I believe that confusion will arise in the minds of trade unionists and others over whether even the most trivial action could constitute industrial action and therefore could be the subject of litigation.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Short of actually banning strikes—which is what the Government have done at GCHQ—does my hon. Friend agree that the Government are now making it as difficult as possible in law for unions to take strike action and other forms of industrial action when they consider it legitimate? Is it not ironic that at the very time when perhaps there is a chance that trade unions will have legitimate rights in eastern Europe the Tory Government are doing their utmost to undermine and erode the rights that have been built up over centuries in this country?

Mr. Strang

I agree that the Government have gone too far. That is the view, not only of Opposition Members, but of many enlightened heads of industry and others in response to the new provisions encompassed in the Bill. I believe that the British tradition encompasses basic human rights and the rights for legitimate, legal trade unionism.

Not only have the Government extended the definition of industrial action, but Lords amendment No. 2 specifies that when an individual trade unionist takes the union to court because there has not been a ballot, perhaps because of some very minor form of industrial action for work to rule, the court will have no alternative but to instruct the trade union not only to withdraw the endorsement or the inducement to take such action, but to act as the policeman of the employer. That is a monstrous requirement.

The amendment uses the word "conduct". It requires the union to take steps … for ensuring that there is no, or no further, inducement of members of the union to take part or to continue to take part in that action and that no such member engages in any conduct after the making of the order by virtue of having been induced before the making of the order". That is an enormously draconian requirement.

It will not be sufficient for a shop steward or trade union official to say to union members, "We have been instructed by the court that we must have a ballot; therefore, we are instructing you to withdraw from any action until we have had that ballot." He will be required to ensure that conduct complies with that. That is asking the trade union shop steward to act as a police person on behalf of the employer. It is ironic that in a Bill that makes it illegal for trade unions, even in the most modest and moderate way, to discipline trade unionists who refuse to strike after a properly organised ballot and a democratic decision the Government are requiring trade unions to discipline their members for taking the most modest form of industrial action.

Nothing better illustrates the lack of even-handedness, to put it mildly, in the Government's approach to industrial relations than the fact that, having denied trade unions the right to discipline members who refuse to strike after a proper majority decision, they have the effrontery to require them to discipline members who may be taking some modest form of industrial action or working to rule.

It is not surprising that we are disturbed about the Government's approach in the Bill and, in particular, in the Lords amendments to it. Lords amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are enormously important, as I have already made clear. Lords amendment No. 3 is also important. We have tabled amendments which seek to reduce the onerous nature of the new requirements posed in the House of Lords and to modify Lords amendment No. 3.

The Employment Act 1982 provides five categories of authorisation of what constitutes endorsement of industrial action by trade unions. It lists: the principal executive committees, any person empowered under the rules to authorise or endorse acts of the kind in question, the president or general secretary, any employed official, or any committee of the union to which the employed official regularly reports. We seek to make clear what constitutes a proper authorisation or endorsement of industrial action in that context.

Lords amendment No. 5 applies when industrial action consists of a strike, lesser action or both. It lays down that a union must hold a ballot on strike action if there is an intention to have a strike or some lesser form of industrial action, such as a work to rule. The union must have a separate ballot for that action.

When it comes to seeking authority for either a strike or some lesser form of industrial action, the amendment requires the union to ballot on the basis of the action that it thinks is most likely. Clearly that is an attempt to make selective action more difficult Certainly that seems to be the Government's motive. Under our amendment, where both strike and lesser action are being considered, only one vote, on strike action, which would cover lesser action, would be necessary.

The Secretary of State referred to our amendment (b) to Lords amendment No. 8, and I am grateful for his remarks. The point to which he referred caused confusion outside the House and in the other place. Without taking up the time of the House, I simply point out that Lords amendment No. 8 seeks to extend the definition of industrial action, which definition we believe is wholly unreasonable. The Government have sought to justify that on the ground that an individual may be dismissed for action less than strike action—as evidenced in the Faust case, which was referred to repeatedly in the other place. That is not a justification for making this amendment so broad—far from it. To use the word loosely will introduce confusion into minor forms of work to rule or industrial action.

Having made this great case to show why it is unsatisfactory to define industrial action as action that constitutes a breach of an individual's contract of employment—indeed, that it goes beyond the intentions outlined in the Green Paper and in the initial Bill—and having said that we cannot rely on either definition of "industrial action"—either a breach of a contract of employment or interference with the performance of one's contract—it is ironic that Lords amendment No. 54 lays down a requirement that when a ballot is carried out preceding industrial action the ballot paper must state: If you take part in a strike or other industrial action, you may be in breach of your contract of employment. Having explained why a breach of contract of employment is an inadequate definition of "industrial action", and having gone on at great length, particularly in Committee, to justify this further extension of the meaning of "industrial action", it is ironic that the Government should nevertheless make it a statutory requirement that the ballot paper must state that one may be in breach of one's contract of employment.

There are other amendments relating to the new definition of "industrial action". A strike is now defined as a "concerted stoppage of work". I should be interested to know whether this is the first time that a strike has been defined in this way. It seems a bald definition of a strike. The phrase "industrial action" is used in the definition of "industrial action" as it is defined in Lords amendment No. 8. It means: any strike or other industrial action by persons employed under contracts of employment. The definition seems to be tautologous.

Not only do the clause and the amendments constitute a further unfair movement against trade unions, but, to some extent, they encourage anarchy by encouraging dissident trade unionists to take their trade union to court. That is the great theme of the Bill and we shall come to it repeatedly this evening. Through the commissioner for the rights of trade union members, and all the other inducements that the Government are providing, dissident trade unionists are being encouraged to take action against their union to disrupt trade unions' bona fide activities.

The idea that trade union members do not have a full opportunity within these democratic organisations to argue their case and, if necessary, to protect themselves by going to court has never been argued persuasively throughout our proceedings, yet we are following this road. It is one which not only the trade unions, but some employers, will come to regret and, indeed, some have already made it clear that they do.

The complexity of these provisions means that there will probably be a great deal more litigation. It will be costly, will waste time and will certainly do nothing to promote better industrial relations.

5.15 pm
Mr. David Evennett (Erith and Crayford)

As one who served on the Committee of this Bill and as a former trade union member, I should like to make a couple of comments.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) is wrong in his interpretation of the Lords amendments. He has forgotten the basic principle on which the Bill was presented, not only in the general election manifesto, on which we fought and won the election, but in our debates on the Floor and in Committee. The Bill seeks to extend democracy within trade unions and its aim is clear and simple. Nobody on the Government Benches is saying that there is no democracy within trade unions. Some are extremely democratic and we commend the principles and procedures that they use in their affairs. But in many areas democracy is lacking, or needs to be extended. The Bill was introduced to extend democracy so that trade union members have more say in the running of their union.

I welcome my right hon. Friend's comments. He accepted the Lords amendments because they improve clause 1 and clarify the intentions behind it. I am no lawyer and we have sat for many hours in Committee listening to legal interpretations, but when we are told that the original intention is not as clear-cut as it should be obviously we must go further and include amendments which will introduce clarity.

We want secret ballots, and we want members to have more opportunity to participate in their trade union. We want the legal side to be tight on union affairs. We do not want a legal nightmare, but we want ordinary trade union members to know what the union has to do, what their rights are and how they can exercise those rights. These amendments seek to tighten and clarify the original intention behind the clause. This is not a matter of principle, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East has sought to depict. We discussed the principles behind the Bill at great length in Committee. This afternoon the important and overriding consideration is to ensure that the original intention behind the clause is carried through. For that reason, the Lords amendments should be supported.

Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

When this Bill left the House of Commons all of us on the Opposition side of the House thought it one of the most wretched and squalid measures that had ever been passed through the House. It was a Bill actuated by malice which had failed to state in legal form even the purposes that the Government had in mind. There was everything to be said against it. For all those, and a variety of other reasons, which were stated during the passage of the Bill, none of us could have believed that it would come back from the other place even worse than when it was sent there. But that is the conclusion we must reach when examining the Bill now.

What is especially scandalous, or especially illustrative, to use the mildest possible word, is that a debate on this subject should be taking place today, following the antics of the House of Lords yesterday. The contrast is one that I feel sure people in this country will note. I certainly think that we should note that contrast when we are asked by the Government to support this measure.

The Bill has been in the House of Lords for weeks and months and noble Lords have had lengthy discussions about it. Right from the beginning, when the Bill was sent there, the Government introduced some of these new clauses, as they say, to clarify the situation. However, they are making it even more difficult for the unions to operate, as I shall illustrate.

The House of Lords has been working away over the past three or four months to make the Bill even more difficult for the unions, even more vicious than it was when it left the House of Commons. Yet yesterday in the other place there was a great demonstration. We were told that there would be no interference whatsoever with the poll tax measure that was sent up there in another Bill. Lord Hailsham, in one of those extraordinary exhibitions that we used to see in this House, told the other place yesterday that if a single finger was laid upon this precious poll tax Bill the very foundations of parliamentary democracy would be undermined. If anybody thinks that I am exaggerating, I advise him to read what Lord Hailsham had to say.

I have always looked upon the noble Lord as the most charming schizophrenic in British public life. At one moment he can be charm itself. The next moment he is using, as he was in the House of Lords yesterday, all the most contrived and labyrinthine legal arguments to sustain the most absurd and dangerous position of the Conservative party.

This same Lord Hailsham used to tell us that there was an elective dictatorship when a much more liberal regime was being operated than anything that he was prepared to stomach for many years on end when he was Lord Chancellor. Yesterday, the day before this Bill was due to come hack to the House of Commons for us to examine in detail, he was telling the House of Lords that it would be absolutely scandalous for a single alteration to be made in the poll tax arrangements. Of course, most other peers who applied their minds to the problem were easily able to refute his argument, but that was no good in the end. I dare say—this is a harsh thing to say about noble Lords, but we are entitled to say it none the less—there may even have been a few who were persuaded by the ex-Lord Chancellor's argument that they were not entitled to make a particle of a change in the poll tax measure.

Now look at this measure. It is such a contrast. The same House of Lords, which is not entitled to change the poll tax measure in any degree whatsoever, has looked at this measure in detail. It saw how it could tighten the screws to make it more difficult for trades unions to operate. In my opinion, the conjunction of these two events—the passage of a measure like this and the rejection of any attempt to alter the poll tax Bill, with all its unpopularity up and down the country, which is shown by every kind of evidence—will be very dangerous for the Government. Nobody will worry very much about that, but it will be dangerous for the kind of constitution that hon. Gentlemen seek to protect.

For the House of Lords to behave in this way—spending months grinding away to get through a measure that could inflict such damage on the trade union movement, yet in a single afternoon saying that it will not interfere with poll tax, mobilising the backwoodsmen who have not been near the place for months and will not be seen there for months until there is an equal crisis—is very damaging for its future. The House has shown by this combination of events that it is quite unfit to play any part in a democratic constitution. I hope that that combination of actions will reinforce our determination to remove the old contraption at the other end of the passage. We need the space. At any rate, we might even get some decent office buildings for my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone). I have always had my eye on that office building over there. I hope to live to see the day when we take it over and turn it to proper uses, to serve democracy in this country.

I am serious about my main proposition. The people of this country will not be able to understand how those who have not been elected democratically can be mobilised to say that the poll tax measure will go through unchanged, yet can send hack this series of vicious measures, which will be forced through if the Government use their majority here.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Has he not reduced what Lord Hailsham said? Were not Lord Hailsham and Lord Whitelaw both making the same point, that the House of Lords has built up its reputation in recent years by revising legislation? The amendment to the community charge measure yesterday went to the heart of the matter. With regard to this Bill, the House of Lords has simply revised it.

Mr. Foot

I shall come to the revisions in a moment. Of course these changes are revisions, but many members of the House of Lords were arguing yesterday that the proposal for the poll tax was a revision. So confident were the Government, which the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) occasionally supports, that their argument was overwhelming that they mobilised all these peers, who have not listened to an argument for 12 months or more. So confident were the Government that they would win that vote that I do not think we should take the hon. Gentleman's remarks too seriously.

I notice that the Secretary of State has left the Chamber. He should stay here to listen, but I dare say that is an example of the new manners in the Department of Employment. The right hon. Gentleman might have another appointment, but he is responsible for these Lords amendments. I am not holding that against the Minister who might reply to the debate.

The Secretary of State claimed, in his opening remarks, that the Bill has been made much clearer. However, he has not answered any of the questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang). Let him take note of what was said when the new clauses were produced in the House of Lords. There are peers who know the detail of the matter. Probably the two greatest experts on the subject in the country, as I am sure those in the House of Lords will testify, are Lord Wedderburn of Charlton and Lord McCarthy. They have subjected the Bill and these proposals to detailed examination. It is no good some "junior" Patronage Secretary on the other side of the House sniggering away as if it does not matter what is said by Lord Wedderburn and others on these matters. When I read out to the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-East (Mr. Lightbown) what the noble Lords have said, perhaps he will take the matter a little more seriously.

Mr. Winnick

My right hon. Friend has referred to the "junior" Patronage Secretary. That Whip has made it perfectly clear that he would rather close his factories than allow trades unions to operate there.

Mr. Foot

The hon. Gentleman is trying to see that the same sort of trade unionism that he operates in his factory also operates up and down the country.

5.30 pm

Let us see what was said about the clarity of the new proposals. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East has already explained the general context in which they were put, but let us look at what Lord Wedderburn said. I shall not read the whole speech, but he put a series of questions to the Minister about what other judges might say about the obscure clauses. Those clauses were already obscure but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said, they are more obscure now than they were in the first place. That is not only his opinion but the opinion of Lord Wedderburn and others. Lord Wedderburn said: There is a similar situation with other forms. As the noble Lord Lord Donaldson said in one of his judgments many years ago, the forms of industrial action, like real life, are infinite or are only bounded by human ingenuity, which is almost the same thing. Is the High Court to be asked to make orders to abstain from all the types and varieties of conduct which may have been likely to be ineffectively induced by the statements made? The answer we heard from the Secretary of State today at the beginning of his remarks is that it is.

Lord Wedderburn went on to say: That is a first shot at understanding what the clauses mean. However, we know they mean one thing. A court is to tell a union to do something to its members. That is another example of what Lord Devlin called, in his well-known inquiry into the port industry in 1965, asking trade union leaders to be policemen. He said then that trade union leaders cannot be asked to be policemen and they cannot be called in by employers to enforce the law. The mechanism which is now being set up makes that mistake all over again. Perhaps one might say that at the very best that will produce unofficial actions and a rash of actions for which one has no officials to bring in for negotiations and to conclude an agreement. That is how the proposals will work in practice.

Lord Wedderburn went on: The fragile Meccano set which was put together in the first Bill that we saw in the debate on Second Reading"—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he will know that it is contrary to our practice to quote directly from debates in the other place except when quoting a Minister. If the right hon. Gentleman is quoting indirectly and reflecting the views of a Member of the other place, that might be admissible.

Mr. Foot

I am grateful for your assistance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have quoted somewhat extensively and I apologise for that. However, I did not wish to miss anything and I am sure that the House would not wish me to do so. I shall paraphrase now because that is a good rule. We have that rule in order to protect the House from boring reiteration. I do not think that anybody would accuse me of boring reiteration in having brought to the attention of the House what was said by Lord Wedderburn. He was saying that the fragile Meccano set—the original Bill introduced in the House of Lords—had fallen apart and he said that the Government were attempting to stick on some Lego that makes no contact with the machinery or in many ways with real life. I know that we shall not agree on that conclusion but I ask the Minister to answer some of the specific questions that I have raised".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 7 March 1988; Vol. 494, c. 435–36.] Of course, none of those specific questions was answered.

The complications for trade union action were to be made even greater, and other provisions were to be piled on top of all the other iniquitous parts of the Bill. The Bill sets up a special commissioner to encourage people to take action against their trade unions. On top of the other provisions designed to make it more difficult for a trade union to take effective collective action is to be piled a special incitement for members to take legal action against their own unions if they think they have a chance of winning. Of course, they have the encouragement of the commissioner to enable them to go ahead with that process.

If the Bill is workable in that way, it will make collective legal action by trade unions much more difficult. It will mean that many more trade unions will not know whether they are acting within the law. I do not know whether the Government believe that it is sensible to pass legislation that has that effect. A number of trade unionists up and down the country—I understand their feelings—will say that the Government have acted in an outrageous, scandalous and prejudiced way when dealing with their affairs and they will be happy to take illegal action. There are large numbers of people in the trade union movement who might be persuaded to move in that direction. They can recall that under old and oppressive trade union legislation before Disraeli introduced his measures for trade unions or before the Trade Disputes Act 1906 trade unionists, including the Tolpuddle Martyrs, said, "We have to take action even though it is illegal."

The purpose of the trade union reforms that were carried through was to ensure that the trade union movement would be able to operate effectively and use its collective power within the law. Anyone who wants to see the law sustained and respected in this country should be careful not to introduce legislation that will make it infinitely more difficult for elected trade union leaders, elected under the complicated procedures that the Government are instituting, to act. We shall be dealing with that part of this prejudiced legislation in a moment.

A Government with any sense, remembering the history of the trade unions in Britain, should be seeking by their legislation to make absolutely clear what is legal and what is not. They should be seeking to make clear what a trade union can or cannot do and to make it clear that trade unions must have the right to take effective collective action sometimes. If that right is denied, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said, we shall soon reach the position where every trade union in the land is under some form of GCHQ ban. That is what some members of the Government would like.

The trade unions of Britain will not be prepared to take that. Before 1906, or the wisdom of Disraeli, people were forced to take illegal action. That is what will happen if the Government go ahead with this sort of measure. Even at this late date, I plead with them to take away this measure. Of course, they will not because they are determined to force through measures that will be deeply injurious to the trade union movement. They believe that the trade union movement is down and they intend to kick it. That is what happened after the general strike of 1926–27. The Government said, "We will use our present position to take away, by powers in the House of Commons, rights that trade unions have had for decades." That has been carried to an even greater extreme by the Government than anyone could have imagined. Of course, there will be a deep and bitter response throughout the country. The day will come when all these measures will be wiped away. I only hope that it happens without any of the stress and struggle that people have had to endure in the past.

If there is trouble, the responsibility will rest upon the Ministers who, not content with the wretched measures of the first two or three years of this Government, have said that they will twist the screw even tighter. Even at this last moment they have come back with a Bill that is worse than that introduced in the House of Commons two or three months ago. It is a shame to see the House demeaning itself in the same way as the House of Lords did yesterday. I hope that the entire country will notice the contrast to which I have drawn attention.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

When the Secretary of State introduced the amended clause he made it sound as if it were modest and innocuous. He is not here to listen to the debate, but he seemed to be saying that all it was doing was to give to individual trade union members what employers already have. If that were so, there would at least be some logic in it and perhaps there would not be a need for too much discussion.

That is not what we have before us. We have before us a major change in the clause. The clause has been completely redrawn in a most unreasonable way and we have had no explanation why that has been done. Presumably the clause was all right when the Bill was before this House and in all the hours in Committee. Something must have happened to change the Government's mind. I should like an explanation of what has changed and why the Government are looking at this matter differently.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said, this change was made in the Lords. But it was not made, as far as I know, by what might be called rank and file Lords—if there are such things. It was made by the Government in the Lords. They used the Lords as a convenience. So we cannot blame the change on the Lords. We must ask the Government to explain why they have redrawn the clause.

The original clause provided: A member of a trade union who claims that the union has, without the support of a ballot, authorised or endorsed … any … strike or other industrial action—

  1. (a) to break their contracts of employment; or
  2. (b) to interfere with the performance of their contracts of employment,
may apply to the court for an order under this section. That has been completely changed to any industrial action in which members of the union (including that member) are likely to be, or have been, induced by the union to take part". What does "likely" mean? This is a new word that the Government have introduced. It is not a word that adds clarity; it seems to add a lot of confusion. Presumably it will be for the courts and the lawyers to decide. I should like an explanation of what the word "likely" means.

The Government propose to insert that a trade union has, without the support of a ballot, authorised or endorsed any industrial action". I do not know what that means. There are all kinds of industrial action—for example, action declining to do voluntary overtime, working to rule, working without enthusiasm. [Interruption.] Somebody refers to a "think strike". When I first looked at this clause I thought that perhaps the officials in the Department had been on a think strike and had not advised the Ministers properly. There may be a withdrawal of good will. People can stop doing work over and above the normal work that they are paid to do.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

There may be a slight difference of interpretation now that the Government have made their decision even clearer, but even in Committee it was apparent that this was the Government's intention. Nobody should be under the misapprehension that the Government have slipped into this approach. I do not know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if it is in order to quote from the report of the Committee proceedings at this stage, but I asked the Minister—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It would be in order in a speech, but I hope the hon. Gentleman realises that he is making an intervention, which should, by its nature, be brief.

Mr. Allen

I shall be very brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I asked the Minister for Employment: Where overtime working is part of normal duties although not a contracted part, and it then ceases through industrial action, would that be caught by the Bill's extenion of the provisions over and above the 1984 Act? He replied: Yes, I believe that it is."—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 12 November 1987; c. 7.] That intervention occurred within three quarters of an hour of the Bill's going to Committee. The Government have intended this right from the word go.

Mr. Leighton

It is quite clear that there has been a major change in the clause; it has been completely redrawn. We had no explanation from the Secretary of State when he introduced it, because there is not a respectable or decent explanation why they have made this really major change. This is an entirely new Bill as a result of the changes in this clause.

5.45 pm

In amendment No. 8 there is a definition of a strike: 'strike' means any concerted stoppage of work. That is fairly clear. But when we try to find out what "any industrial action" means, it says: 'industrial action' means any strike or other industrial action by persons employed under contracts of employment". It does not mention breaching a contract of employment or interfering with the performance of a contract. So we do not know what is meant by "industrial action". The wording in this clause is a sort of catch-all that takes in everything. It seems to me that it would take in anything that an employer did not like.

I wonder whether that had anything to do with the experience of the teachers' strike. Collective bargaining has been taken away completely from the teaching profession. But let us consider a teacher who, after school hours, in his own time, organises sport. Let us suppose that that teacher is so upset by the Government that he decides that he has had enough and will not organise the cricket and football matches after hours. Is that the sort of action that the Government are trying to catch by referring to "any industrial action"?

If members of a union do what they are legally entitled to do—that is the point—why should this House impose certain procedures on them? Surely to attempt to do that is to go over the top, to go too far and act in a ridiculous way. If members of a union cannot join together to do things that are lawful, we are getting very close to being an authoritarian state where trade unionists will not have rights, will not be free and will certainly not know what their rights are, and we shall run into all sorts of uncertainties. This clause, as redrafted, introduces a very wide range of liability; indeed, unlimited liability. Its effect will be to harass ordinary trade unionists and frighten them away from meetings and from getting involved in trade union activity.

When strikes take place—they take place fairly infrequently; the idea that people spend most of their time on strike is nonsense—normally the situation will have deteriorated before hand. It could well be that members start to fret at what they see as oppressive management and their good will towards the management begins to diminish and they progressively withdraw good will. Are we to say that in all such cases there has to be a ballot? That is absurd. How do we get to the point at which we cross the line between an ordinary withdrawal of good will and a situation in which a ballot has to be called?

As I understand the clause, if individuals take industrial action, that is all right. Even if shop stewards induce the industrial action, they cannot be proceeded against. I should like an explanation of that. I also understand that it is lawful to do these things if the members do not seek the support of a union official. I should like an explanation of that. It is certainly an incitement to unofficial action; it is all right provided it is unofficial.

The Government might be under the illusion that the trade union officials are the militants who induce industrial action. That is completely untrue. When I was working in industry for my union, the only body that could authorise industrial action was the executive council. Quite often when members wanted to take industrial action they would ask for permission, but the executive would turn them down. The idea that union officials seek to stir up strife and industrial action is the opposite of the truth. Without realising it, the Government are inciting unofficial action. If a union official wanted to cause strife, instead of calling the action himself he would privately talk to the shop stewards and get them to do it.

What does "likely" to induce mean? Let us suppose that teachers at one school decided to ban taking part in football and that teachers at another decided that they did not want to take part in dinner duties and that the union journal reported those events so that all the other teachers could read what their colleagues were doing. Would that constitute an inducement? At the end of the day, I suppose that it would be left to the courts to decide. The courts are empowered to make an order, but what sort of order can they make? If in a workshop members have withdrawn good will, is it possible for a court to order them to reinstate the good will?

The Bill seeks to prevent unions from acting as unions. The ethos of the Bill is against any idea of collective action. The Government have gone over the top. There was a time when we said that Governments were not for the employer or employee but were neutral. Their purpose was to hold the ring. The Government have gone completely overboard on one side, in favour not only of the employer but particularly of the rogue employer. They are against not only so-called irresponsible trade unionists but all trade unionists.

There was a time when the Conservative party said that it was not opposed to trade unionism. There was an organisation called Conservative Trade Unionists, and the Minister of State, Home Office was a leading official of it. I do not know whether he still is, whether it exists or whether the Conservative party believes in the legitimacy of collective action and British workers combining to look after their interests, but if they do they are undermining that belief by the Bill, which goes too far and will not endure. Legislation will not endure on such a prejudicial basis as this.

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

It appears that our arguments are falling on not only deaf ears but absent ones. The Secretary of State has decided to leave the Chamber, which does not leave much room for optimism that our arguments will be listened to. I urge the Minister to listen carefully to the arguments and, even at this late stage, to reject the amendment.

If the amendment is passed it will cause serious problems not only for trade unions—which presumably is the intention—but for individuals, employers and the courts. The amendment is not a minor revision, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), but a fundamental alteration to the original clause that was agreed by the House.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) mentioned the inconsistencies of the House of Lords. It seems that legislation in this country depends to a significant extent on who turns up in the House of Lords on any given day. The casual passer-by yesterday could not help but notice the proliferation of Rolls-Royces and chauffeur-driven limousines outside the House of Lords as their Lordships voted themselves a reduction in their rates.

I notice that their Lordships have not chosen to make much comment about the proposal in the Bill that those utilising the facilities of clause 1 will be able to obtain legal aid by reference to the commissioner for the rights of trade union members. Hon. Members will recall that recently we considered the Legal Aid Bill, which originated in the other place. It proposes cuts of £10 million a year in legal aid so that the poorest fighting genuine cases will not be able to receive assistance, whereas people who wish to attack trade unionists will be able to rely on the support of the commissioner. Such is the nature of the attacks on free trade unionism in this country.

The amendments say that a member may apply to a court to have "any industrial action" stopped or prevented pending a ballot. If a union issues notice of a strike, an overtime ban or a work to rule, a member could exercise the clause as amended by their Lordships. A court of law, therefore, could tell members not to work to rules laid down by their employers. Yet the position in industry today—which seems to have escaped the notice of their Lordships—is that if an employee suffers an injury at work, all an employer has to do to avoid paying compensation is to show that the worker was not working to the rules. One court could say that working to rule is industrial action and should be discontinued, while another could say that a worker contributed to an accident by not working to the same rules. Are their Lordships and the Secretary of State suggesting that that should be possible under British law?

It is not only working to rule that might be caught by the amended clause. The amendment raises two fundamental questions. First, what is "any industrial action"? During the debate in the other place, Lord Trefgarne described any industrial action as that which is designed to cause damage to the employer."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 7 March 1988; Vol. 494, c. 465.] Lord Campbell of Alloway concluded that picketing was industrial action. That means, therefore, according to the noble Lord Campbell of Alloway, that if a trade union holds a legitimate ballot and has a strike, it must have a further ballot to picket the factory. How ridiculous can we get?

I hope that the Minister will comment on my second question. If a trade union, shop steward or a safety representative were to say to a worker, "Do not work under these conditions or use that machine or piece of equipment because it is unsafe", is that shop steward or safety representative the union in that instance, and is the refusal to work in unsafe circumstances industrial action? It would appear from what their Lordships have said that that could be so.

Often there are disagreements between workers and their supervisors about what is safe. Sometimes that leads to a decision being made by a worker or group of workers not to carry out certain tasks or to work in a particular way. Indeed, workers are encouraged by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 so to do. If they work in dangerous conditions, they are contributing to an accident if one happens.

Disputes on the shop floor often lead to discussion, negotiation and an eventual settlement, making for safer working conditions to the advantage of the employer and employee. There are people who will work in any conditions regardless of the risk—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sellafield."] Under the clause, if one of the group disagrees with the shop steward or safety representative a court could decide that the unsafe working practices should continue. The court would not be in a position to decide about the safety or otherwise of the working conditions. It could reach a decision only about the action being taken.

What happens if an accident occurs in those circumstances? What right will a victim have to compensation if the employer can argue that a court of law authorised the working conditions? That is surely a possibility if the amendment is passed. The court is given no discretion and must assume on every occasion that the action must be discontinued or prevented—that is, if it agrees with the complainant that the trade union has induced the action. That could lead to the court contributing to unsafe working practices and any subsequent accident. That is one good reason why the amendment should be rejected.

However, if the Minister tells us that a shop steward is not the union for the purposes of clause 1, the whole thing becomes nonsense. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) has pointed out, unofficial action will escalate and the unions and the courts will not be able to do anything about it. The Minister will have to tell the House how that can possibly improve industrial relations in Britain.

There is little difference between the British Government and the totalitarian Government in Poland in their attitudes to trade unions. Their methods may be different, but their objectives are the same—to screw down the trade unions to prevent them from properly representing their members, to prevent them from improving their members' conditions and wages, and, most important of all, to prevent them from criticising or frustrating the Government's actions. In that respect, the Polish Government and the British Government have a lot in common.

6 pm

Mr. Winnick

The Bill is motivated by the deepest malice and prejudice against the trade union movement. To some extent, the Government's attitude was illustrated in January 1984 when, for the first time, British citizens were denied the right to belong to a trade union, and that was at GCHQ. We believe, and shall continue to believe, that that is a denial of a basic freedom in a political democracy, and we have made it clear that under a Labour Government that right will be restored to the employees of GCHQ.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) is right. The Government cannot ban strikes in general, although undoubtedly some Conservative Members would like to take that step. The hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-East (Mr. Lightbown), to whom I have already referred, has not denied that he would rather see his factory close down than allow trade unions in, as has been published in our local press. It may be argued that that is a point of view of one Conservative Member for Parliament and does not reflect the Government's attitude, but I maintain that many Conservative Members have precisely the same attitude. Their hatred—the word "hatred" is not an exaggeration—is so deep, so bitter, so much are they against the trade union movement, that they are willing to pass any legislation, however disturbing or offensive to the spirit of a political democracy.

The irony, memberconstituency I pointed out when I intervened, is simply that at this moment, when there is hope that trade unions in Eastern Europe will be able to be independent, that what happened in Poland can be reversed and that in Hungary reforms will give working people the right to strike without being punished or penalised, the Government are undermining rights that have been built up over the years in Britain, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) pointed out.

I make no secret of the fact that I believe that the night to strike is fundamental to living in a free country. I do not believe for one moment—I speak as someone who has been an active member of a trade union for over 30 years—that people take strike action lightly. The amendment refers to "any industrial action". What is meant by that? Over 30 years ago, when I was a staff representative in my union, we decided to ban overtime. That action was not taken lightly. There was a dispute with the management over pay and we decided to take that action. It lasted less than a week and we got what we wanted. But under amendment No. 1, such action will not be allowed without a secret ballot.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

What is wrong with that?

Mr. Winnick

All the procedures will have to he gone through, whether on overtime or anything else, which is quite outside strike action.

The Government are trying to make it as difficult as possible for working people, not just trade unions. to protect and improve their standards, in many cases against hostile management. They are trying to take away their rights or restrict them as much as possible. That is why clause 1 is even more offensive than other parts of the Bill.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) said, trade unions are supposed to police their members when industrial action is taken. No doubt that will result in a number of court cases.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent. I never had the slightest illusion that the Lords would amend the poll tax. I am not one of those who think that there is some sort of inbuilt liberal majority in the other place. The opposite is the case. Therefore, it does not surprise me in the least that when the Government wanted to make the Bill even more hostile and offensive towards trade unions they had no difficulty in the other place. The majority of people who turn up in the other place would be willing to take any action against trade unions. They would be willing to ban them if the Government invited them to do so.

It is not much use today suggesting that Conservative Members should recognise the harm that will be done by amendment No. 1. I have no illusions that there will be any Conservative rebels. They will all be willing to troop into the Lobby in a few moments to vote for the amendment. In the main, we have a Tory intake in this Parliament, as in the previous one, which is completely hostile to trade unions.

It is interesting to note that on the poll tax and other measures there were at least one or two Conservative Members who expressed reservations on or opposition to what the Government were doing, but there has not been one voice of dissent from the Tory Benches on this matter. The explanation is that the House is dominated by a Tory majority which is malicious and hostile to the trade union movement. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent said, when there is a change of Government all this rubbish will go. There will be fresh legislation, much as the 1945 Parliament did away with the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1927.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

While my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) was speaking, a Tory Member asked what was wrong with a secret ballot. The truth is that in this place we do not have them. We have a system whereby we have a sort of field with a No Lobby at one side and an Aye Lobby at the other.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

A car park.

Mr. Skinner

Yes, it could be a car park. We have shop stewards on the entrance. Because many Members of Parliament are now taking industrial action and are not here, the shop stewards, otherwise called the Whips, stand on the gates outside and say, "Never mind whether this is a secret ballot. Get in here. This is our Lobby." Yet when it comes to trade unionists it is a different ball game altogether.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett


Mr. Skinner

Yes, it was the hon. Gentleman who made that comment. What does he want to say?

Mr. Bennett

The hon. Gentleman is mixing up his analogies. The majority of trade union members are like the electors. They are entitled to a secret ballot so that they are not intimidated in the way that they vote. We are elected Members, accountable to the electorate. We are like the shop stewards. How we vote should be clear to the public who elected us.

Mr. Skinner

Every day hon. Members get their names in Hansard if they turn up for work, just as those Members of the other place did yesterday. It is despicable to be talking about trade unions being hamstrung after yesterday's appalling spectacle when Members of the other place were driven here by chauffeurs, who waited in their cars outside. I stood watching them. Some of them did not stop the engine while their owners went in to vote. They nodded to the bobby, picked up their £100 a day tax-free, and voted in accordance with the shop stewards' instructions—not in a secret ballot—to carry the poll tax Bill which, I am informed, will result in one of the Lords gaining £1,400. That is not a bad round journey from Northumberland.

Today, it is a different ball game. We are talking not about Members of the House of Lords—the place that should be closed down—but about the real wealth-creators in Britain. It is another spectacle this time. Members of the House of Lords have instructed us to tighten up the laws against workers in trade unions. That is why we oppose the Bill.

I know one of the reasons why those laws are likely to be tightened up. The Government are now talking about overheating in the economy. They are talking about wage increases of 8.5 per cent.—never mind the fact that Cabinet Ministers get 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. The Government are concerned about wages having increased by about 8 to 9 per cent. in the last financial year. The Secretary of State was rabbiting on about it the other day, although he has not yet got the guts to say what he wants to say, which is that he wants to introduce a wages policy. Without any question whatever, the Government—[HON. MEMBERS:"The hon. Gentleman supports that."] Supports what? [HON. MEMBERS: "A wages policy."] You must be joking. You were not here, were you? You must be wet behind the ears if you do not know—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not mean to say such things about me.

Mr. Skinner

As a matter of fact, I do, because you were a Minister in that Government, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and you voted for 10 per cent. and I voted against it. That is the truth of the matter and it is as well that these whippersnappers should know it.

The union laws are being tightened up in readiness for the wages policy. The Government will shade it in a different manner but one thing is certain: the Government are worried about the consequences of increases in the wages of ordinary workers. It is no accident that the Bill was tightened up in the Lords. It is no accident that the Government have accepted that tightening up. They know what will happen during the next two years. They know that a balance of payments deficit is looming larger than at any time in Britain's history. North sea oil receipts are gradually reducing—not dramatically but reducing nevertheless. The Government need to tighten up on workers and the Bill is part and parcel of that process.

Today in the courts there has been another despicable incident arising out of the Government's employment legislation. The judge refused to lift the sequestration of the National Union of Seamen's assets on the ground that he wants the mass picket at Dover removed. We are talking not about secondary picketing but about primary picketing. The judge, supported by the establishment and the Secretary of State, says that the picket must be reduced to six even though, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) knows only too well, that is not the law of the land but only a code of practice. That shows how far we have travelled. The Government are hammering workers day in and day out. That is why it is important that all Opposition Members should remember when we march through the Lobby—not in a secret ballot—we are doing it not just for today but in the knowledge that when we get a Labour Government we shall repeal all these obnoxious Tory laws which have hammered trade unions for the past eight and a half years.

6.15 pm
Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)

I wish to put right one or two of the Opposition's misconceptions—[Interruption.] I have been in the Chamber for some time. Hon. Members have referred to the future of Conservative Trade Unionists, its reaction to the Bill and its role. As its vice-president, I should like to put it clearly on record that CTU welcomes the Bill very strongly as a package. It does so because of the interesting contrast patent in the debate. Labour Members argue for a return to the industrial relations climate of the 1970s. Labour Members' interpretation of trade unionism is that union bosses can impose their will on the membership whether the members want it or not. Conservative Members, on the other hand, look forward to a future of industrial relations and trade unionism in which trade unions respond to their members' wishes.

Every time we make a proposal that enhances the role and power of individual members of the unions we hear from the Opposition the same whingeing appeals on behalf of trade union leaders that that proposal runs against trade unionism. It does not. If trade unionism is to have a place in a successful industrial economy, as Conservative Members believe it must, it must adapt itself to the changing economic circumstances of the world and the fact that most ordinary members do not want to go on strike and disrupt their earning prospects but want to contribute to generating wealth in their companies in which they can share. That is why so many millions of trade unionists vote Conservative.

Mr. Leighton

It is pleasant to know that we have a stalwart trade unionist from the CTU gracing our proceedings. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain whether the CTU wholeheartedly supports clause 3.

Mr. Batiste

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Second Reading debate, in which I was asked precisely that question. I answered it then, as the hon. Gentleman would discover if he studied Hansard. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer".] I have given the hon. Gentleman—

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are not on clause 3; we are on Lords amendment No. 1.

Mr. Leighton

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I fear that the hon. Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) may be misleading the House. He has told us that an organisation, the Conservative Trade Unionists, fully supports the Bill—not the clause, the Bill. As I understand it from my diligent readings of Hansard, he explained that, like virtually everybody else in the country, the CTU opposes clause 3.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I knew that I would get into trouble for letting the debate run wider than I ought to have done.

Mr. Batiste

I shall not get drawn into discussing another clause, Mr. Deputy Speaker, except to say that CTU made its views perfectly clear and I dealt with them on Second Reading. If the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) is genuinely interested, he can read Hansard and see the answer.

Whenever Conservative Members make a legitimate point about the rights of union members we get attacked with irrelevancies and noise from the Opposition, just as trade union members get attacked by Left-wing militants who want to silence the voice of the individual. The Bill supports the voice of the individual. It gives teeth to powers that will enable the individual to have his voice heard and that is why we support it.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

The comments of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) were a foretaste of the rightful indignation that will be felt by trade union members the length and breadth of the country when they find out exactly what the Bill is doing to the trade union movement.

The Government have moved a long way from the more sound principles that they originally appeared to be advancing in the Bill the idea of accepting industrial ballots as the correct and proper way to conduct industrial affairs and the idea of a union clearly seen to have its members' support before it acts on the basis of that support. We have come a long way from that in every one of the Lords amendments. The Government have simply stifled trade union rights until one wonders how many of them still exist. They have given the courts a stranglehold on the trade unions. The original ideas centred around the concept of contracts of employment.

The Bill as drafted referred to an act to break a contract of employment or to interfere with the operation of a contract of employment. In the amendment the form of words is more vague, referring to "any industrial action". The amendment represents a clear shift from the focus on contracts of employment and mutually agreed obligations between employee and employer to the more open-ended concept of "any industrial action". Surely we can expect the Minister to define exactly what he means by "any industrial action". Is there a Civil Service list which specifies such actions? If so, we should be allowed to see it and know what the Minister has in mind.

The concept of an action, such as the breach of an agreed contract, has moved towards an assumption about possible future actions brought by trade unions. It all revolves around the word "likely". We have reached the stage where trade unions are judged, not by what they do, but by what they are likely to do. In other words, it is guilt by assumption before any action takes place. Surely that cannot be just.

The more I hear of the Bill, the more I am left with the simple conclusion that it is designed purely and simply to destroy the ability of the trade unions to operate. It is a deliberate hobbling of the trade union movement and a deliberate destruction of the trade unions' ability to act. It is definitely a Bill too far. What was said by the hon. Member for Bolsover will be repeated by trade unions throughout the country, as they are rightly indignant about what the Government are doing to the important trade union movement.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. John Cope)

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and other hon. Members have emphasised the need, which we agree with, for clarity about this legislation and, for that matter, other legislation, as far as we can manage it. Further, the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) seemed to think that something sinister had happened between Committee stage and now to cause us to change the drafting of the Bill. However, it was the Committee stage which started us on the course of action which has led to these several amendments being before us.

In Committee we had long discussions about the rather complex original drafting of the Bill, especially because of the necessity, as there was then in the Bill, for a union member to establish whether a breach of contract, or interference with a contract, was likely to be involved when deciding whether he could use the power which clause I gives him to insist on a ballot. As a result of the discussions in Committee about the definitions of interfering with the breach of contract, which all those hon. Members on the Committee will recall, we went back to the lawyers. I am glad to say that we induced them—if that is the word—to come up with simpler drafting to achieve what is required.

As the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) pointed out, I made it clear in Committee that we think that there should be ballots before all industrial action. If that is included in the Bill, as we think it should be, trade unions and their members can be sure that a member can insist on such a ballot where the union is inducing or seeking to induce industrial action.

Mr. Allen

Is the extension, not the one that the Minister referred to earlier, but the interference with the performance of contract, which was the criterion established in Committee? It is surely that that has now been extended by the Lords amendment, although, as I said, the intention behind the clause was always present.

Mr. Cope

It was interference with the performance of the contract of employment by the individual member that caused a lot of discussion at Committee. The hon. Member for Nottingham, North was part of this discussion, as were other hon. Members. We understood—and those who have read Hansard will understand—the complications involved in that clause. That is the underlying reason for this amendment before us.

We discovered in Committee that in certain cases of industrial action the Bill, as originally drafted, did not require a ballot. I make it clear that we think that there should be a ballot before there is official industrial action by the union. The Bill now provides for that. We think—and Opposition Members argued this at the time—that union members and officials, and others who have to work the legislation, should be able to understand what is going on. The concept of industrial action is well understood. The concept of interference with the performance of a contract of employment is much more difficult for a layman like me to understand, let alone other people who have to work it day by day.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) seemed to think that it had something to do with whether the industrial action was minor or major. That, of course, is not the definition. There were many minor items of industrial action which could easily be covered—indeed were covered—by the Bill as originally drafted. It is not a question of extending the Bill to cover minor ones. It is a minor extension. Many cases of industrial action that are covered by the Lords amendment, but were not covered by the Bill as drafted, are likely to he minor. However, many other minor cases of industrial action were covered before.

Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

I have listened with great care to the Minister, as I have to the debate, but I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what he is now talking about. Will he clarify the position about the phrase "any industrial action"? How wide does it go? Further, to what extent does he concede that at the end of the day the definition will probably have to be decided in the courts?

Mr. Cope

Anything we write into legislation in the House is likely to end up in the courts. They are the ultimate arbiters of legislation, and that is how it should be. We try our best to legislate as clearly as we can and nothing goes more to the heart of doing so than these amendments, and that is why we want to introduce them.

"Industrial action" is an extremely well understood term. I do not see that there is any difficulty in understanding what industrial action is. It is defined in the Bill and in the amendments as concerted action induced by unions. After all, it is the union which has to be involved for this clause to bite against an employer and to interrupt his business.

Mr. Leighton

The Minister will correct me, but I think the word "concerted" is used to define a strike, not "any industrial action". We are asking about "any industrial action"; the word "concerted" does not come into it.

Mr. Cope

Industrial action, to be covered by this clause, must be industrial action involving the union. I agree that unions are not always concerted, but a certain amount of co-operation is involved.

I was also asked whether the courts would order that unions should police the conduct of members generally. That is not so. The court can require a union to ensure that earlier, unlawful inducement which the union may have undertaken ceases to have any influence on members' conduct. For example, it may not be enough formally to withdraw a call for industrial action or a strike which the union had previously put out. It has to go to some trouble to ensure that its inducement ceases. That is what the court may order it to do.

Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central)

I think we are being told that this is just a tidying up of clause 1 of the Bill that we discussed in Committee. Will the Minister comment on the fact that this is a massive extension of the powers in clause 1 relating to ballots for industrial action, because previously we were talking about breaking contracts of employment or interfering in performance? In this context, would a work to rule lead the trade union into the courts?

Mr. Cope

Yes, it could do so. By the way, it could do so under the Bill as drafted, let alone with the addition of the Lords amendments. The Lords amendments make it clearer that it could do so.

Mr. Clelland


Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)


Mr. Cope

Although I must make some progress, I give way to the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland).

6.30 pm
Mr. Clelland

I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying my point about work to rule. He has confirmed that a work to rule would be industrial action. Is he therefore saying that in British law a court will now be able to order workers not to work to the rules which the employer has laid down?

Mr. Cope

It is not about ordering people to work. It is about whether there is a ballot or not. No union will have any problem with the legislation or this clause if it is prepared to organise a ballot of the workers it wants to take industrial action. We all know what we mean by industrial action and what it includes. Any union can hold a ballot if it wants to take industrial action. That is all that it has to do to avoid going to court under the clause.

Mr. Cryer


Mr. Cope

I give way for the last time.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Minister explain how it is possible for a union to be taken to court for a work to rule if the rules are those incorporated in the contract of employment between the employer and employee? Surely a work to rule cannot result in that because the action would be carrying out the terms of the contract of employment.

Mr. Cope

In the first place, it depends on what the union has said and on what the union has done, as I made clear earlier. However, I should also make it clear that the Bill requires a ballot in all cases of industrial action or, at least, it permits a member of a union to require a ballot in all cases of industrial action. An employer or, for that matter, anyone else can claim damages only if the contract is broken or interfered with. That is a provision of the Bill.

In response to the point raised by the hon. Member for Newham, North-East, I am aware that many trade union officials do not go around inducing strikes all the time. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they are a calming influence. I fully recognise that. However, I reassure the hon. Gentleman, as my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) has already done, that the Conservative trade union movement not only still exists, but flourishes.

The debate was marked, to our pleasure, by an entertaining speech by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). He was as entertaining as usual, and, for that matter, as irrelevant as usual. He said—

Mr. Skinner

What is "work to rule"?

Mr. Cope

Well, what he said was irrelevant to the discussion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] The hon. Gentleman said that he thought that the Lords were giving instructions to us in some form. He need not worry about that. This House makes its own decisions and I believe that it should now make its decision on these Lords amendments.

Mr. Strang

The Minister has brought to mind some of his performances in Committee, when it was clear that he was embarrassed by the provisions of the Bill that he was being asked to defend. We have had a demonstration of a withdrawal of good will in the Minister's performance on these amendments. It is hard to believe that he is making the Government's case. I do not want to be offensive, but it is hard to believe that he ever sat through the Committee proceedings, never mind read the Hansard report of the Lords proceedings.

The new definition seeks to extend the provisions to cover forms of industrial action which might not have been covered as the Bill was previously drafted. It is not good enough for the Minister to say, as he did earlier: It is not a question of extending the Bill to cover minor ones. —that is, minor types of action. It is a minor extension". We argued at length in Committee that the phrase interfere with the performance of their contracts of employment encompassed almost any form of industrial action, whether a withdrawal of voluntary overtime, a work to rule or a withdrawal of goodwill. The proceedings in the House of Lords make it clear that the Government's motive for introducing the new definition is to go even further and make certain, beyond all doubt, that the most modest action, or the most modest withdrawal of goodwill in the performance of a worker's job, would be covered by the legislation. Therefore, the amendment represents a major extension and is, for the reasons that I argued earlier, wholly unjustified.

I do not wish to take up the time of the House for much longer, because we have had a good debate, but the second point to which I must refer is that of policing. I did not use the word "policing" in a general sense, but in relation to Lords amendment No. 2, which is utterly draconian. If a dissident trade unionist has successfully taken the union to court because the shop steward and a few others have decided that they will no longer carry out some voluntary overtime, Lords amendment No. 2 states: the court shall make such order"— shall not may— as it considers appropriate for requiring the union to take step … for ensuring … that there is no … further … inducement of members of the union". That was the original intention of the Bill, but the amendment states: the court shall make such order as it considers appropriate for requiring the union to take steps … for ensuring … that no such member engages in any conduct after the making of the order by virtue of having been induced before the making of the order". That is a reference to a member's conduct and, as I sought to argue earlier, it is an outrageous imposition. It is preposterous that clause 3 states that a trade union will be debarred from undertaking the most elementary and minor disciplining of its members who fail to comply with a strike called after a proper ballot under the terms of the Government's legislation. The shop steward or official will not just say, "We have withdrawn the instruction that there will be an overtime ban, a work to rule, a withdrawal of good will or, in extreme cases, a strike." That official will be required by the court to grab hold of the member, or interfere with his conduct, and say to him, "It is time that you started to work harder for the employer." That is what it means. Presumably the official will also be required to discipline the member if he does not comply with that. That is why it is such an outrageous imposition—

Mr. Allen

My hon. Friend may also wish to point out that this is further compounded by the fact that an employer may take action to ensure that the order is fulfilled, as may an individual member who can be supported by the new commissar for trade union rights. That is in addition to the new clause from the Lords.

Mr. Strang

As my hon. Friend knows, we must recognise the earlier legislation which enables the employer to require a ballot. In that situation, the definition of industrial action is different from the definition here, which goes wider than the trade union dissident and industrial action.

It is for those reasons, and for the other reasons that have been advanced by my hon. Friends, that we shall vote against Lords amendment No. 1, and for our amendment to Lords amendment No. 2, which would have the effect of removing the draconian form of words to which I have referred.

Question put, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 253, Noes 193.

Division No. 323] [6.38 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Alexander, Richard Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Colvin, Michael
Allason, Rupert Conway, Derek
Amess, David Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Amos, Alan Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Arbuthnot, James Cope, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Couchman, James
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Cran, James
Ashby, David Currie, Mrs Edwina
Aspinwall, Jack Curry, David
Atkins, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Atkinson, David Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Day, Stephen
Baldry, Tony Dicks, Terry
Batiste, Spencer Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bellingham, Henry Dover, Den
Bendall, Vivian Durant, Tony
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Dykes, Hugh
Benyon, W. Emery, Sir Peter
Bevan, David Gilroy Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Evennett, David
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fallon, Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G. Farr, Sir John
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Favell, Tony
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fenner, Dame Peggy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Boswell, Tim Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bottomley, Peter Fookes, Miss Janet
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Forman, Nigel
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Forth, Eric
Bowis, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Fox, Sir Marcus
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Franks, Cecil
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Freeman, Roger
Brazier, Julian French, Douglas
Bright, Graham Fry, Peter
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gale, Roger
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gardiner, George
Browne, John (Winchester) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Goodhart, Sir Philip
Budgen, Nicholas Goodlad, Alastair
Burns, Simon Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Butcher, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butler, Chris Gow, Ian
Butterfill, John Gower, Sir Raymond
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carrington, Matthew Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carttiss, Michael Gregory, Conal
Cash, William Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Grist, Ian
Chapman, Sydney Ground, Patrick
Chope, Christopher Grylls, Michael
Churchill, Mr Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Portillo, Michael
Hanley, Jeremy Powell, William (Corby)
Hannam, John Price, Sir David
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Rathbone, Tim
Harris, David Redwood, John
Hawkins, Christopher Ronton, Tim
Hayes, Jerry Rhodes James, Robert
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Riddick, Graham
Hayward, Robert Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Heathcoat-Amory, David Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Roe, Mrs Marion
Hill, James Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hind, Kenneth Rost, Peter
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Sackville, Hon Tom
Holt, Richard Sayeed, Jonathan
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Shaw, David (Dover)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Sims, Roger
Irvine, Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
Jack, Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Jackson, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Janman, Tim Soames, Hon Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Speed, Keith
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Speller, Tony
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Squire, Robin
Key, Robert Steen, Anthony
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Stern, Michael
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lawrence, Ivan Summerson, Hugo
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lightbown, David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Lilley, Peter Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
McCrindle, Robert Temple-Morris, Peter
Maclean, David Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
McLoughlin, Patrick Thorne, Neil
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Thurnham, Peter
Major, Rt Hon John Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mans, Keith Tracey, Richard
Maples, John Twinn, Dr Ian
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Maude, Hon Francis Walden, George
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Mills, Iain Ward, John
Miscampbell, Norman Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Watts, John
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Wheeler, John
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Whitney, Ray
Moss, Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Neale, Gerrard Wiggin, Jerry
Nelson, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Neubert, Michael Wilshire, David
Nicholls, Patrick Winterton, Mrs Ann
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Winterton, Nicholas
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Wolfson, Mark
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Wood, Timothy
Oppenheim, Phillip Woodcock, Mike
Page, Richard Yeo, Tim
Paice, James
Patten, Chris (Bath) Tellers for the Ayes:
Pawsey, James Mr. Richard Ryder and
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Mr. Stephen Dorrell.
Porter, David (Waveney)
Abbott, Ms Diane Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Allen, Graham Barron, Kevin
Anderson, Donald Battle, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Beckett, Margaret
Armstrong, Hilary Beith, A. J.
Ashton, Joe Bell, Stuart
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bermingham, Gerald Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Bidwell, Sydney Illsley, Eric
Blair, Tony Ingram, Adam
Blunkett, David Janner, Greville
Boateng, Paul John, Brynmor
Bradley, Keith Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Kennedy, Charles
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Kirkwood, Archy
Buchan, Norman Lambie, David
Buckley, George J. Leighton, Ron
Caborn, Richard Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Callaghan, Jim Lewis, Terry
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Litherland, Robert
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Canavan, Dennis Loyden, Eddie
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McAllion, John
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McAvoy, Thomas
Clay, Bob McCartney, Ian
Clelland, David Macdonald, Calum A.
Coleman, Donald McFall, John
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McLeish, Henry
Corbett, Robin McNamara, Kevin
Corbyn, Jeremy McTaggart, Bob
Cousins, Jim McWilliam, John
Cox, Tom Madden, Max
Cryer, Bob Marek, Dr John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dalyell, Tarn Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Darling, Alistair Martlew, Eric
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Maxton, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Meale, Alan
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Michael, Alun
Dewar, Donald Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dixon, Don Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dobson, Frank Moonie, Dr Lewis
Doran, Frank Morgan, Rhodri
Duffy, A. E. P. Morley, Elliott
Dunnachie, Jimmy Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Mowlam, Marjorie
Eadie, Alexander Mullin, Chris
Eastham, Ken Murphy, Paul
Evans, John (St Helens N) Nellist, Dave
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) O'Brien, William
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Fisher, Mark Patchett, Terry
Flannery, Martin Pike, Peter L.
Flynn, Paul Prescott, John
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Quin, Ms Joyce
Foster, Derek Radice, Giles
Foulkes, George Redmond, Martin
Fraser, John Reid, Dr John
Galbraith, Sam Richardson, Jo
Galloway, George Robertson, George
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Robinson, Geoffrey
George, Bruce Rogers, Allan
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Rooker, Jeff
Godman, Dr Norman A. Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Gordon, Mildred Rowlands, Ted
Gould, Bryan Ruddock, Joan
Graham, Thomas Salmond, Alex
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Sedgemore, Brian
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Short, Clare
Grocott, Bruce Skinner, Dennis
Haynes, Frank Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Henderson, Doug Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Snape, Peter
Home Robertson, John Soley, Clive
Hood, Jimmy Spearing, Nigel
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Steel, Rt Hon David
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Steinberg, Gerry
Howells, Geraint Stott, Roger
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wigley, Dafydd
Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Turner, Dennis Wilson, Brian
Wall, Pat Winnick, David
Wallace, James Worthington, Tony
Walley, Joan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N. Tellers for the Noes:
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E) Mr. Allen Adams and
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Mr. Ray Powell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 2, line 1, leave out from "satisfied" to end of line 13 and insert—

  1. "(a) that a trade union has, without the support of a ballot, authorised or endorsed any industrial action;
  2. (b) that (whether or not the action has already commenced) members of the union are likely to be, or have been, induced by the union to take part or to continue to take part in that action; and
  3. (c) that the members of the union who arc likely to be, or have been, so induced include the applicant, the court shall make such order as it considers appropriate for requiring the union to take steps (including the withdrawal of any relevant authorisation or endorsement) for ensuring that there is no, or no further, inducement of members of the union to take part or to continue to take part in that action and that no such member engages in any conduct after the making of the order by virtue of having been induced before the making of the order or to take part or to continue to take part in the action."

Read a Second time.

Amendment (a) proposed to the Lords amendment, in line 9, leave out from 'order' to end of amendment and insert 'as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances for requiring the Union to ensure that no member engages in any conduct which constitutes a breach of their contract of employment by virtue of having been induced before the making of the order to take part or continue to take part in the action'.—[Mr. Strung.]

Question put, That the amendment he made to the Lords amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 184, Noes 262.

Division No. 324] [6.52 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Allen, Graham Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Anderson, Donald Clay, Bob
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Clelland, David
Armstrong, Hilary Coleman, Donald
Ashton, Joe Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Corbett, Robin
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Corbyn, Jeremy
Barron, Kevin Cousins, Jim
Battle, John Cox, Tom
Beckett, Margaret Cryer, Bob
Bell, Stuart Cunliffe, Lawrence
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dalyell, Tarn
Bermingham, Gerald Darling, Alistair
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Blair, Tony Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Blunkett, David Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Boateng, Paul Dewar, Donald
Bradley, Keith Dixon, Don
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dobson, Frank
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Doran, Frank
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Duffy, A. E. P.
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Buchan, Norman Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Buckley, George J. Eadie, Alexander
Caborn, Richard Eastham, Ken
Callaghan, Jim Evans, John (St Helens N)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, Dennis Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Fisher, Mark Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flannery, Martin Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Flynn, Paul Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morgan, Rhodri
Foster, Derek Morley, Elliott
Foulkes, George Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fraser, John Mowlam, Marjorie
Galbraith, Sam Mullin, Chris
Galloway, George Murphy, Paul
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Nellist, Dave
George, Bruce Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John O'Brien, William
Godman, Dr Norman A. O'Neill, Martin
Gordon, Mildred Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gould, Bryan Patchett, Terry
Graham, Thomas Pike, Peter L.
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Prescott, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Quin, Ms Joyce
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Radice, Giles
Grocott, Bruce Redmond, Martin
Hardy, Peter Reid, Dr John
Haynes, Frank Richardson, Jo
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Robertson, George
Henderson, Doug Robinson, Geoffrey
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rogers, Allan
Home Robertson, John Rooker, Jeff
Hood, Jimmy Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rowlands, Ted
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Salmond, Alex
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Illsley, Eric Short, Clare
Ingram, Adam Skinner, Dennis
Janner, Greville Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
John, Brynmor Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Snape, Peter
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Soley, Clive
Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Leighton, Ron Steinberg, Gerry
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Stott, Roger
Lewis, Terry Strang, Gavin
Litherland, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Loyden, Eddie Turner, Dennis
McAllion, John Wall, Pat
McAvoy, Thomas Walley, Joan
McCartney, Ian Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Macdonald, Calum A. Wareing, Robert N.
McFall, John Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
McLeish, Henry Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
McNamara, Kevin Wigley, Dafydd
McTaggart, Bob Williams, Rt Hon Alan
McWilliam, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Madden, Max Wilson, Brian
Marek, Dr John Winnick, David
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Worthington, Tony
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Meale, Alan Mr. Allen Adams and
Michael, Alun Mr. Ray Powell.
Aitken, Jonathan Baldry, Tony
Alexander, Richard Batiste, Spencer
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Beith, A. J.
Allason, Rupert Bellingham, Henry
Amess, David Bendall, Vivian
Amos, Alan Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arbuthnot, James Bevan, David Gilroy
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Ashby, David Blackburn, Dr John G.
Aspinwall, Jack Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Atkins, Robert Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gregory, Conal
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Grist, Ian
Bowis, John Ground, Patrick
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Grylls, Michael
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Brazier, Julian Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bright, Graham Hanley, Jeremy
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hannam, John
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Browne, John (Winchester) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Harris, David
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hawkins, Christopher
Buck, Sir Antony Hayes, Jerry
Budgen, Nicholas Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Burns, Simon Hayward, Robert
Butcher, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Butler, Chris Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Butterfill, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hill, James
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hind, Kenneth
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carrington, Matthew Holt, Richard
Carttiss, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cash, William Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chope, Christopher Howells, Geraint
Churchill, Mr Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Irvine, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jack, Michael
Colvin, Michael Jackson, Robert
Conway, Derek Janman, Tim
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Cope, John Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Couchman, James Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cran, James Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Currie, Mrs Edwina Kennedy, Charles
Curry, David Key, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Kirkwood, Archy
Davis, David (Boothferry) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Day, Stephen Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dicks, Terry Latham, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Lawrence, Ivan
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dover, Den Lilley, Peter
Durant, Tony Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Emery, Sir Peter McCrindle, Robert
Evennett, David Maclean, David
Fallon, Michael McLoughlin, Patrick
Farr, Sir John Major, Rt Hon John
Favell, Tony Mans, Keith
Fenner, Dame Peggy Maples, John
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Maude, Hon Francis
Fookes, Miss Janet Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Forman, Nigel Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Miller, Hal
Forth, Eric Mills, Iain
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Miscampbell, Norman
Fox, Sir Marcus Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Franks, Cecil Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Freeman, Roger Morris, M (N'hampton S)
French, Douglas Moss, Malcolm
Fry, Peter Neale, Gerrard
Gale, Roger Nelson, Anthony
Gardiner, George Neubert, Michael
Garel-Jones, Tristan Nicholls, Patrick
Goodhart, Sir Philip Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Goodlad, Alastair Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Oppenheim, Phillip
Gow, Ian Page, Richard
Gower, Sir Raymond Paice, James
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Pawsey, James
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Porter, David (Waveney) Summerson, Hugo
Portillo, Michael Tapsell, Sir Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Price, Sir David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Rathbone, Tim Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Redwood, John Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Renton, Tim Temple-Morris, Peter
Rhodes James, Robert Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Riddick, Graham Thorne, Neil
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Thurnham, Peter
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Townend, John (Bridlington)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Tracey, Richard
Roe, Mrs Marion Twinn, Dr Ian
Rossi, Sir Hugh Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rost, Peter Waddington, Rt Hon David
Sackville, Hon Tom Walden, George
Sayeed, Jonathan Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shaw, David (Dover) Wallace, James
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Ward, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Watts, John
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wheeler, John
Sims, Roger Whitney, Ray
Skeet, Sir Trevor Widdecombe, Ann
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wiggin, Jerry
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wilkinson, John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wilshire, David
Speed, Keith Winterton, Mrs Ann
Speller, Tony Winterton, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Wolfson, Mark
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wood, Timothy
Squire, Robin Woodcock, Mike
Steel, Rt Hon David Yeo, Tim
Steen, Anthony
Stern, Michael Tellers for the Noes:
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Mr. David Lightbown and
Stokes, John Mr. Richard Ryder.

Question accordingly negatived.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment Nos. 3 to 8 agreed to.

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