HL Deb 05 July 1954 vol 188 cc418-21

2.40 p.m.

LORD MANCROFT rose to move, That the Wool Textile Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment No. 2) Draft Order, 1954, reported from the Special Orders Committee on the 23rd June, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Order and the second one standing in my name on the Order Paper hang together, and with your Lordships' permission I will discuss them both together, as briefly as I can.

The purpose of the Orders is to amend those which are at present in force under Section 9 of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947. Your Lordships may remember that levies under those two Orders were asked for voluntarily by both sides of the wool industry. The purpose of one levy is export promotion and of the other scientific research. The money under these levies is raised in part from the processors and in part from suppliers. In each case the levy is based on the wool supplied or consumed or on the number of persons employed during a defined six months period. So far as I can understand, both levies have worked tolerably well and have produced good results. Experience has shown, however, that there is some need now to vary the proportions in which the levies are calculated and raised and to see that the burden of the levy now falls more equitably. The second purpose of these two Orders is to alter the accounting period to fit in more with the general accounting practices in the industry.

I need only add that, in accordance with the terms of the Act, all the necessary bodies have been consulted, on both sides of the industry. I should like to be able to tell your Lordships that there was unanimous approval of these two schemes, but that would not be strictly the truth. One or two employers' organisations have expressed disapproval and have suggested that they are not getting full value for the money that they contribute. One objection, in particular, is a matter of grief to me—namely, that of the Federation of British Carpet Manufacturers. For four years I was Chairman of the Joint Advisory Council of the Carpet Industry and it may be suggested that in sponsoring these two Orders I am biting the hand, which, if it did not feed me, at any rate contributed generously to my diet. However, there it is. These two or three manufacturers have expressed disapproval, and I thought it only fair that I should acquaint the House of that fact. But the vast majority of the employers, and all the trade unions, have approved of the Orders which we lay before the House to-day, and in those circumstances I hope your Lordships will see fit to approve them. I beg to move the first Order standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Wool Textile Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment No. 2) Draft Order, 1954, reported from the Special Orders Committee on the 23rd June, be approved.—(Lord Mancroft.)

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I suspect that it is unlikely that there will be any opposition to this Order, but, with your Lordships' indulgence. I should like to say a few words on it, because it is an illustration of no mean achievement by this particular industry. My noble friend Lord Mancroft, in moving the Order, has explained quite clearly the reasons which led up to the application by the industry for the Order, the drafting of it, and the final Draft Order which is now before your Lordships, and there is no need to repeat them. I should like to say, however, that this is the result of much hard work on the part of all in the industry, and the ultimate effect is to produce a method of levy which reflects a degree of balance between the different sections of a vertical industry, which is something that has not been easy to obtain.

Perhaps I may add just a word in illustration of that. Of course, the sums had to be raised partly from the raw material side of the industry and partly from the industrial side, and in spite of the ingenuity, skill and foresight of those who originally drew up the Order, it proved that the balance between the different sections went so far wrong as to vary from the contemplated 20 per cent. to 33⅓ per cent. At any rate, the industry now possesses a very fine research station at Torridon, as my noble friend Lord Swinton, who recently opened an extension to it and who knows of matters of this character in Yorkshire, will endorse, as the D.S.I.R. have endorsed it by their generous and consistent grants.

For long years I can remember that, when I acted as Chairman of the Central Employers' Organisation of the industry, we had to work on a voluntary basis, through a levy based on a voluntary basis, which must inescapably be unsatisfactory. But, while we worked hard to get a statutory basis, agreement could not be obtained. I remember at that time urging the collaboration, by membership, of the trade union organisations, but that idea also proved unacceptable. Fortunately, times have now changed, and it is more particularly for that reason that I take this opportunity of saying that we in the wool textile industry, which I need hardly remind you is one of the most important export industries to dollar areas, have been particularly fortunate in the trade union leadership in the industry. My mind goes back to such names—they will be familiar to noble Lords sitting on the Front Bench opposite—as Alderman Hayhurst, Ben Turner and Arthur Shaw, and several successors of equal calibre. That collaboration has resulted in our industry being particularly fortunate in the harmony of its industrial relations, and so we regard this particular Order, which is an agreed Order, and the reasons for which have been so clearly explained by my noble friend Lord Mancroft, as necessary, and I wish to record my support to it.

2.46 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Lord who has just sat down in his reference to the attitude adopted by the trade unions and their workers to the organisation of the wool industry in Yorkshire. I do so because in that area for many generations the trade unions have been as helpful as possible in the running of the industry, and the words of the noble Lord will, I am sure, be acceptable throughout that county. I rise, however, to put a question to the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. I was a member of the Committee that went into these matters the other day and I, like other members of the Committee, formed the opinion that there would not be complete unanimity amongst the trades contributing to the result that has been brought before your Lordships' House. We were not informed of this fact, however, in the Committee. As the noble Lord has now mentioned it to your Lordships I wonder whether he can go a little further and can tell us whether the objection of certain firms to this new agreement arises out of the fact that they will be called upon to pay more, or whether they are going to pay less. It would help if we could know that.


My Lords, I think the objection arises not so much out of whether they are to be called upon to pay more, or will pay less, as from the fact that many do not think they will get full value for whatever sum they are called upon to pay. Nevertheless, being democratically minded, they are now prepared to acquiesce in a decision taken by a vast majority of their colleagues in the industry, and therefore the objection is recorded merely for the sake of accuracy.

On Question, Motion agreed to.