§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill seeks to combine two earlier Parliamentary enactments, the Wages Councils Act and the Catering Wages Act, both of which have already reached a fairly respectable age. Sir Winston Churchill, when he was President of the Board of Trade in 1909, almost fifty years ago, introduced the first Trade Boards Act, which provided for the statutory fixing of minimum wages for what were sometimes known as "sweated industries"—that is to say, industries where the wages were exceptionally low or where the workers organisations were exceptionally weak. By the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, there were fifty-two of these trade boards, and their powers of statutory regulation by that time covered not only minimum wages but also holidays with pay resulting from the Holidays with Pay Act, 1938.
In 1945, when Sir Winston Churchill was nearing the end of his first period of office as Prime Minister, the Trade Boards Act which he had introduced 356 thirty-six years earlier as President of the Board of Trade, was superseded by the Wages Councils Act. As your Lordships know, the composition, the powers and the functions of wages councils are wider than those of the former trade boards, and the reasons for which the Minister of Labour may set up a wages council are also wider in many respects than those on which he was allowed to set up a trade board.
My Lords, the catering trade had never been brought under the trade boards legislation. I think perhaps there is no industry in the world in which it is so difficult to find a form of wage regulations which are fair to all sections, both of the employers and of the workers, as the multifarious catering industry, and it was a matter that had never been dealt with. But in 1943 Mr. Ernest Bevin, who was then Minister of Labour, decided to tackle the problem. Owing, no doubt, to the extremely diverse nature of employment in the catering trade, the great difficulty of the whole problem, and also, probably, to the apprehensions which were felt that any kind of uniform regulation under a trade board over the catering industry might be prejudicial to the tourist trade, which everybody could see was going to be most important to us after the war, Mr. Bevin decided not to use the existing machinery of the Trade Boards Act but to introduce an entirely separate Bill, which became law in that year—the Catering Wages Act.
Mr. Bevin was fortunate in one respect, in that he had an exceptionally able Under-Secretary, who is now the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton; and I have no doubt that many of your Lordships who served in another place will remember not only the brilliant speech in which the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, convinced the whole of the Conservative 1922 Committee that the Bill was a good Bill but also the very capable manner in which subsequently he assisted Mr. Ernest Bevin in carrying the Bill through another place. But this Act—the Bevin-McCorquodale Act—was, so to speak, outside the main line of descent from trade boards to wages councils.
The Act set up an entirely separate body called the Catering Wages Commission which had to look into the very varied needs of all the workers in all the 357 different branches of the catering trade: its function was to make inquiries into the methods of regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment, and to make recommendations to the Minister for the setting up of wages boards similar to the existing trade boards. Where wages boards were set up, the Act gave the Minister power to make wages regulation orders giving legal effect to the proposals which had been submitted by these boards. The Commission recommended the establishment of no fewer than five catering wages boards which were set up by the Ministry of Labour, and four of these have been functioning successfully for a long time.
The first is known by the picturesque title: Licensed Residential Establishment and Licensed Restaurant Wages Board. That means food, intoxicating drink and beds. The second is called the Unlicensed place of Refreshment Wages Board. That means refreshment and food, but no drink, no beds. The third is called the Licensed Non-Residential Establishment Wages Board. Your Lordships are no doubt aware of the difference between a licensed restaurant and a licensed nonresidential establishment. They have different boards. The fourth board is called the Industrial Staff Canteen Undertaking Wages Board. For many years all these boards have been making wage regulations proposals to the Minister, to which the Minister has been giving effect by statutory order. But there is a fifth board—and probably your Lordships, by the process of elimination, will have already guessed its name: it is known as the Unlicensed Residential Establishment Wages Board—that is food, beds, but no drink, and covers unlicensed hotels, boarding-houses or hostels with four or more bedrooms available for guests. This fifth Board (the food and bad, but no drink, Board) was for some years extremely active but completely unfertile. On several occasions it published provisional proposals for wages regulation, but there were always so many representations against the proposals that the Board could never reach agreement as to the positive proposals which it should submit to the Minister of Labour. Finally, in 1950, the Board gave up the attempt in despair; and since then, although I understand that it is still legally in existence, it has never, I think, met.
358 The Catering Wages Commission were, of course, very puzzled about how to deal with this difficulty. They made a number of proposals. The first was contained in what is known as the Forster Report, Sir John Forster being at that time Chairman of the Catering Wages Commission. He first proposed that there should be one board for both licensed and unlicensed hotels. Later on, when it was found that that suggestion did not meet with very great public support, another attempt was made to solve the difficulty, with the suggestion that there should be four new boards; one far large hotels in England, another for small hotels in England, one for hotels in Scotland, and another for public houses. Before any decision had been reached on that suggestion, however, the Minister of Labour was informed by his legal advisers that he had no legal power under the Bevin-McCorquodale Act to set up a new wages board covering a body of workers in respect of whom a board already existed.
I do not think either the late Mr. Ernest Bevin or my noble friend below the gangway can be blamed for having failed to provide against this unfortunate deadlock, which could hardly have been foreseen in 1943. But there it was; and it has placed everybody concerned in a position of such difficulty that over a good many years no way out of the impasse has been found. Her Majesty's Government have decided that the best thing now, in the interests of the workers in the catering trades, is that the catering wages boards should be converted into wages councils under the Wages Councils Act. I would remind your Lordships that that could not have been done in 1943, because at that time the old trade boards had not been developed into modern wages councils. The wages councils, so to speak, are both older in one sense and younger in another than the catering wages boards.
It is now proposed, therefore, to convert the existing catering wages boards into wages councils under the Wages Councils Act, 1945. Under that Act the Minister can appoint a commission of inquiry which can advise him to set up a new wages council for any good reason; and when he has done that in the case of the catering trade it would be possible for him either to appoint a new wages council to deal only with unlicensed hotels or to enlarge the scope of 359 one of the existing wage councils, possibly to include both licensed and unlicensed hotels. In any case the Minister would have power, on the best available advice, to deal with the problem which the law at present appears to prohibit him from doing. That is what Her Majesty's Government propose to do in this Bill.
In order to do that it is necessary to repeal the Bevin-McCorquodale Act, and it is a matter of very real regret to me that I should have the duty of asking your Lordships to do this in the presence of its only surviving parent. I think your Lordships will agree that at least four-fifths of that Act has been a great credit to both its parents and has done a great deal of good. In particular, Her Majesty's Government would like to express their appreciation of the work which has been done by the Catering Wages Commission, which will come to an end when this Bill becomes law; and to thank the various chairmen and all the members of the Commission for the services which they have rendered. What I have described to your Lordships is all done by Clause 1 of the Bill.
The remaining clauses, from Clause 2 to Clause 7, make various improvements in the existing wages-councils legislation by enabling the Minister to widen the field of operations of wages councils, by clearing up various points of doubt concerning home workers and part-time workers—I mean workers who spend part of their time on a job which is covered by a wages-council regulation and part on another job which is not—and by making it clear that an offence under the Act is committed by failure to comply with its provisions and not merely by positive refusal to do so.
Some of these changes are appreciable and even substantial, but I do not think they raise any important point of principle, and your Lordships may perhaps prefer that fuller discussion of them should be left until the Committee stage of the Bill. I understand that in the Minister of Labour's National Joint Advisory Council there were three parties represented, the Employers' Federation, the Trades Union Congress and nationalised industries, and they are all in substantial agreement concerning the provisions of the Bill. Any legislation of this kind which any Parliament may pass or 360 which any Government may put forward must always have two objects in view which may occasionally not be entirely consistent with each other. One is the need to protect the standards of workers in the catering trades; the other is the need to improve our hotel services, which last year were the biggest dollar-earning industry in the country and which have always been a very large factor in keeping our balance of payments right.
Everybody knows, of course, that there have been many complaints in the past, chiefly from the smaller hotels in remote districts, such as the Scottish Highlands, that the provisions of the Catering Wages Act were making it difficult to give good services either to home holidaymakers or to foreign visitors. But I think these complaints have been much less since the modifications in the Catering Wages Regulations which were made to meet the objections of the smaller, more remote, country hotels on the advice of the Wages Commission in 1954. However that may be, we cannot evade our duty of protecting workers in certain sections of the catering trades against unfair conditions and unfairly low wages; we must do that. We also want to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of our hotel industry. In moving this Bill I would appeal that both sections who are engaged in the industry, employers and workers, should organise themselves with a view to giving effective and reasonable representation on the new wages councils which it is proposed to set up, so that we may have that kind of regulation of wages and working conditions which will combine fairness to the workers with efficient service both to the British holidaymakers and to our foreign visitors from abroad.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(The Earl of Dundee.)
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am sure that Members in all parts of the House will agree with me that it has been a great pleasure to us to listen to the first explanation of a Government measure by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. That he was able to do it with the polished and finished style of an experienced Minister in another place led many of us to expect that we should get a proper explanation of a proposed Statute. I shall be interested to 361 see how his career goes further—if the country will permit it to go very much further—in the kind of useful work he has done this afternoon.
The Wages Councils (Amendment) Bill, which he has expounded to us quite fairly, brings a sort, of nostalgia to all of us who have been interested in questions of labour organisation and labour relations with other workers in industry, and especially to those of us who have been interested for decades in following up the work of the reformers in the 19th century—not the least of whom was the Earl of Shaftesbury, in his efforts towards reforms in the factory system—right through until, at last, in 1909, Mr. Winston Churchill introduced the Trade Boards Bill, which became an Act. I thought that the noble Earl seemed to hesitate a little as he was putting over the name of that Act. I believe he referred to the "so-called Trade Boards Act".
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
That is what I meant to quote. I put it down but it went out of my head. There is no doubt that the Trade Boards Act operated to great advantage in what was a whole network of sweated industries. Who can possibly forget the stories of the sweated workers in the chain industry, and the like, in Staffordshire? The extraordinary thing was—and this came to my notice in 1920 when I had just come into co-operative work of a Parliamentary character in London—that nobody seemed to realise that the distributive trades in general were a sweated industry, as at that time they certainly were to a large degree. They were a sweated industry because they were so largely unorganised through the medium of the usual trade unions.
I suppose it is true to say to-day that, although a wages council of considerable importance operates in the case of the general distributive trades, apart from the Co-operative Movement and the large companies and houses of employment there is hardly any organised labour in the rest of the distributive system in the country. It is an extraordinary position, and I mention it because it took years and years of struggle and labour on the part of interested traders who were having their staffs organised (such as the 362 Co-operative Movement, big departmental stores and the like, and in later years other firms—perhaps I had better not go on mentioning names) to get anything like a general system of regulation. It was not because the people whose staffs were organised were paying sweated wages; it was because there was always a complete lack of anything like a standard in the whole of the trade affecting the costs in competitive business on which the good employer could really base what should be paid. That was a most unfair situation in respect of the good employer, and I had to fight it for years and years, and so did every other head of every other big departmental organisation.
In the smaller departmental stores in the early part of this century and the late part of the 19th century there was a system of almost sweated industry, with living-in systems and the like, the workers working all the hours that God could send, far and away beyond the period of average daylight during the year. I was shocked—simply shocked—at those who, during the debates last year, wanted to support a system of shift work and of night work in shops, and the like, after all that the reformers such as those with whom I have been associated have done to try to get reasonable, decent conditions in the distributive trades. But in none of the various sections of the distributive trades were there greater and more widespread anomalies than in this section—the hotels, the catering establishments, the canteens, and the like—to which Mr. Ernest Bevin and the noble Lord who has been mentioned already this afternoon set their minds to get rectified. They succeeded in getting matters rectified to a very great degree, in the year 1943.
What interests me at the present time, above all, is the announcement which the noble Earl was able to make (and I was very glad he made it) that to a large extent the contents of this Bill are approved by the Trades Union Congress and also by the employers' associations. But we have to remember that in the main the employers' associations which are really effective in this matter—I am not talking about widespread bodies like the chambers of commerce or anything of that kind—are the employers of that section of the trade which is to 363 some extent organised in the trade unions. There is no question about that. I am wondering whether the Minister, as I hope he did (and he probably did), consulted the different sections of the trade directly, quite apart from, say, the Employers' Federation and the Trades Union Congress General Council. If consultations did take place, the next thing I am wondering is whether at that time, and before this Bill was agreed upon, the Order that I mentioned recently on the Motion for an Address moved by the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack was known, because, believe me, it is fundamental to its ultimate practical working.
How far is the Trades Union Congress or the Co-operative Movement, with all its widespread series of industrial councils and appeal bodies, and with its general machinery for good relationships with the workers, going to see it work out? Because what is the fact in these unorganised industries? I can hardly say what is the fact, but I can say what is my opinion of the situation in these unorganised industries—perhaps that would be a fairer way of putting it. I can tell you what it is. It is that in the trades that I have already mentioned—and it applies to the catering trade also—only a very small percentage of those employed are organised in a trade union. It is almost impossible to get them organised. I want to be fair to the trade unions. In the Co-operative Movement we have 100 per cent. trade union membership. In the big departmental stores now there is not a 100 per cent. membership but there is a very considerable body, and a very good state of relationships has been set up between many of those stores and the leaders of the trade unions. From time to time very good resolutions are arrived at in the wages councils.
But what is the effect upon all the others? What is the enforcement? I should like to get an answer to that question during the debate, if I could. I know, of course, what the provisions of the Wages Councils Act have been from 1945 onwards. I know they have had powers—there is the use of the inspectorate and the like. But in the class of industry that we are talking about here very few of those employees who are not organised in a trade union have any real, detailed knowledge of what is available 364 to them. Indeed, not being in a labour defence organisation, they have not the courage to make a complaint.
I was speaking to one of the Scottish Labour Members of the House of Commons about this matter only a few days ago, and he was able to tell me about one particular case. The noble Earl quoted the hard case of the small Scottish hotel-keeper, but here was a case which was not concerned with a small hotel; and I think he would agree with me that unless you go up somewhere near Cape Wrath or on the extreme East coast of Scotland you do not get the small hotels. If you go through the Lowlands, the Bridge of Allan, and the places around Perth, you find very sizeable hotels for the tourist. A girl came to this Member of Parliament and complained that she had been very unfairly treated in the hotel where she worked. She was loyal, she was efficient, and she worked very hard, but she had put in over 70 hours labour during one week and she had not got what she thought was a proper rate for the job. Then, when she had wanted a few hours off, it had been refused; it could not be given. This is not an outstanding, isolated case; it is the sort of thing that happens anywhere in an industry in which the workers are not properly organised. It is history: it is practice. The Member of Parliament was able to direct her to the inspector.
It was a very good thing we had the Statute and it was a very good thing we had the organisation with the inspector; but how does it work out? The inspector has to give evidence. I am told that in that case he went to the hotel to take up the case after the girl had left the employment. What happened? There were no records. They had a staff large enough for a clocking-in system, a clock and a key to turn when they entered work and when they signed off work at night; but the records were always destroyed.
Why do I raise that case and then bring it into line? It is because I want information as to what this Order about which I am complaining will bring to an end. The curious thing about this Supplies and Services (Industrial Disputes) (Amendment and Revocation) Order of 1958 is that it says:The provisions of the principal Order shall not apply in respect of any dispute or issue 365 not reported to the Minister in accordance with that Order before the tenth day of December, 1958".So that on the tenth day of next month these industrial disputes proceedings for a tribunal inquiry will come to an end. That is a decision of the Minister of Labour which will no doubt be debated in the House of Commons as well as here; but does anybody realise how that affects, for instance, this trade? It covers quite a lot. Talk to a local branch trade union organiser who finds great difficulty in organising the distributive and catering trades. If he has three or four members of his union on the staff and he can get them to tell him the true facts about what is going on, while this Order remains operative there is always a good chance of getting an inquiry set up and sent to the tribunal for settlement. Often that has not become necessary, because the very fact that the trade union organiser says, "This is a way which can be followed" often brings the hotelkeeper or the catering manager to book. If that is to be done away with, I think it is disastrous. It is my opinion that that is the case, and if there is an answer to what I am saying, of course, we shall be happy to hear it and consider it.
We like the idea that the general practice, which has been successful, so far as it goes, in wages councils, should now be applied, in the hope that we may make it universally successful in the catering industry, but I think that the success of this measure will be greatly retarded, and even perhaps, in some cases, so far as the workers are concerned, frustrated, unless we can have something specifically on these lines added to the Bill. When I made some criticism of this kind in private conversation, I was told that the position is really covered in the legislation generally dealing with wages councils; but although the noble Lord was very full in his explanation, we did not have a real answer to what I had in mind—though, of course, up to then I had not asked my question. What I want to know is: are there special reasons for the repeal of about half of Section 6 (2) of the 1945 Act? What is the reason for the omission of proviso (b) of Section 10 (3)? I can find certain parallel words in places in this Bill, or in the provisions of the Act to which it refers, but for the 366 life of me I cannot see anything adequate in place of the general powers of the Minister, which he has been able to exercise under the Act that is now being repealed as from December 10.
However that may be, I know what difficulties there have been in the catering trade. I had long conversations in 1943 with Mr. Ernest Bevin, because he was interested in our Co-operative catering establishments. He had the greatest problem not only in commercial canteens but also in the canteens he was forced to set up to deal with the enormous need for feeding workers on the job during the course of the war. Perhaps for that reason he might have cast the net of the 1943 Act a little too wide—he might have done. But I do want the catering trade, in which I have been so long interested, from our Co-operative angle at any rate, to make progress in an improvement of conditions right through the industry, and not only here and there where trade union membership is fairly good and where the workers can be adequately represented in representations to the Ministry of Labour in any special action that needs to be taken. I apologise to your Lordships for having spoken a little long on this matter. I do not want your Lordships to think that I wish to denigrate in any way the general purpose of the Bill, but I want to see that we get sufficient safeguards for the workers in the catering industry who are not organised and also to see in due course that the same beneficent principle is extended in an even wider range of the distributive trades.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am very conscious that mine is only the third of a considerable number of maiden speeches to which your Lordships will have to listen. I am also conscious of the fact that it has happened to me once before in another place. One imagined (and I see some Members of your Lordships' House who have been through it in another place) that after one had done it there, that was the last time one would have to do it. I am not eased in my approach to the occasion by the information which I was given as I entered the Chamber, that it is the custom of your Lordships to listen attentively to the speeches made by noble Lords.
Because this is one of a number of speeches that your Lordships will have 367 to hear, I hope that at least it will be concerned with a matter with which I am familiar. I must apologise if it is something of a workaday speech, in the sense that part of my work is concerned with the administration of the various orders made under the Catering Wages and Wages Councils Acts, and I have sometimes to interpret them and to see that they are properly carried out. I also have to interpret the agreements that are sometimes made between trade unions and employers. From the administrator's point of view, there is not a great difference between them when it comes to intelligibility. I think that it is this aspect of the catering wages and wages councils legislation that is such a burden on the small employer. The large employer has legal advisers and others to help him, and will even have administrators whose job is solely to see that the requirements of the law in these matters are carried out.
If it would not be too arrogant for a new Member of your Lordships' House to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who explained the Bill, perhaps I might say that it was made abundantly clear by him that it does carry forward into a more convenient and, I think, more practical form the legislation which the noble Lord. Lord McCorquodale of Newton, and the late Mr. Ernest Bevin brought in at a time when this country was prepared to indulge in experiments in the interests of national unity. This experiment, despite a great deal of criticism and opposition, has shown its worth. I should like to make clear that wages councils legislation and Government intervention of this kind are not necessarily part of the pattern of British industrial relations, and we ought not to deceive ourselves, just because there is a long and, on the whole, good history behind this type of legislation, into thinking that it is the ideal way of settling problems in industry. It is easy for both sides of industry to sit back and let the Government try to solve their problems. The responsibility is on industry itself. And it is against that context that I give a welcome to a Bill which is desirable and essential, but which, in a better organised type of society, ought to be unnecessary.
I should like—and I hope that it will not be a breach with tradition—to ask 368 some questions about the Bill which is before the House. I think that I am right in concluding that no effective powers, such as those mentioned in Section 8 of the original Catering Wages Act, particularly in subsection (1), paragraphs (a) to (c), are lost in the translation into a wages councils measure. The list of powers are not identical with those in the Catering Wages Act and I feel that it would be desirable if we could have a specific assurance on this point, which I am sure it was the intention of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, to give, and which was the burden of what he had to say. May I ask also whether the Catering Wages Commission will be issuing a final report? Their report normally comes out at about this time of the year, and it would have been helpful to have it at the time this Bill came before your Lordships' House.
Finally (this is my last point on information) the noble Earl gave us a clear account of the disaster that befell the Non-Licensed Residential Establishment Board. I was not aware that it still formally existed; and, clearly, its existence in a dormant condition is one of the reasons why it is so desirable to restore flexibility to the Minister of Labour in this matter. But I wonder whether it would be possible for the noble Earl to say what intentions the Government have with regard to that particular section of the industry. There are something like 100,000 workers in it; it is a particularly difficult section of the industry to organise, and at the present moment it could be fairly argued that the need is not so great. Yet if there is an area of the catering industry which is potentially sweated, it is this particular one. And the fact that neither the employers nor, I must say, the trade unions, take any interest in this section of the industry ought not to be a reason for the Government—not merely this Government, but successive Governments—pressed as they are, not considering whether it should be protected. The Minister said that at least flexibility is restored to the Government in this matter. I should personally be interested to know that that flexibility will be made use of, and it would be helpful if, in the course of this debate, we could be informed of that.
I am aware, also—and I think there will be other Members of this House who 369 are—that even now there are gaps in wages council legislation, and there are workers who to-day are still not properly covered by it. It is difficult to see where this process of proliferation of Boards is going to end. We are provided each year with a most effective report from the Ministry of Labour—and here I should like to pay tribute to the Ministry of Labour for their conduct of this extraordinarily difficult field of industrial relations. It would be helpful if we could have a report which would give a general survey of the development. It is, I think, a matter for criticism in both Houses that Government activity tends to go on increasing without anyone stopping and taking an overall look, and then we get anxious and start chopping down something because we have not taken time to consider in the process where we are going. I am hoping that this Bill, modest measure though it is, will be only the forerunner of a more thorough consideration of this field of Government action in industry.
In particular—and I trust that in saying this I shall not be going too far beyond the terms of the Bill—I hope, because it is so closely related to wages council legislation, that the Government will consult the trade union movement and the employers on the whole subject of the Truck Acts. The Truck Acts have a close relationship to this legislation, and I should like to give your Lordships some examples of the difficulties which this particular type of industrial legislation inflicts not merely on the employers but on the workers also. It is quite possible that we could have legislation which was absolutely necessary in a harsher time in the past but which at present, and certainly in the future, may be not merely a brake on industry but a positive handicap to the workers it is intended to protect.
I would give an example of this with regard to a particular provision of the Truck Acts which prevents the employer from making any deduction from (I think the right word is) the workman's wages; and the definition of the "workman", in this sense, is given in the 1875 Employers and Workmen Act. The effect of this is that, whereas a white collar worker, a shop assistant, shall I say, can enter into an agreement with his employer in the matter of a loan (and many good employers to-day do help their workers in all sorts of ways, sometimes by gifts, but 370 often by loans which are most conveniently repaid by a deduction from wages; provided that the worker is not a "workman" within the meaning of the 1875 Act, and the Truck Acts do not apply, such a deduction may be made) if a worker, say, in a factory, or a manual worker, comes within the Acts, even his agreement cannot permit this convenient method of repayment to be made.
When we examine the provisions within the Wages Council Act, and see that Section 13, in particular, expressly limits the way in which these deductions can be made and the method of deduction, I do not think we need be too alarmed that we should dispose of this older legislation which has now been superseded by the modern legislation we are considering to-day. There was an example of this during a debate in another place in connection with the Wages Bill—a proposal for payment of wages by cheque. I do not propose to go into this highly contentious and difficult subject, but the absurdity of it is that it could not be done to-day without a breach of the Truck Acts. My argument is that the wages council legislation, of which this is an example, has, in certain respects, replaced those earlier laws.
I should like to make one general observation. It is obvious that industrial relations do not depend on wages council legislation, and that while this legislation has been, and still is, essential, the real requirements in industry to-day are for an improvement and a greater degree of understanding and agreement between workers and management. I would say (I hope that I am not becoming too controversial in saying this; I might find myself in disagreement with some members of my own Party) that I do not attribute conflict in industry solely to the operation of the capitalist system. There is in fact—and this, I think, ought to be recognised—a basic conflict of interest between the worker and the manager. This is not to say that it need take dangerous forms; but their interests are different. The manager, whether he has a profit motive or not, is concerned with the matter of getting better production; and unless he is imbued with a clearer understanding of the right methods of the approach to production, he will tend, out of that sense of duty, and no other, and because he conceives it in many cases to be his duty, to seek production and 371 productivity at—I will not say any price, but at any rate as hard as he can, because if he produces more at lower cost, clearly his employers are apt to regard him as a successful manager. Relations such as this, where a bad relationship of this kind exists, are not easily put right, and we ought not therefore in passing this type of legislation to consider that we have done more than dent or touch on the fringe of the way in which industrial relations ought to go to-day.
I can never understand why people should assume that there ought always to be good relations in a particular factory. We all know that where interests conflict minor friction may break out unless there is a proper understanding. Indeed, we have plenty of examples. We do not necessarily expect a marriage to be a perfectly peaceful proposition, and there is an analogy with industry: which is the superior partner in industry, as in marriage, is an arguable point. But it does make clear, to me at any rate, that the manufacturers must face up to the fact that their workers ought to be informed of all matters upon which it is possible to inform them; that management in industry to-day has to be conducted with the consent of the workers. When I say that, I am not proposing that management should abdicate its responsibilities, but that it should recognise that those responsibilities include informing the worker of everything of which he can possibly be informed.
If it is possible to bring this type of partnership into industry, then we shall see the surge in production which in the long run will contribute not only to our own wealth and happiness but also, as we believe, to the peace of the world. Partnership does not just mean sharing profits. Above all, it means sharing knowledge. It is in this context—the understanding that there should be a proper recognition of the role of the worker in this matter, both in private and in publicly-owned industry—that we shall see the progress in national welfare that we all hope will come.
Having, I am afraid, diverted a little from the purposes of the Bill, I should like to say that I think the Catering Wages Act has been a worthwhile measure. It has certainly caused a lot of trouble and a lot of heartburn, but, by and large, those like the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale 372 of Newton, who were responsible for its introduction can be satisfied that it has achieved a useful purpose. I should like to pay my tribute to those who have worked, frequently under a good deal of complaint and public obloquy, in carrying out the wishes of Parliament in this matter, and to say in conclusion that I certainly wish good luck to the continuation of this work, always provided that we realise that it is not the answer in the long run to industrial peace and prosperity.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is the first of the Life Peers who has addressed this House from the Benches opposite, and I think the whole House will congratulate him on the admirable way in which he has done it. In fact, I think that, had anybody entered this House after his opening words, it would never have occurred to him that the noble Lord was making a maiden speech; and that, I think, is a sign of its excellence. He has quite clearly strengthened the Opposition, and it is equally clear that his speeches, to which we shall look forward, will enrich our debates. At one point he apologised for its being a workaday speech, but there is nothing that this House likes better than a man making a contribution from his own experience and showing, as the noble Lord did, independence of mind.
It is a particular pleasure for me to congratulate him, because for the whole of his career in the House of Commons I was also in that place. He represented one of the Preston constituencies, and for part of his life in another place it was my task as a junior Minister to reply to various debates which concerned Lancashire, many of which he initiated or in which he took part. There is another reason which may seem irrelevant, but perhaps I might mention it. In the course of a long life I have listened to many speeches, but I think that the first public speech that I ever heard was a speech on Antarctic exploration delivered by his distinguished father, who became one of my boyhood heroes.
I rise only to express one wish about this measure, and one doubt. It is a doubt that has not yet been expressed, and it is no more than a doubt. It is this. I am sure that Parliament is right 373 to repeal the Catering Wages Act, 1943. But are we quite certain that we are right in extending, in so far as we are extending, statutory control over all parts of this industry? I think it is sometimes too readily assumed that the only protection a worker has is some Statute. That, of course, is not the case at all. In general, I believe in as much freedom of contract as possible. Provided that you have a high and stable level of employment, perhaps the greatest security that the worker has for decent conditions in his job is his ability to leave it and go elsewhere.
Much mention has been made of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, and I should like to recall the argument which I well remember Mr. Bevin using and which in fact persuaded me that the Bill which, supported by my noble friend, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, he introduced into another place, was a good Bill. I will not pledge my memory at the moment on whether the argument in question was one which he delivered on the Floor of the House of the Commons or in Committee or elsewhere. The argument he put forward was this. There were at that time certain Emergency Powers for the direction of labour, and Mr. Ernest Bevin said, "I cannot direct labour into an industry unless I am satisfied that there is a satisfactory wage structure in that industry". That seems to me a good argument. Though, of course, I took no part in the discussions on that Act when it was a Bill—I was in fact a junior Minister in another Department—I thought that that argument of Mr. Ernest Bevin was the real and substantial argument for the Catering Wages Act. There is now no direction of labour, and none of us wishes such direction to be reintroduced. Therefore, that principal argument for the control that he was then establishing is an argument that no longer applies.
Let me say at once that of course I agree with the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition in this House, and with others, when they say that there may be proper cases for wages councils under the Wages Councils Acts. Are we quite certain, however, that that applies now to every section of the catering industry? I express this doubt only because I think that the necessity for these statutory controls is often far too readily assumed. If I may give an example, take domestic 374 service. A domestic servant is not protected by Statute in this way, but everybody knows that the actual protection is that so great is the demand for domestic servants that no domestic servant would dream of staying in a situation unless he or she were satisfied with the conditions. Therefore I should like to be quite certain that, if we are extending controls still further than they exist at present, there is a good reason made out for such an extension.
That brings me to express a wish. Because of this doubt, I am very sorry that this particular measure has been introduced in this House and not in another place. I feel something of the same difficulty as I felt over the Shops Bill. On the subject matter of both these measures, I think there is a great deal to be said for obtaining the views of the House of Commons before the measure comes before this House. I expressed the difficulty in the debate on the Shops Bill. I thought that a very bad measure, but I am glad that this House did not reject it, because then the action of this House would have prevented its going to another place; and I, for one, desired the views of another place upon it. In the same way, if the controls that we are establishing or continuing under the present measure may go beyond what is necessary, I should have very much liked that question considered by the Commons before we were consulted upon it. Nevertheless, I certainly approve of this measure, for much of which there is general agreement. It is certainly right to repeal the Catering Wages Act, and what we are setting up or continuing in its place can be the subject of further consideration in Committee and, indeed, when this measure goes before another place.
Before I sit down I should like also to congratulate my noble friend who is in charge of the Bill this afternoon, both on his office and on the admirable way in which he moved the Second Reading.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ LORD BURDEN
My Lords, from these Benches I should like to join with the noble Lord who has just spoken in the tribute that he has paid to my colleague, Lord Shackleton. I am sure everyone who listened to that speech will agree that it was a speech knowledgeable and enthused with practical idealism, and it opened out a theme which I hope we 375 in your Lordships' House may have the opportunity of further debating at some convenient time. May I, too, if the noble Earl will allow me, say how we all thoroughly enjoyed his lucid, fascinating exposition of this Bill. I hope he will not regard it as impertinent if I say that we did thoroughly enjoy it. Not that I am going to let him off entirely scot free; he would not expect that, I am sure. But the noble Earl traced hack this Bill to the parentage of the Trade Board Acts, 1909, and paid merited tribute to the work of Sir Winston Churchill (Mr. Winston Churchill as he then was), then Home Secretary. But I could not expect the noble Earl to be fully conversant with some other aspects.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? He referred to Winston Churchill when he was Home Secretary. I think that when he introduced the measure to which the noble Lord referred Sir Winston Churchill was President of the Board of Trade.
§ LORD BURDEN
I thank the noble Lord for the correction. I was just going to mention that before that Bill was introduced—in fact what made the introduction possible—there was prolonged agitation, organisation and education, by men like Dr. J. J. Mallon, for many years Warden of Toynbee Hall, and a band of devoted women who organised the Women's Trade Union, like Mary MacArthur, Margaret Bondfield and Susan Lawrence. Let us, in considering the development of that work, not hesitate to pay a word of tribute to those who have worked as those men and women did in days gone by.
The Bill comes to us after a lucid exposition by the noble Earl, and I am sure it was by sheer inadvertence that he did not mention that the original Bill produced perhaps the only major revolt I remember in the House of Commons on matters of legislation. I think that no fewer than 118 members of the Conservative Party voted against the Second Reading of the 1943 Act, or Bill as it was then, and the opposition was relentlessly carried on through Committee stage. The Third Reading was not opposed. I am glad, too, that repeated tribute was paid by the noble Earl to the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, for his 376 work in connection with the then Bill. But he would be the first, I think, to recognise and admit the great driving force of Ernest Bevin in relation to that Bill. His vision, his statesmanship, his detailed knowledge of working class conditions, impelled him to introduce that Bill. And bear in mind, too, that at that time he was engaged in that gigantic task of organising the manpower and the womanpower in the direst hour of peril in which this nation has ever stood.
I think that even at this hour some of the words with which Ernest Bevin wound up the Third Reading debate are worth recalling to your Lordships. This is what he said:I rely mainly on the creative clauses of the Bill, the clauses which create the Commission, which create the wages boards, which create the opportunity for the Commission to investigate and report on all these problems. It is the creative side of the Bill which I have striven to achieve more than anything else, and I have striven to make that effective and workable. I believe that as time goes on other measures will emerge, shaping this great service into what may yet become one of our most profitable industries—profitable in the real national sense, profitable in service, contributing, as I think it must do, to the organised leisure of our country, contributing to the morale of our people after the war, contributing, as I believe it will, by the sources of wealth it can bring to the country. I hope that this Bill will be just the digging-out for the first foundation upon which a good edifice may be built.Perhaps on that foundation this is one of the things which is being built in our day and generation.
My Lords, as I understand the present Bill, wage standards, holiday conditions and all these ancillary things are protected and will continue to be protected. That being so, may I express the hope that in the new set-up the excellent work which has been done by the Ministry of Labour inspectorate will continue. It is extremely important that it should do so, because, without quoting it to your Lordships, I would point out that there is another passage in the Report of an Inquiry into the Operation of the Catering Wages Act, 1943, in the Hotel Industry. At page 19, paragraph 70 expresses what has been repeatedly brought before your Lordships this afternoon—namely, the extreme difficulty of organising large sections of this industry into effective trade unions. In the Report of the Ministry of Labour and National Service for 1957 I find that there were 377 no fewer than 13,653 inspections, and the number of establishments which paid arrears of remuneration, including holiday remuneration, following action by the inspectorate, were no fewer than 2,804, and £41,000 was recovered for the workers. Going back over a number of years, in fact from 1940 to 1956, it was more. Ever since the inception of that Act thousands of pounds have been recovered for the workers in the industry. Let me be perfectly fair: I do not believe that in every instance this arises from a deliberate act on the part of the employer. Many of these awards and findings have been extremely difficult to interpret. That, I think, is what makes the continued action of the inspectorate so vital for the well being of the people in the industry.
There is one final point. Year by year the Ministry of Labour have published separate columns giving precise details in regard to the working of the Catering Wages Boards. On the assumption that this Bill will go through, may I ask the Minister to consider whether in the new set-up, when there are catering wages councils, the same sort of figures will be recorded in the Annual Report and not simply dumped into other columns of figures under headings such as "Wages Councils, including road haulage". I think it would be for the convenience of us all to see how the new Act works, if my suggestion is carried out.
My final word is again to congratulate the noble Earl on his first effort at introducing a Bill into your Lordships' House. While, as the noble Earl himself has said, it may be necessary for some of the clauses to receive detailed consideration in Committee, so far as we on these Benches are concerned there will be no opposition for opposition's sake, but an endeavour to co-operate and to secure for the workers and the employers in the industry legislation which will enable them to play the part which the noble Earl so admirably set forth in the final passages of his speech.
§ 4.38 p.m.
THE EARL OF WOOLTON
My Lords, may I, with the consent of my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton, intervene just for one moment? I do so for two reasons. The first is, as one of the older Members of your Lordships' House, to offer my congratulations to my 378 noble friend Lord Dundee, both on his appointment and on his introduction of this Bill; and secondly, to join in praising the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. He said that he would make a "workaday" speech because he was speaking of what he knew. I have had some considerable experience of the working of the Catering Wages Act, and I should like to assure the Government that I welcome the changes they are making.
I hope that your Lordships will not think that this is vanity, but perhaps I might add this comment. While your Lordships have been talking of the paternity of this Bill residing in my late friend Ernest Bevin and my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton, I think I might, without divulging any Cabinet secrets, say that when Mr. Bevin brought his Bill before the Cabinet he said that he thought he ought to mention that his Ministry had had a deputation on the subject, that the deputation had been led by Mr. Marquis, from Liverpool, and Mr. Gluckstein, of J. Lyons & Co., Ltd., from London, and that they had urged the introduction of some measures which would prevent "sweating" in this industry. Mr. Bevin, with great humility, apologised for the fact that some fifteen years had elapsed between the time the deputation was received and the time when he presented the Bill. I feel that that is my justification for making these observations this afternoon.
§ LORD BURDEN
My Lords, would it be correct to say that the political outlook of Mr. Frederick Marquis at that time was a little different from what it is to-day?
THE EARL OF WOOLTON
My Lords, my memory is getting a little difficult about the past. I believe that the noble Lord is wrong, but we will discuss it privately.
I should like to pay tribute to the Catering Wages Commission and their staff. This was an extremely difficult Act to administer, both for employers and for inspectors, and I am glad to think that in the new set-up we may have something that is clearer and easier to interpret than the old Act, which I am sure will be a very great advantage. One of the difficulties of large-scale business is that it is constantly subject to the competition of people who, perhaps for 379 economic reasons, perhaps because of fear, are looking for the opportunity for low-paid labour. It is Acts of this nature that do so much good—in spite of what my noble friend Lord Conesford has said—and are really essential for the protection of the economic life of the country.
There is one thing and one thing only that I would add: the problem of enforcement is so difficult. It is so easy for the enforcing officers to go round to the large places, where large staffs are employed, but so difficult for them to get round to the smaller places. Yet it is often in the smaller places that the need for action is greater. I apologise to your Lordships for having intervened and I should like to assure the Minister of my support, if he needs it.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ LORD McCORQUODALE OF NEWTON
My Lords, I am sure that this debate has been worth while, especially for the intervention of my noble friend Lord Woolton. We all greatly welcome his essay into the historical past. Although I was intimately associated with the 1943 Bill, I must confess that I had never heard his story before: those in the Department had kept it from me. It has been difficult to spare my blushes to-day, with the very kind things that various noble Lords have said about me; but, believe me, it was very different in 1943 when we were endeavouring to introduce the Bill! Then I was hardly on speaking terms with a great number of my friends. I well remember that, after I had introduced the Second Reading, Punch went so far as to describe me as the perfect Parliamentarian, because I had offended at one and the same time Labour, Liberal and Conservative Parties, and the Coalition. In spite of that, we got the Bill through; and, by and large, I believe that what we did then has been well worth while.
The Act did not come up to our expectations, and I want to say a word or two upon that aspect. First, however, I should like to thank those noble Lords who have mentioned my name coupled with that of my great friend and leader in this matter, Mr. Ernest Bevin. I should also put on record that during the Committee stage of the Bill, which was hard fought from beginning to end, both Mr. Bevin and I more than once got tied 380 up in its legal intricacies and had to call upon Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe (now the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack) to give us his aid—which he did excellently.
Perhaps I may congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, on his maiden speech this afternoon. I agreed with practically every word he said, and I thought that his was one of the most valuable contributions to our debate. I like to think of him because he just failed where I, fortunately, succeeded in securing what was then, and is still, the best constituency in England—the constituency of Epsom. Although it is fifteen years since the noble Lord fought there he left nothing but friendship behind; and during the whole time that I represented that constituency I never heard one hard word said about Mr. Shackleton (as he was then) or his campaign in 1945. I would suggest to him, however, that he is going to run into a lot of trouble if he gets up and makes criticisms of the Truck Acts. He will have the whole body of trade unionists on him like a ton of bricks. I feel that I had better utter that word of warning.
If, greatly daring, I might cross swords with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I would say that I do not think there is any real connection between this Bill and the abolition of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, about which I am sure we shall have further debates in due course. I would humbly suggest that the noble Viscount should read a letter from a very important trade union which appeared in the Economist of last week—I believe that he would find it of interest. On the specific point mentioned by the noble Viscount, with regard to the enforcement of the Scottish case, that was, of course, a weakness of the Act and, so far as I can read it, this Bill explicitly takes care of that case. As we have found out, the existing law gives practically no powers to take action against an employer who evades a demand for the production of requisite records while not actually refusing to do so. That could be done, of course, by losing or destroying records. Under the new Bill, if it becomes law, we can, I believe, adequately take care of that kind of evasion. I believe that it is a valuable point and I am glad that it is to be considered.
381 Perhaps I may be permitted to say a word or two about the Catering Wages Act. In its operation the Act never quite came up to the hopes and expectations which Mr. Ernest Bevin and I had. We, and indeed the whole House at that time, hoped that the Commission would develop into a body which would, in effect, take care of the whole tourist, catering and hotel industry and act as that industry's spokesman to the Government of the day. Had it been able to do so—and I make no criticism of the Commission that it was unable to do so—I believe that in the years immediately after the war it would have been most valuable. I know that there were tremendous stringencies in many ways, but I am quite sure that it would have paid us in dollars, in balance of trade and in every other way, had we pushed on faster with the redevelopment of our tourist industry immediately after the war, when so many people all over the world wanted to come and see the country which had stood alone for so long. That was not to be, and that side of what we had hoped would be the work of the Commission did not come up to expectations; and I quite agree with Her Majesty's Government that it is time all that was wiped away. There are other agencies properly at work to look after these things, and from the administrative point of view it is much better to bring the whole control of the wage situation in this catering industry into line with other wages boards.
May I now utter a word about wages boards in general? If they are to be successful, and if the right result in regard to the level of remuneration is to come out of their deliberations, it is essential that what I may call the two sides—the employers and the workers—on those boards should be fairly well balanced in strength. If that is done, the two arguments are properly put and the independent members can sway the balance in the right way. If one side or the other is weak, either because of internal dissension, or from any other cause, then the whole balance becomes upset, and scales of wages, problems of employment and all the rest of it may become quite other than what are requisite for the industry in question.
To a certain extent, that is what happened in the early days of the Catering Wages Act. The employers on these 382 wages boards had never had the experience of working together that the trade union members had, and for quite a time they found it difficult to work and support other sections of the industry in which they were not themselves specifically interested. Consequently, we had an unbalance; and it was from that unbalance that there sprang the main criticisms of the results of the Catering Wages Act. After all, the employers had just as much power in the boards themselves as had the unions and the workers' representatives; and from that point sprang the difficulties which dogged the early years of the Catering Wages Act. Now that they are to come under the same general supervision as other wages boards, I hope and believe that those difficulties will not arise in future.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may I just intervene? I could not agree more with the argument of the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, about having a proper balance of representation. But it seems to me that in industries where there is little trade union organisation something needs to be done over that which is being done now for enforcement. Let us consider the example of agriculture, where what the noble Lord desires is existing. We have a good, well-organised trade union representation, and an employers' representation, which is quite solid, through the National Farmers' Union. There is only one body, and the consequence is that there is never any complaint coming back when a farmer is prosecuted for breaking the law. But this does not seem to occur in what I call sweated-labour industries on the other side.
§ LORD MCCORQUODALE OF NEWTON
My Lords, I believe, as I said, that that was one of the weaknesses of the original Act: it was not tightly enough drawn, and as a result in several cases prosecution has failed. I believe, however—and it has been the subject of much discussion with the trade unions and employers—that Clause 7 of this Bill will take care of the very important point which the noble Viscount has mentioned.
I should like to refer for one moment to another clause of the Bill before us. I do not want to go into the details, because we shall have an opportunity of 383 doing that on the Committee stage, but there is one point to which I should like to refer, and perhaps the Minister would not mind having inquiries made about it. Clause 2 gives the wages council a new power to request the Minister to appoint a committee, at the request of workers and employers, to make recommendations on any matter referred to the committee. There have been one or two useful points covered and this is a follow-on from the Catering Wages Act. However, I think it should be specifically stated (because otherwise it will be very embarrassing for the new wages board) that anything of this nature—the setting up of a new independent committee—should be done only if it is asked for by both sides of the wages board. If one side of the wages board asks for an independent inquiry, with an independent chairman, to which the other side does not agree, then I am afraid we shall never get any harmonious working in the wages board. I think this is a valuable provision while it is supported by both sides of the wages board, but if it is not supported by both sides it can become a very dangerous provision. I should like that point to be looked into.
Apart from that, I believe that we are taking the right step—a step which could, indeed, have been taken at any time since 1950. I only hope that these wages boards will continue and (the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is quite right) in due course, and with proper organisation in industry, I should hope to see them superseded at some time or another by industrial councils and the proper voluntary organisation that we see in other trades.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, when I came into the House at half-past-two I was a little disappointed to find that only two noble Lords besides myself intended to speak, and I have been more than delighted to find since the debate began that so many of your Lordships have contributed to this debate. I think that all the speeches which have been made have been either in support of the Bill or else requests for information, some of which I shall do my best to answer. If I cannot answer them fully now, I shall hope to do so at a later stage in the Bill.
First of all, may I offer my congratulations and the congratulations of the 384 House to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, on his maiden speech, which was so sound, so moderate, so sensible and so well expressed? In my boyhood the noble Lord's father was one of our heroes. He was one of the pioneers in Antarctic exploration. The noble Lord has chosen to serve his country in a less frigid atmosphere, and I am sure that your Lordships will wish to give him a very warm welcome here and to express the hope that we may often again have the pleasure of hearing him speak in our debates.
The noble Lord asked certain specific questions. Let me turn first to one which I cannot answer. He asked whether the Catering Wages Commission are issuing a report. I do not know, but they are supposed to do so under the terms of the Catering Wages Act every year. They have not yet issued a Report for 1957, and I am afraid that I do not know whether they intend to do that, still less whether they intend to issue one for 1958. Then he asked what intentions the Government have about the non-licensed residential establishments. I am afraid that I cannot add anything to what I said in my opening speech. The Minister cannot simply say, "I am going to appoint a wages council to deal with non-licensed residential establishments" in an arbitrary manner. What he has to do first is to appoint a commission of inquiry and then, if he is given good reasons for appointing a wages council, he may either appoint a special council for these non-licensed residential establishments or extend the scope of another wages council to cover them. I cannot say which of these things, if either, is likely to happen. But we cannot in this country have a Minister arbitrarily saying, "I am going to do this and that" until he has gone through the proper form under the Act and obtained the proper information.
I was glad that the noble Lord pointed out that responsibility for wage regulation and good industrial relations rested on industry itself, and that industry ought not to sit back and expect the Government to do everything for it. That is very true; but of course we must remember at the same time that the purpose of these wages councils is not simply to interfere in disputes and to force people who do not want to do the right thing to do it. The one purpose of the wages councils is to establish machinery for normal 385 industrial negotiation in those industries where, owing to their nature or their distribution, it would be difficult for them to do it themselves.
The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition asked a number of questions about enforcement. I do not know whether I shall be able to give him all the information he wants about that. He was perhaps partially answered by the noble Lord, Lord Burden, who pointed out that last year there had been, I think he said, 2,004 cases dealt with, and that £41,000 in wages had been recovered and paid to the rightful recipients. Of course, you cannot really have a system which will guarantee the detection of every failure to do what should be done under the Act unless you have very nearly as many inspectors as there are employees; but there is a regular system of inspection under the Act. A certain proportion of hotels in the country—
§ LORD BURDEN
My Lords, I did not expect that. All that I expect is that the present system should go on and that the number of inspections made should be reported and the results reported, as has been done for a number of years. That is all I am asking.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am sorry. I am now answering the noble Viscount, who wanted a little more information as to whether there was in fact an effective system of inspection and enforcement.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Of course, we cannot guarantee that it will be 100 per cent. effective and we cannot guarantee that every employee who is not fairly treated will report what has happened; but there is, as I was saying, a regular system of inspection. A certain proportion (I would rather not give the proportion) of hotels are regularly inspected—compulsorily inspected—every year. Their books are inspected, and if any breach of the provisions of the Act is detected the inspector collects the money and pays it. In the case of non-payment there may be a penalty of £20 in addition to the payment of the money which has been withheld, and if there is any falsification of records or an attempt to withhold information dishonestly there is then a penalty of £100. I should like to assure the noble Viscount that no difference will he made by the bringing to an end of the 386 Industrial Disputes Tribunal in regard to this Act.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Earl agrees with me, but in a trade which is so little organised by the trade unions there are many cases which will arise which will never be "spotted" by an inspector. It is only when there are among the staff a few people who belong to a trade union and when breaches become known to them through other members of the staff who are not organised, and the trade union organiser takes them up and sees that they are dealt with, that they come to light. That is one of the great troubles about getting enforcement in trades which are not organised. It was in that particular respect that I wanted to know how far this is going to be better than any previous Statute that we already have. I do not think it is any better.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
With regard to enforcement, I quite agree. I do not see how you can guarantee 100 per cent. enforcement. But I think that there is a very wide measure of enforcement, as has been shown by the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Burden.
The noble Viscount wanted to know why we were repealing subsection (2) of Section 6. That is a point which I think we can come to in Committee, because subsection (6) of the Wages Councils Act is in substance incorporated in Clause 3 of this Bill. Perhaps it would be more convenient if we dealt with that question on the Committee stage. I was grateful to the noble Viscount for pointing out, as he did, that the purpose of all this legislation—the Trades Board Act, the Wages Councils Act, and the Catering Wages Act—is not only to protect the worker from unfair treatment but also to protect the good employer who wants to pay good wages but who may find it difficult to do so owing to the competition of those who do not. I think that that is a very important point.
I was very grateful for the intervention by the noble Earl, Lord Woolton. I had not realised until he spoke that there was any question of disputed parentage about this Bill. I always thought that its ancestry was strictly legitimate. I hope the noble Earl will not find that he is letting himself in for an expensive maintenance order. My noble friend Lord 387 McCorquodale of Newton asked about the sub-committees in Clause 2 of the Bill, which provides that the Minister, at the request of a wages council, may appoint an advisory committee which may contain persons who are not members of such a council. There is not any provision for that at present in the Wages Councils Act, but under the Catering Wages Act there is. The Commission set up certain wage boards which have proved most useful, and that is why we want to continue the provision for these committees under this new Bill.
§ LORD McCORQUODALE OF NEWTON
My Lords, my inquiries tend to show that under the Catering Wages Act all the sub-committees that have been set up have been set up where they have been asked for by both sides of the wages council. What I am arguing is that I trust that that course will be followed, because if it is not followed and they are appointed when requested by one side only it will lead to trouble.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I will certainly take note of that point, and I am grateful to my noble friend for raising it. I would again thank all your Lordships who have taken part in this debate for your support of the Bill, and I am very appreciative indeed of the extremely kind references which some of your Lordships have made to myself. I should like to thank you very sincerely for them.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.