HL Deb 20 November 1958 vol 212 cc725-7

3.5 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Provisions as to abolition, and variation of field of operation, of wages councils]:

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?


Your Lordships will forgive me for saying a word in explanation of a purely drafting point. The noble Viscount opposite, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, asked me on Second Reading why we were repealing part of subsection (2) of Section 6 of the 1945 Act. I replied that the substance of the words proposed to be repealed were re-enacted in this clause of the Bill, Clause 3. I suggested that the noble Viscount might like me to confirm that on the Committee stage, which I am very glad to do. This clause provides power for the Minister either to abolish a wages council or to vary the field of operation of a wages council on the advice of the Commission, and the procedure is exactly the same in either case. Therefore, the words proposed to be repealed in subsection (2) of Section 6 of the 1945 Act become unnecessary and they are accordingly repealed in the Third Schedule of this Bill. It is a purely drafting point.


I am grateful to the noble Earl for the explanation which he has given, which is helpful, although I am not wholly satisfied. Perhaps I have not followed his words closely enough. Section 3 of the Wages Councils Act makes reference to commissions of inquiry without application for a wages council order. I am anxious to make sure that there is going to be something really effective in place of the work that was formerly done under the statutory order which the Government is now repealing. I am not thinking merely of the repeal of Section 6, subsection (2), although that is quite apposite to what I had to say on Second Reading. I might have put down a formal Amendment to omit the references in the Bill and so have avoided putting myself into some confusion with those who have been negotiating on behalf of the trade unions. I am most anxious to establish that the machinery which will exist for bringing into review the industries which are really unorganised by trade unions will be effectively dealt with, not merely by a wages council but by efficient inspection. The noble Earl will have gathered from the debate on this matter, in another place, from which I must not quote in detail, that there is grave anxiety about the position, and if he could assure me that there will be adequate machinery for protecting to the last degree the unorganised workers in these industries I should be much more happy.


I cannot, of course, anticipate what the Minister may do or what he may be advised to do under this Bill, but I can assure the noble Viscount that his powers under this clause will be fully as effective as those provided by the words in subsection (2) of Section 6 of the 1945 Act which are being repealed by the Third Schedule to this Bill.


I am much obliged. I must accept that in relation to this Bill, but the noble Earl will understand my increased anxiety, because we have an understanding in the House (which was very closely followed, I am bound to say, by the Conservative Opposition from 1945 to 1951) that we do not, as a rule, in this House move any Prayers on a statutory order; and we do not propose to depart from that practice. But somehow or other, I feel uneasy and that we are not fully safeguarded. No doubt the noble Earl will be kind enough to bring that anxiety on my part to the notice of the Minister.



Clause 3 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.

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