HL Deb 20 May 1970 vol 310 cc1063-85

3.11 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Phillips.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Requirement of equal treatment for men and women in same employment]:

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 26, leave out ("or any associated employer").

The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' permission, I should like to take Amendments Nos. 2 and 5 with No. 1; these Amendments refer more or less to the same subject. I would speak first to Amendment No. 2. On Second Reading I sought to explain the doubts which existed under subsection (2) of Clause 1 about different areas where take-home pay may differ considerably. The noble Baroness replied, in cols. 161–2 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for May 5, to this effect: Where an establishment A has a man's wage of £15 and establishment B has a man's wage of £20 these establishments do not have common terms and conditions of employment.

Although I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply, it seems to open up the whole question of what the Bill means by "common terms and conditions of employment". Surely the noble Baroness's reply begs the question and jeopardises the Bill's intention. If it is held that because pay differs the employment cannot be equal, surely the whole concept of equal pay, of what the Bill is trying to achieve, goes by the board. I must ask the Government to clarify the meaning of this phrase "common terms and conditions of employment". The noble Baroness says that it does not include pay. What else does it not include? Does it perhaps not include bonuses, or time off, or fringe benefits?

Equal pay for a particular job should be the aim of any supporter of this Bill. I submit that what the Bill does not foresee is that if a London firm, for instance, has a man's wage on time rates of £20 and a woman's wage of £16, and if an associated firm in East Anglia has a man's wage of £16 and a woman's wage of £12, the East Anglian women could claim equal pay of £20 with the men working in the associated head firm in London, and they would leapfrog over the men who work with them in the East Anglian establishment. I think the Committee would agree that the result would be chaotic. That is not at all what the Bill intends, and it would lead to an increase in costs far above any estimates given by anyone hitherto. That is the situation which Amendment No. 1 first of all seeks to prevent.

The noble Baroness may well again deny the possibility and say that it simply will not happen. Very well. May I then ask the noble Baroness what happens to the women working in East Anglia if their male colleagues are suddenly removed? What happens if the employer, quite deliberately, to try to avoid the terms of the Bill, moves his men out, or, if it is an establishment where there is an enormous preponderance of women, moves his women into a single factory or place of employment? With whom then can they claim equal pay? As I see it, the Bill as drafted and interpreted by the noble Baroness on Second Reading will prevent the award of equal pay in a situation like this, and that is why Amendment No. 2 provides a safeguard for women in a situation where they do not have men at the same place of employment to compare with. The operative words are: or which would be given to a man if one were to be engaged on such work at that establishment.

The other two Amendments simply seek to discover the exact meaning of "associated employer". This turns on the word "control" to be found in Clause 1(6)(c), and as there is no interpretation of the word "control" I am using these two Amendments to try to ask the Government exactly what they mean by this word. The real core of these Amendments, however, is in the questions, which so far remain unanswered, on "terms and conditions of employment". I hope that the Government will be able to answer them now in terms which both sides of industry can clearly understand. I beg to move.


Do I understand that the noble Lord was also dealing with Amendment No. 2, because he did refer to it in the course of his speech. Are we discussing No. 2 as well as No. 1?


Yes, I spoke on the other two Amendments at the end.


Does the noble Lord intend to move separately and speak separately to No. 2 later on?


In the interests of time, I asked permission to take the three together.


While I have nothing to say about Amendment No. 1, I have a word or two to say about Amendment No. 2. I hope this Bill will pass rapidly to the Statute Book. I am all in favour of women; they fulfil many useful roles in society. But when I look at Amendment No. 2, I see that the noble Lord wishes us to say that: nothing in this section shall require an employer to give more favourable treatment to a woman … than … to a man". I agree perhaps with the noble Lord's intentions, but I wonder whether he has considered closely enough what the effect of this Amendment would be. It is a fact that many enlightened employers in these days—and I think it is a principle established throughout the whole of the public service: teachers, local government officers and so on—allow women to have a certain period of maternity leave from time to time if the circumstances should demand it, and that period of maternity leave under the terms of several of these agreements extends over many weeks. Apparently the Amendment which the noble Lord is moving would deprive women of the maternity leave which they now get, perhaps as a sexual concession, if I may call it that. I am sure the noble Lord does not intend that that should be the case, but I fear that the words he has used in the Amendment would have the effect of depriving these women—and there are millions of them—of maternity leave to which they are entitled under existing contracts and terms of engagement.


May I deal with the points in order? I am grateful to the noble Lord for linking his Amendments together. The meaning of "associated employer" is defined in the Bill, and there is no question of interpreting the term to mean that two employers are associated because they are members of the same employers' association, or because one is the sole customer of the other, or anything like that. I think the noble Lord's fear in this connection was that people employed in two companies might be considered to be associated unless this was very clearly laid down. I am not quite certain why he questioned the definition within the Bill. It is clear enough; namely, that two employing companies are to be treated as associated if one is a controlling company and the other is a subsidiary company. If there were no provision of this kind in the Bill matters would be left so vague that many companies would be left in doubt.

I turn to the noble Lord's second point. He gave a quotation from Hansard of my reply on Second Reading, but he did not give it all. I did say that if the men in establishment A are paid £15 a week and men in establishment B are paid £20 a week the establishments do not have common terms, and the women in establishment A"— these are the important words— cannot compare themselves with those in establishment B."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5/5/70, col. 162.] The noble Lord suggested that an employer could transfer all his employees from establishment A to establishment B and turn his organisation over so that he had all women working as opposed to all men. There is no legislation which could stop an employer from doing that. But the point under discussion was the comparison. If an employer has establishments in different parts of the country and pays his men differently, the effect of the Bill will not be to raise the lower of the two men's rates to the level of the higher. That is what was suggested in another place, I believe. A woman can only draw comparisons with men in an establishment other than that in which she is employed but which is owned by her employer if there are common terms and conditions of employment in the two establishments. In other words, she cannot take the one which has the much higher rate for men and say that that is the rate she is going to have. I can assure the noble Lord that the definition I gave on Second Reading is on record, and that this will be the one which will be accepted when the Act comes into force.


Is my noble friend going to say anything about this dastardly attempt to deprive women of maternity leave?


I think I said on Second Reading—and that is why I did not repeat it—that any legislation which already gives women protection of that kind will not be affected at all by this Bill. I can assure the noble Lord that the women would still give good value even though they were permitted to have a short time off for maternity.


I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. Unfortunately, we are in the situation to-day that I cannot say that I will go away and read what she has said and then come back later. I am left without a definition of "control"; but I believe there is a definition of "subsidiary" in the Redundancy Payments Act. I must say that if there is a definition of "subsidiary" in one Act and presumably the definition of "control" in another Act is the opposite, I should be content. But there is an important point here. As I tried to explain to your Lordships, there are words in this Amendment which deal with the situation of the man who tries to avoid and has deliberately moved his women labour to a place where there is no point of comparison because there are no men. As I understand the noble Baroness's reply, that will be a way of avoiding the Act. I can say no more to that. I am certainly not in a position to bring forward another Amendment, and with those few words I feel that it would be your Lordships' wish that I withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.26 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 3: Page 2, line 18, leave out ("in terms of the demand made on a worker")

The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' permission, I will take Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 together. Report No. 83 of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on Job Evaluation says quite early on, in paragraph 7: Job evaluation is impersonal, in the sense that it is concerned solely with jobs and not with the particular quality, competence or effort of the individuals who perform them. In intention, at least, it is the job that is evaluated and not the job's current occupant. I think it is quite clear from Clause 1(5) of this Bill that the Bill wishes to give a different interpretation. It wishes to place a value on the worker. The purpose of the first of these two Amendments, No. 3, is to discover whether the Government seek to strike some balance by valuing the worker and the job, or whether the Government believe that the whole concept of job evaluation, as described in the Prices and Incomes Board Report, is inapplicable to this Bill.

Subsection (5) of Clause 1 seems quite specific. It says that jobs shall be valued in terms of the demand made on a worker under various headings, (for instance, effort, skill, determination) …

Certainly, these words indicate the relevance of factors other than the three which are mentioned. But what the Amendment seeks to achieve is some acknowledgement from the Government that factors in these evaluations will not have to be related only to the demand made on a worker. The Report of the Prices and Incomes Board made it clear that these job evaluation exercises frequently include the importance to a job of experience, training, original thought, man management, responsibility, and of course, very often, working conditions. These are some factors which are often chosen in these job evaluation studies.

Therefore may I ask the noble Baroness this question? Do the Government believe that jobs should be compared and, if they are found broadly similar, that equal pay should be given to whoever does the job? As I understand it, this is the burden of subsection (4). Or, alternatively, do the Government feel that in job evaluation people should be compared for their physical and mental output, regardless of the job? If it is the latter choice, then it is indeed a new concept.

The second Amendment is a little less than fair, and perhaps I owe the noble Baroness an apology. It seeks to strike out words at the end of subsection (5) which certainly never apply to job evaluation, and which I contend are totally opposed to the intentions of the Bill. None the less, once the words are in the Bill it would be so easy for my intentions in trying to take them out to be misconstrued. Perhaps I should not have tabled my second Amendment, because it bears no relation to the real importance of the first Amendment on which I should like an answer.


I should like to say straight away to the noble Lord that the Government accept that job evaluation is an evaluation of jobs and not of workers. That is the first point. If I may refer him again to the clause with which he was dealing, the subsection speaks of a woman's job and a man's job being of equal value. But in order to evaluate the job, which may have a different content according to some common scale of value, it is necessary to do this in the terms of the demand made on a typical worker under such headings as effort required, skill required, responsibility required, and so on. As the noble Lord will know as well as I, this is actually how job evaluation is done; and it is necessary to say so in the subsection if the Bill is to make it clear that it is job evaluation techniques which are being dealt with.

At the end of the subsection we see the words, "demand under any heading". I suggest to the noble Lord that his Amendment does not really clarify the sense of the subsection; indeed, the exclusion of the words would make the remaining words of the subsection obscure. I know that this is not what he intended. But I should like to reiterate that it is the evaluation of the job, and not of the worker.


The noble Baroness very kindly said that I know the truth of the matter. But it is not that I know it at all; all I know about job evaluation is what I sought to read; and I did so fairly assiduously, not realising that events would overtake this Bill in the way they have done. I had hoped that some noble Lords who have so much knowledge of industry might have seen fit to take part in a short debate on an Amendment on job evaluation, but time presses and we want to get on.

I think that what the noble Baroness has told me is valuable, and I thank her very much. It may be lo the taste of noble Lords opposite if I remind the Committee that it was none other than Beatrice Webb who back in 1919, in a Minority Report to the Atkin Committee, said: There could be three ways of deciding on what is equal work. Was it equal pay for equal effort and sacrifice? Was it equal pay for equal product? Or was it equal pay for equal value to the employer? I hope that perhaps this Amendment has pinpointed that the equal effort is something of which we on this side are a little suspicious if we deal only with equal effort. But equal value to the employer is something of which the Government are suspicious, and they have gone out of their way to try to see that that is by no means the only criterion in the Bill. Therefore one is left with the question whether we are talking about the equal product; and though the short interchange we have had does not make the answer completely clear, at least it has helped to some extent. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

3.32 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 6: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

Review of restrictive terms and conditions of employment

".The Secretary of State shall, in consultation with such organisations as he thinks fit and as appear to him to represent the interests of women in employment, carry out a comprehensive review of terms and conditions of employment or any other factors which may limit the opportunities for women to enter into or advance in employment."

The noble Lord said: The subject of this new clause occupied the majority of speeches on Second Reading, and by the end of that debate we were all well aware that there are many occupations in life where women are denied opportunities. They were listed by many people: the Stock Exchange; the Church; medicine; representation on public boards and trade unions. They were just some of the examples given. Perhaps we should also reflect that women's professions are very often low paid. Nursing is one which is a fair example. I think that possibly noble Baronesses will bear me out if I assert that, even where there is equal pay to-day, women so often find themselves in the lower salary scales. As an example, men in work now outnumber women by two or three to one, but in the £2,000 to £3,000 per annum bracket men outnumber women by 20 to 1, and in the £3,000 per annum bracket the ratio is 30 to 1.

May I give a few reasons for this new clause? If the Government accepted it, I would warn them that they might find that it could lead to some necessary Government action. The 1965 Government Social Survey showed that the greatest attraction for women to go to work was the financial attraction. What a sigh of relief would be emitted from the teaching profession if women were encouraged to return to teaching by being taxed separately from their husbands! The same Government Survey showed that the main bar for married women returning to work was the obvious one of family responsibility. In many areas nursery schools are still a dream. Tax relief for the expense incurred in children being looked after for a married woman who wants to go to work seems to be something that is still unthought of. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, who told the House on Second Reading that 56 per cent. of working women were married, and that by 1981 the number was expected to go up to 66 per cent.

Your Lordships will be aware that Part VI of the Factories Act 1961 imposes restrictions on the employment of women, forbidding night work in particular. I know that this is a controversial matter, but it would be unrealistic to disregard the effect of these restrictions when equal pay in fact starts. The reaction of the men, knowing that the restrictions of the Factories Act are still continuing, may be a defensive one. The effect on the employment of women, particularly those women living near to new, automated factories working 24-hours a day, could be disastrous. If this new clause were to be accepted this matter could be discussed, and a situation which is often regulated by annual ministerial exemptions might be regulated by Statute.

In the United States of America, the Civil Rights Bill includes a reference to discrimination on grounds of sex. Your Lordships will notice that the Long Title to this Bill also includes discrimination, but it stops there. I would suggest to the Committee that unless we extend the meaning of the Title of the Bill to this new clause, we may find that women will become more segregated in their work, and that although equal pay will become the law it will be applied mainly to those women in low-paid employment. I beg to move.


I should like to support my noble friend in this Amendment, as I have had some practical experience in employing both women and men. I am chiefly concerned about equality of opportunity. Though we may have equal pay, that does not mean that there will be equality of opportunity. Unless you have equality of opportunity, the Bill becomes a farce. On the question of equality of opportunity, I should like to quote a figure given by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, on Second Reading when she said: In 1967 apprenticeships in science and technology for males numbered 9,630; for females the figure was 110."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 5/5/1970, col. 141.] The noble Baroness also gave the figures of skilled craft workers, and she said that there are 270,000 men and only 5,000 women. If we go on to draughtsmen, there 17,000-odd men, and only 350 women. I quite agree—and thank heavens for it!—that there are a great many differences between men and women; there are physical differences and, I suppose, emotional differences, though you can get very emotional men. However, there are great differences: and may they long remain! But to be a draughtsman does not require physical strength; and neither is it required in technology, so far as I am aware, or in science.

I should have liked this Amendment to be a little stronger, but as a small employer I realise that when women have equal pay there will be increased cost to industry. I understand that the cost may be about £600 million. I further understand that it will probably affect the engineering industry with costs of an extra 2 per cent., and as high as 18 per cent. in the garment or clothing industry. I do not think that that reflects great credit on the employers in the clothing industry.

I should just like to expound a new theory on this and to point out that there is another side to the question. I quite agree that it will probably cost industry a further £600 million, but if we take into consideration the fact that the State pours out a great deal of money for women who have been deserted by their husbands and who cannot afford to bring up their children, if women had equal opportunity they then might be able to afford to bring up their children. That would exonerate the State from paying out this money. I am told that 33 per cent. of the married women who have been deserted by their husbands are bringing up children without any financial assistance from their husbands. These women may have to take second-rate jobs.

Since the passing of the Divorce Reform Act, marriage does not offer such great security to women as it did previously, so it is now more essential that women should have an equal opportunity to earn a living. After all, their brains are equal to men's, and in my experience a large number of them are a great deal more intelligent than men. In addition to this we now have a population explosion, and I should have thought that if women had the opportunity to take up good employment they might not then feel that their only vocation in life was to have children. It is a fact that the average person needs to feel some justification for being alive, and wishes to achieve something. If women had equal opportunity there would be fewer unwanted children; and the fact of being an unwanted child has been proved to be a substantial cause of delinquency.

I should have preferred the Amendment to be rather stronger. The trouble is that old habits die hard, and even if women had equal opportunity some men employers might prefer to employ men. I am not advocating a sex discrimination board, since that would be quite absurd; but we have a Race Relations Board, and sex discrimination can be just as bad as racial discrimination. There are single women who have to support widowed mothers, and women whose husbands are in gaol and who have a great many children; and although the State helps them, the average person prefers to be independent of State help, because she has her pride. I shall not take up the time of the Committee any further. I shall say only that I have always felt very strongly that the object of legislation was to make the world a just place, and that on the whole women, and certainly intelligent women, have not had a fair deal. I should like to support the Amendment.


Of course what the noble Viscount has said is right, and we all regard equal opportunity, as he described it, as very necessary. But I seem to remember hearing Barbara Castle expounding this Bill, not in the House of Commons but at a conference, and she resisted an amendment of this type because she thought it would overload the Bill. And I am sure that she must have been right.


The right honourable lady Mrs. Barbara Castle was probably influenced by the trade unions in this matter, because I understand that the trade unions are rather anti-equal pay.

3.44 p.m.


I should like at once to thank my noble friend for her support. That is one of the problems with which one is confronted if one adds to the Bill. But I must say, on what is virtually an historic piece of legislation, that I am happy we have got this far. I think one can always move on to the other wider aspects of this problem. At Second Reading it was pointed out very fully—and of course I am very grateful, both personally and on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to both noble Lords who have supported the cause of women—that a great deal of this discrimination calls for education both of employers and of the community generally. We have still not fully accepted the idea that a woman should be permitted to work outside her own home if she desires to do so, and indeed should have some support and help in this.

I would say at once that it is rather a pipe-dream to assume that if we introduce a measure of this kind employers will automatically employ men because they will think they are better value. The percentage of women working at the moment is so high that without them the whole economy would grind to a halt. That is the simple fact of the matter there, so we are not in any real danger. Also, we must keep in perspective the number of married women working. In total, one-third of the married women are working. It is also important to realise that for mothers with small children the proportion is one in eight. That is not really a very high proportion of the total number working. These are factors which sometimes colour our discussions.

On the question of extra cost the answer is: Yes, this will cost more. But, as I think my noble friend Lady Summers-kill has asked on more than one occasion, has an economy any right to be made richer on the slave labour of the women? That is the simple answer to that point. Many women have been grossly underpaid and I have here some figures which, even for this day and age, are quite enlightening. In some cases the rates are literally half what the male is receiving for the same kind of labour. The Government are very much in sympathy with the general thought behind this Amendment, which was put over so admirably by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead.

But while there is this need for widening job opportunities for women, and for more women to take advantage of training (and here I would say to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, that perhaps the reason they do not take up jobs as accountants, architects, and so on, is because of the length of training; but these are points on which we have to educate the women and girls), the Government feel that there is no need at the present time for a comprehensive review of the factors which limit opportunities, because they are already well known. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, himself quoted from the survey on women's employment which the D.E.P. commissioned; at any rate, it was used during the Second Reading debate. Also, of course, there are a great number of other surveys which I have myself used on many occasions, as well as a whole body of academic and other research which is available on this point.

What is needed now is the practical application of the available knowledge, and the prime requirement is the education of the women themselves. This is what some of us seek to achieve. The introduction of equal pay is bound to have a profound effect on the whole question of women's employment, and it would be prudent to direct this change before widening the issue. I hope the noble Lord will accept that his comments on this occasion, and during the earlier discussion on the Bill, will have been noted, and that we may return to this subject later. But at this point of time, while having every sympathy with this Amendment, I must tell him that the Government feel that it is not acceptable.


I would just say to the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, that one has to be careful not to believe everything one hears at conferences.


May I say that I do when the Minister herself makes a statement?


I am very glad that the noble Baroness has such faith. It will stand her in good stead in the weeks ahead. The nub of this problem is that since 1921, although there have been increases in the number of women in the professions, and an incredible increase of a million and a half more women working in offices, the number of women in skilled or semi-skilled manual occupations has not increased; indeed, in some cases it has dropped. I am most grateful to the noble Viscount. Lord Massereene and Ferrard, for pinpointing from this side of the Committee the many ways in which women have not reached the higher-paid jobs.

Almost all the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, make me feel that both sides of the Committee are running more or less on the same lines in this matter, but I realise that the Government do not wish to accept this new clause. I was rather hoping that they might. Perhaps I may say to my noble friend that I deliberately tried to word this new clause so that it came within the scope of the Bill; and that is why it may not seem quite as strong as my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard would have wished. I will therefore take comfort from the Ministry of Labour Gazette of 1968, which paid tribute to the increasing willingness of firms—not so great as the noble Baroness. Lady Summerskill, would wish, but none the less the increasing willingness of firms—to make appropriate arrangements to fit in with their women employees. The Gazette also pointed to the industrial training boards, the Occupational Guidance Service and the Central Training Council as pressures for improvement. With that I think I must be content, and I hope your Lordships will be as well.


Before the noble Lord withdraws the Amendment, perhaps I may say to him, really to reiterate the point about education, that I was speaking quite recently to an employer who has a very large number of women employees and he said that quite frequently women would not accept increased responsibility with increased salary because it would mean that they were earning more than their husbands. We come back to the emotional and the social problems, and a recognition that this is a far wider issue than we realise. I think we have a great deal of educating to do.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Collective agreements and pay structures]:

3.54 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 8: Page 4, line 29, leave out from ("1919") no end of line 31, and insert ("which may order the parties to the agreement to amend the provision within such time as the Court may decide and to submit any necessary Amendments to the Court for approval.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8, and with your Lordships' permission I will discuss also Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. There is a single purpose behind this group of Amendments. In a collective agreement, where any provisions discriminate between men and women, the Bill requires the Industrial Court to make specific amendments, and those amendments are to be found in Clause 3(4). These amendments which the Industrial Court must make have to equalise men's and women's rates for any class of work named in an agreement, and must raise the rates for any work carried out by women only to the level of the lowest men's rates. My group of Amendments would not upset these objectives, but would place the onus of re-writing on the parties to a collective agreement. Obviously, there must be somebody to enforce such agreements, and the Industrial Court of course should do this. But I submit that as soon as compulsory arbitration is imported into agreements at such an early stage the responsibility of the parties to make, and to abide by, their own bargains really can be weakened, or even destroyed. It is this fact which the Amendments recognise and seek to rectify.

Perhaps I may tack on one question which is connected—and the noble Baroness may wish to take advice before replying. The last part of subsection (4) says that where in a collective agreement there has to be a provision specially for men or specially for women, because the provision applies to a job which is going to be done only by a man or a woman, then the agreement shall be amended so that the terms and conditions of such men-only or women-only jobs are not in any respect less favourable than those of all persons of the other sex to whom the agreement applies". If one has an agreement covering skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled work, and there is a women-only job in the unskilled grade, it seems to me that, with this wording, these women will have to be given equality with the skilled men covered in the same agreement. In other words, my question focuses on the word "all" in line 30. I know that this is not the objective of the Government, but I should like an explanation from the noble Baroness as to how, technically, this is avoided, because it seems to me that, with the way the clause is worded, the objective of the Government will not be achieved. I beg to move.


I should like to say straight away that the Government agree that it would be desirable for the parties to collective agreements to revise them themselves, in order to remove discrimination between men and women in a way best suited to the circumstances of their particular industry or firm. As the noble Lord has pointed out, it might be better, in one case, to carry out a job evaluation in an industry or firm, and there would have to be ample time (in fact, I think there would be, between now and the end of 1975) for this to be done. If a man comes before the Industrial Court before the end of 1975, the Court has the power—and we are now looking at subsection (3) of Clause 3—to make its decisions effective from a future date. This will provide an opportunity for the parties to revise their agreement in the intervening period so as to eliminate discrimination in some way other than that proposed by the Industrial Court. This is giving the time factor. Nevertheless, in the last resort, when the parties are unable to reach agreement, the Court must be given the power to eliminate discrimination in agreements between men and women, and the way in which this is done is prescribed in subsection (4) of Clause 3.

The Government believe it is desirable that the powers of the Court in regard to the amendment of collective agreements should be clearly defined in the Statute, so that all concerned will know where they stand; and the Government do not consider that it would be desirable for the Court to be given carte blanche to say how agreements should be altered. The proposal in the Amendment that the Court should have the power to approve or disapprove of amendments to collective agreements proposed by the parties will amount to giving the Court complete discretion to say what was and what was not satisfactory in an agreement. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that this clause was very carefully phrased.

In reply to his question, I would say that if treatment is to be no less favourable than that of "all" other persons, this requirement is satisfied if treatment is no less favourable than that of "any" other persons. This is the wording of the Bill.


I thank the noble Baroness for her reply, and once again I wish that there was a little time to go away and read it. The Bill does not say anything about the last resort. I cordially agree, I think, with all that the noble Baroness has said. The main plank of the first part of her argument was that the Government wish to see parties to collective agreements make their own amendments, and that then, in the last resort, the Industrial Court will come in, and be there as a longstop. But this is not what the Bill says.

In addition—this is the real worry behind the Amendment—the Bill does not guard against an agreement being amended by the Industrial Court against the wishes of those who are covered by the agreement. Surely there is a world of difference between, on the one hand, having a collective agreement to which the trade unions, for instance, have most willingly agreed, and then having some industrial trouble a year or two later, and, on the other, having an agreement where the Industrial Court has said, "Because of subsection (4) of the Equal Pay Bill, we have to make these amendments; and, whether you like it or not, you on both sides of this collective agreement will jolly well have to agree". Then, a year or two later, when there is trouble in the industry, it would be most reasonable for either side of the collective agreement to say, "Well, this was a collective agreement to which in fact we did not agree." This is the real worry which lies behind my group of Amendments. I do not wish to be impertinent but I should like to put one more question. If, in answer to my question, the Government say that "all" means "any", why on earth do they not say so?


I think the noble Lord's comment refers to the words less favourable than those of all persons of the other sex to whom the agreement applies. I think the noble Lord will agree with me that, when dealing with an Act of Parliament, what is taken on the Record in relation to this Act is consulted. If there is any doubt at all, one looks back either at the Principal Act or particularly at the OFFICIAL REPORT when the Act was passing through either House. I think the noble Lord can rest assured that a clause of this kind would be operated fairly. There are several safeguards and it is a lengthy clause.


In withdrawing the Amendment I think that those noble Lords with long experience of Parliament will agree that perhaps the noble Baroness is not absolutely accurate in her last remarks. The industrial tribunals are the people who are going to interpret this legislation; the people who make the legislation are both Houses of Parliament. But I think that this matter has been given a fair airing, I thank the noble Baroness for her replies, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Commencement]:

BARONESS PHILLIPS moved Amendment No. 14: Page 9, line 10, after ("below") insert ("the foregoing provisions of").

The noble Baroness said: With permission I will put points which are related so that we are dealing with Amendment No. 14, Amendment No. 15 and Amendment No. 16, which is the insertion of the new clause. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity said at the Report stage in another place—and I believe this was repeated during the Second Reading debate in this House—that he would consider giving the Industrial Court power to advise on the elimination of discrimination in collective agreements, pay structures and wages orders in the 12 months preceding the coming into operation of the Act at the end of 1975. The purpose of this Amendment is to make provision in the Bill for the Industrial Court to do this. Under the Amendment, those who are empowered to refer a collective agreement, pay structure or wages order to the Industrial Court following the end of 1975 can refer such an agreement, et cetera, to the Court in the 12 months preceding the end of 1975, for the court's advice as to amendments needed to be made under the Bill in order to remove discrimination in the agreement as it stands. The parties are not bound by the Court's advice, but it is hoped that an indication of the Court's views as to how the Bill applies to a particular agreement in advance of the operative dale may help in securing a smooth transition at the end of 1975.

If an order is made for an intermediate stage at the end of 1973, that order may provide for advice to be taken from the Industrial Court in the 12 months up to the end of 1973. The Secretary of State has power to refer agreements, pay structures and wages orders to the Industrial Court after the end of 1975. The Amendment does not give powers to refer agreements for advice before the end of 1975. It is to be expected that it will be the parties to the agreements rather than the Secretary of State who may be anxious in particular cases to obtain advice about agreements in the period before the operative date. It is hoped that this Amendment will commend itself to the Committee as helping all concerned with collective agreements and other pay instruments to amend them suitably to remove discrimination by the end of 1975. I beg to move.


May I ask one question? I was anxious about the last two lines of subsection (4) of the new clause. Am I right in thinking that the new clause refers entirely to references and that it does not refer to the coming into operation of the order? I do not want to seem obstructive; but it appears to me, on reading it, that these last two lines may mean that an order for an interim award would come into operation before 1973. If that is so, I should like to know the answer before the Bill finally passes.


I cannot give a direct answer. I suppose it will be of no help to repeat "refer agreements, pay structures, wage awards" because that does not cover the point. I take it that the noble Lord's interest is in interim orders.


I am sorry to hold up the Committee, but I should like a reply before the Bill passes. It is something to which we need a reply. My colleagues in the other place have put the point fairly forcibly that there should be different periods of time when an order could come into operation. I have deliberately not put forward an Amendment on this matter because I think the Government are being very fair, although I know that certain noble Lords think that they are not being fair enough. But if the answer to my question is that it can come into operation before 1973, that is something we should want to know.


By putting the question again the noble Lord has given me the opportunity of providing the answer. There is no question of an interim order fixing a date other than 1973.


May I ask a question for elucidation? The new clause in subsection (2) reads: A reference under this section may be made by any person authorised by section 3, 4 or 5, … I have looked at those clauses and, so far as I can see, it is intended that they shall be the parties to the collective agreements; in other words, the trade unions or bodies of that kind. But the Amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to Clause 2 sought to rectify what I thought was rather a singular omission: that no reference was made to a trade union or a body who could act on behalf of an individual in the narrower dispute in which that individual was involved. I was surprised to find that that Amendment was withdrawn before I could get up and ask some questions about it.

Subsection (2) of the new clause makes no reference at all to an individual who may not be a party to a collective agreement. I do not know what that means. If they were members of a trade union it is patent that they would be a party to a collective agreement; but if they were not members of a trade union—and unfortunately literally millions of women are not members—they would have no status at all, so far as I can see. They would not be able to make a claim direct because they were not members of a union; and I think that that would be unjust. But I do not know what assurance was given, if any, to the noble Lord. Lord Belstead, in regard to his Amendment No. 6. I do not know why he withdrew it; it seemed to me to be a matter of importance requiring clarification.


We shall be taking the Third Reading in a moment. I think that my noble friend will appreciate that he is referring back to a clause which we have already dealt with. I do not think he was here on Second Reading when we also dealt with this matter in some detail. We refer to wage orders or pay structures; and as I understand it an individual does have this right. I should have thought that if it referred to the first clause the new clause would automatically read back to it. I will get a direct answer for the noble Lord when we move to Third Reading.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 15.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 11, at end insert ("and references in this Act to its commencement shall be construed as referring to the coming into force of those provisions on that date").—(Baroness Phillips.)

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 16.

Amendment moved— After Clause 9, insert the following new clause:

Preliminary references to Industrial Court

(1)A collective agreement, pay structure or order which after the commencement of this Act could under section 3, 4 or 5 of this Act be referred to the Industrial Court to declare what amendments need to be made as mentioned in that section may at any time not earlier than one year before that commencement be referred to the Court under this section for their advice as to the Amendments needing to be so made.

(2) A reference under this section may be made by any person authorised by section 3. 4 or 5, as the case may be, to make a corresponding reference under that section, but the Secretary of State shall not under this section refer an order to the Industrial Court unless requested so to do as mentioned in section 4(2) or 5(3), as the case may be, nor be required to refer an order if so requested.

(3) A collective agreement, pay structure or order referred to the Industrial Court under this section may after the commencement of this Act be again referred to the Court under section 3, 4 or 5; but at that commencement any reference under this section (if still pending) shall lapse.

(4) If an order is made under section 9(2) above for section 3, 4 or 5 to have effect from December 31, 1973 (with or without modifications), then, without prejudice to the operation of subsections (1) to (3) above apart from this subsection, the order may make corresponding provision for those subsections to apply, with such adaptations as may be provided for by the order, so as to authorise the making of references to the Industrial Court during a year (or any less period specified in the order) preceding December 31, 1973; and for that purpose the order may be made so as to come into operation before that date.—(Baroness Phillips.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with Amendments; Report received.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution):


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Equal Pay (No. 2) Bill, has consented to place her interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. In doing so, may I reply to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Citrine. Individual women can take cases to the tribunals. I think this was the point raised during Second Reading. They cannot complain to an the industrial court about collective agreements.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Baroness Phillips.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.