§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved by Lord Delacourt-Smith (on behalf of Lord Shackleton) for the adjournment of the debate on Second Reading; namely, That, as the proceedings on the Bill have been curtailed in such a way that many of its clauses have not even been debated in the elected Chamber and the Bill is already causing grave division within industry and the nation, the debate on the Second Reading be adjourned in order that Her Majesty's Government may now enter into negotiations with both sides of industry free from the conditions on which the Government have so far insisted with a view to seeking agreed solutions to problems of industrial relations and the publication of a workable code of industrial practice.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HAILSHAM OF ST. MARYLEBONE)
My Lords, before I commence my remarks 201 on the debate may I be allowed to say, on behalf of my noble friends, how glad I am to see the Leader of the Opposition back in his place. I hope he has fully recovered and, if he will allow me to say so, that his temperature is restored to normal, and that nothing I say will cause him to have a relapse in that respect. Also before I begin my remarks I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Thomas on a very successful maiden speech. I hope that his unrivalled experience and rare capacity for a telling phrase will often be at the service of the House.
After very nearly 40 speeches on the subject, I thought that, rather than go through them all, the greatest service that I could perform to the House would be to try to draw the various threads of the debate together. This is not altogether easy since the procedural device adopted by the Opposition takes the form of a Motion which is before the House, and what is not before the House is the Bill. The logic and wisdom of the course which the Opposition have adopted is not, to me, self-evident. It is a matter which I shall wish to scrutinise later, but in the meantime may I begin with one or two general observations.
I begin at exactly the point of departure of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan. Britain needs an Industrial Relations Act, and so far in our history we have not had one. All we have had (and I think that I am here quoting as near as I can verbatim from the noble and learned Lord) is a succession of Statutes dealing piecemeal with subjects as they arose. In this single sentence it seems to me that the noble and learned Lord demolished in advance all the elaborate legal special pleading of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, and about 800 pages of Mr. Citrine's monumental work. All we have had is piecemeal legislation dealing with problems as they arose. What we have never had (and here again I return to the actual words of the noble and learned Lord) is a comprehensive code.
Lest the House should accuse me of plagiarism, I would humbly beg to remind your Lordships that this is exactly the point which I made on November 14 last, when the House was debating the Consultative Document on the Motion of the 202 noble Lord, Lord Byers. This country needs a comprehensive code and it has never had one. That was exactly the point I made—and it was followed up by the noble and learned Lord yesterday—when I drew a parallel, or rather a contrast, between the development of company law and the development of trade union law in this country. Both evolved from a point at which they were not recognised by English common law, one developing into a comprehensive code in the Companies Act and the other into a jungle of piecemeal legislation in which we have nothing in the way of a comprehensive code.
This leads me to the second general observation I wish to make, and that also was clearly established by the same speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, from which I have already borrowed. It is a complete answer to the point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, from the Opposition Benches. If the noble and learned Lord is right in saying that what we want is a comprehensive code—and that I believe to be at the heart of the problem—we cannot have what the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, described as a "short, sharp, simple Bill" to deal with unofficial strikes. We cannot have both.
Numerous noble Lords, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, criticised the Bill as long and complicated. I do not go so far as the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, also from the Cross Benches, in a remarkable speech to which I will return, in describing it as "light reading". That is perhaps to overstate an excellent case. But I do not think that the Bill is at all so difficult to understand as noble Lords affected to pretend. I think that they should at least remember that the Labour Government printed a Bill themselves after they retreated from In Place of Strife. That was a Bill in which the only trouble was what the toad, Mr. Jackson, said to Mrs. Tittlemouse in Beatrix Potter's famous story, when he was invited to eat a hazelnut.'No teeth, Mrs. Tittlemouse,' said Mr. Jackson, 'No teeth.'Yet that Bill, even without its teeth, was 97 clauses long, with eight Schedules, and this Bill is only 160 clauses long with nine Schedules. So I do not think it lies in the mouths of noble Lords opposite 203 to complain that this Bill is long and complicated.
The question of teeth enables me to deal with the second of the points of the noble Lord, Lord Williamson. He would have accepted, so I inferred, a short, sharp, simple Bill dealing with unofficial strikes or unofficial industrial action, which he described. I think perfectly correctly if he will allow me to say so, as being of the essence of the problem in Great Britain. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, also saved me the trouble of answering that point, because I largely agree with the noble and learned Lord that when all the dust has settled and when all the remarks about Tolpuddle Martyrs have died away those who will feel the impact of the Bill, so far as regards its sanctions, will bethe dedicated minority who have less interest in industrial peace than in the substitution of a new order of society and regard industrial unrest as one road to that goal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5/4/71; col. 45]The noble Lord, Lord Williamson, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, and I stand as one on that. That was a point referred to in the equally admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, also from the Cross-Benches last night, although I felt that he was a little unfair to the noble and learned Lord since he did not appear to realise that the noble and learned Lord had dealt with it in the way I have described.
I should also like to dispose of the fallacy that this Bill is what is called—whatever it may mean—"a lawyer's paradise" or, as the noble Lord, Lord Delcourt-Smith, called it, "legalism run mad". I do not know—perhaps the most reverend Primate can tell me—how many of my fraternity will ever reach Paradise. But I must warn them, and indeed the House, that when they get to Paradise, if they do, they will find no more to do there, because law is based upon the one doctrine of the Church which is entirely verifiable by experience—the doctrine of original sin. That is the tendency in human nature whereby the best of us do wrong occasionally, most of us do wrong from time to time and the worst of us do hardly anything else.
Original sin is what law is about. It is a set of rules, probably rather worse than the highest ethical standards, probably a little better than the average 204 ethical standards since its object is to raise the level; a set of rules which attaches to those who do wrong to their neighbours the consequences, more or less disagreeable, of their having done so. The Bill is about law in the field of industrial relations. It does not supplant the need for voluntarism, as some noble Lords have feared. It no more supplants voluntarism than the law of contract supplants voluntarism in business. It only means that people who break their word may occasionally be compelled to pay compensation to those to whom they have done wrong.
Incidentally, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, thinks that the Companies Act supplants voluntarism; or whether the noble Lord. Lord Davies of Leek, who made an interjection to that effect, thinks that registration under the Companies Act is a derogation from the free right of association? Because I can tell them that it is not legalism run mad, nor is it a lawyer's paradise. Yet the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, who is to speak next, will be the first to remind his noble friends that the Companies Act is much longer than the Bill, and far more difficult to understand. It runs into 300 or 400 sections, and many more Schedules. It gives, as this Bill gives—and it is for the reason, as I have tried to state, exactly parallel to it—privileges in exchange for registration and responsibility. The only pity of it is that this Bill was not introduced in 1862 when the Companies Act was passed, so that for more than 100 years trade unions could have flourished under the beneficient sunshine of the comprehensive code that we now wish to introduce, just as companies have flourished.
So I would say to the melancholy Rhine Maidens on my left, who sound such a doleful dirge about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the worse things which will befall us now:Be of good Cheer ye fearful saints,The Bill ye so much dreadIs big with mercy and will breakIn blessings on your head.Indeed, I should like to tell the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, who spoke bitterly of the employer who did not allow his workmen to join a trade union—and he said that these employers still exist—that for the first time in history the workman can compel his employer to act in accordance with the 205 doctrine of the noble Lord himself. That is what the Bill is about. He spoke, too, of the employer who would not recognise trade unions. But, my Lords, he did not say that for the first time in British history under this Bill a trade union can compel an employer to recognise it by operating the legal mechanisms which are said to be legalism run mad or a lawyer's paradise.
This was, I think, a little less than attention to homework. If you propose a Motion not merely that this Bill should not pass its Second Reading, but that it should not be discussed further at all—and that is, after all, the Question which is now before your Lordships—when your Lordships go (if you do go) into the Division Lobby this evening there is one of two courses open to you. It will be open to you to say that this Bill should not be discussed further at all in Parliament, or that it should go on to further discussion at length and in detail in Committee in order that it may be fully discussed. That is the effect of the Motion that the Opposition have thought fit to put before the House in preference to the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ LORD BLYTON
If the noble and learned Lord will forgive me for interrupting, does he remember that on the Rhodesian Order, which is equivalent to a Second Reading, the Tories voted against it?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I was not in this House then, and I do not know what the noble Lord is talking about. What I am discussing is the Motion on the Order Paper for which the noble Lord proposes to vote.
There are three points in this Motion. The first is that the Bill has not been adequately discussed in another place; the second is that it has caused grave division in the nation; the third is that the debate should be adjourned in order that negotiations should take place with a view to agreed solutions.
Before I deal with the premises, I should like to say something about the proposed conclusion. The noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, said something yesterday of what I was proposing to say. When I was Leader of the House, some years ago, the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Lord 206 Alexander of Hillsborough, was constantly telling the House and trying to impress upon me the doctrine that the Labour Party were trying to establish a constitutional convention that in this House the Labour Party would never divide upon the Second Reading of any Bill brought up from the Commons. That was not a convention which I personally felt inclined to accept, but I understand it; I could sympathise with the reasons which led noble Lords in that Party to observe it. They were concerned, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, candidly confessed to us yesterday, that a House composed as this one is (though it has since been greatly strengthened by the addition of Life Peerages) might take it into its head to frustrate the wishes of a newly elected Labour Government in carrying out its Election programme. That is, at any rate, what the late Lord Alexander of Hillsborough then led me to understand, and it is roughly what the noble Baroness told us yesterday.
But what do noble Lords on my left really think they will be doing if they go into the Lobby in support of the Opposition Motion this evening? What do they think the country would infer from such action? What, as the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, asked, do they think our customers abroad will think of it? I am aware, of course, that in form the noble Lord's Amendment is only a Motion to adjourn this debate. But surely noble Lords opposite will not deceive themselves with a sophistry of this kind. And if they do, surely the House will not be deceived. The effect of carrying the noble Lord's Motion would be exactly the same, in effect, as carrying the traditional Motion, That the Bill be read a second time this day six months hence, the conventional and immemorial method of rejecting a Bill on Second Reading. This Motion is only the old Motion for the rejection of the Second Reading writ somewhat large.
I understand the pressures which have been brought on the Front Bench opposite, but let no noble Lord opposite who goes into the Lobby to-night to vote for the Opposition Motion have any doubt in his mind about what he is doing. He is making a complete break with the traditional behaviour of his Party in this House. He is in fact, if not technically, 207 voting against the Second Reading of a Bill brought forward on behalf of a recently elected Government, which no one yet has suggested was not adequately foreshadowed in the Election programme. He is setting a precedent which, if it were followed by a Conservative Opposition in this House, would certainly give rise to what a Labour Government placed similarly to ourselves would undoubtedly describe as a constitutional crisis. The truth is that the noble Lord has adopted a device to save the unity of his Party which he would never tolerate if the positions were reversed.
However, the Motion is down, and it is therefore for me to answer it. The first point that is made in support of it is that the Bill was never adequately discussed in the other place. That is a case which can be overstated. I had the pleasure the other clay of discussing the extent of it with my honourable and learned friend the Solicitor General; and probably noble Lords will agree that after Mr. Robert Carr there is probably no other Minister who can speak with such authority on this subject. He told me that, such was the prudent latitude of the Chair, although many of the clauses had not been reached—and in that sense noble Lords can make what they like of the point—there was practically no significant part of the Bill which had not been fully discussed before it reached us.
But, my Lords, the principal point I wish to make to your Lordships this afternoon is that, even on the assumption that the premise is correct, in their Motion noble Lords opposite have drawn exactly the wrong conclusion and inference from the premise. The right inference to draw from the premise of the noble Lord's Motion is surely that which was drawn by the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and by the two right reverend Prelates in their admirable speeches. The right inference is not to send the Bill back inadequately discussed or to refuse to discuss it in Parliament. The right inference is to discuss it here; not to refuse to discuss it but to discuss it adequately, good-humouredly, tolerantly and objectively.
To do credit to noble Lords opposite, although they have professed to be going to vote for their Motion, they were very 208 eager to ask that we should listen to them very carefully in Committee which, if the Motion were passed, would never take place. I can assure them that we shall do exactly as they ask. We in this House, as noble Lords have pointed out more than once, have shown ourselves very capable of discharging our functions as a second branch of the Legislature of this country. We have, and we are glad to have, eminent trade unionists among our Members; we have eminent captains of management in industry; we have Privy Counsellors on both sides; and we have had already the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, with all his experience of a Royal Commission, taking part in this very debate. What tribunal is there better than this House for carrying out a good-tempered, non-obstructive, objective and rational discussion of this Bill? My Lords, let us keep it here. Let us show ourselves worthy of the confidence that the Constitution has placed upon us.
The second point raised in the Motion is that the Bill has caused "grave division within industry and the nation". The relevance of this point must depend in some degree on the extent to which the Bill has been misrepresented or misunderstood, and on the extent to which the provisions are sound and needed to create a more orderly climate in industry. But again the Government case is that the Opposition have drawn the wrong conclusion from the premise. If there are divisions about this Bill in which forum ought it to be discussed? Ought it to be discussed as a private affair between management and unions? Is not Parliament the very forum where the people of this country can make their influence known and where reason can prevail?
The Government's case is that ours is a country fighting for its survival. After the war we were, after the United States of America, the least damaged and most wealthy nation in the West amongst the major combatants. After 25 years of current policies we are now almost the poorest, with the lowest rate of growth. We believe this position to be intolerable. Our policies in this Bill, and our other social and economic policies, are designed to end this situation; and we are entitled to ask the Opposition what is their alternative. In this case we 209 know what their alternative is. It is a policy of non-discussion, a policy of adjournment, a policy of drift. The House is invited to choose between these two policies in the Division to-night.
I can conceive of nothing more likely to harm industrial relations in this country than a continued period of uncertainty about the Bill such as the Front Bench opposite recommend. Even if it were true that there is division, I can see nothing more likely to perpetuate division than the prescription offered by the Opposition. Let us use the opportunities offered by this Bill to justify ourselves as a responsible branch of the Legislature, to enjoy the time available to us in constructive debate.
The third point raised by noble Lords opposite is that there should be a further delay. If this Bill had been proposed ten years ago there might have been much in this contention. If it had been proposed in 1957, when I became Chairman of the Conservative Party and public opinion was already beginning to urge Parliament to act, there might have been much in the contention. It was for this reason that, for better or for worse, consecutive Conservative Ministers refused to legislate between 1951 and 1964. We knew that action was necessary but, rather than impose action upon a reluctant trade union movement, we tried to believe that the trade unions themselves, or the T.U.C., would put their own house in order.
When our period of office was at an end no one was more stern in his condemnation of us than the new Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition. He twitted us on our inactivity. He appointed the Donovan Commission, but three more years elapsed before they reported. Their Report was to some extent delayed by the fact that trade union evidence was slow in coming forward. The Donovan Commission reported that legislation was necessary, and although this Bill goes further than what was recommended in 1968 it contains many of the legislative recommendations of that Commission.
Another three years have passed. During the interval the Labour Government produced In Place of Strife, which recommended that legislation was urgently necessary. This document contained much of what is controversial in 210 the present Bill, but the Bill presents it in a less arbitrary and more constitutional form. And even when they had been driven off In Place of Strife the Labour Government sought urgently to legislate. The appalling truth is that whenever we propose action we know, and know from the speeches to which we listened yesterday, that the attitude of the Labour Party—I hope not the attitude of the trade unions, although they tell us it is the attitude of the trade unions—is that whenever we propose comprehensive legislation, whatever we propose to do we shall be left with a blank negative and not with an agreed solution. The attitude of the Party opposite towards legislation on industrial relations is that of St. Augustine in his prayer to the Almighty on the subject of chastity: "Lord, make me chaste, but not quite yet."
My Lords, what could be more naïve than to ask for an agreed solution? The time has come, after inordinate delay on the part of successive Governments, to do something and to stop talking. The time has come to look at the framework, and since the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, asked me to say what sort of framework I was hoping this Bill would produce I will conclude by telling him my answer to his question. We know that there are many strikes about unfair dismissal. This is a Bill which provides a framework for dealing with questions of unfair dismissal. We know that there are strikes about non-recognition of unions. This is a Bill which provides the mechanism for compelling the recognition of unions. We know that there are strikes about rival trade unions making rival claims of recognition. This is a Bill which deals with rival claims of recognition. There are actions like the recent case in the Court of Appeal in the case of Edwards v. SOGAT of gross injustice by the machine of trade unions against individuals.
This is a Bill which provides a complaints procedure whereby that can be remedied. There are strikes and industrial actions, we know, due to inadequate procedure agreements, and we know that this is a Bill which provides a mechanism for dealing with inadequate procedure agreements. There are strikes due to the inability of unions to induce their members to keep their bargains— 211 "unofficial strikes" Lord Williamson called them yesterday. This Bill has a mechanism to deal with them. There are strikes like those which appear in the newspapers to-day, when a whole factory is described as "a factory of fear". This is a Bill in which we decide whether we want such things, whether they are or are not to be in accordance with the law or against it. There are strikes and industrial actions which cause unemployment, which cast whole sections of the population into cold and darkness in the middle of winter; and this is a Bill that will provide some mechanism whereby perhaps this can be remedied.
My Lords, I appeal to the Party opposite to remember their principal philosophy; they are for ever "twitting" us for being the Party of the free-for-all; of the self-interest; of allowing things to rip. I beg them to consider how they can reconcile that with their Motion before the House to-day. I ask the House to decide over their heads that this is a Bill which must go forward to Second Reading for full consideration on Committee and Report.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I am sure the first thing your Lordships would wish me to do is to congratulate the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on the lively speech that he has just made. I am sure that it was intended to be helpful, although it was not exactly the kind of speech that I thought we should have at this stage in our proceedings, and it showed that we must spend a great deal of time on this side of the House in explaining what the Bill is about; in explaining what our anxieties are; in explaining what the trade union movement feels about it. Because it is absolutely clear that many of the statements made by the noble and learned Lord were totally out of context and out of relationship to current feelings. He said in one sentence—I will forgo all the others—that the essence of this Bill was that it provided privileges in exchange for regulation.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I beg the noble and learned Lord's pardon—in exchange 212 for registration. The noble Lord no doubt thinks that that is a very good thing, and that we should be very happy about it. It is very easy to create the impression of providing privileges by demoting people in the eyes of the law, by withdrawing rights which they have enjoyed for a century, and then saying to them, "But we will restore those rights if you will do certain actions under which your freedom may be further curtailed." The noble and learned Lord describes to this House as a privilege something which the unions have enjoyed year in and year out as a matter of right, as a matter of custom, as a matter practice. They are now to be told that that right will, under a gracious Government, be continued, so long as they submit to registration, under which all sorts of things may happen to them, including the determination of what they have previously freely determined of their own by an outside body, and without which they may be pushed into difficulties, penalties and damages of a kind which, until this Bill was published, no trade unionist had ever contemplated.
So I am bound to say to the noble and learned Lord, with the respect which everyone of us has for he who, for the time being sits on the Woolsack—
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am grateful to the noble Lord: if he will join me afterwards in looking at the construction I think he will see that both are available. But, even having regard to that respect which we bear the noble and learned Lord, everything he said on the merits of the Bill failed utterly because he was working on a hypothesis which we do not for one moment accept.
As to the attack on what we are proposing as a procedural matter, I did not think it was worth spending so much time of such an important occasion on a purely procedural argument. What we are attempting—and my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition will make this absolutely clear when he comes to wind 213 up—is to reconcile our duty of explaining to your Lordships why it is that such a large section of the nation feels, as it does, hostile to this Bill and that a great injustice is about to be perpetrated. While we feel that deeply, honestly and sincerely, we must not, because of the traditions of democracy which we hold even more important than our feelings on this one Bill, attempt to obstruct the Second Reading of a Bill which has received a Second Reading in another place, and which has some justification—not complete—in that it was mentioned during the course of a General Election in which the Conservatives gained power. In those circumstances, we feel that such a Bill should have its Second Reading in this House. We haw tried very hard to reconcile those two duties and we feel that we have succeeded.
We have put forward a Motion which, if it were accepted, would not be inconsistent with the Motion for Second Reading yet would be consistent with an attempt which we are still making, and shall continue to make throughout the proceedings on this Bill, to see that employers, employees and the Government are brought closer together in understanding one another's problems, and are not driven apart by anxieties and by a legalistic code which can do nothing but frighten—and frighten certainly the trade unions. I am bound to say to my noble friend who asked the question during the course of Question Time about the position of Law Lords, that I do not imagine that the speech to which we have just listened has entirely satisfied him that trade union attitudes would be fully understood by courts which included those who had the good fortune to have the same distinguished training and ability as the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, supposing that he, for example, were the relevant chairman or judge in such a court.
So I return to what is a much more agreeable task to me, to outline the very wide area of agreement which exists, and which has been demonstrated by all the speeches to which I was privileged to listen yesterday, and see whether we cannot draw on a wide area of agreement to secure a path forward that would be helpful in what is undoubtedly a most. difficult situation. There is agreement 214 about the special responsibility resting on this House—I need not to make that case again. There is agreement that certain areas of the Bill will need reconsideration. Not one large employer—although speaking with knowledge of employment on a large scale—who spoke yesterday failed to draw the attention of the Government to the difficulties attaching to the Government's present outlook with regard to closed shop provisions. There is without doubt agreement about the damaging effect of strikes, but I do not think sufficient has been said about the damaging effect, in the first place, and in the most painful way, on the strikers and their families. Those are the first to suffer. But the effect is also damaging for the economy; damaging for the employer; damaging for our exports; damaging in a way which has never been fully calculated, and which I believe, if it were, would be shown to be heavier than any one of us has contemplated.
There is agreement on the strikes statistics; namely, that unofficial strikes are worsening but that the general position hare is better than in most other countries, and certainly a great deal better than in the United States of America, from which the proposals in this Bill are borrowed. There is agreement, too, I am glad to say, on what I hope I may call shortly the Donovan diagnosis—and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, will understand that I am referring not to him personally but to the Royal Commission which he chaired with such brilliance and about which he spoke with such massively persuasive arguments yesterday.
That diagnosis was saying, shortly, that we need to develop comprehensive collective bargaining systems at local, level, because that is where the trouble has grown and is growing. There we have to help, and in order to develop these bargaining systems of a comprehensive and collective nature we need to strengthen trade union membership—because only with strong trade union membership can collective bargaining be both collective and effective. So we have now to try to see how we can proceed and how we can meet those agreed needs. But we come to the first difficulty—because, of course, every step forward should, according to that analysis and 215 the evidence produced, be consistent with an endeavour, an intention, to strengthen trade unions.
The first thing we notice in the Bill is that for the first time there has been elevated into a right or a freedom the right not to join a trade union, the freedom from being a member of a trade union. How can such an attitude as gives statutory effect to that right be other than consistent with an attitude of desiring to undermine the trade unions? To say that a man has a right to belong to a trade union, or to say that a man has a right to vote, is something worth saying. But to say that he has a right not to belong to a trade union, or that he has a right not to vote, is to elevate that principle into something which it does not at all justify. That has been something which has given anxiety and given suspicion of the Conservative Government, who do not start off in the very best position to demonstrate that they are the all-time friend of trade unionists. It has given anxiety and given belief that an underlying purpose of the Bill is to undermine trade union activity, trade union strength, instead of the reverse.
I listened very carefully to the speeches which were made in the hope that I should be proved to be wrong. But, my Lords, I was not wrong. Many of your Lordships made most authoritative and powerful speeches yesterday, but those which were made by Peers who were employers on a very large scale all referred in one form or another to the need to curb the power of the unions, to restore the balance of power, to put an end to bullying. A number of phrases of that kind came in time and time again: I could refer to them and mention names, if it were thought necessary. That confirms, surely, that employers who are giving their approval to this Bill take the view that the balance of power has been upset in favour of the unions and that it should now be restored, and that one of the functions of the Bill therefore is to diminish the power of the unions.
The case has never been argued that that is so. If it had been argued one might be able to deal with the argument. But it has never been argued. All that has been said is that it is necessary to increase the strength of the unions. The Government have said, and the noble 216 Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who opened our debate yesterday said, that they accepted the Donovan analysis. So I am bound to say that the conclusion to which I come, to which my noble friends come, and certainly to which the whole of the trade union movement has come, is that this Bill is framed in such a way as to diminish the power of the unions; to undermine their capacity to build for themselves a fair place in the sun; and that the passage of the Bill would undoubtedly see in the course of time the erosion of the trade union movement and its inability to carry out local collective bargaining arrangements of a kind that are essential to stem the advance of the increase in local strikes, which is our difficulty and which we are all concerned to reduce.
There are many other means, as opposed to ends, which are quite unworkable and irrelevant in this Bill. I will mention only a few. The first is the reliance on enforceability. It hardly needs me to repeat what has been so well said: that in the field of human relations of the particularly sensitive kind which exist where a man spends more of his hours of life working than in any other activity (that is to say, in his occupation), where his actions are determined by the employer; where his ability to work and earn a living is determined by his employer; where his ability to feel a member of society is determined by his employer; where his own powers are one, and one only, namely, the right to sell his labour—in an area of that kind, to introduce the element of enforceability is to go against common sense. One can overcome one's problems in this field only by co-operation of the highest kind; and that everybody recognises. Therefore the sooner one gets away from enforceability, the sooner one will be able to return to co-operation. And co-operation is essential, my Lords, if anything is going to be achieved.
Those of us who have had the problem of dealing with activities which are not strikes but are outbursts of lack of cooperation (let us call them) know how frightfully difficult, impossibly difficult, they are to deal with, and maybe a good deal worse than a straightforward strike based on some contention which can be argued. The point I am making is that we should not easily slip into the view 217 that if we can by some method block up the outlet of feeling, the safety-valve, which some strikes represent, and instead be compelled to suffer this kind of non-co-operative attitude, we shall be any the better for it. The difficulties will be the greater, not the less.
The next factor that makes this Bill seem to us both unworkable and irrelevant is the approximately 179 (so I gather from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan) new misdemeanours which attract heavy fines and which are to be found for the first time in this Bill—and when f say "for the first time", I mean that they were not to be found in the document which the Conservative Party put out before the Bill was published. These are new proposals, which have never been discussed before, and are against a background which requires maximum co-operation. These again are irrelevant, because of course they depend largely on employers' taking action to secure them, and everybody here who is an employer knows that to take this kind of action would only mean that at the end of the day you would be worse off than you were at the start. The purpose is to try to improve industrial relations, and this kind of action is bound to make them a good deal worse.
One way in which the Government think it is possible to escape from one's difficulties is to borrow from experience in the United States of America, as has been done in this Bill, and to have the various methods which they have adopted incorporated into a British Statute. I wonder whether the attention of your Lordships has been sufficiently drawn to the difficulties which are being experienced in the United States. Your Lordships know that their experience of strikes is far worse, in the sense that they have a far greater number of days lost through strikes per 1,000 employees than we do. It is a far worse figure. The difference is merely that the strike is prepared for, it is official, it is gone into fully and is to be relied on. One noble Lord opposite was talking to us yesterday about the difficulty of making estimates and how one's estimates all go awry when there are strikes; but so much is this so when you estimate for capital investment in the United States that now you have to take account not only of the use to which the plant will be put but 218 also of the use to which the plant will not be put. You have to take account of depreciation and amortisation during the period when the company will be inactive during a two-months or three-months strike. And that is the method which the Government are proposing to us in order that we may get out of our difficulties!
But the situation is really more amusing than that, because while we are borrowing from them in an attempt to overcome our problems, which are totally differently based and originate in a totally different way, they are having such troubles with strikes in certain areas, mainly the local authority areas, that they are sending teams over here to find out from us how we manage so well. As your Lordships know, they have had a particularly unfortunate experience of a strike in New York, a strike of a kind which is illegal, and so of course the president of the union concerned was put in gaol. As in the Betteshanger colliery case, which is referred to in the Donovan Report and which I am sure your Lordships will have read with amusement and benefit, it was found that once you have put the only man who could settle the strike in gaol you have to move to gaol in order to negotiate the settlement of the strike. When you have done that, you are then in the position that the strikers will return to work only if the official concerned is released from gaol. Of course nothing is easier than getting a man into gaol: the problem is getting him out of it.
This particular president of a very busy American trade union, having spent his life being subject to pressures of every kind, being criticised by those behind him and those in front of him for either going too far or not going far enough, criticised by the public and by his membership, decided that at last he had found the ideal holiday. Nothing could be nicer than to stay in gaol, having his needs cared for and not being subject to these pressures. So he said that he was very sorry, but for the first time he was having a break and that he proposed to stay in gaol. I do not know how much more ridiculous you can get, but the point I am making is that the kind of legal framework that the noble Lord who has just preceded me has recommended to us is something that will not appeal, will cause anxiety, will 219 frighten people off solid and constructive labour relations and negotiations, and will land us in enormous trouble.
So I come, as the noble and learned Lord did, to the new Motion that is before us, and I should have thought that there was not much difficulty in satisfying your Lordships as to the wisdom of the course we are proposing. Surely it is no longer doubted that the proceedings in another place were such as not to allow adequate discussion of new statutory provisons of a kind which are totally unknown to our law. Surely it is not difficult to demonstrate that there is grave division in industry and in the nation. Your Lordships must accept that the whole of the trade union movement, from top to bottom, is utterly opposed to this Bill. It is not always easy to unite trade union membership, but that is the situation, and it is evidenced, as your Lordships will have seen, by the recent rallies and gatherings. I refer particularly to the Trafalgar Square rally, when there were something like 120,000 to 150,000 people who came from all over the country to demonstrate their opposition to the Bill and there was not one incident of any kind. Every single member was a serious member who had come to show his opposition to the Bill, and not to create rowdyism or trouble.
There can be no doubt either of the divisions in the other areas. There can be no doubt as to where the Labour Party stand on this Bill; we are united similarly behind the trade union movement. Unfortunately there is division among the Liberal Party, and that is a matter which the Government should take very seriously into account. I gather that the Liberal Party, who voted for the Second Reading of the Bill in another place and then were satisfied on examination that it was not a Bill to which they could give their support on Third Reading, and so voted against its Third Reading, have now signified, certainly through one spokesman yesterday, their approval of the Second Reading. At all events, we hope to be able to demonstrate to them during the course of the Bill that their colleagues in another place were, after all, right and that the Bill should not go further than that unless it is completely altered.
220 The way forward is a simple one. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack suggested that we need a comprehensive code. I think he was referring to a code of law: what we need is a comprehensive code of practice.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, what I said was—and I hope the noble Lord will take it in—that I agreed with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, when he said that that was what we needed.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, of course the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, said that that was what we needed, and the noble and learned Lord. Lord Donovan, to whom I listened with the same care as did the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, then went on to say that the question we have to ask ourselves is "Is this the right Bill?" Those who had the pleasure of listening to what he said and then of reading the speech in Hansard can have no doubt of the conclusion that he reached as to the major part of this Bill.
So I return to what I was earlier saying: that the way forward is clear. It is by means of a code of practice. If only the Government would listen to this plea! It has been made on all sides of the House; it has been made outside the House, time and time again. The kernel of this matter is a code of practice, not a set of legal rules; a code of practice to assist those who do not know how they can best behave in order to achieve their common interests. A code of practice should be prepared as a result of consultation between the two sides of industry, with the Government playing their full part and contributing out of their great knowledge of these matters. If the code of practice were prepared first, and then put before the community and before Parliament, we could then see whether it was necessary at the fringes, or in any respect at all, to provide for reserve powers—and I literally mean reserve powers, powers which would have to be separately enacted by Parliament, to protect the code of practice at the fringes.
I myself think that it would be possible, in the present state of deep consideration which is taking place throughout the country, for progress to be made 221 in that way. It is not possible for progress to be made on the present plans of the Government. This is merely hammering a way through difficulties which do not yield to hammering but only to careful handling and deep understanding. There is a willingness to co-operate lurking below the surface, but it will not show itself while unions and their members have this anxiety and fear that they are going to be diminished in their power; that the rights they have enjoyed and fought for over the centuries are going to be taken away from them, and that they are going to be subject to interference and control by those who have no more understanding of their real needs than, with respect, the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, to whose speech we listened earlier on.
§ 3.53 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, if I may be allowed to say so, my attitude to the law in these matters will not differ substantially from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, nor indeed my ideas about the code of practice very much from the remarks which the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has just made; and I hasten to say that we came to our conclusions, as I hope my speech will show, quite independently.
"For the purpose of promoting good industrial relations". So reads Clause 1 of the Bill; and that is an aim with which all of us, surely, would wish to associate ourselves. That something needs to be done to improve industrial relations is surely beyond argument. It was recognised by the last Government, as well as the present one; it was recognised by the electorate, and ii is evident to all of us, not so much in the fact of strikes themselves as in the rate of increase of working days lost per annum, as well as in those miserable shambles that go by the name of settlements.
What would we give for industrial peace? The phrase recalls, if I may be allowed to say so, a phrase in our Second Lesson at Evensong on Sunday, which included, as some of your Lordships will know, that poignant lamentation over Jerusalem:If thou hadst known, even thou … the things which belong unto thy peace!I do not say that as a professional aside, still less as a polite acknowledgement of this particular week in which our debate 222 is occurring; rather to draw attention to the very ambiguity of the word "peace", not only in the religious context, but which is transferred to the industrial Context.
Peace can so often be a negative concept, mere lack of disharmony, all quiet, rather than positive harmony, creative partnership and personal and social fulfilment. And I ask myself—do not your Lordships ask yourselves too?—what kind of peace is this which the Bill envisages? For my own part, I think it is a middle manager's idea of peace—for Heaven's sake, all quiet in the shop. "Do not encourage them to think", it was said to a graduate engineer, "That will badly disturb them. Keep quiet". This Bill's view of industrial relations, it seems to me, is almost as shallow as that.
My main difficulty with the Bill is that it has, surely, the wrong title. In the light of what it contains, it is surely an utterly misleading title. With respect to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, it is not an Industrial Relations Bill; it is rather an Industrial Disputes (Regulation of Practices) Bill. It is legislation against trouble; it is not legislation for partnership. And the view of industrial relations which it takes is of the narrowest, as narrow as the worst middle manager in the worst shop. It seeks, rightly enough for its purpose, to establish rules for what one might call a "just war" between workers and management—not least, let it be granted, in the light of wrecking tactics by irregulars which none of us wish to see—and it seeks to provide, by seeking at certain points to curtail the power of the workers and the trade unions, for an alignment of forces during intervening periods of what we might call an uneasy peace.
It seems to me that this entirely accords with the exposition of the Bill given to us yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. It would, he hoped, provide orderly—and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack used the same adjective to-day—instead of disorderly industrial relations. I might say, in my metaphor, a plan of campaign rather than guerrilla warfare. But while order is certainly preferable to anarchy and chaos and campaigns of guerrilla warfare, in the sense in which you know when they begin and when they end, it is at most but the threshold to human 223 relations, whether in industry or society at large. That is my first point. The Bill in its title makes exaggerated claims and encourages what so far—a point I shall return to presently—are ill-founded expectations.
The Government may say that it is I who am exaggerating—I hope I have the grammar of that sentence clear. The Bill, as we have heard so often, is but the framework in which industrial relations can develop. It was said many times in the debate yesterday. But this brings me directly to my second point. The fundamental incoherence of the Bill, as it stands at present, is that as a Bill for settling industrial disputes, as a Bill for deploying forces on the battlefield, it is not only perpetuating but exacerbating attitudes and conditions which, by alienating the workers, make creative harmonious relations all the more difficult. By trying to do the one, it only succeeds in failing to do the other.
The social attitudes and the concept of industrial relations which this Bill enshrines are surely hopelessly out of date. I think the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack would agree with me when I say that, as a way to deal with industrial troubles, the Bill would certainly have been wise and just, and even radical, 150 years ago. What happened 150 years ago? I can take it to 160 years ago, and to my own County of Durham.The coal owners, having a reason for desiring the change which they had arbitrarily declared should be made, refused to listen to the men, and the latter accordingly struck after the binding day. The delegates from the different collieries held frequent meetings, both in the Counties of Northumberland and Durham, for the purpose of keeping the men united, but they were hunted about from place to place by the owners and magistrates, assisted by the military, and committed to prison in such large numbers, till the prisons would hold no more.What happened then?To such an extent was the old Gaol and House of Correction at Durham filled, that, for fear of infection"—the humanitarian touch!—several were removed to the stables and the stable yards"—of whom?—of the Bishop of Durham, where they were guarded by the Durham Volunteers, and special constables, and afterwards by the Royal Car 224 marthenshire Militia. Fresh seizures continued to be made, day by day, until finally the number imprisoned in the Bishop's stables amounted to nearly 300.The account continues:And, no doubt, the Right Reverend Lord Bishop of Durham slept a peaceful sleep in the calm consciousness of having served the cause of law and order by yielding up his stables for a prison-house.It was said yesterday that we ought to advance and forget the dismal days of the past. Of course we should. But my particular difficulty is that in terms of the attitudes which this Bill fosters and expresses, it takes us but a terribly few steps forward from ideas circulating in 1810. It would have been a magnificent Bill in 1820, but it is 1971 by this time. We shall not begin to understand the trade union reaction and that of my noble friends Lord Blyton, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, Lord Slater, and others, until we have realised how very little forward the thinking, the attitudes embedded in this Bill, have brought us.
One of my chaplains, who moves very freely in the industrial world between management and workers alike, said to me only last week,Workpeople do not feel that the law is their friend. When they also see a coalition of the Conservative Party, the Government, the managers and the law, they are terrified.That may be utterly irrational, and those people who say that may be utterly wrong, but if we are working, and are determined to work, for better relations within industry, it is a fact, a very serious fact and a very reliable fact which has to be reckoned with.
My question is: What does this Bill do to remove those workpeople's suspicions? Well founded or not, they are there as facts. The thought behind this Bill, broadly speaking, I think is twofold, as the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, expressed it, if I may say so, so well yesterday. The first idea is that law and order should occur not only as the basis—which of course we should all agree with—but as also the highest specification of human relationships in the field of industry. And secondly in particular, the right of the individual needs to be balanced with the necessary limitation of belonging to a community. That is all very true, especially if the first idea is 225 stopped half way in the sentence. But, like very much else that is true, it is very inadequate. It implies as superficial a view of the individual as it does of the community in which he is set. It reminds us very much of the polarisation between the Liberal 18th century sturdy individual and the Marxist doctrine of the solidarity of the community. We need to do something to integrate both.
Take as an example from the Bill itself this matter of the closed shop. As an expression of the right of the individual, what is sometimes called "personal freedom", the Bill says, "Let a man decide himself whether to belong or not to belong to a trade union". So exit the closed shop. But then, when we face the practicalities of the situation, what goes on in those buildings between people, management and workers alike, confronted with the actual facts of the industrial community, it has to be granted that something like a closed shop is wanted if reliable industrial negotiations, as representative discussions, are to take place. And the worker, who we started by saying must not be coerced into joining a trade union, finds himself coerced into paying contributions to something or other—there is a variety of possibilities in the Bill. In short, the realities of the industrial situation, the sheer practical need for employers and employed to get together in some kind of representative partnership, break through the superficial talk about freedom and the rights of the individual.
When I recently discussed this Bill with a group of employers in the North East—and, if I might guess, but it is only a guess as I do not know, they belong to the Party representing the Government to-day—I found not a single one of them (and over a dozen were there, from many different sections of industry) liked those agency shops. On both sides of your Lordships' House the merits and the need of the closed shop were abundantly recognised yesterday. So far as its philosophy goes, the Bill surely starts with all the simple principles, and when faced with the practical realities of the working situation beats a retreat covered by a smoke screen of intricate legal provisions from which every manager, as they told me in that meeting, will pray to be spared. If I understood them 226 aright, the smaller the firm the harder he will pray.
No one can disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, and others in their contention that the law has a place—of course it has—in industrial relations. All institutions must have a framework of law. Speaking from inside an institution which is surrounded by the most luxuriant legal plantations, in terms of yesterday's metaphors I am not sure whether I call it a "legal paradise", a "veritable garden of Eden", or not; I certainly know, as my colleagues on these Benches know, that it has extremely luxuriant vegetation. The constant pruning and replanting gives continuous satisfaction and, incidentally, an honest living to a good many people, not all of whom are lawyers. That being so, here is an institution with enough law about it to satisfy anybody.
I then ask myself: Do I know of any cases where the law has improved relationships? The rather surprising answer that I gave myself was, Yes. But only in the sense that it has parted people who were acrimonious when they were together; and it has also got rid of objects which everybody disliked. In other words, law is at its best in separating parties, in defining positions; not in reconciling and not in harmonising. I could not agree more with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack when he connected law and original sin. But then I asked myself: Do I know of cases where the law by itself has led to creative harmony, reconciliation and development? The answer was: No, indeed. No healthy, progressive institution thinks of its life entirely in terms of its legal skeleton, and I am sure that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack does not think like that either.
This takes me back to my third point, to the point where I am close to the position of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond; back to the qualification I made a little while ago. It seems to me that the most important clause of the whole 160 is Clause 2, and I take up the point made by the noble Lord. Lord Rochester, yesterday, by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor himself to-day, and by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, a short while ago. If we want to improve industrial relations it is not law, but the 227 code of practice freely agreed by managements and workers together, which should be definitive and the other provisions of the Bill should be derivative.
It is not the Bill which provides the framework. The framework should be in the code of practice. Procedures for disputes and for the regulation of unfair practices for which, this Bill amply provides, should be secondary to the climate which the code of practice defines. Far more important for industrial relations, in their broadest sense, than most of the provisions in the Bill is the code of practice which we are promised. To talk of this Bill being the framework is not only to put the cart before the horse; it is to forget that the horse is not, so far as I am aware, yet in the stable. And yet without this horse there will be no progress whatever in industrial relations, if we take that phrase in its fullest and proper sense.
What is required is a new framework of law for all industrial and commercial enterprises, and not merely what might called new Queensberry Rules. We want a new framework of company law—if I may take the idea that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor partly touched on, partly suggested, at least to me—which could encourage not the tactics and strategy of a battlefield, but responsible partnership between all those who combine in industry for the welfare of the nation. If this comes anywhere in this Bill it seems to me, as I have said, to be found only in the mandatory code of practice, and not in the rules for fighting a just war.
May I illustrate, to show that it is not an empty suggestion that I am making to your Lordships' House? I should hope, for instance, that such a code of practice might include a legal right of shop stewards to have day release, industrial relations training—an idea which I, think was first suggested some nine years ago. It would contain provision for many more joint management-union training schemes. It would contain a vast improvement in the industrial relations training for graduate managers, who normally have only technical qualifications. It would provide a legal right for every worker to have access to joint consultative machinery. It would include a 228 legal right for every worker not only to be given information about his company—and this should not he hedged around with all the qualifications in the present Bill—but, especially, about the company's financial position and future problems. If balance sheets are too hard to understand now, I should hope they would be easier in 20 years' time. Furthermore, the worker should hear all this directly from his manager and in his natural work group, with opportunities for discussion. Such a code of practice might include the emergence of alternative strike methods and, perhaps, the creation of local groups of experienced conciliators or arbitrators, who could be on the scene quickly in any dispute before serious issues emerged. Those are but suggestions as to what a code of practice might contain, and for me the fact that this Bill contains a reference to a code of practice is its saving clause.
But here, with that independency which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn mentioned yesterday, I would make an earnest plea. As your Lordships will know, this Bill has a miserable record of consultation. Employers, as much as trade unionists, have on different occasions poured scorn, in my hearing, on that so-clalled Consultative Document, which was mentioned yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, dated October 5 and asking for comments by the end of October. Views received up to November 13, we were told, could hardly be considered because of the exigencies of the Parliamentary timetable. My Lords, what a desperate hurry after 150 years! But what would do most of all to create a new atmosphere would be to have this code of practice, mandatory on employers and workers alike, published before a final decision has to be made on the Bill.
Further, in an area as significant as this is to every man, woman and child in the country—this is not my idea; it is the idea of those employers who met with me the other night—could we not have at least as much publicity given to this area as was given to decimalisation? If the Government want to begin, as I believe they do, to create a real partnership in industry, if they wish to initiate a creative harmony, which is the true base of what we want to see in industrial relations, could they make some 229 gesture, such as publishing the code at an early date with great publicity given to it, simply to show how seriously they are taking—not so much industrial relations, perhaps, as human relations over the whole field of our industrial life? Could there not be initiated at once genuine consultation—not consultation with that travesty of a meaning attached to the Document which I have already mentioned, but genuine consultation with trade unions and management, meeting together to elucidate and comment on a code of practice, under some chairman who commanded all-round support? Here I suggest the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor spoke of not waiting for agreement I quite agree that agreement might not eventually come from such a meeting. But all we can say is that there is no virtue whatever in forced agreement; indeed, it is a contradiction in terms. Is it ever too late, at least in Government, to talk, and to make sure people talk together, for the code of practice to be enunciated? When we had such a code, we could then eventually pass this Bill, as amended, as part of a wider mandatory framework to improve industrial relations generally. That would be, it seems to me, to put first things first. And it is no fond, fantastic hope, my Lords. I am thinking, for instance, of the way in which the procedure for dealing with demarcation disputes was agreed between both sides of the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry in 1969 as one evident way of industrial partnership. There, talking eventually succeeded.
If I thought that the code of practice was to be some entirely ineffective document—and I am not encouraged, I confess, by what is said in the Bill about sharing information; if I thought the code of practice was to combine shallow thinking and practical ineffectiveness, I should want to vote against the Bill on Second Reading. My reasons, indeed, would be not unlike those which led Mr. Harold Macmillan, from a knowledge of the North-East, to say what he did in 1927 in the debate in another place on the Trade Disputes Bill. What did he say? He said that it was:… not that the intention of the Bill is wrong …"—230 not at all, I interpose to comment—but that the inevitable psychological effect upon the delicate situation of our industrial fabric in the particular circumstances of the moment is likely to be bad, and is likely to be dangerous to the well-being of the community''.That was Mr. Macmillan speaking on the Trade Disputes Bill in 1927. What we can do in this House is to ensure, if we can—and surely all of us wish it—that this Bill brings well-being and not disaster; for I am not at all sure that the parallel with 1927 is not rather closer than we care to admit.
Like many other noble Lords on both sides—and Cross-Benchers as well—one wants, in a situation as complex and intricate, and, indeed, bedevilled as this, to be positive and helpful. Because I am confident that some kind of Bill is needed; because I am confident that noble Lords on all sides of the House will amend the Bill in relation, for example, to its closed shop and agency shop clauses, I shall not support what I understand from the Press may be the suggestions of my old friend, the noble Lord, Lord Blyton. Yet—and I say this in honesty; it is not a sophistry—if it would encourage the Government to produce a code of practice before the Bill becomes law I should certainly want to support the Motion in the name of the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton; and the fact that this Motion has originated from the Opposisition will not, I hope, mean that ipso facto it is dismissed as political chicanery. I do not myself, as a novice in this place, see it as excluding a Second Reading. If it does, the sooner we alter our procedures the better. But also if it does, and we cannot vote on it in order to let the Second Reading go through, if there is that complex procedural jungle, I hope that this suggestion about a code of practice before finally the Bill is agreed will, nevertheless, somehow be carried out.
It seems to me, my Lords, that here we have an opportunity, after all these many years, to begin to repair the breaches, to heal wounds which, unless they are healed, will make our industrial malaise a terminal illness. Out of the strife in Parliament and the country, possibly I see, however dimly, a new way forward—not least from the tone and tenor of yesterday's debate. May 231 I, I hope not presumptuously, say to the Government: Do keep your determination; do indeed do something about it. But do, please, broaden your views. Do pay careful heed to all those on whom industrial relations have got to depend, and do not think of the opposition of the trade unions as cussedness. Let us now make one more effort, in terms of consultation on the code of practice, in terms of the timing of the code of practice, after the things which belong to our industrial peace: peace in the sense of creative partnership succeeding in making progress through all the inevitable tensions of industrial life because of the trust—the trust which each section of industry may then have, and have confidently, in one another.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ LORD THORNEYCROFT
My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham. If I may say so to him, I find myself in slightly more agreement with the speeches delivered yesterday by the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Southwark and the Bishop of Blackburn, but I think this difference indicates only that on complicated subjects of this kind honourable men may reasonably hold different opinions. The Bishop of Durham was, as I understand from his speech, following some tradition in the case of Bishops of Durham in intervening in industrial matters, though in this case on a slightly different slant. The proposal that he put forward, that we should rely solely upon a mandatory code of practice, though in a sense attractive would, I think, require a code of practice of immense detail and a legal application of incredible complexity. I cannot believe that such a proposal would be very acceptable to anybody in industry, whether in management or in the case of the trade unions. Nevertheless, there is one thing upon which I did agree with him; that is, that in the last resort it is in the knowledge of humanity rather than in the administration of law that the future wellbeing of industrial relations is likely to rest—and that rather brings me to what I wanted to say in opening from this side of the House.
In a debate on industrial relations, I think it is perhaps worth remembering what is right with the trade unions as 232 well as what is wrong. What is, after all, right with the trade unions is that the vast majority of agreements are in fact honoured, and honoured meticulously, by those who enter into them. The vast majority of disputes—and they happen every day on the shop floor of every factory in this country—are in fact settled on the spot. The vast majority of potential strikes are in fact avoided; and if I may say something which I hope will counteract the worst fears of those who seem to take rather a gloomy view of the future of the trade unions under this Bill, I do not believe that a provision that men need not join a union will in any material way affect the membership of trade unions. They are too deeply established in this country, too widely accepted and respected, their value too deeply accepted really to have their membership affected in that way. So, as we approach any discussion—and what I have to say will be very brief—about the general principles of this Bill, that is the first factor I would have in mind: that a great deal is very right with the unions.
As to what is wrong, if I may, I will take up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. He expressed a view about some industrialists who had spoken from this side of the House. I am an industrialist. The firm with which I am associated also employs thousands of men and women. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that an industrialist wants strong trade unions and not weak ones. The fear that is in people's minds to-day is not that the trade union movement is too strong; the fear is that in some quarters it is too weak; that power has been slipping from the hands of those who lead the unions; that power is somehow slipping away even from the rank and file; and that it is held in some sort of indeterminate middle position with nobody really in control. That is the fear to-day.
As I look to the other side of the House during this debate, I have the privilege of seeing men whom I would count among my friends who were strong leaders of strong trade unions and who played an enormous part in the success of the industries of which they were a part. It is men such as they and unions such as that that in this country we want to devise and make possible to 233 grow and to thrive. That is the second factor that I would have in mind. The third factor is that, because of those, as we discuss this Bill (as no doubt we shall, on Committee stage) I think we want to look extremely carefully to see that in trying to improve situations we do not erode the good in the unions. I think that we ought to listen with great care to all the arguments that have to be advanced in matters of this kind and in any way—listening calmly and quietly, because we debate calmly and quietly in this House, to the arguments of men experienced in various walks of life in this field—to see whether we can improve the Bill even beyond where it is to-day.
My Lords, those are the opening factors. I have three arguments only and I will deal with them shortly. They are three arguments which have been, as it were, addressed to us about the Bill. At least I think they have been; though it is sometimes a little difficult to know precisely what the argument is. There is the argument—I think it has been used in this House—that we really ought not to have a Bill; that somehow or another there is nothing really wrong, or at any rate nothing so wrong that by a little more discussion it could not be put right so that in some way or another our difficulties would be removed. Of course, if there is really nothing wrong, then it is true to say that there is no need for a Bill and I suppose that we could all vote happily on the procedural device put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
I am not sure that that was the argument put by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, in opening. He felt—I may be wrong—that a Bill was necessary. He had some criticisms to make about it, but he felt that some legislation was necessary on this subject. I am bound to say that I think that that must surely by now be accepted. It was, after all, the view of the previous Government—and decisions of that kind are not come to lightly. You do not put up a Bill on industrial relations—certainly not a Labour Government—without the deepest thought. There was the White Paper,In Place of Strife. Anyone who knows what goes on inside a Cabinet—the arguments, the discussions, the drafts that are discussed—knows that before the 234 Labour Party came out with legislation on that subject they must have been satisfied beyond peradventure that it was essential in the interests of the country that we should go into legislation on this matter. It was certainly their view then. And it was the view of the electorate; because, whatever else can be said, this was an issue fairly and squarely put before the electorate. It was the view of the Conservative Party in Opposition; it is the view of a Conservative Government to-day. And why? I think the reason why was put by Mr. Wilson when he was Prime Minister. He put it absolutely plainly: that no responsible Prime Minister could go forward without taking the responsibility of introducing legislation in this field.
There are differences of view as to the nature of the clauses and the methods that can be adopted; and these were argued very lucidly, if I may be permitted to say so, in a speech of great interest and importance by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, yesterday. He took the case of the Donovan Report as one possible line; or the White Paper, Fair Deal at Work; or Mrs. Castle's Bill. He compared them all. I do not propose to weary your Lordships with comparing one with another. There are differences about the closed shop, about enforcement; whether it should be through the employers or through the Secretary of State. These are all in the nature of points that can be debated on Committee rather than points that really go to the root of a Second Reading debate.
If one may take up the proposals of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, yesterday, she suggested that we might have introduced a Bill really in the form of her own Government's, In Place of Strife, pruned a little here and there to suit her, and all would have been well. If I may say so, I think that that is an illusion. A Bill introduced by a Labour Government on those lines was torn to pieces by the trade unions, with such effect that it had to be abandoned by a Labour Government. The idea that it would suddenly become possible because it was introduced by the Tories is an illusion. I assure the House that there is no Bill which can be introduced in this field which is not going to come in for a great deal of criticism—and there is no harm in that; because great 235 issues ought to be criticised in debate, ought to be threshed out, ought to be discussed in this House and in other places.
The second argument, as I understand it, is that the Bill is unworkable. It is certainly complex and I can see arguments in favour of this in the form in which responsibility for action is placed upon the employers. Speaking for a moment as an employer, I would say that the last thing that employers want to do is to get at cross purposes with the trade unions. They have to live with them. If everybody has gone out to work some unfair practice or has come out on some political strike, I do not imagine that the employer on the first occasion will do much about that—or even on the second occasion. But I think that there will come a moment when he might wish to do something about it under some legislative Bill. But no one would really pretend that enormous, sweeping changes are suddenly going to take place, just because an Industrial Relations Bill has been introduced. If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, I quite agreed with that part of his speech. But, as I understand it, it has never been part of the case of anybody who has argued for the Bill that the mere passage of the Bill is going to have a sort of revolutionary effect and that everything afterwards is going to be sweetness and light.
Whether the Bill is workable will not really depend on what we say in this House; it will depend on public opinion. This Bill would be unworkable, utterly unworkable, if it had not a broad basis of public opinion behind it, and if, moreover, there were not many trade unionists who, deep in their hearts, were supporting it. It will work, my Lords, because there is a good deal of opinion on its side. It will work because trade unionists, while they may think—quite rightly—that some want protection against managers (some, too, want protection against unions) realise that every man in this life, in every organisation in which he works and lives, likes to know the rules under which he is working and living. He likes to know what is fair and what is not fair. So far as possible, he likes to have it down in black and white. The Bill will work 236 because quite a number of trade union leaders are tired of seeing power slip from their grasp into hands of people far less worthy to control the interests of their members. Noble Lords on the other side of the House know this as well as I do. And they know how difficult it would be for union leaders to say so, at any rate in terms quite as explicit as those I am using now.
The third and the last argument with which I wish to deal is that the unions do not want it. I do not think that that is a very good case. The early Kings of England did not want it very much when constitutional rule and practice was first being imposed upon them. The Barons of England disliked very much the attempts of Parliament to curtail their various operations. At one time the landlords fought a long rearguard action against the curtailment of their power. The secret ballot was once very much attacked in the political field in this country. It was said that it would lead to all sorts of troubles. The most ingenious devices and arguments were put forward, not very different from the ingenious arguments advanced by trade unionists to-day about the secret ballot. But, my Lords, a hundred years later, looking back there may be some who think it was the wish of the Tory landlords to know which way the serfs were voting which was the real reason for the attack on the secret ballot. We want to be a little careful how we frame these arguments against secret ballots. They have a certain element of democracy in them which is not altogether to be denied.
Finally, my Lords, I would say that in any event these arguments tend to be a little contradictory. The Bill really cannot be so complex as to be unworkable on the one hand or so powerful as seriously to damage the trade union movement on the other. There are two points which are not in the Bill. I would mention them very briefly, though I realise that it may be difficult to introduce anything else now. Nevertheless, I think they are points which are just worthy of being made. One relates to ballots. If we are to have ballots, for heaven's sake! let us lay down the basis on which they are set up. The responsibility ought to be placed fairly and squarely on employers. They should be compelled to make the necessary arrangements for providing the space and locality and anything else that 237 is required in order that a ballot should be carried out. If you are going to have a ballot, it should be done properly.
The second point refers to pickets. My Lords, the right to picket is an old and valued right in this country. It dates from the days when men called the attention of their fellow workers to the fact that an industrial dispute was going on inside the factory. I think pickets should be composed of people from within a factory; the "rent-a-picket" theory is not an attractive one in this country. By all means let men who work in a place say what they will to their fellow workers. But the bus-loads of people who may be carted about to act as pickets are not essential to the picket system, and this matter ought to be looked at with very great care.
My Lords, I would say only this in conclusion. This Bill is one step on a very new road. We are moving into a new world. The relations between unions and management are changing all the time. The information that is given to unions is not concerned solely with wage claims; to-day it is concerned with the way that businesses are being run. I would give one example from my own experience, regarding a firm with which I am concerned. The other day we were having a discussion with the shop floor, not about wages but about the way the balance sheet looked. We said to the shop floor representatives, "What do you think we ought to earn?" They said, "We think you ought to earn 15 per cent. on capital employed". My Lords, more and more, the discussions that are taking place in industry are about the realities of management, the realities of success or of failure in a business in which, after all, we are to-day all employees. We all, or virtually all of us, are servants of these companies, and this is what the discussion is going to be about. This Bill is one first tentative step along that road.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD BERNSTEIN
My Lords, to-day I ask for more than the usual indulgence that your Lordships give to a Member of this House making his maiden speech. Unlike so many Members of your Lordships' House, I have not had the experience of speaking in the other place. My rhetorical experience is limited. It 238 is confined largely to speaking at General Elections—every General Election for many years now—when I support the candidates of the Party of which I have been a member since I was old enough to think. But here my record may not appeal to noble Lords on this side of the House, for every candidate for whom I have spoken has been defeated.
My Lords, it is a year since I had the honour of being introduced into your Lordships' House. Since I was introduced there have been few topics debated about which, after listening to the speeches or noting the speakers, I felt that I should be able to make a significant contribution. But had I known who the four previous speakers to-day were to be, I should have "dived in" much sooner.
In supporting the Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Shackleton I speak with some practical experience of industrial relations. For 40 years, ever since its foundation, I have been the active executive chairman of a public company, and I have been deeply involved in the day-to-day management. That company has a staff of 8,000. That may not seem as many as some noble Lords mentioned yesterday that they employ, but I suggest that I am perhaps more deeply involved with those 8,000 than are other noble Lords with their employees. It is a staff which includes engineers, electronic engineers, film editors, television directors, cameramen, publishers, editors, designers, writers, sales staff, canteen workers, drivers, cashiers and carpenters—in short, a pretty wide community, comprising all kinds of people.
Over the years we have had our debates and differences, with a dozen or more unions involved. The system has worked; but our relationship with them has not always been a question of love and kisses. Sometimes the unions have not been as accommodating as we, and especially big management, might have wished; and doubtless they could say the same about us. In business life nobody is as accommodating as one would like them to be—certainly not my bankers; certainly not my competitors; and even Government Departments do not always accommodate people in the way they would wish. Many agree that industrial relations need a change. But 239 that does not mean that we should welcome any measures that any Government try to bring in to improve matters. I do not intend, however, to take up your Lordships' time by speaking in detail on the reasons why I do not think the Industrial Relations Bill is the answer to our problems. What this Bill cannot do, what it signally fails to do, is to make management and the people on the shop floor co-operate; and that surely is what an industrial relations Bill should be about-co-operation; not the ability, with years of legal training or any other kind of training, to win a legal debate. That will not have any influence on the shop floor at all.
I speak as a businessman. I thought of the word "industrialist", or "tycoon", but I went back to "businessman". I speak in support of this Motion because I believe, with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, that it gives the Government a chance, in the light of all that has been said and written, to reconsider their position. I think that most noble Lords will agree that this Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Parliament has ever had to consider. It is a Bill that arouses very strong feelings, and these feelings are not just emotional: they reflect deeply held convictions, the convictions of many thousands of trade unionists, managers, employers, and even some politicians.
Everybody, of course, wants better industrial relations, and if we are to achieve them we must aim not only at responsible union membership at all levels but also at a better understanding by management of the conditions and problems of people's working lives. As we all know, many people hold the view that some legislation is desirable. Others have had a try with the same purpose—and not so long ago. But I hope that we shall not get bogged down with all that. What is the point of fighting these old battles any more? I think that we should give them a good miss. It is no good passing an Act to protect shareholders when they are being mistreated by the City of London. This is a discussion about human beings, not about how to protect bankers and others in keeping their money and ours. That is why I believe your Lordships' House is the only place where this Motion can be 240 discussed free from day-to-day pressures. It gives your Lordships a chance to consider this major controversial matter calmly and dispassionately. I am afraid that I cannot consider it dispassionately, but others can. No Bill has ever had more need of detached and sensible contemplation than this one.
So, my Lords, the question is: what should we do now? Perhaps one of the major reasons why the Bill has aroused such feelings is because it has not been thoroughly understood. I wonder how many of us really understand the present Bill, which was only finally printed and issued on March 25. I, for one, must declare that I cannot fully understand all the clauses of this Bill. I have read the whole of it, and I cannot understand it all. If we in this House say that we cannot understand it with certainty, what about the people whose lives are going to be affected by it? How will they understand it? Whatever the purposes of the Bill, it cannot succeed if people do not understand it. It is of no use if we understand it, or if the chairmen and directors of companies or trade union leaders understand it, if the people on the shop floor do not. People in British industry are constantly being charged with lack of communication, from top management to the shop floor and back again. This Bill can only make things worse. If we genuinely try to create new harmony in our industrial relations, then surely everyone concerned needs to speak with great clarity.
The truth is that if this Bill goes through the rest of its stages it will no doubt become an Act—Her Majesty's Government have the power—without having been properly considered, properly examined, properly digested—above all, without having been properly explained to the people of this country. This is a Bill which demands discussion between all interested parties; between Government and Opposition, Government and unions, union members and management and labour. That is why I am supporting this Motion. This Bill needs the kind of examination that would enable at any rate parts of it to be enacted with general consent. I take it that the Government—indeed, any Government—would prefer their legislation to go through with consent rather than in the 241 teeth of bitter opposition. Of course your Lordships can say that it has already been tried. It has; and it did riot succeed. Should we on that account despair? Should we conclude that there is nothing to be done?
I do not believe that we need relegate the possibility of the Government's accepting this Motion to the realms of fantasy. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham spoke of this point. There is one thing the Government could do: they could make one gesture so imaginative that it might of itself break the ice in which attitudes on this issue have now become frozen, a gesture which offers a chance of genuine co-operation instead of prolonged dispute. The Government could accept this Motion. What could they lose by doing so? The few weeks of Parliamentary timetable already consumed? A few months without this new legislation? Are these such great sacrifices? Will the nation really suffer if this Bill is not law before the end of the summer? These are small losses compared to the possible gain. For the possible gain is enormous.
My Lords, I believe that the very act of accepting this Motion would make it possible to start a new dialogue between Government and management and unions and Opposition, out of which some measure of agreement might come. It would be one of the most potentially fruitful developments in industrial relations that this country has ever seen. Even if part of this Industrial Relations Bill could be put on the Statute Book with the general agreement of all those involved, this alone would do more to achieve the harmony we all want than an Act imposed upon millions who profoundly object to it. Of course, it might not work. It might be impossible to get such talks started, let alone to carry them through to a successful conclusion. But is that any reason for not trying? Let us have a go, my Lords.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HANWORTH
My Lords, there falls to me the pleasant duty of congratulating the last speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, on his maiden speech. It really was art achievement to be able to give us a reasonably non-controversial speech which was yet so interesting. I hope that we shall hear the noble Lord often, and especially that 242 we may have the benefit of his knowledge on artistic matters.
To return to my own speech, coming as late as this, and knowing how your Lordships have so far carefully refrained from saying anything that might be hurtful, I feel that I should tear up my speech and start afresh. I am going to make some points, and make them fairly strongly; but they are by way of sitting back and looking at the situation and not an attempt to be unkind to any particular section of the community. I shall, however, criticise in some measure all those involved, though my speech is not specifically aimed at any of them. I hope that perhaps they will think about the points that I am going to make.
I should have thought that most of us have come to the conclusion that in the long run satisfactory industrial relations can be achieved in our sort of society only by a partnership between shareholders, management and employees. The problem is how to change the attitudes of people to try to bring this about. I think that if those of us who agree with this should nail our flag firmly to the mast that might help us along this road. We have heard several suggestions as to the ways in which progress can be made. Fundamentally the problem rests with management. I do not know whether the Duke of Wellington's famous phrase has been quoted, about there being no bad troops, only bad officers, but it is one worth remembering. Looking back—and I have had a certain opportunity over the last 10 or 15 years since I left the Army of seeing how industry works—it strikes me that 15 years ago management ought to have realised that they no longer had a big stick. Whether they liked it or not, that was going to be the situation. There was only one solution, and that was what we in the Army termed leadership. This is a very simple conception. All it means is trying to inspire those working for you with a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
There are many techniques which are well known to those who are dealing with man management as to how to try to bring about this end. But in my travels through industry, though there have been some surprising exceptions, it is quite extraordinary how in so many cases management simply have not learned the first techniques of even trying to do this.
243 I know, of course, that with the bad industrial relations that we have in many areas it is going to take a very long time before any overtures which management may make are not regarded with suspicion.
I am now going to say one or two things that I hope the trade unionists will not mind my saying. They are a little critical, but I am only appealing to them to think over what I am saying. The unions did a great and excellent job in improving the lot of the workers at a time when there was a real need to fight for it; and many noble Lords sitting on the Opposition benches were doughty champions of that movement. What, however, I think is unfortunate and distressing is that attitudes, of management and of the unions and their supporters, have become atrophied and frozen in some of these bygone concepts. We talk about collective bargaining, sometimes in terms of endearment, though so often to-day this means little more than the rule of the jungle. Maybe at the moment there is nothing better; but there ought to be, and we should be seeking it.
I sometimes listen to noble Lords on the Opposition Benches, whose judgment and record I admire, and who have far greater qualifications to sit in this House and to speak than I have. But when matters concerning industrial relations are at stake, I particularly recall the case of Rooke v. Barnard. They are fighting again the battle which they fought so bravely over thirty years ago; but, with all respect to them, they are not hitting to-day's target. That is all that I wish to say on that subject, and I hope that it is in no way offensive.
What worries me even more are our Party attitudes. When the nation is so concerned as it is to-day, and its future is at stake, so often what is done on a Party basis does nothing except appeal, or attempt to appeal, to the most emotional side of the electorate, with arguments which are calculated not to inform, but simply to arouse emotion. I appeal to Party leaders, in this House and elsewhere, to remember that when serious matters are at stake we really cannot play a petty Party game.
Another point I wish to make is that, if we analyse the present situation, there is just so much national cake to be shared 244 out between us all, and no more. It is true that we can alter its distribution; and one can of course argue that all rich people ought to be brought down to a common level. But the net increase, if you distribute this cake among everybody is comparatively small. The Labour Party have tried in some measure to do this. But to-day, frankly, there are as many rich people as ever there were. The only difference is that they belong to a different category. In the process some of the worthy groups, and in particular the salaried men, have come off badly: they are not rich, and they cannot he rich men to-day. So if people want to level incomes further, please do not go on tilting still at the wrong target. I have said this many times in the House. Time and again when the question of an increase in salary arises the same old story is always brought up: the man who is tilted against is the fixed income man and it seems to be forgotten that he is no longer a rich man by to-day's standards.
Over the last twenty years or so, I would say that the unions, with all their efforts and the strife involved, have not really raised the workers' wages appreciably more than would have been the case had they been assessed simply on increased productivity and changed monetary values. I know that they have improved the workers' lot. But we are paying a terrible price for this sort of industrial strife, which in fact is achieving nothing at all. What has happened in many cases is that those with industrial bargaining power have received increases, often at the expense of those who have not got that power. I cannot help asking: Is this the socialism that we (I say "we", because at heart most of us are socialists, though not Party Socialist) are trying to achieve?
I have a great deal of sympathy with the unions because they are not really able to contain their more militant elements. I am afraid I am going to be unkind enough to say that leadership from the rear has become the order of the day. Unless the unions are prepared to lead from the front, with modern ideas, they will not endure. That would be a disaster for this nation.
Finally, I sum up my own personal position by saying: do not let us "fiddle while Rome burns", because the national situation is serious. An industrial Act of some sort is needed. Whatever we do, 245 or however much we discuss it, we shall not get unanimous agreement; nor shall we get an Act that we do not find by experience needs amending. But for goodness sake! let us step out bravely into the twentieth century; let us have an Act without too much discussion or waste of time, and let us do this without the unfortunate demonstrations and pressures which have occurred in some places.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, in offering our sincere congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, on his most agreeable first speech in this House. The noble Lord's great experience of the communications media and in the field of art will be of great value to this House in the future.
I have been interested in industrial relations in a small way for fifty years, and I have always tried to prevent them from from getting mixed up with Party politics because the two do not get on very well together, was sad, therefore, that this Bill, like the one that the last Government proposed to introduce, got embroiled in Party politics in another place and outside. I always believe that we are right to do as much as we possibly can by agreement when agreement can be obtained, because the things that we as a nation do when we are united generally last better than those we do when we are divided. But when we cannot get agreement, then we cannot fall back on inaction and inertia. On the other hand, I have been, as many of your Lordships will have been, enormously encouraged by the course of the debate that we have had so far. It has been, I think, your Lordships' House at its best: and I only wish that some of the excellent and relevant speeches that we have listened to could receive wider publicity—with the exception, of course, of the speech your Lordships are listening to now.
My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor gave us very lucid expositions of the aims and intentions of the Bill; and the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, if I may respectively say so, in a most able and restrained speech, set the tone which I trust will influence the whole of our discussions throughout the course of this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord 246 Diamond, spoke with his accustomed courtesy and patient manners. The noble Lord and I often crossed swords on other occasions in another place. My sword has got rather rusty, but I was just about to raise it over my head when I put it back in its sheath again when the noble Lord said, "Let us exploit the wide area of agreement that does exist between us".
The primary purpose of industry is, I suppose, the efficient production of goods and services, but a secondary aim which, because of the nature of industry, runs it pretty close in importance is that it should afford opportunities for satisfaction and a sense of achievement on the part of those millions of people who spend the greater part of their lives engaged in it. However technical and automated and capital-intensive industry becomes, we shall be making a great mistake if we think of it other than as a vast human co-operative enterprise. If it ever ceases to be that, it will mean that the machine has become our master. So what we are discussing to-day is of profound importance in human as well as in economic terms.
The question that must be asked is, has legislation any part to play in improving the environment—to use a topical word—in which those engaged in industry can develop a more effective sense of common purpose? There are some who might claim that legislation has no useful part to play. Others, indeed, seem to go further and suggest that conflict is the natural order of things and no common purpose exists or can exist. Both views I am certain are wrong. Complete freedom from conflict is not to be expected in any human affairs, not even in enterprises where a spirit of co-operation exists; but if conflict is allowed to become the normal state, then that enterprise cannot prosper or succeed for long. It will be continuously frustrated. It is like marriage, my Lords—or so I am informed. As an indignant spouse complained, "We are incompatible, but he is far more incompatible than me". It has been said that people cannot be made more reasonable or unselfish or cooperative by legislation, and that is probably so; but that does not mean that these qualities flourish better in a complete absence of a framework of law.
As the Secretary of State for Employment, Mr. Carr, said in introducing this 247 Bill, "Law in a civilised society is a condition of freedom and not its enemy", and in any true collective activity of human beings some guidelines of accepted law or rules is almost always required within which those activities can operate. Some people talk as if the idea of bringing trade union activities within a framework of law is a novel idea, but as my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn said, and as others have reminded us, we have for over 100 years had laws applicable to trade unions, mostly, I believe, introduced by Tory Governments; and my noble friend Lord Conesford has in fact written a book on trade union law and probably before long he will be engaged on another.
What is now required is to bring these laws up to date so that they will fit the conditions, not of 100 years ago, but of to-day and to-morrow. I agree with my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft who said just now that the worst problems that arise are not due to the strength of trade unions; I believe that they are due to a breakdown of personal communications between individuals and the impersonal and remote organisations which affect their lives. That is not only true of trade unions—I am talking in a wider context than trade unions.
Will a Bill of this kind be a panacea for industrial conflict? Of course not; but I believe it should help. My own experience in industry convinces me that by far the most potent influence is direct personal relations, and where units are small and personal contacts close then very seldom do people behave irresponsibly. Our troubles to-day are due to these huge impersonal organisations, every day getting bigger and more impersonal, and bigness in those circumstances is a terrible handicap. It seems to me that what we have to devise is a sensible code of accepted practice within which free discussions and negotiations and normal relations can be carried on. That is what this Bill seeks to provide, and if I thought that it was going to be a legalistic mass of nonsense I would personally have nothing to do with it at all.
Some people say—and it sounds very reasonable—"Yes, reforms and a new framework of rules are required, but let them be drawn up not by legislation 248 but by the trade unions and employers themselves. Leave it to them to reform themselves". I admit that I used to belong to that school of thought, but we must bear in mind what has or has not happened during the past 25 years. Twenty-five years ago, I believe that Britain really had the best system of industrial relations in the world, but even then it was generally agreed that some reforms were badly needed. It was decided then that the reforms needed should be left to the trade unions and employers to work out themselves, and what has happened? I am afraid, my Lords, that things have deteriorated. The figures speak for themselves. I think the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, yesterday reminded us that those figures, bad as they were, ignored the indirect effects on other sections of industry caused by stoppages.
Some critics still seem to talk as if our industrial relations were working perfectly smoothly. It is true that the bulk of the trouble is concentrated in three or four major industries, but those industries happen to be ones of quite exceptional importance to the national economy. Our particular complaint undoubtedly is unofficial stoppages, and indeed these stoppages have earned for us the unenviable designation in some countries of "the British disease". It has been said quite often that a larger number of days are lost by strikes in some other major countries, and that is true. That is quoted in extenuation, but as my noble friend Lord Caldecote implied yesterday in his interesting speech, no other country seems to get as many complaints of broken export delivery promises as we do.
I am afraid that it is very difficult to claim that to-day we have the best industrial relations in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Brown, reminded us yesterday of the great importance of differentials. I agree with that entirely. I only wish that I could feel that his proposals were workable. I believe we have reached a point where it is absolutely necessary now for Parliament to take a hand in devising the framework of reform. This necessity seems to be recognised throughout the nation and is impossible to question. The Labour Government recognised it, and intended to take action. The present Government obtained a mandate from the electorate 249 for the Bill. Everything that has happened since has convinced the nation at large still more that remedial legislative action is urgent and must be taken.
The Labour Party's attitude to the Bill in another place must have been highly embarrassing to many of them, because it was only two years ago that their leaders were saying that a Bill which, in many ways, is not all that dissimilar to this Bill, was urgent and essential, and they only stopped saying so when their Left-Wing and the trade unions threatened to "clobber" them. The one day protest strikes against Parliamentary action not only have inflicted grave and pointless injury on our national economy, but I should have thought were unique in political ineptitude. The report in the evening paper to-day about the court case is not without significance.
I have not, like the noble Lord. Lord Redcliffe-Maud, read the Bill through three times and found it light reading. I got along pretty well until I got to Clause 133: "Application of Part VII to Scotland". Paragraph (b)" '"stay' means sist'". Then my enthusiasm began to evaporate, and I clearly need a tutorial from the noble Lord. I find the Bill reasonable in every line and, above all, fair. Anyone who knows the present Secretary of State for Employment, Mr. Carr, will not be surprised at that. I am certain that where relations are good nothing in this Bill need damage them. Where they are bad the way to improvement should be clearer. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that the code of practice is a most important part of the Bill. I agree, too, with my noble friend Lord Watkinson when he said that it is likely to impose considerable obligations on employers when it comes along. It will not be a one-sided document. I share the view that that is going to be an important consequential of the Bill. Any criticism I may have of the Bill, therefore, is not of unfairness but that the machinery proposed in an anxiety to be fair may prove rather complicated and difficult for the ordinary factory worker to comprehend. I wish it could be simplified a bit.
That brings me to the last thing that I want to say. We have the good fortune to have in this House a number of experienced and greatly respected trade union leaders or past trade union leaders.
250 I see some of them opposite me now. They may or may not have received a political directive to breathe fire and slaughter day and night, and to continue breathing it for a very long time. My Lords, we know that our blue blood flows somewhat sluggishly through our veins after about 10 p.m. These greatly respected noble Lords may have been instructed to keep us up so late that our blue blood ceases to flow at all.
We know however these noble Lords to be men with far from docile characters. The plea I want to make to them is a plea which has already been made: that they should not be content with denunciation of the Bill in general terms—a Bill, after all, which follows in several important respects the lines on which their own Government's Bill would have followed—but they should bring their valuable first-hand experience to bear on the actual provisions of the Bill and help us all to improve them in constructive and practical ways.
That constructive role, if I may say so, is one which is much more in keeping with the characters and general outlook of the noble Lords to whom I have referred, and should they do this I can promise them we shall listen to them eagerly and attach great value to their advice. This improvement-seeking role (if I may so describe it) which has been recommended to us in this debate by noble Lords from all Parties, and by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, is one which I believe to be a very worthy role indeed for this House. This Bill would be most unusual if it is not capable of improvement. The clauses that have not been debated in detail in another place will call for particularly careful examination and scrutiny. Also, there are matters which have been raised in this debate already, such as the agency agreement and the difference between the agency agreement and the post entry closed shop which again will require considerable consideration.
So, my Lords, let us see what we can do together in a spirit of real reforming zeal to make this Bill more easily understandable and more effective. Let us see if we can remove those suspicions that are sincerely in the minds of some and 251 prove that so far from menacing and endangering, it will strengthen and invigorate human relations in industry to the enormous advantage of the nation at large.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, may I ask him a very short question? He assures us that the code of practice will be fair. How does he, and how do we, know that it will be fair when it has not been presented?
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
I made a guess; the noble Baroness will remember what I said—that I regarded the code of practice as being extremely important. I then went on to say that I agreed with my noble friend Lord Watkinson that it would probably lay considerable obligations on employers. I do not think I guessed about its contents beyond that. But we have indications in the Consultative Document, and other sources, of the kind of contents that are envisaged. If that code of practice does not prove fair, I have no doubt that we shall have ample opportunities of debating its contents.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, I have listened to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack making his usual robust speech, and I have listened to his speeches for over 20 years. However, I hope to answer him in stating my case. Although there are certain precedents regarding voting against a Second Reading, the noble and learned Lord rather dodged the constitutional issue. He may not know it, but it is not usual to oppose a Statutory Order in the House of Lords. However, on the Rhodesia question nearly a hundred Tories went into the Lobby against the Rhodesian Order. I was very pleased to hear the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Durham, who is from my own county, making a speech full of understanding of the working-class people in my area. I thank him for that speech. I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Bernstein on his maiden speech.
I speak as a trade unionist. As I have looked at the present Tory Government in action (and my mind goes back over 50 years) there is no doubt that this is the most vicious Government since 1926 towards the working-class people. In all the years that I have taken part in politics 252 and trade unionism I have never known the Tories to be friends of the trade union movement, except one Minister of Labour who was a good man to the trade unions; he believed in them and was a great conciliator. I refer to the late Lord Monckton of Brenchley, whom we knew so well. We have always had to fight the Tories and our place in society has been won in spite of them, regardless of the legal sanctions they have put upon us in the past.
In the past we were told that as Socialists we preached class war; but in all the years I have known us to be charged with practising it, it has in fact been the Tories who have practised it, and this Bill is another piece of class legislation. I remember during the time when the House of Commons met in this Chamber that the Trade Disputes Act was repealed. That was a piece of spiteful legislation by the Tory Party against the trade unions, and it took us nineteen years to get it off the Statute Book. It was a great day in my life when I marched through the Lobbies in this House to repeal that infamous Act.
This Industrial Relations Bill has been brought here after being under the guillotine. Its clauses and Schedules have been pushed through without much discussion. Some one hundred clauses important to trade unions have had no discussion at all. The Government themselves made a mockery of consultation, and the T.U.C. quite rightly refused to treat with the Government. The Government have in many respects ignored the Report of the Donovan Commission, and also the work of the trade unions and employers to improve industrial relations. They are in this Bill transplanting a crude version of the American labour law into Britain, and are branding as unlawful trade union methods that have been legally established for over a hundred years. Their whole Bill is a plan based on the political dogma of crippling trade union activities.
Then why is it being proposed, and for what purposes? The trade unions are to-day being made the whipping boy to distract the public's attention from the Government's inability to carry out their promises of lower prices. In fact, the Government are letting prices rip and they have taken away what little protection the consumer had. Their policies 253 are putting up rents by 10s. a week; increasing medical prescription charges by up to 4s. per item; increasing the price of welfare milk to mothers and taking milk away from children over seven years of age at school, and increasing the price of school meals, in two stages, from 1s. 9d. to 2s. 10d. They are increasing the charges for ophthalmic and dental treatment, and they have taken away the three waiting days of the unemployed, the sick and the injured. Rates are going up and rents are higher. These increases happen this year. That is why this Bill is being brought forward—to handcuff the trade unions in their fight to meet the onslaught on their standard of living.
The main purport of this obnoxious Bill is that the Registrar will rule the unions. It means we have to apply to withdraw from the Register and get no State licence to operate. If you do not go on the Register you have no rights under the Bill, and employers will have the right to sue trade unions and their members for damages caused by a strike, as they did 70 years ago under the Taff Vale decision. This overturns more than a century of the development of voluntary institutions in Britain. The extension of the rights of working people in this country has taken place through the collective efforts of the people themselves through their unions. The State during this time stood on one side or did its best to see that they were net successful.
Now these basic hard-won rights are to be transformed into privileges to be handed out only to those who conform to the Tory view of what is good for them. When the Bill becomes law only registered unions, or union members acting with specific authority of the union, will have protection from action for damages. Anyone who simply demands action to get wages up or conditions of work altered could he liable for damages for threatening to induce a breach of contract. It will not be just a case of what has been put in writing; if someone says it at a meeting in the canteen, or over a pint of beer in the pub, he could be sued in the courts unless he is acting with the specific authority of a registered trade union. If a strike takes place without that specific authority it will be illegal for anybody to publish anything supporting the workers' case. I know 254 there has been a cry on this about the freedom of the Press; I am not too much concerned about that because I have never yet known the Press support men when they were on strike.
As regards union rules the Donovan Commission, after taking evidence over three years, said there was little evidence that membership questions were ever dealt with unfairly. Nowhere in this Bill is there any acknowledgment of the work the Trades Union Congress has done to improve the very extensive machinery for appeals against disciplinary action within the unions. Again, there is no appreciation of the T.U.C.'s action in the last 12 months in recommending to all unions the model rules on admission and discipline, on procedures calling for strikes, on the duties and responsibilities of shop stewards and the exclusion of membership.
In this Bill there is no place for the T.U.C. Disputes Committee, which has satisfactorily settled hundreds of disputes. The findings of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, and the willingness of the trade union movement to make doubly sure that the rights of individual members are fully protected, count for nothing in this Bill. British workpeople are not trusted by the Tories to frame the rules of their own free organisations, but are to be supervised and, where necessary, instructed by a State agency. The Government intend to set up a new Industrial Relations Court. It will have the status of the High Court and the authority of the High Court, and will behave like a High Court. This is to he done in spite of what the Donovan Commission said on this issue. They dismissed this idea when they said:We do not propose that they"—the courts—should be given the job of resolving industrial disputes or differences arising between employers and workpeople. These are matters which must be settled by procedures of, or agreed through, collective bargaining.My Lords, this Bill will be a money-spinner for lawyers and solicitors and will be a financial burden on the unions. If agreements governing people's work are to be legally enforceable they will be incomprehensible to most union members and shop stewards. It will mean that union officials and personnel managers will be forever running to solicitors, instead of 255 using their common sense to deal with a problem. Legal terminology is essential if judges are to look at every comma in these agreements. If it is the intention to bring in legislation that any collective agreement between unions and employers, on wages or anything else, is a legally binding and enforceable contract unless it clearly states to the contrary, it will mean that if a wage agreement does not specifically state that it is not legally binding it will be regarded as binding and any strike or threat to strike in a case where this is in force will be illegal. It means simply that, whatever happens, workers will be unable to bring pressure to bear in order to change the agreement when it is in force.
It will not matter if the cost of living goes up—if it soars as it is now doing—or if the employer completely changes the job, or if vast profits are being made by the undertaking: the agreement stands. Both parties to a legally binding collective agreement would have to use their best endeavours to avoid or to bring to an end any industrial action in breach of it. An employer will thus stand in a safe position in regard to getting damages against a union if the Industrial Relations Court decides that the union had not done enough to stop the strike. Not only would the trade union be liable for damages if it was in breach of the contract, but equally it would have no protection if an employer could prove that it would induce a breach of a binding agreement. That could be used to cover the union spokesmen talking openly with other members about bringing bargaining pressure to bear on an employer.
A union would have to act as an agent for its members and commit them legally on procedure agreements. This requires a fundamental, and what I regard as an impossible, change in the relationship between a union and its members. In effect, a general secretary will have to guarantee the behaviour of many thousands of working men and women, and that just cannot be done. If contracts are to be legally enforceable, agreements will have to be written in a very different form, with much legal jargon, and to propose that a general secretary should be responsible for thousands of people is really impracticable. In a dispute at a pit or a factory, when men 256 are angry with their employer they do not consider the legal consequences or what their general secretary has said.
The Donovan Commission, of which the Government have taken no notice, stated:An attempt to make collective agreements legally binding would be a breach with a long tradition of our industrial relations.They did not think it was likely to improve industrial relations or to reduce the number of unofficial strikes; and to make the present inadequate procedure agreements legally enforceable would be irrelevant and would divert attention from, and hinder action to remedy, the real causes. Let there be no mistake about it, trade unions will not make legally enforceable agreements, nor can one expect any general secretary to make an agreement for his members on this basis. What it will mean, if collective agreements are not entertained on this legal basis within the Bill—and they will not be—is that greater chaos will be created in industry than now, and bitterness will be the end product.
The National Industrial Relations Court and the tribunals will have a large say in what rules union members may make for running their own organisations and how they apply their rules. In effect, therefore, the set-up of the Court will mean that a judge and an employer will make vital decisions about trade union management and policy. It is said that access to the tribunals and the N.I.R.C. should be easy, and this is coupled with very wide jurisdiction. It means clearly that case law will arise that a decision on one individual case by any one of the tribunals or the Court could affect thousands of workers in industry. I cannot see this bringing industrial peace.
What will happen is that the present flexibility to adjust agreements to suit new circumstances and changed conditions will wither. The Court will have laid down the law and only another court will be able to change it. Again, the Donovan Committee looked closely at the idea of labour courts, and they dismissed the idea with these words:We do not propose that they should be given the job of resolving industrial disputes or differences arising between employers and workpeople. These are matters which must be settled by procedures of, or agreed through, collective bargaining".257 The Government are doing nobody a favour by offering every worker the right to belong to a union when at the same time they are also giving an "unqualified" right to people to choose whether or not to join a union. It can make nonsense of existing and well understood arrangements between employers and unions. It can lead to increased friction in the unions and to more disputes, and it can stimulate the growth of breakaway unions. Possibly that is what is behind all this. A non-unionist in a fully organised trade union factory, workshop or mine would not be subject to the rules of a union, so the authority of the union is diminished—the exact opposite of what the Government say they want. My Lords, trade union tradition is so strong in many places that members of a union will prefer not to work at all than to work alongside non-unionists. What do you do if you get thousands of men who take this stand? Do you impose penalties that could lead to prison for those who do not comply? Once this happens, I am sure it will raise the whole trade union movement into action.
Why is it that only trade unionism is singled out in this way? The individual who is a non-unionist will not be given a legal right to stay out of his firm's superannuation or sick pay scheme. What is more, the union itself, and not just the individual, must have the right to bring an action against the employer. Otherwise workers of the future might have to expose themselves in order to make it a test case.
To the Commission on Industrial Relations the Government are to hand out a new task. This will be to recommend who should have the sole negotiating rights for any specified group of employees. The N.I.R.C. would have power to make the recommendation binding. This is the way in which this will work. Not only the employment Minister, or a union, or the employer, but any little group of workers would be able to go to the N.I.R.C. with any questions of recognition or wage bargaining. The Court would then have complete discretion to decide whether the Commission on Industrial Relations should look into it, and as long as the issue is before the Court or the C.I.R., and for an unspecified time afterwards, any strike or threat of strike would be an "unfair action" and thus illegal. Here is the 258 door wide open for any small minority of disgruntled workers, non-unionists or members of house unions or company unions or the breakaway ones, to think up some question for the C.I.R., by-pass the union and slow its chances of getting a quick settlement. Where the question is one arising out of a difference between two unions, there is nothing for the T.U.C. to be given a chance to sort out, as it has been doing for over forty years.
I should like to say a word or two about the cooling-off period of 60 days. I opposed the penal clauses in the White Paper In Place of Strife, and my speech is on record, so at least I can claim that I am consistent on this issue. The Government intend to give the N.I.R.C. power to impose a 60-day cooling-off period in any action which would create a national emergency, and powers to demand a secret ballot where there is doubt whether an action is supported by a majority of workers involved. The penalty for breaking the 60-day order is not spelled out yet, but presumably it would be the imposition of a fine or prison.
The proposal—even the phrase "cooling-off"—is an import from the United States and is based on the Taft-Hartley Act. Yet in every case in the United States where a ballot has been demanded under this Act the result has been to reject the employers' final offer; the record under this Taft-Hartley Act in the Slates has been worse than the record in our own country, said the Royal Commission on Trade Unions. The Royal Commission, praising the flexible procedures of Britain for settling national disputes, said:If the more rigid arrangements of the fixed cooling-off period had been used in their place, strikes may have taken place which were in fact avoided".The facts are that cooling-off periods rarely lower the temperature; they are hotting-up periods, 60 days for both sides to stoke up support for the impending but delayed battle. If a union has been negotiating for months and has reached the end of the road, then 60 days will be the period in which each side will consolidate their position.
On strike ballots, the Government have disregarded entirely the Royal Commission's view. The Donovan Report pointed out that there was little evidence 259 that workpeople were less likely to vote for strike action than their leaders. To remove from responsible trade union leaders the right to exercise any responsibility would be likely to militate very strongly against confidence in union leadership. As forecast by the Donovan Report, the result would be to encourage unofficial action and not reduce it.
My Lords, at the Tory Party Conference the Prime Minister said:You will see that our strategy is clear. The strategy is to leave more to the individual or corporate effort. It is to encourage them to stand on their own feet. The single most important service that I believe the Government can perform for the British people is to restore to them more and more freedom.Those were the Prime Minister's great words to rouse the faithful at the Tory Party Conference. But freedom for whom? Freedom for 10 million working men and women to take their own decisions, democratically, about the way their own unions shall be run? Freedom for responsible bodies in the unions to stand on their own feet, to use their own experience and judgment and decide what action it is best to take? This freedom is not for trade unionists.
The Government propose that a new Registrar will have powers to change the rules of freely formed and self supporting unions, or withdraw their licence to operate if they do not agree. And the Minister will be able to ask the new Court for an order enforcing a 60-day cooling-off period or a strike ballot whenever he thinks fit, and he will determine what is a national emergency. Whatever the Prime Minister had in mind about freedom, it was clearly intended that the trade unions were not to be given it. The eight pillars of this Bill are: registrar to license unions and vet the rules; legal right to join or not to join a union; legally binding contracts unless otherwise stated; less legal protection for the union and its members; cooling-off periods and compulsory strike ballots; power to impose binding procedures; powers to define who shall bargain for groups of workers, and new powers on union recognition. In all these ways the law will determine the pattern of industrial relations instead of complementing arrangements that have been freely negotiated by the unions and 260 employers. Far from achieving its professed purpose of strengthening the industrial relations system, this legislation, on the contrary, sets back the progress that unions and employers are already making. All these eight points or pillars will not make for peaceful relations in this country and will undermine trade union authority right through.
There has been no consultation with the T.U.C., except on the condition that the Government would consult if the trade unions accepted the central legal pillars of the Bill. Discussions by the T.U.C. on this basis would have been a mockery of the consultative process that has been built up between the trade unions and successive Governments of both Parties over the last thirty years. There is no fairness in this Bill, which proposes to weaken the organisations of workpeople and strengthen the hands of the employers. The Bill is a crude attempt to import the American system of labour relations at a time when the American system of labour relations is itself undergoing severe opposition from the workpeople there.
My Lords, there are many other facets of this Bill which hamper the trade unions and which will be dealt with in Committee stage. I regard the Bill as a blackleg's charter, and the creation of compulsory and breakaway unions as part of a plan to weaken the trade unions in their relations with the employers. It ill becomes the Tory Party to claim that they want to enlarge freedom when practically their first political act is to make activities unlawful that for a hundred years Parliament and the courts have upheld as right and proper, and to establish an array of new State agencies. To me, this is double talk. It ought to be made clear now that when we return to power we will do with this Bill what we did in 1947 with the Trade Disputes Bill, and in agreement with the T.U.C. put an agreed Bill upon the Statute Book. Much bitterness will arise in the industrial field whenever this Bill operates on the factory floor. It will not solve anything but will make matters worse.
This is not the first onslaught that has been met by the trade unions. I am confident they can meet this one in the light of the policy of non-co-operation. Why should the T.U.C. co-operate with their 261 executioner, when it means their death? I would say to those of my friends in this part of the House and outside, and in another place, not to give solace to the Tories in their anti-trade union Bill, but to remember the words of John L. Lewis in America when attacking the Taft-Hartley legislation. He criticised President Roosevelt when he said:It ill behoves one who has supped at Labour's table, and who has sheltered in Labour's house, to curse with equal fervour and fine impartiality both Labour and its adversaries when they become locked in deadly embrace.I will support the Motion that is moved by our Front Bench. This Bill is so oppressive to the trade unions because it takes away liberties that they have had for years, it will encourage scab unions, it will make industrial relations worse, it will make it a crime for men to withdraw their labour, which is all they have to sell, that tonight I shall vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 6.2 p.m.
THE LORD BISHP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, for all practical purposes this debate has been long enough already; but it is only a part of a debate that has been going on for several years, and I think it may contribute to a rational consideration of its many contentious elements if it is considered against the still longer historical perspective. The traditional Parties in our country have all had their share in moulding the place that trade unions have come to occupy in our body politic. It was a Tory Government under the Duke of Wellington which repealed the Combination Acts in 1824—doubtless more from necessity than choice. A Liberal Government under Gladstone relieved the unions of the danger of liability for criminal conspiracy in 1871; but it was Disraeli in 1875 who gave them their really important immunity and legalised peaceful picketing.
This legislation contented the trade unions for many years. The Liberals came in again with the vitally important Trade Disputes Act of 1906, whereby tile unions were freed from the courts even if their acts were technically wrongful. It removed the possible charge of civil conspiracy. The Labour Government 262 passed a Trade Disputes Act in 1965 to counteract the results of the Rooke v. Barnard case in 1964. Up to then everybody had won, and everybody had earned a prize.
So we come to the more recent episodes in this long saga. I should like to begin by recalling something that many will now have forgotten, the so-called Marlow Declaration of 1963. This was signed by leading industrialists, trade union leaders, clergy, and schoolmasters. Clause 7 of that Declaration stated:A happy and smooth-working industrial partnership requires that the dignity of man is respected at all times, that there is an effective system of negotiation and consultation, using all appropriate methods, and that responsibility is fully accepted individually and collectively.This may not seem of much importance now, but I would point out that one of the signatories was Mr. Ian Stewart, who played such a prominent part in the revival—unfortunately short-lived—of the Fairfield dockyard on the Clyde, as is dramatically told in the book Whatever happened at Fairfields. What happened there was two years of co-operation between workers and management of a type not recently known in our industrial history.
Then came the Donovan Commission, the general conclusion of which was to keep industrial agreements out of the courts. But there was to be registration of unions, for paragraph 791 reads:The unregistered trade union may consider that the benefits of registration are not worth the duties which registration entails, yet it cannot be said that these duties are onerous or vexatious. They do not go beyond what any well run trade union would do in any event; and while nobody likes having to do something which previously was optional, a law which obliged the unregistered trade union in future to become registered would not, in our opinion, impose a hardship, work any injustice, or deprive unregistered unions of some valuable liberty. Companies would have to register their agreements with the Department of Employment and Productivity. Failure to register would incur a fine.The Report, as a whole, was a masterly document, but it represented a series of compromises in which the management/ worker polarisation is but thinly disguised. Some cogent notes by the noble Lords, Lord Tangley, Lord Robens of Woldingham, and others, had to be added outside the main Report.
263 So toIn Place of Strife, the next landmark, in January, 1969. This document drew back from legally binding agreements as a general rule, but it did permit them. It recommended the conciliation pause, though for only 28 days. It demanded the registration of unions, with a penalty for non-compliance. Everyone knows the fate of those proposals. It is not my purpose to criticise a former Government for withdrawing, for, as the book entitled The Battle of Downing Street makes abundantly clear, the political forces in the Labour Party against the Bill were very powerful. Only what is possible can be done, and I mention the White Paper only to show how, from one source and another, ideas in the present Bill have arisen in different contexts and environments. But each episode has occurred at a different moment in history, and what is possible or necessary at one moment may be different from that which is possible or necessary at another.
So we come to the present Bill, which takes over some things from Donovan, some from In Place of Strife, some from the plans and programmes of the Party now in power. The industrial situation has not remained static even since Donovan. For instance, Donovan states in paragraph 462:Our problem is the short spontaneous outburst, not the planned protracted industrial action of long duration, which is the main problem, for example, in the United States and in Canada.Is this quite so convincing after the Post Office strike and the Ford dispute? As the symptoms of our disease vary, so must the prescription for relief and cure.
I will not weary your Lordships with my very unimportant opinion about the various controversial points in the Bill, such as freedom to join a union or not to join. Perhaps I may here interject that there has been some discussion, particularly among my right reverend brethren, about the way in which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark's remarks yesterday about "clobbering" the unions were reported In "To-day in Parliament". I have found it necessary to check with the B.B.C. as to what he actually said, or what they said he said, and the fact is that they summarised his remarks in a way which left it open to the belief that 264 he himself thought the Bill was "clobbering" the unions. I have checked in Hansard what he said, and he has confirmed to me that he did not mean to suggest that at all, but was merely referring to an opinion held in various quarters that that was the purpose or the result of the Bill.
The requirement of 51 per cent. in order to qualify for an agency closed shop has been the subject of much discussion, and it would seem hard to substantiate a claim to speak for all workers with a smaller majority. But there are points in the Bill about which I am not entirely satisfied. It appears that abstentions from a vote seem to be counted against the creation of a closed shop; whereas abstentions from a vote to discontinue a closed shop seem to be counted in favour of that change. There are many points of that sort which will no doubt need to be discussed and thoroughly threshed out in Committee: so with the compulsory ballot, in certain cases the registration of unions in default of their not contracting out, and so on. All this is familiar and most of us, I suspect, have now taken up our stances and are not likely to change from them before the passing of the Bill. I must say it would seem that only a miracle of Grace is likely to change the views of the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, who preceded me. But I can only say, as one Government have used their responsible position to reject industrial legislation of this type, that I fully respect the right of another Government to try the experiment; and I think that everyone should respect that right, too.
I should like to end by offering a few thoughts on the matters which will decide whether the experiment is likely to succeed. The first is that all sides should remember the healing power of time. Time, it has been said, is a great Christian gentleman. The heated controversy of the last few months cannot be expected to cool in a few days or weeks, but nothing is lost by all of us trying to understand the emotions and thoughts of our opponents. Perhaps an example from the history of our own House and of this Bench may be relevant. In 1831, when the Reform Bill was rejected in this House by 41 votes, three Bishops voted for it and 20 against. Our Episcopal votes were decisive in what we should all agree 265 now was the wrong cause. For some time, wherever they went, Bishops were greeted with groans and yells and hisses. A mob of a thousand in Carlisle burned an effigy of their Bishop. But in 1832 12 Bishops were ready to vote for the Bill and to assist in its passing. The Morning Post commented:The spiritual Peers somewhat redeemed their character and their reputation with the nation.Bishops, in fact, soon learned to live with a reformed Parliament, and the nation was soon learning once more to tolerate its Bishops.
So that when a year or two have passed we may all he able to treat this Bill, or this Act as it will presumably be, as a rather more domesticated animal than now seems probable. If, fundamentally, it is right and good, or can be made so, it will establish itself; if not, it will eventually fade away to be replaced, we hope, by something better. If we recall all the fuss that there was in this House only a few years ago about the introduction of breath tests for possibly drunken drivers, and how soon we have all accustomed ourselves to them—I am not speaking personally—it may help us to see how time changes things.
None of us, I am sure, thinks that legal arrangements are a complete answer to our problems—that, I take it, would be an under-statement of the views held by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham—but this does not mean that law cannot help in the ordering of industrial, as of ally other, relationships. Selfishness, thoughtlessness, greed and pride can all be somewhat restrained by the claims of law. If there were no rule of the road and everybody was a law unto himself, tempers would rise higher and accidents would be more frequent. But the industrial system itself, in spite of all its benefits, is inherently biased against the freedom and the dignity of the human person, and these can be preserved within it only by a conscious effort on the part of all concerned. It is in the nature of technology to open up great prospects for mankind and great hazards for the individual man.
I once said in this House:Strikes are not about money. They are about power.266 The noble Lord, Lord Brown, was kind enough to agree with me. Since then, we have heard so much about the 8 per cent. and the 14 per cent. rises, that we may think that strikes are about money after all. But the money is a symbol; it is a symbol of human worth and human dignity. Mass emotion can be easily whipped up, so that huge armies of men come to think that their one loyalty must be to their union or to the splinter group from the union which has espoused their cause. Their claims may he just and reasonable or they may be greedy, selfish and thoughtless. But we must always have before our eyes the inevitable interdependence of modern society. We all need each other.
If we must be in conflict, let us have rules and limits to our combativeness and an umpire whose decision is final. But how much better—here I begin once more to follow the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham—if we can get above the conflict and sec that we are all bound up together in our industrial life, as in the life of our families and our nation; if we can catch the vision of working each for all and all for each. This can only be if the last hundred years of industrial polarity can be seen to be as anachronistic as the Wars of the Roses. Men must have loyalties to their family, their firm, their union, their country and, it is not too much to say, to all human kind. But, in my view, no one of these loyalties can, or should claim an absolute superiority over all the rest.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD McCORQUODALE OF NEWTON
My Lords, at this late hour I am sure your Lordships are wanting to get on and to hear the main speeches from the Leader of the House and from Lord Shackleton, whom we are all delighted to see back in the House this afternoon. Therefore I shall be extremely brief, seeing that some forty speakers have gone before me. I wish at once to applaud the determination of the Government to carry through this Industrial Relations Bill, although I must say I should have preferred it if they had called it the Industrial Reform Bill. Because there has been for a very long time now a consensus of opinion that our trade union structure is to a large extent out of date and that it is necessary to bring it up to modern standards.
267 I am not going through the list of all the efforts that have been made on the T.U.C. side and by the Donovan Commission. This aspect has been most ably covered by the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down. But yesterday we heard from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, in his authoritative speech, the statement which he made when he started his remarks:My Lords, Britain needs an Industrial Relations Act".Indeed, the Donovan Commission had said the same thing; and so I would come rapidly to the point that the Conservatives thought it their duty to make trade union reform one of the main planks of their policy. They put it forward clearly in their Election Address; they obtained a strong mandate from the people to carry it out, and I applaud their determination to do so. I do not wish to go into the efforts of the last Government to bring in a reform Bill something similar to ours, and how their trade union supporters forced them to withdraw it. The noble Baroness Lady Gaitskell, went into this matter at great length yesterday, and most interestingly. But I would say this: in my judgment, if the Labour Government had been able to carry through that Bill, I think it very likely they would not have lost the last Election. And I would say this even more strongly: that if we followed the advice from the other side and abandoned this Bill now we should certainly lose the next Election, and should deserve to do so.
My Lords, I must declare an interest in this matter. I have been all my life engaged in industry, in the printing industry; and the printing industry is one that has had a long history of trade union activity. I should just like to say this about the printing industry, because it is so often maligned. Apart from industrial relations among those working on daily newspapers, which have many problems that are quite different from all other trades in this country, I would claim that, by and large, a report on the printing industry would show that their industrial relations are as good as those in any other industry in this country. They have from time to time been maligned by certain of my friends in this House, and therefore I am very happy to make that statement.
268 During the war I was privileged, as some of your Lordships know, to be Under-Secretary to that greatest of trade unionists, Mr. Ernest Bevin, and was proud to be able to claim him as my friend. It was on his advice that when I left the House of Commons I joined the Federation of British Industries, of which I was privileged to become President. So I have had a considerable experience of the history of this problem, and I have long held the opinion, my Lords, that some legal backing for voluntary agreements and contracts entered into between employers and trade unions was becoming more and more necessary in our imperfect world. If there is going to be no sanction whatever available if one party sees a greater advantage in breaking some agreement, then at times the temptation to do so may become almost too great, almost overwhelming, and I do not think we can blame the parties concerned too much. There is a great deal of integrity in the relationships between trade unions and employers, but from time to time the temptations are too strong, and I believe that that is the time when their agreements could be buttressed by law.
Another point is that there has been considerable criticism of the fact that the unions should become registered under a registrar. I was watching a television programme not long ago—something I very seldom do—when two very prominent trade union leaders were being cross-questioned. One of them, on being asked various questions, admitted that he had come to his exalted position in the union, to a position of almost absolute power, by the votes of less than 5 per cent. of its members. Later it was disclosed that since he had been elected the rules of the union had apparently been adjusted or amended so that, if he wished, he could hold that position for life, without challenge. I cannot believe that that is right or fair, and I hope that these suggestions with regard to registration under the Registrar or the Commission will make this sort of thing impossible in the future.
Of all the speeches that I have heard yesterday and today—and I have beard very many of them—I should like to commend very much the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn yesterday, and I would urge 269 any noble Lords who were not privileged to hear it to react it. It seemed to me that in his speech there was more common sense and down-to-earth explanation of his views and of the objects of the Bill than anybody else produced. I was also enormously impressed, as I think we all were, by, and for the most part in no little agreement with, the authoritative speech of Lord Donovan. He raised some important Committee points, and I have no doubt that my noble friends will pay very serious attention to them. I also hope that everybody will heed the admirable peroration with which he finished his speech. I only wish that it could be repeated to the country at large.
If I may say this to my noble friend, I think that the House is not yet completely happy about the closed shop and agency clauses. It is a great pity that somebody should have invented the word "agency". Agents are sometimes not regarded in the highest degree, and I think it was an unfortunate term to choose. However, it has been chosen, and we cannot go back on that. But yesterday there were suggestions from serious sources that some of the points in these clauses might lead to the formation of breakaway unions or, as one noble Lord called them. "scab" unions. I do not believe anybody wants this, and I should like to be assured that either the Registrar or the Commission (I am not quite sure whom it would come under) will be able to control the situation and see that this does not happen. For I am sure we are all in agreement that we want fewer and not more trade unions in this country.
As I said at the beginning of my speech—and I promise to sit down in live minutes—the objects and policies outlined in this Bill have, in the main, my wholehearted support. Particularly, I have the greatest admiration for that most fair-minded, kindly, courteous yet firm Minister, Mr. Robert Carr. I hope that our combined efforts in this House—and I use the words "combined efforts" with emphasis—will enable us to send back this Bill to the Commons unaltered in its main purposes and objects but clarified (and it needs to be clarified) polished and, it may well be, improved by our combined efforts. That we may see the Bill on the Statute Book as an Act without undue delay is, I believe, 270 most important. It is what the country wants and what the situation demands.
I was going to finish there; but I do not know whether any noble Lord noticed on the "tape" in the passage that there came last night a little item of news that the chairman, or president, or whatever he is, of the Communist Party of Great Britain—I think his name is Mr. Gollan—in addressing a great meeting in Moscow of all the Communist Parties of the Communist world, was able to claim—what was he able to claim?—that there would be more strikes in Great Britain this year than in any year since 1926. No doubt that was applauded to the echo. I believe that that gives us very serious food for thought.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ LORD BURNTWOOD
My Lords, having spent some 25 years in the House of Commons, I was delighted when I found I was to follow the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale, whose ideas of the origins of strikes I found charming, if perhaps old-fashioned, and very familiar from his early days after the War. But I shall try to address myself to two points: first, the lack of logic in the proposals of the Government, who import foreign—that is to say, largely American—ideas of the machinery for negotiation and industrial relations but do not logically appreciate that the subsequent experience in such countries as America demonstrates how, to a large extent, those machinery organisations have failed. Secondly, I feel very strongly, with great respect, that we in this House have signally failed adequately to take into account global tendencies to which we are subjected, as are other countries who have parallel problems in front of them.
I believe that the origin of this Bill stemmed from intemperate talk among Conservative social circles before the General Election. Who has not heard the cocktail-bearing lady expatiating on the evils of trade unions and the need to smash them, even if it means a general strike? We have all heard that; but, like any responsible political Party, the Conservative Party tried their best to reflect and, if necessary, to temper those extremist views. But there comes a time, as with any good Party—and certainly with my own—that it has to propose to the Legislature steps which will take 271 into account those deeply held views. In putting forward this sort of Bill, however, one of the points which has been missed completely is the extremely good record of the trade unions in the past: the encouragement by the unions of consultative machinery, of collective bargaining and productivity, of industrial training and of inter-union collaboration. The initiative in so many of these cases has come from the trade unions, to the huge advantage of business.
Have we properly assessed the origin of strikes? This is a terrible proposition to put before a sophisticated House like this; but is it not true to say that major strikes in this country originate from inflation? Is it not equally true to say that so many minor strikes, frequently unofficial, have been engendered by small, local irritations which have built up until they have affected large numbers of workers and, consequentially, involved many other factories, works and even industries? This Conservative obsession, this nervous obsession, with the political power of the unions has been something with which we have all been familiar with the years. It has lent itself to gross over-simplification of trade union attitudes and to the feeling that they have to institute repressive and even penal legislation like this Bill.
The global tendencies to which I have referred seem to me to have been disregarded by the Conservative Government, in the sense that they regard them as purely local or national tendencies of an economic sort. They disregard what is being done elsewhere and they disregard the fact that, by and large—and one must not be complacent about this—our record of industrial relations shows up very well compared with other countries of the world. Indeed, give or take a few decimal points, the consumer price position in such countries as the U.S.A., Japan, France and Sweden is much the same as ours and their industrial losses through unrest have been in many cases very much worse. We must conclude, therefore, that inflation and industrial unrest must be equated.
Basically, the difference, I should have thought, between the two Parties in this dispute is that whereas the Conservative Party take the view that the normal procedure structure should be strengthened 272 to subordinate local, informal wage procedures, we of the Labour Party feel that the formal, high-level structure needs reform to permit the incorporation of informal structures and initiatives. This is particularly necessary and important in the matter of, for instance, small component industries with which I have been involved for many years in the Midlands. A small, local dispute frequently is settled before there is much trouble; but a component factory dispute which is not settled starts in a fairly small way and can build up until, for example—because that component is in short supply—motor car production is seriously affected. It seems to lend weight to the argument that we should strengthen local procedure in order to strengthen the top-level structure.
The national interests are so frequently portrayed in the Press as a matter of general interest that the gullible may not know that to millions of workers in this country the national interest seems frequently to exclude the workers' interest. It seems quite logical, when you are working in a factory, to see things, if possible, from the national point of view; but then the workers begin to think: "They do not understand our problems". This is where the trouble starts. The Government really believe that industrial unrest in this country is engendered by indiscipline. What they do not seem to understand is that so often unrest stems from the slow and one-sided methods of settling disputes.
The Royal Commission stated:Greater discipline by unions over members is more likely to lead to internal disruption than a reduction of unofficial strikes.And of course, my Lords, the indiscipline which is referred to is the indiscipline so frequently generated from quite small matters and allowed to build up. I noticed in the debate in another place that the Minister, Mr. Carr, quoted from the Donovan Report and said:It is important that the number of unofficial and especially unconstitutional strikes should be reduced, and should be reduced speedily.Nobody could disagree. It was perhaps rather a pity that Mr. Carr did not go on—this is not a criticism of him; no doubt he had good reason for it—to quote the very next sentence which states:The first and most important step to he taken in order to get rid of unconstitutional 273 strikes is the reform of our collective bargaining system. This is our central recommendation. We cannot recommend anything which may jeopardise its success.I construe that to mean that whereas at Government level the machinery of negotiation, of wage settlements, of relations in general, must he used on matters of general and broad principle, it is not regarded as important to ensure that locally there is an adequate sensitivity to the opinions of workers.
I wonder, my Lords, whether in the matter of wages there is not a case for examining more closely, and once again, practices which have developed, or are developing, in other reputable countries on the Continent. In Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and now in France, there is a cost of living tie to wages which is without prejudice, in those countries, to any normal prosperity increase in wages. It seems to me, therefore, that we should take into account not only practices elsewhere, which have regard to problems at local level which engender these major strikes, but also we should have regard to the feelings of the worker who comes to work in the morning having had a row with his wife because he does not give her enough money and because the cost of living goes up and up. That is not the fault of the workers; but they come to work in a bad mood which engenders friction in the factory. I think that talk about a cooling-off period might be better addressed as a matter of principle to a Parliamentary cooling-off period; and that is what is the basis of the Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Shackleton. If we can have another look at this we can extract all that is good from the Bill; and we can deduct from it the evils which have been so ably expressed this afternoon by my noble friend Lord Blyton.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ LORD COOPER OF STOCKTON HEATH
My Lords, I am sure that if, as Chairman of the T.U.C., I said I have appreciated and enjoyed this two-day debate that would he the understatement of the debate. But to my mind it has demonstrated that there are still a great many basic fundamental principles—and it is on principles, I understand, that we are debating the Second Reading—that have been completely missed. It is rather surprising to me to see how the discussion 274 has turned towards what, even after making all the appropriate allowances, may be described as an attack on trade unions. We are talking about industrial relations and I should like at the outset to come out with one or two definitions.
Industrial relations are a method of determining wages, working conditions and so on. After many years in the trade union movement, I would say—and I am sure that I shall be supported by my colleagues—that negotiating and determining is the most delicate art of all; and it rests very much not on one party but on the two parties to the discussion. I cannot get out of my mind what has happened for the last 25 years. I will say right away that I am as concerned as anyone in this House about the state of industrial relations in the country, and I believe that they can be improved. But, first of all, let us have a look at the economic situation and environment in which the trade union movement and the employers have to work in the post-war period.
Governments have been endeavouring to do a number of very difficult exercises. They have sought first to maintain full employment, and also to try to achieve growth— something about which we cannot boast very greatly, because in this we have not succeeded. When I heard this point referred to yesterday, as though it were something to do with industrial relations. I was quite surprised. I am sure that everyone in your Lordships' House understands that we cannot get growth by brawn. We must have better investment. We all know this—and may I say, in passing, that compared with the United States the manpower we have behind the elbow of every British working man is only one, compared to two and a half in the case of the Americans. This is how growth is achieved, and I agree that it has a bearing on industrial relations; because working people, who depend on being remunerated for their work in order to live, expect some improvement in their conditions every year whatever the economic state of the country. I accept that this is a great problem and that the improvement cannot be achieved unless we have growth. Another exercise that Governments have carried out in the post-war period relates to stable prices; and at the same time they have endeavoured to get a healthy balance of payments.
275 Why do I mention all these things, my Lords? It is to indicate that all these efforts by Governments in the economic field have made their impact on collective bargaining; and so, almost throughout the whole post-war period, starting with Sir Stafford Cripps, we have had experimentation in the field of collective bargaining. At one time Governments used to hold the ring, but in the post-war period, because of the great responsibilities which they undertook—full employment and so on—they had also to look at what was happening in collective bargaining: how much money we were spending, and how we were building up the demand situation which was very relevant to the economic situation. So we have had, from Sir Stafford Cripps onwards, restraint, guiding-lines, freezes and the "Three Wise Men". Then, in my opinion, we made a marvellous step forward. Very often you achieve certain things and then they break down, and you have to go back and start over again and keep on trying. This, of course, is the history of the early trade union movement.
I am talking now about joint efforts, and I believe that we in this country achieved a considerable development when we had what we called—this is very important—a tripartite agreement between the trade unions, management and the Government: it was known as the Declaration of Intent, and was signed in December, 1964. The unions agreed that we needed a virile, efficient economy if all the aspirations of the people whom the trade unions represent were to be achieved, and if all the aspirations of the country as a whole were to be achieved. This was a great step forward. Following that, we jumped into another experiment—and your Lordships will note how the whole sequence of experiments that have an impact on collective bargaining have been taking place throughout the post-war period. The further experiment which followed the Declaration of Intent was when we agreed to the setting up of a Prices and Incomes Board. Not only did we agree to that, but we also agreed that a criterion of 2 ½ per cent. was reasonable and was all that the country could afford at that time. That was very statesman- 276 like language by the trade unions, the employers and the Government.
I regret that when the Prices and Incomes Board were trying to do their difficult exercise their policy was said to be a complete failure because increases were running at 7 ½ per cent. I think that to-day we should regard it as a success—at any rate, it would be so regarded in some quarters—if increases were running at only 7½ per cent. All this had an impact on collective bargaining and was, in a way, a curb on collective bargaining which the trade union movement accepted by signing the Declaration of Intent.
There have been different approaches to this matter, and references to the apprehension of the trade unions about the real purpose of what the Government are trying to do. I have a document here called A Giant Curbed, which was published during this period, following a study by the Inns of Court Conservative and Unionist Association. The document says at page 7:It would be unrealistic to the point of dishonesty not to acknowledge at the outset of a pamphlet such as this that the problem is one of power.The giant is the trade union movement, and their argument was that we are too powerful and that our power should be curbed.
In that interesting T.V. programme the noble and learned Lord, Lord Devlin, was in the Chair. He made a masterly summary of the debate, and he said that this is a question of power. But we are in an amazingly contradictory situation. All these things led up to the Royal Commission on trade unions and employers associations, known as the Donovan Commission, which was set up by the Labour Government. They sat from 1965 to 1968—three years of painstaking work. I am sorry that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, is not in the House, because yesterday I listened most carefully to him and I thought that he hardly did himself justice. I think that practitioners in industrial relations would say that the Donovan Report was about the finest reference book we could have on industrial relations, and one which, in my view, is not likely to be cast aside.
277 I want to take this opportunity of dealing with the Donovan Report and then with the Bill. The Donovan Report came primarily to the conclusion that in the post-war period there had been a breakdown in what they called regulated bargaining, and that strikes were a symptom of this breakdown. This is a basic point that we ought to consider on Second Reading. The whole of the Donovan proposals can be summarised under the word "voluntarism". First of all, the Report said that we must reform collective bargaining. I think that the Labour Government agreed to set up the Commission because they were being hard pressed to do something about the strength of the unions, and they considered that this was the means of getting down to the problem. The whole concentration was on the position of the unions.
The amazing thing is that, although the unions came in for some criticism, the Report said that the two existing systems of negotiation that we had operated for years were of no great importance; that the real significance was on the shop floor; that the task was to put that matter right, because it was not properly organised, there being no formal machinery; and the Commission put the onus on the directors of companies to get on with this job. If one is fair about the findings of the Donovan Report, whether one accepts it or not, the people who really came in for criticism were not the unions but British management. The Report called for reforms, and for the extension, improvement and expansion of collective bargaining—an interesting point that I will not develop because of the time.
Let me say how these various proposals strike me. When In Place of Strife came out, it showed to me the impatience of the politicians. I should like to describe In Place of Strife as Donovan, plus a cooling-off period, plus ballots, plus penal sanctions. The latter caused the wrangle between the trade union movement and the Labour Government—a sordid wrangle of many months. Finally, the unions persuaded the Government to withdraw the penal sanctions, on the clear understanding of course that the T.U.C. would take over certain responsibilities.
278 I feel very much the same in regard to the present Government's proposals, perhaps even more so. They talk about creating a legal framework. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said, in the very first speech yesterday, "What we ask of the unions is to register." I differ very much from some of my colleagues on this point. Speaking as the General Secretary of a Union as well as Chairman of the T.U.C., if I have to recommend registration to my Executive, I shall recommend them to register. I will tell your Lordships why.
For a hundred years the trade unions have been protected so far as the contract of employment is concerned, so long as what they were doing was in furtherance of a trade dispute. This Bill takes away that protection. If we are asked to accept this, the only way a union can recover a protection it has had for a hundred years is by registering, whether it does or does not like registration. There are many things about registration which cause perturbation among trade unionists. We are going to have a fair code of practice in 12 months' time and it is the duty of the Registrar to make sure that the code of practice and the purposes of the Bill are covered by trade union rules.
I am to attend a conference at which many suggested amendments to rules have been put forward by members. I have told them it would be better to leave the rules alone, because if this Bill is passed all the rules will have to be gone through with a fine toothcomb and we shall have to work out how best to adapt the rules to suit the Registrar. The Registrar, who is to be a legal man, may be a decent fellow and may not ask too much from the unions. But he may ask a great deal; and another Government with other ideas, and a new Registrar, could have very serious impact on the trade union movement.
If we do not register, then we are in a completely new situation. We shall no longer have any protection in pursuing a trade dispute, and we should be open to being sued for damages. I do not want to dwell on things that can be discussed later on, but I have already talked with managements about legalising contracts, and we anticipate a situation of great complexity. We generally have a lawyer at our elbows when important 279 agreements are being made. I spent thirteen weeks in America, at Harvard University, where many British businessmen go to the business school, which has running parallel with it a more modest trade union school. I was there to be taught all about the American trade unions. All this legalistic stuff is already there. It creates a heyday for the lawyers. In America, an agreement may comprise fifty or sixty pages. Noble Lords who are employers will know that here an agreement can be made and all of it put on two pages; but to have an agreement that will stand up to legal interpretation is imposing a colossal job on the trade union movement. So, from what I say, I do not think the Government can really complain if the trade unions say that this is an attempt to weaken them.
So far as I can see, the way ahead is a slow, persevering job. I hope that I shall be forgiven when I say this, after all the years that I have been in the trade union movement and all the years that I have been associated with employers. All the people who think that you can get hold of industrial relations, put them in a nice parcel, tie them with a little bow, and say, "That's fine", are really living in a fool's paradise. It is a tough job all the way. The sooner we attempt it, I agree, the better; but if you hope for quick results I do not think you will get them. You certainly will not get them by legislation.
The object should be free negotiations on a tripartite basis between Government, the unions and management. That may sound presumptuous, as if I am putting Government on a level; but it is not so. It is the natural evolution of what Governments have done. They used to keep out of the business and leave it to us. At the moment, I am not sure what is being attempted: there is no income policy, but an attempt to try to do something. I agree that the Government cannot stand aside. Unlike many of my colleagues, I accept that having regard to the number of people that the Government employ, directly or indirectly—5 million, I think it is—and they having taken on all these economic responsibilities, they must be part and parcel in some way to negotiations and collective 280 bargaining in this country. But I suggest that the way is by co-operation, not compulsion, and the method should be voluntarism and very much based on Donovan.
I should like to quote from a communication that I have received from George Woodcock. I cannot say whether he sent it more in sorrow than in anger. It is the Press release that was given to the Press the other day when he resigned from the chairmanship of the Commission on Industrial Relations. He has had years of experience. He was on the Donovan Committee. These are the first sentences of his resignation:The Industrial Relations Bill is more concerned with the effects than with the causes of industrial relations. Ever since the publication of the Consultative Document last October I have remained convinced that the principal measures proposed by the Government for the reform of industrial relations are misconceived and will prove to be impracticable.I go along with that. This Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Shackleton invites the Government to think again. I would say to the Government, as has so often been said to us on this side of the House, "Forget dogma and doctrinaire opinions, which are less than useless in this difficult field of human relations". For all these reasons, I have pleasure in supporting the Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Shackleton.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY
My Lords, as we reach the end of this debate, we have heard a large number of able and some moving speeches, but I think there can be few that have given us such pleasure—and I certainly speak for myself—as the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein. I have long been a personal admirer of his, and it is good news that he is now taking part in our debates. In saying that, I know that I speak not only for the whole House, but particularly for my colleagues on the Liberal Benches, because the noble Lore, Lord Bernstein, is, above all, a liberally-minded man.
As we on these Benches have surveyed the events in this field since the General Election we have felt a familiar feeling come over us: that of watching two great armies locked in combat for a very small piece of increasingly mud-trampled land, while just around the corner we think we 281 see an Eldorado to which nobody is paying any attention. On the one hand, the Labour Party are seething with indignation about the Bill. In a large number of cases, and particularly in the case of trade unions, this is a perfectly genuine indignation; but in other cases, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, pointed out, it can hardly be anything but synthetic, seeing the little difference between their proposals when in office and the Bill which is now before us.
From time to time we Liberals get together and say:" How can we make more public impact on this, that or the other proposal?" We have long shared this problem with the Labour Party; and the Labour Party must now be so embarrassed by their performance in Government on this subject of industrial relations that we surely must be able to make some impact. But the person, or the people, who could bring a blush to the face of the Labour Front Bench could bring a blush to the Venus de Milo.
On the other hand, the Conservative Party, not in this House, not in this debate, and not, I would say, the Secretary of State, have over a period of time been making great play with the idea that this Bill is a panacea for all our economic ills. It has been said again and again. In the early days it was often said by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is still being repeated, as was the case during the Arundel and Shoreham by-election by the Conservative candidate. But, unfortunately, the truth is that the Conservative Government are being hard and purposive—if I may apply that epithet to them—about peripheral issues, but doing little about the major issues. They are being hard and purposive about taxation, but what are they doing about prices? They are being hard and purposive about industrial disputes, but they are not doing anything about industrial relations.
The truth is that this is a useful basis for an Act. It is not going to destroy the trade unions and it is not going to solve the economic problems of the nation. Any idea of repealing it is absurd. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, rightly pointed out yesterday, no Government would dream of repealing in its entirely this Bill when it becomes an Act. If the Labour Party should be badgered or moved by the 282 trade unions into giving a pledge to that effect, they will merely be giving one more evidence of that famous death wish which seems to pervade their Party. Although I speak to-day from Benches containing a small number of people, the idea that I am putting forward, the reaction that I am putting forward, that this is a useful basis for an Act which is going to be neither disastrous nor miraculous is one that is shared by a great number of people in this country, and by at least as many as the trade unionists who are listed against it.
What are the arguments against these proposals as the main structure for an Act? There is a small group, of whose views we have heard only a tinge in this debate, who say that they will not take anything from the Tories. I shall say more about that later. But I think the main structure of the Bill, as opposed to the many Amendments which I think are needed, is in the argument about personal liberty against collective solidarity—the words of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, last night, in a speech in which the noble Lord put forward very adequately the case of the Labour Party on this subject. And there was a good and moving speech on this issue by Mr. Brian Walden in Committee in another place which I hope a number of noble Lords have read. But I personally, and I think my colleagues, agree with the speech—I may say the very admirable speech—of the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, when he said that to fight this battle was really fighting the war before the last.
My Lords, things have changed. The principles of the Liberal Party have not chanced since that period before the Great War when they were the great defenders of the trade unions. But circumstances have changed; balances of power have changed, and the power of the Liberal Party, such as it is, is always used, we always try to use it, to protect the underprivileged—and the underprivileged to-day are not necessarily the members of the unions. They are the poor who are suffering from the present state of society, the present state of industrial relations. In the present state of society, as Mr. Tony Crosland said in his article this Sunday in the Sunday Times:In a free for all airline pilots and doctors come out top, Mr. Clive Jenkins's members second, the car workers a good third, postal 283 workers and railwaymen a bad fourth and the really poor nowhere".Another side of this argument about individual liberty and collective solidarity was stated by Mr. Orme in another place when in a remarkable exchange with Mr. Huston which I only wish the conventions of this House allowed me to quote verbatim, he held that in some instances group freedom is more important than individual freedom and this I take to be definitely the principle behind a number of the opponents of this Bill. I doubt whether in this case it is a real antithesis that is being put forward. I suspect that in the field of trade unions we can have both—and I think we shall see, if we amend this Bill, that we can. I think also that the balance has changed, and if there ever was a necessity for that point of view it has passed. As a Liberal I reject it outright because this idea that in some instances group freedom is more important than individual freedom is the basis of every tyranny and every totalitarian State that has ever been. Perhaps I may take this opportunity of explaining to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, who I see is in his place—
§ LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY
I hope that the noble Lord will blush a little more in a moment. The position of the Liberal Party on this Bill, as explained by my honourable friend John Pardoe in another place; as explained by my noble friend, Lord Rochester, I thought very ably yesterday; as explained by me to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, maybe somewhat incoherently over the dinner table, is logical and I should have thought that he might have grasped it. The position is this. We hold that this is a good start for a Bill, but that it needs a tremendous amount of amending, and that we propose to do this. My colleagues in the lower House therefore voted for it on Second Reading. By the time it reached Third Reading they took the view (as a great many people of all Parties have taken the view) that the kind of consideration it had received in the other place was totally derisory. Therefore they voted against the Bill on Third Reading because of the state in which it came to this House. It has now 284 reached this House. Noble Lords may laugh, but I defy them to pick any holes in the logic of that. And in this House I propose to advise my noble friends to vote for the Second Reading.
The really valid argument against this Bill is that it is not another and completely different kind of Bill. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham rightly pointed out, it is not an Industrial Relations Bill it is an Industrial Disputes Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, pointed out that the most important thing to do—and many other noble Lords have said the same—is to improve industrial relations in this country. This Bill will not do this. The Conservative Party have no policy to do this; the Labour Party have no policy to do this, with the honourable exception of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, whose suggestions which were put forward, not for the first time, in this House yesterday, are of such a vast nature that they are apt to invite ridicule from those who do not think sufficiently about them, yet are well worth investigating.
But the Liberal Party, I would remind noble Lords, has for some time had an industrial relations policy based on industrial democracy, co-partnership, co-ownership and worker-directors—things that were praised in his speech last night by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, in reference to Germany—and particularly works councils, which is something that I hope to see incorporated in this Bill. This is the way forward; this is the Eldorado which we see while you trample this muddy patch of ground in the middle, and which you are neglecting.
I will not go further on this, because it is not the Bill we have; but as a basis for the Bill that we have, on the whole I welcome this one. It will need a great many Amendments. The Secretary of State has shown himself to be a very reasonable man. I think there can be no doubt that his political stature has grown and grown in the handling of this Bill in another place, but I hope he realizes—and if he does not I hope his noble friends on the Front Bench will tell him—that by far the hardest work he has to do on this Bill is only just beginning. We really are going to work on this Bill. We welcome it and will play our full part. I am sad, and I think other noble Lords 285 will be sad, that because the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, will be attending to industrial relations himself he will not necessarily he able to give us all his great expertise on this Bill. However, I am glad to say that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, will soon be back, and he too has a great amount of experience.
There is not time now to go into the kind of Amendments that we should like to see, except to say that they would undoubtedly be more welcome to the Benches on this side of the House than to many of the Benches opposite. But one particular Amendment in which I am most interested is the suggestion made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, which has not since been picked up I think: that we should so amend the closed shop and agency shop clauses of this Bill that one would be allowed to opt out of being a member of a trade union only for reasons of conscience and not for any other reason. In view of these considerations which I have put before your Lordships, our course on these Benches is I think clear.
First, there is the question of the Motion before the House at the moment. It is a method to enable the Labour Party to vote against the Second Reading without actually voting against the Second Reading. Whether it does this is a matter of dispute between the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, and I look forward to the reply to what I thought was a fairly devastating case which the noble and learned Lord put forward: the idea that if one is to take it on its merits as a Motion, the idea that after three years of strong strain outside this House which has been there of, "We won't take an Industrial Relations Bill from the Tories", anything will emerge from consultation in the immediate future, except, on the one hand, a complete demand from the real militants of the trade union movement and, on the other, a Bill rather like this, but significantly amended. But, my Lords, this is indeed exactly what I think we should have—a Bill like this, but significantly amended. Since that is what we intend to do in this House, I have no hesitation in joining my noble friend Lord Rochester in recommending my noble friends to vote against the Motion and for the Bill.
§ 7.20 p.m.
My Lords, none of us can fail to recognise that this Bill has given rise to much passion and much argument, and, recognising this, I would say that I have felt a certain pride, listening to this long debate in these past two days on a subject where passion lies so close beneath the surface, to be a Member of a House of Parliament where argument and not passion has prevailed. May I also say what pleasure it gave me, as I am sure it gave to all noble Lords, to listen to the admirable maiden speeches from the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, and from my noble friend Lord Thomas. I am not just saying this as an idle form of words. I hope that we shall have much more advice from them. They are both men of diverse and very considerable experience.
We may disagree about much in this Bill, but I think I can assert, without fear of undue contradiction, that most of us are at least agreed on one essential point, and that is that legislation of sonic sort is needed and needed soon. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, stated quite categorically in his notable speech yesterday, "Britain needs an industrial relations Act". We need only to glance at to-day's headlines for all of us to know in our heart of hearts that that is in fact the case. I shall not try at this stage to argue at length the case for bringing forward this particular Bill: my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn put the case yesterday comprehensively and with admirable clarity. Nevertheless, in winding up, I should like briefly to remind your Lordships of some of the positive objectives we hope to achieve by this legislation. I shall necessarily be selective.
In the first place, we believe that this Bill will provide a stimulus to positive, effective and just management, and thereby to better industrial relations. Most of us would readily concede that such a stimulus is needed. From these Benches my noble friend Lord Thomas, in his refreshing and astringent maiden speech yesterday, readily conceded this, and so did my noble friends Lord Blakenham, Lord Watkinson, Lord Caldecote, Lord Thorneycroft and Lord Amory, in speeches of very considerable distinction endorsing the principles of this Bill. And 287 so did the noble Lords, Lord Redcliffe-Maud and Lord Plowden, and others, from the Cross-Benches.
The simple truth is that there is much in this Bill which is designed to put management on its mettle: the provisions for procedure agreements; the requirements for disclosure of information; the provisions about unfair dismissal, and so on. And there is notably Clause 2, the clause on which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, quite rightly, laid such great emphasis, the clause which states in positive terms the primary responsibility of management for better industrial relations. The meaning of that particular clause will be driven home by the code of industrial relations practice. My noble friends, Lord Watkinson and Lord Amory, hazarded the guess that the code will emphasise the responsibilities and duties of management. As usual, my noble friends were quite right. The code will indeed lay heavy emphasis on the responsibilities of management: and so, indeed, it should.
In answer to the question which the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, posed yesterday, I can assure him that it is my right honourable friend's intention to publish for consultation purposes a preliminary draft of the code within a matter of weeks. I can also confirm that it is his hope that there will be full consultation with all concerned on that draft code, genuine consultation. What I am saying at the outset, and the point which I am underlining, makes nonsense of the claim, repeated too often, at least by implication, in this debate, that this Bill is mere "union bashing". It is nothing of the sort. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, made clear, it is primarily on those who aim to sap and undermine the fabric of our industrial relations, this small minority, that the Bill will bite, where in fact it does bite.
This is shown by what I would take as the second objective of the Bill: that is, to give greater protection and safeguards for individual workers in industry. I instance a few examples. There is the protection from unfair dismissal. There are the safeguards against discrimination on account of trade union membership. There are the safeguards against arbitrary or unfair treatment from unions themselves. There is the longer notice of 288 termination of employment. And there is the clear assertion that no employee may be required to remain at work against his will: in other words, the right to strike is explicitly recognised in this legislation.
Thirdly, the Bill is designed to strengthen, not weaken, the trade union movement in this country. I assert this categorically and with confidence. Again—and I should like to insist on this—it is the reverse of "union bashing". We believe—we may be wrong; noble Lords opposite claim that we are wrong, but I believe that we are right—that under this legislation the development of unions will be strengthened, provided, and provided only, that they are prepared to accept the responsibilities of a registered organisation. May I say here—and he may not like this, coming from me—that I was glad to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, had to say about that in a speech of great wisdom and moderation. I would remind your Lordships that trade unions will retain the right to call strikes provided, and provided only, that the strikes are not adjudged unfair under the terms of this legislation. In addition, I would also recall to your Lordships that union members will be entitled—and entitled as of right—to engage in trade union activities without fear of discrimination from their employers.
Fourthly, the Bill will establish an entirely new system of industrial jurisdiction. This is an area where this layman at least, like angels, should perhaps fear to tread. But to me, at least, the new system which is proposed under this Bill, with its informal procedures, with its easy accessibility, with the membership of the courts consisting not only of lawyers but also of people with experience on both sides of industry, seems far better equipped to deal with legal problems which inevitably arise out of industrial relations than anything we have had in this country before.
In sum, my Lords, it is our belief—right or wrong—that over a period of time this Bill should do much to strengthen. to buttress and to encourage the resolution of industrial disputes in this country, and with that bring a more hopeful climate of industrial relations and greater prosperity and, I hope, a breakthrough into a higher plateau of economic performance which has been denied to this country for far too long.
289 In view of some of the things which have been said in this long debate, I should like to make it clear that it will not provide an instant panacea. As my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft pointed out, we have never claimed that it would. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment has always made it crystal clear that the real benefits of the Bill will be longer term and climatic. But this does not mean—and here I am answering a point which again was put to me quite fairly by the noble Lord, Lord Deacourt-Smith, yesterday—that we shall not see more immediate benefits. We have heard for example, from sources as various as my noble friend Lord Watkinson and Mr. Jack Jones, that from their different angles they are proposing to get their procedures into better shape forthwith. And I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, that from the moment this Bill bites, countless employees up and down the country will be protected as they are not now p.7otected against instant and arbitrary dismissal.
I now turn, if I may, to some other criticisms of the Bill which have been voiced in this inevitably long debate. I do not wish to stand for too long between your Lordships and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—and we shall all be glad to see him on his feet again both literally and metaphorically in a few minutes' time. Nor do I wish to stand too long between your Lordships and a possible vote. I shall therefore confine myself to some of the main criticisms made against this Bill, some of which I have already, I hope, covered by implication.
It has in the first place been argued—and of course not only from the Benches opposite—that the banning of the "closed shop" will erode union power and undermine union solidarity. I accept straight away that there are sincere doubts held, and not only by noble Lords opposite, about this part of the Bill. At the same time, I should like to say that in my present state of knowledge I do not accept that there is any real substance in those criticisms. For example, under the agency shop provisions, the right of any worker to be or to remain a "free rider", able to avoid contributing to the cost of the services provided by a union, will disappear. Employers will be permitted, indeed encouraged, to use 290 their best endeavours to persuade employees to belong to the recognised union. I should again emphasise that the code of practice, as I understand it, will most certainly emphasise this point, and emphasise its positive terms.
However, if what the unions are asking the Government for is the opportunity to compel every single worker to belong to the appropriate union, because without this, in their view, unionism cannot effectively survive, then it is clear that this is a proposition which this Government cannot accept. But, of course, the Government are firmly convinced that when employers and unions come fully to understand the agency shop concept—and it is a new and unfamiliar concept—they will appreciate the great advantage which will derive from the proposed arrangements, and the incentives which the provisions of the Bill will provide for union membership and more stable industrial relations. In any event, the Government see no need to apologise for the fact that they seek to preserve the freedom of the individual to join, or not to join, what have always been, after all, voluntary associations of workpeople. Here I must say that I found myself in a considerable measure of agreement with the general tenor of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, on this particular aspect of the Bill.
The Bill has also been criticised as "legalism run mad". Some noble Lords have sought to argue that the law has little or no place in industrial relations; that the course of those relations lies between man and man, and that laws alone cannot change fundamental human behaviour. I would of course grant straight away that our system of industrial relations is at present characterised by a deliberate abstention or withdrawal of the law. I would grant, too, that this traditional non-intervention of the law in industrial relations has until quite recently been widely supported in this country, as my noble friend Lord Amory pointed out. But I sincerely believe that we should be wrong to oppose legislation in this field in principle. We all recognise that in the final analysis industrial relations are human relations. We all know (and here I very much agreed with the words of the noble Lord, Lord 291 Bernstein) that in the last resort what we are dealing with in this area are the expectations and the livelihood, the habits, the prides, and indeed the prejudices, of individual citizens. But we believe, and we believe firmly, that the law is in fact able to help in changing attitudes and in changing behaviour.
May I instance as an example the Race Relations Act. When that legislation was first mooted by the previous Administration, many people suggested—many noble Lords from this side of the House suggested—that we could not legislate in the field of race relations because race relations were human relations and no law could change what people felt or did in a field so peculiarly sensitive as that of race relations. I remember that many noble Lords opposite were keen that this legislation should be put on the Statute Book. I am prepared to concede that they were right. If in fact it was right, as was argued yesterday by both the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Southwark and the Bishop of Blackburn, for our society to put on record the standards it felt should be observed in the field of race relations, so, my Lords, it is equally right that society should similarly lay down appropriate standards—guidelines, as my noble friend Lord Amory termed them—in the conduct of industrial relations.
Further, it is argued that if we introduce a legal framework into industrial relations everyone will be rushing to the courts all the time, and that the legal provisions which we are seeking to introduce are in any event an intolerable restraint on the activities of ordinary working people. But we should remember that there is a very large number of Statutes which affect all of us in many fields of our daily lives. This does not mean that the ordinary citizen goes to law at the drop of a hat. In the case of legislation dealing with race relations, the analogy which I have quoted, there is a particular reason why there has been relatively so little litigation. That reason can be expressed in one word—"conciliation". I should like to remind your Lordships that this Bill is studded with references to the need for conciliation. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has stressed time and time again that much of the formal and often com- 292 plicated machinery of this Bill—and I freely admit that much of the formal structure of this Bill is complicated—is for use only as a last resort when voluntary procedures have failed.
Conciliation and "voluntarism" (to use the jargon) are in fact two of the main pillars which support the framework of this Bill. There is, for instance, the requirement on the National Industrial Relations Court to ensure that the parties have availed themselves of opportunities for conciliation. There is the requirement, before the Court requests the C.I.R. to examine a recognition dispute, that it should satisfy itself that the parties have made adequate attempts to settle it themselves on a voluntary basis. There is the requirement laid on the Secretary of State himself to conciliate in such disputes before an application may even be made to the Court.
There is too, my Lords, the provision for the appointment of a new kind of conciliation officer in the Department of Employment, who will be required to promote a settlement of individual complaints, notably about unfair dismissal, before they ever go to an industrial tribunal. It is our hope, and it is indeed our belief, that the voluntary procedures will continue to be used wherever possible so that disputes are settled without recourse to the law. But equally it is our view that the law must be there in the last resort as a "fail-safe" measure, to repeat the striking phrase of my noble friend Lord Mills, to set out standards of behaviour and to provide the remedies where voluntary methods fail and are seen to fail.
So much for the Bill itself. In conclusion, I should now like to turn to our handling of it in your Lordships' House. First, I must make it clear how much I welcome—and I am now speaking really more as the Leader of your Lordships' House than in a Party capacity—some words which the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, used yesterday. There was a great deal in his forceful speech with which I disagreed, but nevertheless I should like to say to him and to your Lordships' House that it was a speech of distinction and a speech of reason. I was particularly glad to hear him say, speaking with all the weight that his position at the Despatch Box opposite gave him, that the Opposition had no 293 intention of obstructing this Bill for obstruction's sake; no intention of conducting a. filibuster on it. And I was equally glad that this note which was struck by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, at the outset was subsequently echoed and re-echoed by noble Lords from all quarters of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I think it only right that I should respond in kind, so let me say just this. If restraint is in fact exercised by noble Lords opposite, it will be matched by noble Lords who speak for the Government. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, expressed the hope that the Government would listen "sympathetically and intelligently ", I think was his phrase, to the arguments. Sympathy—I cannot absolutely guarantee that. Intelligence—it would be presurnptuous, at least for me, to promise that, but what I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, and the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, is that it will be our intention—our considered intention—to look in a "cool, critical and unbiased" way (to use the expression of my noble friend Lord Blakenham) at constructive suggestions advanced in the course of our further debates on this Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, suggested that there was much that was uncertain, much that was inadequate, much that was impracticable, and much that was unjust in the Bill before your Lordships' House. Let me say how I approach this Bill. If there are in fact places where it speaks with an uncertain voice, let us import new certainty: into it. If there are places where it is demonstrated to be inadequate, let us render it more adequate. If there are places where its provisions can be shown to be impracticable, let us make them practicable. And, my Lords, if it can be demonstrated, and demonstrated beyond a peradventure, that any of its provisions bear hardly, either on sections of our community or on individuals, let us do all we can to make those provisions fair and just.
Of course, this Bill is not only controversial; it is both long and controversial, and this clearly faces us with something of a practical problem. But it is a practical problem which we have man- 294 aged to surmount in the past without undue difficulty, albeit with a good deal of sweat and tears and midnight oil. I would recall to your Lordships that this Bill as it comes to us is 160 pages long; Mrs. Barbara Castle's hydra-headed transport monster was 267 pages long, and the London Government Bill, of which some of us have sweet but poignant memories, was 228 pages long. But we managed to deal with both those Bills, not unsatisfactorily. By the same token, I am sure that there will be time enough for us to give equally full and constructive consideration to the Bill before your Lordships at Second Reading now, and I should like to make it clear that I for one am very willing at any time to discuss with noble Lords opposite how best we can arrange our programme of business in order to ensure this. In sum, my Lords, I should like to endorse what I think were the words spoken by a noble Lord yesterday—I forget, I am afraid, who it was: "Another place's extremity is your Lordships' opportunity". I shall do all I can for my part to help your Lordships to seize that opportunity.
It is against that background that in conclusion I should like your Lordships to consider how we can deal with the two Motions before your Lordships' House: the Motion for a Second Reading and the Motion standing in the name of the, noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. If, as I suspect, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, presses his Motion to a Division and if, as I am inclined to anticipate, his Motion is not successful, my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack will put the Motion for a Second Reading to your Lordships' House. I should like to express the hope that noble Lords opposite, even those noble Lords who feel most strongly against this Bill, like the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, who was in very good form, I thought, this afternoon, will not divide your Lordships' House on the Motion for Second Reading.
I do not wish to make unduly heavy weather of the constitutional arguments. All I would do is to remind noble Lords that both main Parties have accepted the principle that this House should not normally challenge the principle of Government Bills sent up from the elected 295 Chamber. I would merely like to emphasise, quietly, but nevertheless with such force as I can command, that in my view it would be in the best interests of Parliament that we should adhere to that principle to-day. I am reinforced in that view by my recollection of what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said as recently as January 21 when he stated: "On constitutional grounds we do not as a rule vote on Second Reading". I am fortified, too, by my recollection of what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said on the Second Reading only a few weeks ago of the Coal Industry Bill—a Bill for which he clearly had no particular affection—and indeed what he said in his speech earlier this afternoon.
I turn finally to the Motion standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. I should like to congratulate him straightaway and most warmly on the constitutional procedural ingenuity which he has shown in "cooking it up", but he cannot really expect us on these Benches—indeed he cannot expect noble Lords in other quarters of the House—to "fall for it", despite the words of sweet reasonableness which fell from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, in moving it yesterday. As my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has stated, the Motion argues that we should adjourn our debate on Second Reading on three main grounds. It is argued, in the first place, that the proceedings on the Bill have been curtailed in another place. It is perhaps hardly for us to comment on how another place proceeds, but I would suggest that if the proceedings in another place were curtailed this was in certain measure due to the attitude adopted by the Opposition there. And I fear I must go further. In my view, the tactics of the Opposition in another place have done no good for the standing of Parliament.
In any event, there is a certain amount of fiction in the argument that this Bill has come to us in very large measure totally undiscussed. As my noble and learned friend made clear earlier this afternoon, debate in another place ranged very widely, and many of the clauses of the Bill, technically undiscussed in Committee, were in fact very fully covered in debate. But be that as it may. It is 296 argued, in the second place, that the Bill is causing grave division within industry and in the nation. I would not seek to sustain for one moment an argument that this Bill is not a contentious Bill. But my belief—and I noticed that I had here the support of both my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont—is that this Bill commands far wider support from the great mass of our population, and indeed many trade unionists, than noble Lords opposite choose to admit.
Thirdly, the Motion calls for a pause in order that the Government may seek agreed solutions to the problems of industrial relations free from the conditions on which they have so far insisted. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment—not the most unreasonable of men—has made it clear time and time again that he was ready for talks with the trade unions on this legislation. It was not he who slammed the door on consultation. My right honourable friend has again made it clear that he is very ready for consultation with the trade unions on the proposed code of industrial relations practice, and I have his specific authority to reaffirm that assurance here and now and categorically.
But, my Lords, in asking for further consultations free from the conditions on which we have so far insisted, I can in truth only asume that the Opposition are asking the Government to abandon the main principles on which this Bill is based, the eight pillars of my right honourable friend's wisdom. They are in fact asking us, in a Motion moved with much sweet reasonableness but decked with specious argument, to kill the Bill. They are asking us to suffocate our own child with our own hands. The last Government were prepared to cut and run from their responsibilities. We are not. I must tell noble Lords opposite that they are asking here too much of us, because we are being asked as a Government to abdicate from our responsibilities, to lose our credibility at home and to cause those abroad to doubt the firmness of our basic purpose. That may be the Opposition's wish, but it is certainly not the Government's intention.
I believe, and I believe that the majority of your Lordships' House 297 believe, that this legislation is long overdue. I believe, and I believe that the majority of your Lordships' House believe, that this Bill in its main principles is right, and I would remind your Lordships that this Government, newly elected, has a fresh and clear mandate to bring forward this legislation. In these circumstances, I ask your Lordships to reject the Motion standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, decisively and with a clear majority.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I should like first to apologise to your Lordships for not being present during what was undoubtedly a very outstanding debate yesterday. I should apologise indeed for taking part in the debate at all, were it not for the fact that I have myself been very much the author, along with my colleagues, of the Motion which we are now debating, and I did not want anyone to have any doubt as to the seriousness of my opposition to this Bill and my dislike of its contents.
But before I go further along these lines may I say to noble Lords—to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and others who were kind enough to express regrets at my absence yesterday—that, thanks to powerful new pills (not the Pill), the infection that I suffered is more or less under control, and my spirits are rather high at the moment because the acerbity of the last remarks of the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition have in fact—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I am sorry; it is a syndrome from which we both suffer at one time or another. I was about to say that the acerbity of the last remarks of the noble Earl the Leader of the House will encourage me to say fairly forcibly what I have to say.
I must first of all confess to one weakness. My predecessor as Leader of the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, used to suffer greatly from irritation with the Liberals, and must say that the speeches we have heard from them have irritated more than anything I have heard in this debate. I find it intolerable that the noble Lord should talk about synthetic indignation. No- 298 body on that side of the House has talked about this.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
It was the way the noble Lord said it. He made some extraordinary remarks. He did say that the Liberals got together now and again, and I gather that, as a result, in another place they voted for the Second Reading and then, for reasons that were not entirely clear, against the Third Reading; and they are now going to vote for the Second Reading in this House, in the absence of their noble Leader, who, on the occasion when we withdrew our Bill, made the remark to me:I would ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House, whether he would use his influence with the Conservative Party to persuade them that their own policy of getting even tougher with the unions is only driving faster along the road in the wrong direction.It appears that the Liberals have now outdistanced their own Leader in this matter, and one of the most ominous remarks in the noble Lord's speech was that the Liberals intend to play a full part in the Committee stage.
My Lords, having now, I hope, discharged, with not quite the precision of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, my traditional role in regard to the Liberals, may I go on to say that I think the standard of debate has been extremely high, and the standard of tolerance and good sense has been very valuable indeed. I managed to read all the speeches that appeared in Hansard yesterday, except those that were made around midnight— and I am told that some very good speeches were made around midnight. I hope that on later occasions I shall be here round about midnight and after, as I expect many of us will have to be in the course of the next few weeks. We are not deceived that the Government are likely to accept the radical changes that we should like to make with regard to this Bill, but I shall say something in a moment about the Motion and about the slightly diverse views expressed, not for the first time, by the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack and his noble friend the Leader of the House. We are almost back to the Weimar Republic again, which I know caused 299 some embarrassment on a previous occasion.
But before I come to the more contentious part of my speech, may I say—and I am sure all noble Lords will agree—how delighted we were by the two maiden speakers, my noble friend Lord Bernstein, with his very great experience, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, whose speech I did not hear, but it was obviously regarded highly. There have been a number of notable speeches from all parts of the House. There has been a great deal of variety of opinion, and there has been great sincerity. We had two very striking speeches to-day from the noble Lords, Lord McCorquodale of Newton and Lord Burntwood, both former Members of the Commons and both, in either House, the two largest Members in Parliament; their speeches were admirable, as were so many others.
I must say next, so that there should be no misunderstanding, that I have known of no Bill in modern times, certainly since the war, that has caused such bitter controversy and such involved discussion about its expected effects as the one that is now before the House. It is not possible for me now to go through in detail the various criticisms we have of the Bill. I am perfectly prepared to accept, as I am sure are all noble Lords on this side of the House, that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and many others, like the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, and even the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, with his somewhat mischievous approach on occasions, are totally sincere in believing that this is a good Bill, in the national interest and in the interests of the working man. I shall seek to demonstrate why we are doubtful whenever the Tory Party say that they are doing something for the working man. Our doubts are based not purely on history but on the somewhat confused arguments they have used in support of the case they have put forward.
In this House we are faced with a dilemma, and the dilemma is the more acute because so much of this Bill—and this point is referred to in my Motion—was never considered in detail in the Commons. Let us not deceive ourselves. We have not been deceiving ourselves very much in this debate, and we know that all Governments guillotine; and we know, too, that all Oppositions get very 300 indignant when there is guillotining of a Bill. It is not for us to discuss how they conduct their affairs in another place; though the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, I thought went rather beyond what was reasonable in criticising the way the Opposition used their time; but I really regard it as only the voice of inexperience with regard to another place that led him to make those remarks. I cannot recall a timetable procedure—and I have sat in another place where the Tories voted endlessly on the Transport Bill in 1947–48—which has produced a result in which 111 clauses were not specifically discussed.
The noble Earl may say, "Well, they were discussed generally in debate." But, in addition, I cannot recall when there was no attempt to agree a timetable. The most striking example—and I put this to noble Lords opposite, because we really have a job on our hands here—was the Report stage, in which the Opposition had no chance to debate any of the Amendments, which the Opposition itself would normally want to do. All five days were, by Government decision, virtually devoted to discussing new and complicated clauses that the Government had brought into the Bill, and a mere fraction of the last day was devoted to Amendments. Here again there were 55 Government Amendments and, of these, 42 were never discussed at all and are not even in the Bill in front of us to-day; they have got to be brought into the Bill.
The Government are putting a very heavy burden on this House. This is a Bill of profound constitutional importance. We shall obviously do our best—that is, if, as I think is not unlikely, the House does not support the Motion I have put before it and it will be very depressing to think how long we shall have to sit. My noble friends have said, and made perfectly clear, that there will be no filibustering, and I am sure noble Lords opposite accept that we mean this. There will be plenty for us to discuss without even beginning to want to waste time. There are months of work ahead of us.
It is quite impossible for me—although I appreciate the noble Earl's offer, and much as I realise that this House has to run, in the absence of a Speaker, by sensible co-operation—to agree, or see any 301 prospect of agreement, on any timetable. I do not know how long this Bill will take. I say quite seriously that if we are to discharge our duties—and this is not a threat; I hope we shall not have to do it—we shall have to be prepared to sit for a long period. This is not a threat, and I hope nobody will say, if we do not sit into August, that this is a threat that is not fulfilled. I am only saying that we must face the consequences of trying to get this Bill right.
A great deal will depend on the Government's willingness to listen to the advice of your Lordships. The Government were reluctant to listen to the advice of others who were expert in another place. But here, with the great wealth of knowledge, there will be plenty of pressure on them to accept Amendments which they were reluctant to accept in another place. Practically every speaker on either side is expecting the Government to advance a great deal further on the subject of the closed shop. This is not a view held just on this side of the House; it was a view which was expressed from the Episcopal Bench and it was a view which was expressed by noble Lords on the Government side who have practical experience of industrial relations.
As most speakers have made clear, the equating of the right not to join a union with the right to join a union is absolutely nonsense, as Donovan pointed out. The Government have begun to move on this issue, but what they have done is still not satisfactory from the standpoint, even of unions such as Equity who have an absolutely crying need to have their requirements met in this matter. We shall expect a real advance from the Government on this point, and I am quite sure that when they have heard the arguments further they will personally be convinced. Providing there is some chance of your Lordships having some influence on what is unquestionably the most obstinate Government this country has had for a long while, we shall get down to it and see whether we can make the Bill a good deal more tolerable, even harmless and possibly useful.
There are many aspects of the Bill which I should like to talk about, but the arguments have been so fully put that I do not think there is any need for me to add to them. The basic object- 302 tion to this Bill—and this is the point that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, and other noble Lords have made, and a point which appears to have escaped the Liberal Party but certainly has caught the attention of dispassionate observers—is that the Bill deals with symptoms rather than causes. The Government and the public look at industrial trouble and say, "There are more strikes than there were last year. There are more strikes than there were ten years ago. We must deal with this". But they look at the symptoms, and not at the causes.
But, my Lords, in the first place, the present situation with regard to strikes—and nobody can be happy about it, although again I think we sell ourselves short in the world by talking as much as we do about them—is reflected in nearly every country. The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, in an interesting account of the causes of strikes, referred to strikes over unfair dismissals and other causes. But the pattern has changed in this last year or two: now it is inflation that is causing the strikes; it is the absence of an effective incomes policy. It is no good my pretending that the previous Government's incomes policy was entirely satisfactory or successful. Let us face facts on this. If only this Government would admit that they have no effective policy in regard to this matter, and would stop pursuing a policy in regard to the trade unions which will not make the slightest difference to the causes and problems that are leading to present-day strikes!
Secondly, despite some of the remarks of noble Lords, this Bill runs counter, in some of the most important respects, to the principal recommendations and conclusions of the Donovan Commission. Again, I think it was the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, who said that it went a bit further than Donovan. That is rather a niece of meiosis, because it seems to me that in certain respects it goes entirely counter to Donovan. That is most notably so in the most controversial part of the whole Bill, which is in regard to the power to make collective agreements, including those at shop-floor level, legally binding. It is necessary to emphasise this, because some noble Lords will not have 303 heard the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan (though I think his speech ought to be compulsory reading for anyone who did not hear it), whose Report said:If therefore existing collective agreements, or existing procedure agreements, were to be made into legal contracts this would have to be done"—and this is what the Government propose—by a statute attaching the force of law to the terms of a bargain, contrary to the wishes of the parties. This would be an unprecedented step and a step wholly at variance with the principles of the common law which apply to the law of contract. Since the law of contract exists to give effect to the wishes of the parties some strong justification must be sought at the outset for a law designed to set those wishes aside and to impose on the parties a relationship which they do not desire.My argument here about Donovan is that if agreements are to become legal, the probability is that there will be many fewer agreements or that there will be no agreements at all. This really is a serious argument which has not been met by any of the Government spokesmen.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt on that point, because I think it is extremely important? The passage that he has quoted relates to existing collective agreements, whereas the Bill relates to future collective agreements after it has become law.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this is what horrifies me. The arguments apply to the future just as much as to the present. It means that the practical sort of agreement that may be made, and is constantly made, in industry will not be made, or that it will have to be verbal. You will even be able to have a note on it. Every agreement that is made will have to carry a note at the bottom stating, "This is not a legal agreement"—and this is much more likely, because it is spelt out in that way, to incline people not to keep the agreement. Here again I would draw attention to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, said. I do not want to go on about this. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, must be suffering a little from being in the position of a prophet who is constantly quoted from both sides.
304 As I said, this is an obstinate Government. They are pure-minded according to their lights, but their lights are not ours. Government spokesmen, just because they are conscious of the purity of their motives, say that if only the trade unions would trust them; their intentions are noble and, despite the Budget, they are all for the working man. But their actions really speak differently, and they cannot understand why it is that so many people in the trade unions and in the Labour Party, while regarding them as honourable people, simply do not trust the actions, and indeed the somewhat brutal actions, that they take in the matter.
Let me give a single example, with which the noble Earl is himself familiar, of arbitrary action by this Government. I refer to the sacking of Professor Hugh Clegg as Chairman of the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
The fact is that the Government sacked him. Why was he sacked? He served on the Scamp Committee. He need not have done so; he did it as his duty. He was regarded by both the official side and the trade union side of the Civil Service as an entirely dispassionate and appropriate Chairman. It is actions of that sort that lead to the feeling of distrust.
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, but since he has introduced—I do not quite know why—this particular case, I feel that I should put the Record right in two respects. In the first place, the noble Lord said that Professor Hugh Clegg was sacked. The position is that he was on a three-year appointment, which was due to run out in March and which required the assentment of both parties in order that it should run on. The noble Lord asked whey he was sacked. He was not sacked. But the point was that in order to have successful arbitration—I am sure the noble Lord will agree with this—an arbitrator must command the confidence of both sides. The position was—and this is no reflection on a person of great personal distinction, Professor Clegg, or on his intellectual attainments—that Professor Clegg did not have the confidence of both sides.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I will not pursue this further, but that is a most serious statement and one that I can only say I should want to challenge on another occasion. I really think it is a most astonishing remark, and it is the sort of thing that causes anxiety.
Then there is this easy assumption that the trade unions are much stronger than they really are; and of course the mass media never cease to make the most of it. I do not want to detain the House any longer. I shall give only one other example of the consequences of the Government's action by this Bill. They have killed the Commission on Industrial Relations. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, said, "Thank goodness that is going on ". But the Government have completely changed its role. The concept of the Commission on Industrial Relations was of a conciliating body, a good will broker, almost like a marriage broker, giving advice. Now it is going to have to take on statutory duties of a kind which may require it to make recommendations to the Court—which the Court will, in fact, have to enforce—to impose procedure agreements on both sides of industry. Either side—either the employers or the trade unions—will have the power to ask for an agreement, and either side will have to accept it; it will be imposed. The nature of the Corn-mission has been changed.
I want now to turn to the remarks of the noble Earl, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, about the Motion. First of all, I think I have demonstrated that the procedure that has been followed in another place means that the Bill has been very inadequately discussed. It may be that some of us have views. If there had been a reform of this House, there might even have been other changes by which complex measures of this sort could be given the discussion that they should have. I think there is no doubt about that. There is also no doubt that, however much the Government may claim that they have the support of the majority of people in the country—and that has yet to be demonstrated—this Bill is causing grave division in industry, and it is causing great opposition among people who are of great importance to the future progress of this country; namely, the trade union leadership at all levels.
306 It is also without doubt—although the noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl did not deal with this aspect—that no attempt has been made to discuss with the trade unions the provisions of this Bill. The Bill was imposed on them. The Consultative Document was published and they were asked to comment in a very short period, provided that they accepted it. That is not consultation. It is the purpose of this Motion to ask the Government to think again, because, in the end, some sort of compromises will be needed in these fields. It is no use taking up a strong position if you are not going to succeed in what you are hoping to achieve.
I am prepared to say here and now that this Bill will not succeed in the purposes that the Government are seeking for it, in which case it may well be that we ought to take the advice of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, and let it go through so that it can be demonstrated that it will not succeed. But, my Lords, this will do damage to industry, and I therefore think we should be well advised, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham suggested, to take a little time to allow the Government, even at this last moment, to have discussions. They will not do so because abroad they do not want to appear weak—again, as always, showing this sort of devotion to strong Government. They will not do so because they really do not want to argue the case.
My Lords, the one thing on which I must disagree with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is that this is equivalent to a Motion that the Bill be read this day six months. It is not. I would tell him, in case he has not had time to do his research, that there is a perfectly respectable precedent for this Motion. In 1948, the then Leader of the House moved that the debate on the Parliament Bill be adjourned. It was adjourned while discussions took place, and four months later the debate was resumed. On this occasion we have gone rather further and explained on the Order Paper why we want the debate adjourned; so that this is an improvement, I hope.
It will be perfectly possible for the Government to have their discussions and then to go on with the Bill. We have urged this course previously. The most 307 pressing need for this country at the moment is an effective incomes policy to deal with inflation. We know that this Bill will have no short-term effect, and therefore I would seriously ask any of your Lordships, other than the great majority, as I hope, of the Labour Party who are inclined to support this Motion, to bear in mind that in voting for the Motion they are in no way voting against the Second Reading of the Bill.
My Lords, much more could be said. The Government are embarking on a course which I believe will not yield the benefits that they expect. It is not yielding those benefits in other countries. It is certainly not yielding them in America or Australia, from where I have
§ I recently returned, where they have the most legal system in the world. There the thing is breaking down; union fines are not being paid; and they are now beginning to look at our system, which of course is now being altered in this arbitrary way by the Government. I beg the Government to think again. I do not expect that they will. I can only say that if this Bill gets a Second Reading to-night we shall be in for a very long and a very hot summer, and we may be sitting in August.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 85; Not-Contents, 248.309
|Archibald, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hall, V.||Royle, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Henderson, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Bacon, Bs.||Hilton of Upton, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Bernstein, L.||Hirshfield, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Beswick, L. [Teller.]||Hoy, L.||Segal, L.|
|Birk, Bs.||Hughes, L.||Serota, Bs.|
|Blyton, L.||Jacques, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Janner, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Leatherland, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Brown, L.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.||Slater, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Lindgren, L.||Snow, L.|
|Burntwood, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.||Soper, L.|
|Chalfont, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Sorensen, L.|
|Champion, L.||Longford, E.||Stocks, Bs.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Maelor, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Collison, L.||Mais, L.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Milford, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Summerskill, Bs.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Moyle, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Nunburnholme, L.||White, Bs.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Pargiter, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Durham, L. Bp.||Peddie, L.||Willis, L.|
|Gaitskell, Bs.||Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
|Gardiner, L.||Platt, L.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L.||Plummer, Bs. L.|
|George-Brown, L.||Popplewell, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Gifford, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Atholl, D.||Bourne, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Auckland, L.||Boyd of Merton, V.|
|Ailsa, M.||Balerno, L.||Bradford, E.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Balfour, E.||Braye, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Beauchamp, E.||Brecon, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Brentford, V.|
|Aldington, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Brooke and Warwick, E.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Belstead, L.||Brooke of Cumnor, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Berkeley, Bs.||Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.|
|Alport, L.||Bessborough, E.||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Bethell, L.||Buchan, E.|
|Amory, V.||Blackburn, L.Bp.||Carrick, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Bolton, L.||Carrington, L.|
|Arran, E.||Boothby, L.||Cawley, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Boston, L.||Chandos, V.|
|Chelmer, L.||Harlech, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Chesham L.||Harris, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Chester, L.Bp.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Rhyl, L.|
|Chichester, L.Bp.||Hastings, L.||Ridley, V.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Hatherton, L.||Robbins, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Hawke, L.||Robertson of Oakridge, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Headfort, M.||Rochdale, V.|
|Colgrain, L.||Helsby, L.||Rochester, L.Bp.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hertford, M.||Rochester, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Hindlip, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hives, L.||Rootes, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hood, V.||Rosslyn, E.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Howe, E.||Rothes, E.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hylton Foster, Bs.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Courtown, E.||IIford, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Coventry, L.Bp.||Inchyra, L.||St Aldwyn, E [Teller.]|
|Craigavon, V.||Inglewood, L.||St Helens, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Jellicoe, E (L. Privy Seal).||St. Oswald, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Jessel, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Kemsley, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Croft, L.||Killearn, L.||Savile, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Kilmany, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Selsdon, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Lauderdale, E.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Davidson, V.||Leicester, L.Bp.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|De Clifford, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Sharp, Bs.|
|De L'Isle, V.||Liverpool, E.||Sherfield, L.|
|Denham, L.||Lloyd, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Deramore, L.||Lonsdale, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Lothian, M.||Somers, L.|
|Downe, V.||Loudoun, C.||Southwark, L.Bp.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Spencer, E.|
|Dulverton, L.||Luke, L.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Dundee, E.||Lytton, E.||Strang, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Eccles, V.||McFadzean, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Mancroft, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Margadale, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Enniskillen, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Swansea, L.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Merrivale, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Essex, E.||Mersey, V.||Tangley, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Mills, V.||Terrington, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Milne, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Milverton, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Monck, V.||Thomas, L.|
|Forres, L.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Monk Bretton, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Furness, V.||Mottistone, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Gage, V.||Mountevans, L.||Trevelyan, L.|
|Garner, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Truro, L.Bp.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Moyne, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Gore-Booth, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Goschen, V. [Teller.].||Nelson of Stafford, L.||Vestey, L.|
|Gowrie, E.||Netherthorpe, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Grantchester, L.||Northchurch, Bs.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Gray, L.||Norwich, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Greenway, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Grenfell, L.||Pender, L.||Watkinson, V.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Plowden, L.||Weir, V.|
|Grimthorpe, L.||Poltimore, L.||Wigram, L.|
|Hacking, L.||Poole, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Hailes, L.||Rankeillour, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L (L Chancellor)||Reading, M.||Wise, L.|
|Redcliffe-Maud, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Hankey, L.||Redesdale, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|Hanworth, V.||Redmayne, L.||Younger of Leckie, V.|
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read 2a?312
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 224; Not-Contents, 15.313
|Aberdare, L.||Dundee, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Abinger, L.||Durham, L. Bp.||Merrivale, L.|
|Ailsa, L.||Ebbisham, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Eccles, V.||Mills, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Effingham, E.||Milne, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Monck, V.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Enniskillen, E.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.|
|Allerton, L.||Essex, E.||Monk-Bretton, L.|
|Alport, L.||Exeter, M.||Mottistone, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Falkland, V.||Mountevans, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Ferrers, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Ferrier, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Forres, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Fortescue E.||Nelson of Stafford, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Furness, V.||Netherthorpe, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Garner, L.||Northchurch, Bs.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Gladwyn, L.||Norwich, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Gore-Booth, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Pender, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Gowrie, E.||Platt, L.|
|Berkeley, Bs.||Grantchester, L.||Plowden, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Gray, L.||Poole, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Grenfell, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Blackburn, L. Bp.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Reading, M.|
|Bolton, L.||Grimthorpe, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Boston, L.||Hacking, L.||Redmayne, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Hailes, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone (L. Chancellor.)||Rennell, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Robbins, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Hanworth, V.||Robertson of Oakndge, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Harcourt, V.||Rochdale, V.|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Rochester, L. Bp.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Hastings, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Hatherton, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Hawke, L.||Rosslyn, E.|
|Buchan, E.||Headfort, M.||Rothes, E.|
|Cawley, L||Helsby, L||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Chelmer, L||Hertford, M||Sackville, L|
|Chesham, L.||Hindlip, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Chester, L. Bp.||Hives, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Chichester, L. Bp.||Hood, V.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Howe, E.||Sandford, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Hylton Foster, Bs.||Sandys, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Ilford, L.||Savile, L.|
|Colgrain, L.||Inchyra, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Colyton, L.||Inglewood, L.||Selsdon, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Sempill, Ly.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Kemsley, V.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Killearn, L.||Sharp, Bs.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Kilmany, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Kilmarnock, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Lauderdale, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Leicester, L. Bp.||Somers, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Liverpool, E.||Spencer, E.|
|Croft, L.||Lonsdale. E.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Cromartie, E.||Lothian, M.||Strang, L.|
|Cullen Ashbourne, L.||Loudoun, C.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Daventry, V.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Luke, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|De Clifford, L.||Lytton, E.|
|Denham, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Deramore, L.||McFadzean, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Downe, V.||Malmesbury, E.||Swaythling, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Mancroft, L.||Tangley, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Margadale, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Teviot, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.||Wigram, L.|
|Teynham, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhevie, Bs.||Willingdon, M.|
|Thomas, L.||Vivian, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Thorneycroft, L.||Waldegrave, E.||Wise, L.|
|Thurlow, L.||Ward of Witley, V.||Wolverton, L.|
|Townshend, M.||Watkinson, V.||Yarborough, E.|
|Trevelyan, L.||Weir, V.||Younger of Leckie, V.|
|Truro, L. Bp.|
|Bernstein, L.||Milford, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Blyton, L.[Teller]||Plummer, Bs.||Willis, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Popplewell, L.[Teller.]||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Slater, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Summerskill, Bs.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.