§ 2.55 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I do not wish to detain your Lordships in debating the Motion that we go into Committee on the Bill, but I think this is the right moment to make certain remarks about the conduct of the Bill rather than seeking to do so on the first Amendment, which is a formula that we have sometimes used. I do not wish to detain your Lordships and my noble friend Lord Diamond, who is here looking full of health, will perhaps be able to add to this point. It is not my intention to spend long on this Motion, but I think it may be useful if we clear certain matters out of the way. I would first of all repeat that there is not the slightest intention that we should filibuster. Indeed, if we want to take a long time over this Bill—and I do not know how much time we do want to take—there is plenty of opportunity, and proper opportunity, to do so without filibustering, because there is quite a lot of new business.
It is clear that very heavy responsibilities rest on us, and that the country—and indeed I believe all sides of the House—intend that your Lordships should do their duty in regard to this Bill. The seriousness of the matter has been reinforced by a television programme which I saw on Saturday—some of your Lordships may have seen it—in which I observed a number of officials of the 920 House busy moving camp beds in. I may say they were not intended for your Lordships, but for the staff who serve us so well.
The Government Chief Whip has told us that for the first time in history there is a Three Line Whip. I am unable to check, as I have not access to Conservative Party records, but I should be surprised if the Duke of Wellington did not occasionally, in those days, have a Three Line Whip. We also saw a very heavy graph about the average age of Members of your Lordships' House. It was a kind of exponential curve, but then, instead of becoming sigmoid, it suddenly went down—with sudden death, so far as I could tell. The Government have apparently authorised all these arrangements—there will even be some food for your Lordships—in anticipation of a Bill which the noble Earl described as rather smaller than the Transport Bill. This is a Bill which traverses territory which we have not travelled before. Indeed, the Government have gone out of their way to explain that this is a fundamental Bill, long overdue. It certainly contains a number of new principles which we shall have to discuss, aided, I hope, by some of the learned law Lords—particular issues certainly arise on the first Amendment.
Your Lordships may have seen on the Order Paper a Motion which we have since removed; it was an Instruction to take Part II before Part I. This Instruction was conceived as a result of awareness of the significance of the code of practice to which the Government have attached so much importance. We finally removed it for two reasons, one being that the postponement of Part I until after Part II did not seem to allow enough time for the preparation of the code of practice. The noble Earl spoke about expecting it to be ready in "a matter of weeks ". It is always interesting to decide what "a matter of weeks" is. I feel "a matter of weeks" is somewhere between two and eight weeks, and, assuming it is eight weeks, I should have thought it was possible that we could have gone beyond Part I by then, though I would not wish to be optimistic in this matter.
This presents us with a quite serious problem, and we had contemplated putting down a Motion which would have 921 the effect of committing the House, or the Government, to recommitting certain clauses after the code was published. It would obviously be rather premature to start recommitting clauses before we had even gone into Committee. Therefore, it would seem appropriate to raise this matter now, not with an intention of dividing on this Motion to go into Committee, but in order to probe the Government's intentions with regard to the publication of the code of practice and to test how willing they would be to recommit.
It has struck me recently that we have new clauses, new Amendments, brought into Bills at Report stage and, under the restraints that are imposed under the Rules of Order of a Report stage, we are not able to discuss them in the same way that we can in Committee. There have recently been one or two examples where the House will probably feel that we have hurried a little undesirably. Therefore, I hope that when the code of practice—which bears very much on a number of the clauses and on a number of the Parts of the Bill; Part V. Part II and others—is published, it will, if necessary, provide an occasion for recommitment of certain of the clauses. The difficulty is that the Government are not proposing to schedule this code of practice to the Bill, which I think would have been desirable. I understand that they have a certain hesitation because they are afraid we might start discussing it and even improving it. But it can have a bearing on our judgment on the clauses. It could make for an easier passage for the Bill; it could, on the other hand, make it even more difficult.
I say this in no threatening way, but we are facing a real dilemma on this matter. I say that because—I am sure noble Lords will agree; and I think that the Government have accepted this—it is by the code of practice, in the responsibility of employers, in the degree to which there is proper consultation, in the training of shop stewards and many issues which we shall have an opportunity to discuss later, that we shall be able to judge the relevance of the clauses, particularly those which impose restraints on the system of voluntary bargaining.
So I would ask the noble Earl, the Lord Privy Seal—whereas, clearly, he cannot commit himself on these two points— 922 first, when he hopes that the code of practice will be published; and, secondly, depending on how we feel about that, how far the Government will see their way to agreeing to recommitment. It may well be that in any case, depending on progress, we shall wish to put down Motions of the kind I mentioned, but I do not think it would be right to do so to-day. A great deal will depend on the attitude of the Government and the remarks that I hope that the noble Earl the Leader of the House is now going to make.
§ 3.3 p.m.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE)
My Lords, the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, has spoken with his habitual silver tongue and has shown his usual procedural ingenuity. He has managed—very well, if I may say so—to make an admirable Second Reading speech; at least, a "mini" one. Before I turn to the more serious matters, I must confess that I did not have the good fortune to see the television programme to which he alluded at the start of his remarks, but I have seen the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and I should like to congratulate him in advance on his aboriginal hue. If I may say so without any racial overtones, he is a sort of patrial in reverse.
The Government readily understand the desire of your Lordships to see the code of practice as soon as possible, and to have an opportunity of seeing the relationship of this code to the Bill before your Lordships' House at the present time. I should like to assure your Lordships that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment has pressed on with very considerable urgency with the preparation of the code. I made it clear during our Second Reading debate, and I am glad to reaffirm that this is the position now, that it is my right honourable friend's intention to publish a preliminary draft of the code—I think we should be careful in terminology here; it is distinct from what is embodied in the Bill—in the next few weeks. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, asked me what I meant by "the next few weeks". I mean the next few weeks, and not the next few months. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that in his mind "the next few weeks" meant something between two and eight weeks. I should 923 like to say that it means something not very dissimilar for me.
In any event, the idea would be that after the widest possible consultation a further and revised draft of the code would be laid before Parliament for approval in the autumn. I should like to make it clear to those noble Lords who may be a bit impatient about all this, that the timetable to which my right honourable friend is working is a considerably more rapid one than that which is envisaged in subsection (1) of Clause 3 of the Bill. There, as your Lordships will see, the Secretary of State is only required to lay a draft code a year after the date on which the Bill now before us becomes law. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that he would have hoped that the code was in some way a Schedule to the Bill. I quite see his point; indeed, in the Conservative Party's proposals in Opposition inFair Deal at Workit was originally suggested that the code should be an annexe to the Bill. On that, I should merely like to point out that it is only after careful consideration that we have come to the conclusion that the code must be flexible; that is to say, it should be a code which is readily capable of being kept up to date. It is for that reason that we feel it would not be appropriate to attach it as part of the Bill.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? Why can it not he kept up to date as part of the Bill? There is ample provision. It is just as easy to keep it up to date by Order, if it is part of the Bill. I do not know who is advising the noble Earl procedurally, but I do not understand this point.
My Lords, I will gladly look into that. All I can say is that my advice on this matter is fairly expert.
May I turn to the more serious point behind the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton; that is, the possibility of re-committal? On that, there is, first, a procedural point. Your Lordships will see from page 79 of the Companion, that a Bill can be recommitted only after it has passed the Committee stage in your Lordships' House, and I should like to make it clear that recommitment is a procedure to which we 924 have resorted pretty infrequently in your Lordships' House; we have done it about a score of times in the last one hundred years. I am not saying that for that reason it is not something we can do. We did it, as I remember very well, at the start of the Labour Government on the Airports Authority Act, when a very important clause was recommitted in your Lordships' House. This is a procedure to which we have resorted only very occasionally, but I should be the first to grant that this is a procedure to which we could resort so far as this Bill is concerned.
All I would suggest is that we need not take this particular fence at this particular time. It would be a mistake for us (indeed, in view of what is said by theCompanionit would really be impossible for us) to pre-empt this decision at this particular stage, and we can revert to the possibility of recommitting the Bill in whole or in part when the preliminary draft of the code has become available and after our Committee stage is over: and I think that I have given the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, a fairly clear indication of when that may be. If it was then the general feeling of your Lordships that recommittal would be desirable—and at this stage I do not wish to commit myself either way—we could deal with that matter quite appropriately, quite properly, at that stage, and, I would also say, very quickly through the usual channels. That would be my response to the question which, understandably, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has ventilated at this stage.
§ BARONESS BACON
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that in the television programme which he did not see on Saturday night it was stated that this House was to have its sittings rearranged in order that those noble Lords with interests outside could attend more regularly? If that means starting later in the afternoon, would the noble Earl like to make a comment on it and say whether it is only a rumour or whether there is anything in it?
My Lords, I did not see that programme and I take no responsibility for it. I was engaged on much more important business at the time; namely, the annual general meeting of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust —at which, unfortunately, the noble 925 Viscount, Lord St. Davids, was not present. I think I can assure the noble Baroness, without having seen the programme, that what was said there, if it is correctly reported by her, was nonsense.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, may I ask the Leader of the House one question? Since the whole House, I think, regards the code of practice as being fundamental, may I ask him whether it would be possible to make this period closer to the two weeks than to the eight weeks? In any event, may I ask him—and I do not press him for an answer now—to consider the possibility, if it is going to be nearer the eight weeks, of reporting progress to your Lordships during our discussions on the Committee stage? It would be helpful to us to know how things are going.
I shall of course be glad to accede to a very reasonable request of that nature. I should not wish to prejudge at the present time whether the period will be nearer to two weeks than to eight weeks, but what I should like to assure the noble Lord, and sincerely assure him, is that my right honourable friend wishes to get this preliminary draft of the code out for consultation as soon as conceivably and reasonably possible.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, as to the television programme mentioned by the noble Baroness, I must say that I am delighted that the B.B.C. gave this House such coverage in this excellent programme. May I suggest that the noble Baroness may have wrongly picked up something that was said? My recollection is that they referred to the Judges, and said that it was the intention of the House to provide opportunities for the Judges, after they had concluded their legal business, to take part.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
My Lords, would the noble Earl say whether, when this code of practice is submitted to the House it will be subject to the Negative Resolution machinery? Will it be capable of amendment if it is not committed to the House as previously suggested? Because if this code of practice, as we understand, will form the subject of quite a bit of discussion, surely the House should be able to submit amendments. It is that position that I want some clarification about.
My Lords, I think the noble Lord will see from subsection (2) of Clause 3 that the draft code, as such, requires the Affirmative Resolution approval of both Houses of Parliament; but what we are talking about here is not the draft code. I should like to be quite clear about this: it is the preliminary draft of the draft code.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I wish first to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for two of the things he has said, and then to press him a little more on the third. One of the things for which I should like to thank him is the comments he made about our procedure and recommittal. He said—and quite rightly, if I may say so with respect —that there was no need to take that fence at this time. He also made it perfectly clear that he would be prepared to consider (he did not say "sympathetically", but it seemed to me his whole tone was, as usual, sympathetic) the question of recommittal when the preliminary draft of the draft was available. It follows, from that—and if I am wrong I should be a little surprised—that the latest possible date for the publication of the preliminary draft would be before we reach the end of the Committee stage. I say that, on the assumption that you cannot recommit once you are on Report. I do not know whether the noble Earl agrees with me. Therefore, I assume that that would be the latest possible date.
But I want to press the noble Earl to be a little more forthcoming than he has been. He was good enough to say that it is his right honourable friend's desire that this preliminary code should be published; and that brings me to the second thing wanted to thank him for, and that is his undertaking to publish a preliminary draft. With respect, I think this is absolutely right: the way to make progress, which we are all concerned with, is for a preliminary draft to be published and not for us to wait until there is the final draft as described in the Bill itself. A preliminary draft would be very helpful indeed. But, as I said, I want to press him a little more to get the preliminary draft in our hands, for one main reason only, and that is that your Lordships will recognise that we are in great difficulty on this Bill. It is a Bill which seeks co-operation, but is 927 evidently failing to get it from one of the main sources from which it should be forthcoming. Therefore we are faced with something of a deadlock, and all of us wish to see some road along which we could make progress.
I am quite sure, from what was said during the Second Reading debate, from what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, from what has just been said by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and from what was said by many of those who contributed to that debate, that many anxieties will be removed, many shadows will be laid to rest and we shall really be able to make some progress if the code of practice is published. I do not need to persuade the House that the code of practice is the kernel of this Bill. I think everybody accepts that. Clause 2 deals with it. It has been made Clause 2 very wisely. It would be Clause 1 but for the fact that Clause 1 is a descriptive clause. That is not a legislative clause: it is purely descriptive. So the first effective provision of this Bill is the one introducing the code of practice. I am only saying we are all on the same ground. Nothing could be more important than the code of practice.
My Lords, one never knows to what extent one should believe what one is told, but I am told that the Press have seen a draft of this code. I do not know to what extent that is right. I do not know to what extent this is a method of accustoming people to what is going to be put before them in a more formal form later on—what is generally called "a deliberate leak". In the present atmosphere, I do not want to use the word "leak" too much. I do not even want to know whether the Press has received one, in confidence or not. All I want to assure the noble Earl the Leader of the House is that we should. I am sure, make much more sensible and practical progress, both in this House and outside, if we could get our teeth into something practical that everybody could understand, management and labour. It is his desire and my desire to make real progress, and that is why my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition took this opportunity. I wonder whether the noble Earl could draw to the attention of his right honourable friend the real help 928 that it would be if those who are engaged in no doubt very heavy work on producing this code could speed it up and get it forward at an earlier time than he has so far indicated.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, may I endorse what my noble friend has said and thank the Leader of the House for his exposition and for his promise to try to expedite the production of this code. There is something in the code which I think has not been noticed so far in either House. This code of practice is the core of the Bill. I do not want to make a Second Reading speech, but at an appropriate moment I hope to be able to come in on Clause 4 and explain what I think is the contradiction between the semantics and what is intended by Clause 4. May I draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that on May 3, 1926, where there was a nine day general strike, the T.U.C. immediately got in touch with its organisations throughout Great Britain known as trades councils, whose objective was to keep peace? They gave the direction to keep peace, and to organise the strikes and pickets peacefully. That as much as anything was also a code of practice at a vital position when heat is generated in the industrial field. I should like to know whether this code of practice has an understanding of or knows the functions of trades councils at tense moments in industrial strife. The clarity of the code is absolutely essential, and it would be a good thing if this House could have it early in order to debate it constructively. I do not want to delay the House in a frivolous way, but I hope that in the code of practice attention will be directed to the functions of trades councils when there are real industrial problems confronting a region, an area or an industry.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
My Lords, I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said. I too believe that the code of practice is very much at the core of this Bill, and I am sure that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State feels that too, and that he will do everything he can to bring it forward at the earliest possible time. It would be immensely helpful to our deliberations here if we could see the contents of the code of practice at the earliest possible date, but clearly we cannot ask the impossible of the Secretary of State.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, is not some confusion developing about this proposed code of practice? Those noble Lords who have read the debates in another place must have noticed that Mr. Carr, the Minister responsible, gave an assurance, as indeed did the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that a preliminary draft would be submitted for the purposes of consultation. The intention was to consult the F.B.I. and the Trades Union Congress and, on representations made in the course of the debate in the other place, Members of Parliament also. Indeed, there is to be full consultation on the preliminary draft.
Following the preliminary draft and the consultations and submissions that will be made accordingly, it is the intention of the Government, through the medium of an Affirmative Resolution, to submit the code of practice to the other place, and presumably the same will apply in your Lordships' House. That Affirmative Resolution will not be amendable—that is quite clear—but I gather from the debate in the other place that it was not the intention through the medium of the Affirmative Resolution presented to the House, to publish the final code of practice until after the Bill had passed. Therefore there is not the interlocking that some of my noble friends have suggested, or have in mind. I ask the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, does not that not clarify the position? Is that not precisely what his right honourable friend the Minister responsible, has said in the course of the debates in another place?
I think I need the leave of your Lordships' House to speak further at the present time. I should like to say a few words, if I have the leave of your Lordships' House, in response to what has been said. I am grateful to noble Lords for the way in which they have dealt with this matter. What I should like to emphasise again at this stage is that the Government are fully aware, as I was fully aware before this afternoon, of the importance attached in all quarters of your Lordships' House to this code of practice. I have listened attentively to what my noble friend Lord Amory had to say on that. The Government are aware, and I, too, am aware, of the degree of urgency your Lordships attach to this matter.
930 I should not like to be wrongly understood, or misunderstood here, or incorrectly heard, because I think the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, said that I had promised to expedite this matter. What I had promised to do, and what I had explained, was that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State was in fact expediting this matter; that he was fully aware of the need for speed and that he was proceeding with a great deal more rapidity than the programme which was envisaged in the Bill itself. Naturally, I shall draw to his attention the sentiments expressed, not only from noble Lords opposite but also from behind me, on not only the importance but also the urgency attached to this matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, stated the position correctly so far as the Bill is concerned; but I must make it clear that the purpose of the code of practice is to set standards and guidelines to encourage responsible collective bargaining. The code itself will not set down what is lawful or what is unlawful, with one tiny exception. The whole idea is to set guidelines and standards. If I understood him correctly, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, correctly interpreted my right honourable friend's views in that respect. I do not think there is anything more that I can say at the present time, except to see that the views which were very fairly expressed in your Lordships' House at the start of what may be a longish discussion in Committee stage are fairly and responsibly reported to my honourable friend.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down may I ask one question? It is correct, is it not, that we can recommit at any time up to and including Third Reading? I am almost sure that this is so.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY
My Lords, before the noble Earl resumes his seat may I ask, given that the code of practice under Clause 2 has to underline the principles of the Bill, whether it is thought that the code will range very widely beyond the unfair industrial practices already set out in the Bill?
My Lords, I have not sat down so I need not stand up again, as it were; but with your Lordships' permission I do not think, if my noble friend would excuse me, that it 931 would be right and proper for me to go into the substance of the code at the present time. All I should like to say, since I am on this point, is that I have no reason to believe that the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that there may have been some intimation given to the Press of its contents, are in fact justified I shall check on this point, but it would surprise me very much indeed if it were so. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, it is certainly my understanding that while the Bill may be recommitted after the Committee stage at any time before Third Reading, that has a bearing on the timing—a point which I think the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, tot a little wrong: But we all get theCompaniona little wrong at times.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [General principles]:
§ THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER)
I have to draw the attenof the Committee to the fact that if Amendment No. 1 is agreed to I shall not be able to put Amendment No. 2.
§ 3.36 p.m.
LORD SHACKLETON moved Amendment No.1:
Page 1, line 10, leave out from ("of") to end of line 11 and insert ("orderly and freely conducted collective bargaining on a voluntary basis;")
§ The noble Lord said: I rise at possibly an historic moment in this House. It all depends upon how long we take on the Committee stage whether this is the beginning of a record. But it is clear—or I hope that it is clear—to Members who sit on the Government side that we are approaching this Committee stage responsibly and the Amendments which we have put down are of a kind that bear either on particular details of importance or on principles. I therefore make no apology for moving an Amendment which was certainly discussed fairly fully in another place but which is none the 'less part of the fundamental principles of the Government's industrial relations 932 policy which they have seen fit to put into the opening clauses of the Bill.
§ There is quite a lot to be said for the view expressed by Mr. Enoch Powell in another place, that we might on occasion consider returning to the concept of the Preamble. It is a difficult issue. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, will recall that we sweated quite a lot over the Preamble to the House of Lords Reform Bill. None the less, this is an important statement and we certainly cannot let it pass in a Bill, so much of which we object to, without probing very much further. So much of the Government's policy as set out in the Bill sounds like a statement of reasonable good intentions; but, in fact there are the most grievous anxieties about its significance, and these anxieties are fortified by the words of the Government in certain areas.
The Amendment which I am moving seeks to leave out of subsection (1)(a), which begins "the principle of," the words:
collective bargaining freely and responsibly conducted
and to insert instead:
orderly and freely conducted collective bargaining on a voluntary basis".
There may be some noble Lords who, like many members of the public when they come to reading parts of the Bill say, "I cannot see the difference." Those of your Lordships who have read the discussions in another place on this can see that there are some very important differences. We shall have the opportunity in later Amendments (unless we can persuade the Government to accept this Amendment) to discuss in more detail words like "democratically" and "voluntarily agreed". But I want first of all to discuss the use of the word "responsibly". Here we are in difficulties almost at once on the point raised by my noble friend Lady Bacon: that, so far as I can see, there are no Law Lords present at the moment—because if there is one thing that was apparent in another place it was that there were four or five different meanings given to the word "responsible ". To me, as a layman, the word "responsible" means sensible behaviour. It seems rather harmless. But reading the exchanges in another place, it has Pickwickian or legal meanings of the most
drastic kind. Certain Members in another place said that it did not matter and that it might therefore either be left in or taken out. But when we came to the remarks of Mr. Carr we found, not for the first time, that he was in difficulties over the legal interpretation of his own Bill. He was pressed very hard on this matter and he made a number of statements as to what it means. When he was asked what it means he said:
precisely what it says.
Here, I should have liked to hear the views of the Law Officers. Mr. Carr went on:
The courts have never found it difficult to give judgment on what is reasonable, fair, equitable, just and responsible in relation to the circumstances of the time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 18/1/71, col. 581.]
That being so, I wonder why we bother to have courts at all.
The word "responsible" in this case has a somewhat authoritarian ring and can mean different things. It can mean, in the case of trade unionists or shop stewards or trade union secretaries, that they are properly authorised. As I understand it—and here it may be that my noble friend, Lord Stow Hill, can be helpful; or the noble and learned Lord who normally sits on the Woolsack, who I hope will be taking part in our Committee stage—it could mean that they have to behave in a responsible way to their clients: in the case of employers' representatives, to their firms; in the case of trade union representatives, to their members. When Mr. Carr was pressed on this, he said:
I am not a lawyer, I have had the good fortune not to have to appear in court … If there is an abstruse though important legal principle involved here, no doubt we shall be able to return to it at a later stage, when someone qualified in technical terms can deal with it."— [col. 579.]
At this moment I am inclined to look to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, who usually does not shrink from giving us wise advice on these matters.
On this point of retreat on the part of Mr. Carr when he was pressed further he relied, like a good lawyer, upon the principle, "If your case is bad, abuse the plaintiff", or whatever the phrase is, for he said:
When I hear these points of order, if I may call them that, I am reinforced in my original impression on reading the Amend-
ment which is no more than nitpicking filibustering."—[col. 580.]
§ Then there were one or two interventions—and I may say this was on the first Amendment. It had not been going on for long, and Mr. Carr spoke for 17 columns ofHansard,admittedly with a few interruptions. It is not therefore surprising that we should like an authoritative opinion on a matter which certainly exercised a number of Members in another place and to which the Government apparently attach importance. If they do not attach importance and it does not have some significant meaning which Mr. Carr was unable to explain—he did not have the help of his great standby, the Attorney General, who has been responsible for this Bill and is the one person who thinks he understands it —I hope that the Government can accept the Amendment, because our suspicions have been aroused. They have been aroused also by the contradictions in the Government's own statements.
§ In regard to incomes policy (I do not propose to discuss incomes policy now; although there was a great deal of discussion on it in another place), they do not think the State should intervene. Yet here, I understand, they do think the State should intervene. When they say, "It is not the State, it is the courts" it shows a very curious lack of understanding of what is the State apparatus. Of course, Mr. Carr and this Government believe in intervening. They lean heavily on independent, freely negotiated, collective bargaining, freely and responsibly conducted; but when a dispute takes place and an independent tribunal like the Scamp Committee is appointed and a decision taken which they do not like, they scream like anything and try to "sack"—I beg your Lordships' pardon —"fail to reappoint" one of the members of the Committee. We have grave suspicions whether the collective bargaining they are talking about will in fact be free from State control when we see the complex machinery they are putting forward to ensure that it is not freely negotiated.
§ We believe that the right approach to industrial relations is what might be called the Donovan one: the voluntary approach; the steady development of procedures with the type of work the Commission on Industrial Relations has 935 been doing and will no longer be able to do. We believe in gradually gaining confidence and developing new procedures. For this reason we have put the emphasis on the voluntary basis. I suspect that a number of my noble friends will wish to speak on this Amendment because, like this clause, the Amendment strikes right at the heart of the Bill. We did not approach this during the Second Reading debate. In particular, we do not know what the word "responsible" means. Responsible to whom? In what way? Responsible for what? Does it mean responsible to the body which authorises them to act, or to the other bargaining party? Everyone has to behave responsibly in certain ways. Even lawyers behave responsibly and operate in the interests of their clients, but with certain rules. Does "responsible" mean responsible to the Government? Rather understandably, noble Lords talk about the national interest. We all accept that to be right. But it is part of the difficulty in which we find ourselves over this Bill. We are breaking new ground and we shall have to press the Government very hard for an explanation. I beg to move.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.