HL Deb 12 July 1971 vol 322 cc6-87

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Requirements as to rules of trade unions and employers' associations]:

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79X: Page 150, line 11, leave out (" must ") and insert (" should so far as is practicable ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment. I need to speak only shortly on it as this point was discussed on Committee. The essential purpose of the Amendment is to remove some of the excessive detail in Schedule 4 and to turn it broadly into the nearest we can to a check list. The idea of a check list was mooted and found considerable favour. The Government promised to give the matter further consideration. This Amendment tries to achieve that. I beg to move.


My Lords, I do not think that we can agree to this Amendment. As the noble Lord knows, it is linked with the Bill itself. The Schedule sets out the rules which a trade union has to comply with under Clause 75, to which the House has already agreed, if it wishes to remain a trade union. It lays down what must be in the rules of the trade union. It leaves the trade unions free to draw up their own rules in any way they please so long as those rules cover the matters contained in the rules in this Schedule. The Schedule is obviously in clear contrast with the code of practice. The code lays down what management and the unions should do: the Schedule lays down what employers' associations and trade unions must provide for in their rules if they are to remain registered. The Bill makes provisions for exemptions in paragraph 24, on page 152. If any of the provisions in Schedule 4 is not appropriate to the circumstances of the particular union, the organisation will show why it is not practicable and paragraph 24 will give the Registrar the necessary authority to waive it. It is sensible to add a waiver to an exceptional case. It is not sensible to put the waiver in the forefront so that everyone may feel that he is an exception and does not have to comply with the rules. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will agree that this Schedule of rules is in keeping with the Bill.


My Lords—


My Lords, I did not know whether my noble friend Lord Shinwell wanted to make an extended point on this Amendment. I was hoping we could come to an early conclusion.


My Lords, it appears to me that this proposition is extremely relevant to the following Amendments if we can discuss the following Amendments in the terms of what is practicable—because that is what we are dealing with now on this Amendment—then I do not propose to say anything further. Although it appears to be innocuous there is not very much in it—when it comes to amending rules (and there are propositions in the Schedule to which later Amendments will refer), if there are to be vast changes in the rules of employers' associations and trade unions then the question arises whether some of them are practicable. Obviously if they are impracticable there is no point in embodying them in the Bill. That is all I want to say at the moment; no doubt we can discuss the matter later.


My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for his comments. He is absolutely right, both in the substance of his comment and in the procedural point he makes, that there are a number of subsequent Amendments which will deal with these issues. We are far from satisfied with Lord Drumalbyn's answer. He has made no progress whatever on his thinking at the Committee stage. His answer takes no account of the recommendation of the Donovan Report which recommends that unions should have the right to draw up rules to suit their own circumstances. Unions know best what their own circumstances are. Of course there have to be rules, but they need not be laid down in this detail. May I remind the noble Lord of what my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner said when we were discussing this matter on Committee: If there is anything that will wreck this Bill it will be Schedule 4. I thought the Government wanted the trade unions to register. The effect of these rules is to make it virtually impossible for any union to register."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24/5/71, col. 864.] I agree with my noble and learned friend and invite my colleagues and friends and those who share our views to divide the House accordingly.

2.50 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 79X) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 47; Not-Contents, 62.

Airedale, L. Hirschfield, L. St. Davids, V.
Archibald, L. Hoy, L. Samuel, V.
Bernstein, L. Jacques, L. Shackleton, L.
Beswick, L. Kennet, L. Shepherd, L.
Birk, Bs. Kilbracken, L. Shinwell, L.
Brockway, L. Leatherland, L. Slater, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Sorensen, L.
Burntwood, L. Lindgren, L. Stocks, Bs.
Champion, L. McLeavy, L. Stonham, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Moyle, L. Stow Hill, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Pargiter, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Diamond, L. Peddie, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Gardiner, L. Platt, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Henderson, L. Popplewell, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Henley, L. Reay, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Sainsbury, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Oakshott, L.
Allerton, L. Grantchester, L. Penrhyn, L.
Balfour, E. Gray, L. Rankeillour, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Greenway, L. Roberthall, L.
Burton, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) St. Aldwyn. E. [Teller.]
Caithness, E. St. Helens, L.
Carrington, L. Hood, V. St. Just, L.
Clwyd, L. Hurcomb, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Coleraine, L, Hylton-Foster, Bs. Somers, L.
Conesford, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Stonehaven, V.
Courtown, E. Kemsley, V. Strang, L.
Craigavon, V. Kinnoull, E. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Daventry, V. Latymer, L. Swaythling, L.
Denham, L. Long, V. Teviot, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Thomas, L.
Dudley, E. MacAndrew, L. Vivian, L.
Dundee, E. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Ebbisham, L. Milverton, L. Willingdon, M.
Eccles, V. Monck, V. Windlesham, L.
Effingham, E. Mountevans, L. Wrottesley, L.
Ferrers, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Young, Bs.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

2.58 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79Y: Page 150, line 28, leave out paragraph 6.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall obviously have to spend a little more time in explaining this Amendment. I am greatly encouraged as to the reasonableness of your Lordships' House in voting in almost equal numbers on the last Amendment. If I may, I will discuss this Amendment with the following Amendment, No9Z.

These are both attempts to eliminate paragraphs which are of excessive detail, at least—there could be many more—and which contain other stupidities as well. Both these paragraphs set out in quite excessive detail what the rule should provide. Your Lordships will have Schedule 4 before you and you will not wish me to read out the paragraphs in full. In particular, paragraph 7 has the additional foolishness of saying that the rules should specify the powers and duties of the governing body of the organisation, of each of its officers and of officials who are not officers of the organisation.

I invite your Lordships to think of any organisation in which any one of you is involved, and of the situation which would arise if the rules of the organisation—not the day-to-day arrangements, not what may be decided on from time to time, but the rules themselves had to specify (" specify"must surely mean to set out in complete detail) the duties of the governing body of the organisation, of each of its officers and of officials who are not officers. I suppose one official would be the petty cashier, or the office boy, or what have you. I repeat, I invite your Lordships to think of any organisation with which you are, or have been, closely connected and try to imagine the sort of chaos that would result, the inflexibility and the impossibility of organising and administering that organisation, if it contained within its rules the detailed, specified duties of every member of the governing body, of every one of its officers and of every one of its officials. It just does not bear consideration. For those reasons, I move the first Amendment and I hope that both will be acceptable to the Government.


My Lords, I am not quite clear whether the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, intended that these two Amendments should be discussed at the same time.




I am much obliged to the noble Lord. When the noble Lord was speaking to a similar Amendment in Committee, he cited not only paragraphs 6 and 7 but also paragraphs 5 and 10 of this Schedule as all exemplifying what he alleged was unnecessary detail in the Schedule. He did not appear to oppose the idea of rule books dealing with these matters, but he just did not want the Schedule to say that they must."Leave it to the unions ", were his words. But what is so wrong about saying that the rules of legislative organisations should say how officials are to be placed in and removed from office?

If the noble Lord will look at the Donovan Report, in paragraphs 654 and 698 he will find that it is quite plain that the authors thought these words appropriate matters for rule books to cover. This is what the Schedule says should be done. These are matters which are to be covered by the rules. As I have said before, and said often, it is open to the unions to draft their rules according to their own circumstances provided that they cover these points. Paragraph 6 leaves the organisation free to determine whether election, appointment, or other selection system shall apply to any given post, and to determine methods of seeking and selecting incumbents for those posts. Its practical effect is to ensure that the method of filling any particular post is published to the membership in the rules and thereby known to the members affected; is binding on the organisation's executive and is capable of being altered by constitutional means if the membership so desire.

This provision helps members to ensure that they exert democratic control over their organisation, but deliberately it does not require that all posts should be filled by election, which would seriously hinder organisations in filling posts for which special experience or personal qualities are required. The deletion of paragraph 6 from the Schedule would only serve to weaken the function of registration as a guarantee that an organisation is administered on a just, fair and democractic basis.

If I may turn for a moment to paragraph 7, I should point out that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, said that a trade union would be obliged to specify in its rules the detailed duties—I think the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, echoed this fact this afternoon—of all its employees and that it would be unable—this is what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, said—to change or rearrange these duties as between one employee and another save by a formal change or rule. This obviously is not so. The requirement as drafted applies not to employees but to"officers"and"officials ". An"officer"of a trade union is one who holds an office in the union for which provision is made in its rules."official ", for the purposes of this Bill, is defined in Clause 163. It includes both"officers"and such other persons as may be elected or appointed under the rules to be representatives of members. Officers"and"officials"alike may be employees of their union, but the majority are not. Union employees with no responsibility for representing members are not"officials "; they are therefore outwith the scope of this requirement.

The requirement is to specify the duties of those officials as well as their powers. This does not mean that every last detail of internal activity or function of a particular union officer or official must be set out, or that no activities may be undertaken other than those specified in the rules. What is required for any post is that those duties and responsibilities should be specified which, in the view of the union, comprise the essential nature of the office or post, distinguishing it from posts elsewhere in the union, or at higher or lower levels, and which establish the limits of the authority of the official to act on behalf of the union.

Most certainly it is for the union to determine these matters for itself. If, for example, a union decides that a particular official is to be responsible for communicating, union policy to the members, it may wish to say so in general terms and that would satisfy the Registrar. If the union wants to go into more detail, that is its own affair. The Registrar will not prevent it from doing so. I think there may be a genuine misunderstanding here. The term"duties ", I think it would be generally agreed, obviously means what someone is required to do. If one is asked what are the duties of a particular office, one can describe those duties either in broad terms within which specific instructions might be given, or provide a detailed list. Which way one decides to do this may depend to some extent on the nature of the office. In most cases I should think the first course is preferable, but unions can decide this for themselves.

My Lords, if noble Lords opposite will look, as I dare say some constantly do, at the rules at least of one union, they will find the duties specified in the minutest detail. Take, for example, the rule book of the A.E.U. That rule book is a comprehensive, detailed document. About five pages are devoted to the office of General Secretary and another three to the duties of divisional and national organisers. Over six pages are devoted to the duties of and obligations upon the branch secretary. It also prescribes the duties of such officers of check-book keeper, doorkeeper, minute secretary, money steward and sick steward and so on.

The duties are specified precisely and with a degree of detail far beyond anything required by the provisions of this Bill. For example, in relation to the post of doorkeeper they specify: a non-free member as hereinafter defined shall be eligible for election as Doorkeeper. He shall attend all meetings and assist the other officers in any business of the branch. The Doorkeeper shall at all meetings keep the door closed when any member is speaking. He shall not admit any member who is not known to him unless such member produces his contribution card or obtains some other member to answer for his membership, nor shall he admit any member in a state of intoxication, and on no account shall he take money from a member outside the branch room. I do not criticise these rules. It is for a union to determine the way in which matters such as these shall be dealt with in its rules, but when a major union freely chooses to have requirements of this detail in its rules, it is absurd to claim that the logical and necessary requirements in the Bill relating to the powers and duties of officials are in any way burdensome or oppressive. The paragraph does not require the duties to be set out in minute detail. My Lords, I hope that the House will reject these Amendments.

3.9 p.m.


Occasionally, my Lords, I have found the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, convincing when he is occupied in meeting arguments from this side of your Lordships' House; but on this occasion, although I listened most carefully, I found him most unconvincing. To support his contention he has just mentioned that the A.E.U. has five pages of rules defining and specifying the powers and duties of its officials. I should have thought that if a major union of the character mentioned has found it necessary to occupy five pages of rules specifying the duties and powers of officers, it is quite unnecessary to embody something even stronger in the Schedule. That is my first point.

May I indulge in a personal note? In all my Parliamentary life, going a long way back, never once have I ventured to criticise a civil servant or any of the backroom boys who are unable to speak for themselves. But when I look at paragraph 7 of the Schedule—perhaps noble Lords would do me the honour of reading it—I am bound to say that the draftsman who compiled that language ought to be subjected to immediate dismissal. It is the most cockeyed contradictory, confusing paragraph I have ever read. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has done his best to convince your Lordships' House that an officer's duties should be specified. Who are the officers? Probably the noble Lord and other noble Lords are unaware. But, for example, in the miners' union a banner-bearer who on the infrequent occasions of demonstrations—sometimes only once annually—is appointed to occupy that position of high distinction (and it is regarded as such) is an officer. I understand from the Schedule that this banner-bearer, engaged in this infrequent but quite honourable occupation, must have his duties and his powers specified in the rules that are submitted to the Registrar. Was there ever anything so ridiculous?

The same applies to doorkeepers. I can recall my association with trade unions many long years ago when it was necessary to appoint as an officer a doorkeeper, so as to prevent any undesirable person entering—presumably somebody, who had not paid the whole of his dues, or perhaps somebody (it did occur occasionally; it probably does not occur now because trade unionists are much better behaved) claiming to be a member, who had imbibed too frequently and unwisely and sought to enter and had to be ejected. The doorkeeper is an officer, and I understand that this officer must have his duties and powers specified. How absurd! I am bound to say generally about this Schedule—I speak earnestly on this matter; I am not trying merely to make debating points; one is quite capable of that, but I am not seeking to make debating points—that apart from one item which I shall mention in a moment it is the most repugnant thing in the whole Bill. Nothing but a Govern! meat of nosey-parkers—I hope they will not find the expression too offensive—would have ventured to probe and search and intervene in matters not the concern of a Government at all and of no relevance to the promotion of good and wholesome industrial relations. The only exception is this. I offer no opposition, take no exception at all, to that part of the Schedule which provides that officers must—I use the term contained in the Schedule—have their duties and powers specified in relation to the possibility of industrial disputes. That I accept. That is indeed the purpose of the Government: to try to prevent industrial disputes. But as for the rest, it is quite unnecessary, and why the Government have sought to introduce all these items I am unable to say.

I should like to say a word about the employers' associations. I cannot imagine members of the C.B.I. accepting this. So far as I know, they have no branches; there is only one organisation, the C.B.I., which is fully and wholly centralised. The duties and powers of the officers of the C.B.I. are well known. What is the purpose of introducing the reference to employers' associations? I will tell noble Lords why: because there is an element of pretence about it. If the trade unions are to be probed and ordered about and instructed and investigated—they shall do this and must do that—obviously it is as a sop to the trade unions that the employers' associations, who will not be affected in the least are brought in also. I am bound to say that if ever a Division was necessary during the course of our debates, it is on this item. It is only one of the paragraphs. All the paragraphs, I repeat, with the exception of the paragraph that is relevant to the possibility and even the probability of industrial disputes, should be rejected, and I hope that the Government, on consideration, will realise that this is going too far.

I venture a few final words on this subject. Here we have the A.E.U., and presumably the Transport Workers, the Blast Furnacemen and the very fine organisation presided over by my noble friend Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, an old-time organisation which at one time was a number of organisations which have now been concentrated into one. These organisations have rules. They know their powers and duties. What is the purpose of the Government? I understand the Government are anxious, and so is every Member on this side of the House, to prevent industrial disputes which are regarded as unofficial, so-called wildcat"disputes. Sometimes they come about for no apparent reason. The purpose of your Lordships' House is to try to prevent disputes and to promote good industrial relations. Is this the way to go about it? I think not, and I hope that on reconsideration the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will see that there is some point in the arguments I have ventured to put before your Lordships.


My Lords, may I support the comments of my noble friend Lord Shin-well and express a word of apprehension about how these requirements can be carried out in practice? Paragraph 5 of Schedule 4, for instance, makes provision for the election or appointment of officers and for the manner in which officers can be removed from office ". That I can understand, and that can be operated. But we are dealing with paragraph 6 at the moment. This says: If the organisation has officials who are not officers… This is immediately going into a very difficult field. If one speaks about officials who are not officers, I myself am not clear who is meant, although they are specified in this way: shop stewards, workplace representatives or other officials ". The impracticability of this provision, I think, relates to the extent to which you want to go. Because of the modernisation of trade union method and practice and administration, we are getting an interesting development. On the one hand, we are getting the people who serve in trade unions who are either popularly elected or appointed through the instruments of government of trade unions; on the other hand, there is emerging—and this is an interesting feature of the last decade, I would say—the employment of professional people, such as university graduates, in research departments who support the people who are popularly appointed or elected.

If we have to set out in the rules the conditions under which a person such as a research officer, who under this wide umbrella might well be described as"an official ", has to be appointed, this is going a long way. I do not see the purpose of it at all, and I do not know where it will finish. There are professional people on the accounting side, looking after the finances. Again, one might call them officers. I do. My finance man is my finance officer. Must we define in the rules how a finance officer is appointed? This provision is going a long, long way. It mystifies me and I say, as a gentle criticism, that I do not know how it can operate.

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, I was rather interested that the noble Lord was quoting from the A.E.U. rules—the A.E.W. rules, as they are now. Some of those rules are very old. The rules of the old A.F.C. go back into the last century and they provided for a specific purpose. They provide for a specific purpose even now. The noble Lord made great play of the fact that the functions of the branch secretary occupied six pages of the rule book. All right. What are the duties of the branch secretary? They are not only that he should act as a branch secretary. He is not only concerned with industrial disputes—in fact he is concerned very little with industrial disputes—but there are certain precise rules which he must obey with regard to entering the contributions of members. The cheque book keeper also has rules with regard to keeping a proper check on the procedure. Most meticulous records are kept in matters of this sort. He has certain specific duties regarding the payment of benefits, to ensure that members are entitled to receive benefit, and so forth, so that instructions may be given to the branch treasurer. The noble Lord might have gone further and referred to the rules of the branch treasurer as well, while he was at it. These matters are all very necessary. The noble Lord was quoting in the context of industrial disputes, but many of these matters have nothing whatever to do with the industrial activities of the union so far as branch officers are concerned; these rules are to a large extent concerned with the friendly benefit side of the union.

The noble Lord referred to the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper performs a very important function. The noble Lord is concerned about ballots and their being properly conducted. It is the duty of the doorkeeper to ensure that nobody receives a ballot paper and votes unless he is entitled to. That is the position with regard to the doorkeeper, and surely it is not wrong to specify a matter of that sort which the union deals with within its own rules and for its own purposes—not for purposes connected with industrial disputes or matters of that kind.

Let us go a little further down the scale and see what happens to a shop steward. A shop steward's duties are multifarious, and from my experience and knowledge of shop stewards I believe it would be difficult to try to define those duties and put them in a schedule of rules. If that is done, only two things can happen. The shop steward would probably say that within the powers and duties which are specified he deals with A, B, C and D, but he does not deal with E, because it is not specified; and E may be a cause of a good deal of trouble in a particular factory or on a particular shop floor. These things just happen, and they cannot really he defined. One cannot define in a changing world, a world which is almost changing from day to day so far as shop floor practices are concerned, precisely what are the duties of a shop steward. If it is desired to put in a blanket provision, that is all right. It may be said,"A shop steward's duties are generally to look after the interests of the members." If you think that is worth putting in, then put it in in that particular form. But I cannot see the Registrar going much beyond that and I cannot see exactly how he would be able to, because in different unions and in different industries different rules will apply with regard to the functions of a particular official, who for this purpose we will call a shop steward. To understand the multifarious duties that shop stewards are called on to perform and to say that these must be set out in the rules is not practical.

Perhaps the noble Lord will go a little further and tell us what happens to a shop steward who does not obey the rules. There they are set out, but a shop steward says,"To hell with that! There is something here that needs to be dealt with and I will deal with it." Possibly the employer would say,"You cannot do that because it is not in accordance with the rules of your union which have been issued regarding the duties of a shop steward." Well, that situation will not get us very far in industrial relations. It seems to me that this provision is going beyond any reasonable stage. It puts into the Schedule a requirement for the trade union to do something which the average trade union, I would say, would not treat with great seriousness. If such a provision is not treated with seriousness, it will be bringing the law into contempt. If unions try to operate what is laid down it will bring the law into contempt; and if they do not operate it the law will be brought into contempt. When Parliament makes laws which are brought into contempt because they are inoperable, I can only say such laws ought not to be made. That is a general opinion with regard to not only this Bill but many Bills. I suggest that the noble Lord should look at this question carefully before he puts something into a Schedule of this kind which sounds simple but which in practice is almost completely inoperable. I am not saying that every part of it is inoperable but it is very largely inoperable. And if it is inoperable it will necessarily bring the law into contempt.


My Lords, I support the Government on the inclusion of this paragraph, but I have not much to say about that because the Government can look after themselves. But to hear a Socialist ex-Minister of considerable distinction call a Conservative Government"a Government of nosey-parkers"is something I shall treasure for a very long time. It is a real"high gamey"piece of Parliamentary life. What I think is a serious point which has been raised is the question of definition. Perhaps the Minister will forgive me if I have missed something. It is not the question of the definition of officials, who are defined, more or less, on page 123, but I refer to the definition of officers. The definition of officials throws us back on the definition of officers, which does not exist, so far as I can see. The whole of this Schedule contains what the officers should or should not do, but again, so far as I can see, without any definition of who or what are the officers. That would apparently leave the question under this Schedule for the trade unions themselves to decide what the officers were to do in response to this particular paragraph. That might be exactly what the Opposition want, but I cannot believe it is what the Government want.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, may I speak again with the permission of the House, because I have been asked one or two questions? The question which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, has put is a very relevant one. The short answer is that officers of a union are those whom the union says are officers. It is for the union to decide who are officers—whether a banner-bearer is to be an officer or not. If people are designated as officers their duties will be prescribed and laid down in the rules in accordance with the Schedule. The second point I should like to refer to is the question of research officers. This point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, who, if I may say so, spoke with his usual moderation. Research officers are not in fact covered by the definition, under which a person has to be elected or appointed in accordance with the rules of the organisation to be representative of his members or some of them. So that research officers are not, so to speak, executive officers.


My Lords, the definition says that an official is an officer or a person"elected or appointed…to be a representative of its members ". Surely it does not exclude a research officer if he is an officer or someone who is elected to represent the members.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord is right in his reading of that definition, but the intention is that there should be a clear distinction between executive officers who are in contact with members in the normal course of their business and other kinds of officers who are not. In any case, as I have said, it will be for the unions to decide who are officers and who are not, but I suggest that a research officer would not be the kind of person who would be designated as an officer for the purposes of this Schedule.

My Lords, I do not know that there are any other questions that I have been asked. I would only say to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, that since the Donovan Commission made it quite clear that in their view it is very desirable that trade union rule books should be clear and unambiguous but they generally fall far short of a satisfactory standard in these respects, it is generally agreed that there should be rules and that there should be some means of seeing that they come up to the highest standards.

The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, proposed a different way of doing this, but obviously it would be much more objectionable from the point of view of trade unions if we were simply to say in rough terms to the Registrar that the rules must be of the highest standard and leave him to decide what are rules of the highest standards and what rules should be included in the rule book. Given this kind of system—registration with the Registrar; the requirement that he shall bring to the attention of a union any instance where the rules are defective, in the sense that a rule covering certain points is not included in the rule book and, if the trade union objects, may challenge the registration in the Industrial Court—one must plainly set out what points must he covered in the rules. That is absolutely unavoidable. It is equally certain, given that, that again one must lay down in some form what the rules must specify—the powers and duties of the governing body of the organisation. It will be for them to say who are the officers. The Registrar will obviously deal with this matter in the manner that I have suggested. Those who are non-executive officers will be disregarded from this point of view; it is the officers whose duties affect the working of the union in its representative capacity who will have to be specified in the rules.


My Lords, the noble Lord has certainly been most obliging in the number of varying definitions and explanations he has given of these two clauses. Certainly unions now will be in the happy position that if they do not know what the clauses mean—and nobody now does know what these paragraphs mean—they can read Lord Drumalbyn's speech and extract whichever meaning they like from it. He has served an excellent purpose in liberating unions very considerably indeed in regard to their rule-forming. First, I want to continue the noble Lord's excellent quotation from the Donovan Commission's Report. He quoted from paragraph 648. The Report goes straight on to say in paragraph 649: We think that the requirements can and should be revised with a view to ensuring better safeguards for individual members, but without impairing the freedom which trade unions ought to enjoy to frame rules to meet their own circumstances. That was the conclusion which was drawn after taking into account the comment to which the noble Lord referred.

So, my Lords, I think that what the noble Lord has done is to attempt to answer the Amendment by using essentially two arguments. The first is that the provision is totally unnecessary. That is what we set out to demonstrate. He demonstrated that it is totally unnecessary by producing a rule book of a union and reading out the rules which are set out in such detail that nobody could find complaint or want them to be in any more detail. That was a typical example and so far as that particular example is concerned there is no need for Parliament to bother its head about unions making their own rules. They are quite capable of doing it and the example he gave showed how well they do it. The other argument was,"Please do not bother about these two clauses. The words do not mean what they say: ' Specify ' does not mean ' specify ', it means refer to in a general way ' or ' cover '. The detailed powers and duties do not mean detailed powers and duties; you either refer to them or do not refer to them as you prefer."

What the purpose is of putting in the paragraphs in those circumstances I do not know. I think that what the noble Lord has really done, if he will forgive my saying so, is to demonstrate our case to the hilt: that if you attempt this exercise of setting out in detail what the rules should provide in terms of the duties, responsibilities and authority of all these individuals you inevitably go into too much detail for some purposes and too little detail for other purposes. There is in fact no purpose, no need for these paragraphs; it is intervention, it is nosey-parkeriness of the highest degree.

I am grateful to the Liberal Party, too, for the way in which their arguments supported this case. It is not for me to say how the Liberal Party should vote—that would be an invasion into their freedom of decision which I would not attempt—but I am certainly most grateful for the argument and the way in which the noble Lord demonstrated with regard to this one particular word and one particular case that the Government were talking nonsense again—namely, with regard to the research officer. A research officer means to the Liberal Party, and indeed to the Labour Party, a research officer. To the Government it means a person who is not a research officer. Those who have to read the Bill and decide what their duties are will no doubt write a letter to the General Secretary of the T.U.C. saying,"We cannot understand this. What does it mean? "

And the General Secretary will pass it on to whom?—to the research officer. And the research officer will say,"I do not know what it means. The best thing would be to turn up what the noble Lord, the Government spokesman, said it meant." He will read the differing, opposing meanings which the Government spokesman said it meant and then everybody will be perfectly happy. Everybody there may be perfectly happy, but we think this is a ridiculous way of trying to legislate, and we propose to vote against it.

3.40 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 79Y) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 48; Not-Contents, 85.

Archibald, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Sainsbury, L.
Balogh, L. Hoy, L. St. Davids, V.
Bernstein, L. Jacques, L. Samuel, V.
Birk, Bs. Janner, L. Shackleton, L.
Brown, L. Kennet, L. Shepherd, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kilbracken, L. Shinwell, L.
Burntwood, L. Leatherland, L. Silkin, L.
Burton of Coventry, Bs. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Slater, L.
Champion, L. Lindgren, L. Sorensen, L.
Chorley, L. McLeavy, L. Stocks, Bs.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Moyle, L. Stonham, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Pargiter, L. Stow Hill, L.
Diamond, L. Peddie, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Gaitskell, Bs. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Gardiner, L. Platt, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Henderson, L. Popplewell, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Aberdare, L. Daventry, V. Loudoun, C.
Ailwyn, L. Denham, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Airedale, L. Drumalbyn, L. MacAndrew, L.
Albemarle, E. Dudley, E. Macpherson of Drumochter, L.
Allerton, L. Dundee, E. Merrivale, L.
Alport, L. Ebbisham, L. Milverton, L.
Balfour, E. Eccles, V. Monck, V.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Effingham, E. Northchurch, Bs.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Ferrers, E. [Teller.] Oakshott, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Fortescue, E. Penrhyn, L.
Blackford, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Bolton, L. Grantchester, L. Reay, L.
Boston, L. Gray, L. Redcliffe-Maud, L.
Brock, L. Greenway, L. Roberthall, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hailes, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Burton, L. Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor) St. Aldwyn, E.
Caithness, E. St. Helens, L.
Camoys, L. Henley, L. St. Just, L.
Carrington, L. Hood, V. St. Oswald, L.
Clwyd, L. Hurcomb, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Coleraine, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Somers, L.
Conesford, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Stonehaven, V.
Courtown, E. Kemsley, V. Strang, L.
Craigavon, V. Latymer, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Crathorne, L. Long, V. Swaythling, L.
Thomas, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L. Wrottesley, L.
Vivian, L. Willingdon, M. Young, Bs.
Wade, L. Windlesham, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.47 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79AA: Page 151, line 3, leave out from (" action ") to end of line 4.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79AA. This amendment, if made, would affect paragraph 10 which reads, The rules must specifiy any body by which, and any official by whom, instructions may be given to members of the organisation… and then come the words which the Amendment seeks to remove, and the circumstances in which any such instructions may be so given. The reason why we put forward this Amendment is because we think it is just impossible for that to happen: for anybody in framing the rules to be able to envisage all the circumstances in which any such instructions may be so given. The paragraph says, instructions may be given to members of the organisation "— by any body and any official— for any kind of industrial action ". That is just envisaging every possible detailed circumstance affecting the whole life of a trade union, and I repeat that we just do not think it is capable of being achieved. If the noble Lord is going to reply,"Well, the words don't mean what they say ", as he broadly replied on the last occasion, that is of some help, but I would hope he would find it possible to accept the Amendment and remove these words. I beg to move.


My Lords, I rise to support this Amendment. I have made the comment on a number of questions, both on Committee and at Report stage of the Bill, about the necessity for clarity for organisations as a prelude to industrial peace. If you were to take many of the sub-paragraphs of Schedule 4 and roughly translate them into requirements to be put upon industrial organisations, in a close-linked company any industrial manager would discard them immediately. They are not viable requirements to put on an employment hierarchy, with its close-knit working of managers and others. To try to apply these extremely searching rules to a more widespread body such as a trade union is a bit of organisational nonsense of the worst and most confusing kind. I beg the Government to have a look at all this. They are making an idiot of this Bill by going into all this detail. I wholeheartedly support the Amendment.


My Lords, I, too, support this Amendment. But I should like to ask the Government what would have happened in the case of the Post Office strike, when I think workers in New York and in Belgium supported the strikers. Would the Government have brought an action against those people, and would the strikers here have been actionable? What is proposed is so utterly ridiculous that I heartily support this Amendment.


My Lords, earlier on I ventured to say that, when I took exception to items in the Schedule, I took no exception to paragraph 10. Nevertheless, I support the Amendment. I said earlier that I could understand that, within the purpose of the Government and within the principles embodied in the code of practice and in the Bill itself, it is essential, if there is an industrial dispute or if one is likely to happen, that the body responsible should be specified. That is a point to which it is very difficult to take exception. But I cannot understand what is meant by the reference to the circumstances. What does that mean? Does it mean that a dispute may occur after arbitration has been rejected, or after an arbitration award has been submitted? Why were those words added? Subject to any satisfactory explanation by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, I think we are bound to ask that they should be expunged.


My Lords, noble Lords opposite sometimes surprise me. If they read a provision in a Bill and it seems to them to make nonsense, then it is probably desirable that they should think how and in what way it might make sense, for the very good reason that these provisions are not put into a Bill without considerable thought. Noble Lords might credit those who draft the Bills with some concept of practicality, especially as the Bills have also been subject to Ministerial examination. Noble Lords have given a meaning of the phrase and the circumstances in which any such instructions may be so given. Quite obviously, they have given it a meaning that it was not intended to have. Of course it would be quite impossible to foresee all the detailed circumstances which might arise, so obviously that cannot be the meaning of the words. These words are simply intended to ensure that the rules of a registered organisation make clear not only who is to give the instructions, but in what circumstances those who give the instructions within an organisation are to act.

Let me give your Lordships an example. It would be quite acceptable if the rules made clear that local officials were authorised to take any action they considered necessary when an employer breached an existing agreement with the union but that they must refer other matters to a higher authority. Or, again, the rules might say that a district official had power to call a strike whenever the district committee decided that strike action was justified. I think those two hypothetical examples suffice to show that paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 will leave unions with the fullest discretion to decide to what extent they wish to circumscribe the authority to call a strike. The words in question are necessary because without them a union could satisfy paragraph 10 simply by listing the types of official authorised to pass on instructions. That would not be enough. If a shop steward, for example, can call members out on strike only with the approval of the district committee, the rules should make that clear. If the district committee is to have final authority to call a strike on a localised dispute about some subject but must get the approval of the national executive before calling for action in other circumstances, then again the rules should make that clear.


My Lords, is the noble Lord suggesting that the Registrar would permit a rule to be embodied in the rules of any trade union which provided that a shop steward should be permitted to call a strike? Surely he would reject that out of hand. He would not allow such a rule—




My Lords, I am merely asking a question. The Registrar would not allow that to be embodied in the rules. Surely the person who is responsible for calling a strike should be the principal officer of the union or the executive of the union.


My Lords, I accept that the noble Lord was asking a question. Here again the noble Lord is confusing the content of a rule with the fact that there should be a rule about something. He said that the Registrar would refuse to accept a rule of that kind. I do not see any reason why he should not accept it. If a union specified any body—and I think it is a body that is mentioned in the Bill—and there was a committee of shop stewards, or something of that kind, which was authorised to declare a strike, then in that hypothetical case I do not see why the Registrar should turn that down.

The paragraph states: The rules must specify any body by which, and any official by whom "— so that it could be a shop steward, or committee of shop stewards— instructions may be given to members of the organisation. What noble Lords still cannot understand is that we are talking only about what must be in the rules; not about the content of those rules. Subject to the guiding principles, the content of the rules is for the unions themselves to decide. We are not concerned with that. We are simply concerned that the members of the unions and others should know who is in a position to give instructions, and the circumstances in which the people are in a position to give them. I made clear the sort of circumstances that we have in mind. If the district committee is to have final authority to call a strike on a localised dispute about some subject, but must get the approval of the national executive before calling for action in other circumstances, the rules should make those circumstances clear. These are all matters which the union will decide for itself, and obviously it will frame its rules to meet its own circumstances in a manner which gives its officials the flexibility needed to cope with the unexpected.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, am I to understand that in the terms of the word circumstances"in this subsection the noble Lord. Lord Drumalbyn, is not referring to the conditions surrounding the decision to strike, the behaviour of managers or the particular type of subject over which they are claiming, but merely to the process by which it is decided who should call the strike? If he is doing that, I do not understand how he can possibly interpret the word"circumstances"in that way. That is the pith of the Amendment; the circumstances relate to the ambient circumstances around the decision, not to the process of making a decision.


My Lords, obviously it would be possible to interpret the word"circumstances"in general in the sense that the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has interpreted it, but for the fact that if that were so this would make no sense at all. Therefore, the circumstances about which clearly we are talking here are those in which such instructions may be given. The instructions may be given to members, but the circumstances are laid down quite clearly as to who is competent to call a strike and that sort of thing at any particular level.

Paragraph 10, as I have said, leaves the power to decide policy and the delegation of authority clearly in union hands. It merely stipulates that the union decisions on these matters should be clearly set out in the rule book for all members to see. Paragraph 10 would be totally ineffective as a means of ensuring that if these words were deleted. It would make it not at all clear in what circumstances instructions could be given to members of an organisation by any particular body or any official. Clearly, that is why we need the term"circumstances ".


My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, convinced that these are the only words by which his intentions—with which I should have thought there is 100 per cent. agreement—could be conveyed? It seems to me, listening from the Cross Benches, that this is really a misunderstanding about wording between people of equal good will. What I understood the noble Lord, Lord Brown, and his noble friend to be objecting to was that detailed circumstances had to be enumerated, which certainly would be an absurdity. What I understood the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to be saying was that he wished to ensure that the broad conditions governing actions of a certain sort had to be observed. Is it not possible to find some form of words to meet both points of view?


My Lords, so long as I have convinced the House that some provision of this kind is necessary, I am perfectly prepared to have the words re-examined. But I think it would be better at the moment to leave the words in than to take them out altogether, because then the paragraph in our view would be defective.


My Lords, it is a new principle of construction to me that one does not construe words in their ordinary sense because if one were to do so they would prove to be unworkable. I should have thought that a good deal of that applies to Schedule 4.


My Lords, I think I would agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, if he were to add the words"if they could be construed in any other way ".


My Lords, neither here, nor, I should have thought, in the preceding Amendment, is it possible to construe it in any other way when there are rules which are going to be much more difficult to alter now with the registrar's functions than they were before this Bill was in existence, although trade union rules are always difficult to alter. We are told in Clause 75(4): …the registrar shall not approve the rules of an organisation under this Act unless— (a) he is satisfied that these are not defective as mentioned in subsection (1) of this section… and subsection (1)(c) says that they are defective if they do not comply with the requirements set out in Schedule 4 to this Act ". So they have to comply with those requirements. In those circumstances, how is the noble Lord able to say the words which read: The rules must specify the powers and duties of…its officers and of officials who are not officers of the organisation mean anything except what they say? It does not say that one must give a general idea what these bodies are to do; it says that one must specify their duties. As I ventured to say at the Committee stage of the Bill, no limited company or Government Department could possibly work if they could not change from day to day the duties of various employees without having to go through the paraphernalia of the registration with the registrar or amending the Memorandum of Articles of Association. So I should have thought that it was quite impossible for anyone to specify in their rules the circumstances in which somebody might call for industrial action because they must obviously vary in a way which cannot quite be specified.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has undertaken to look at this wording. I think it brings comfort to such of us—as, I suspect, my noble friend and myself—who support what the Government are trying to do here, but I think this Schedule is extremely badly and loosely drafted. The points which have been made from the Labour and Liberal Benches on this matter are not just debating points. If Amendment No. 79Z had been moved it would have been my intention to ask whether the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, would undertake to look again at the definition of"officers ", and to point out that if all that he wanted to say was that the trade unionists should define their officers that could well be said in the Schedule. Again, in this matter there is quite genuine doubt as to what the Schedule means. I am a supporter of the noble Lord in his intentions on this matter, but I hope that the whole Schedule—certainly the early parts of it—will be thoroughly examined before Third Reading because I do not think that it is good enough as it stands.


My Lords, may I take those words,"we do not think it is good enough as it stands ". I am sorry if in not formally moving they removal of paragraph 7 I have denied further opportunity to the Liberal spokesman to criticise the wording of this provision. Certainly so far as the words under discussion are concerned in paragraph 10 we are in the difficulty that we are advised in a contrary direction to that which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, wishes to advise us. The noble Lord must not assume that I speak on these Amendments out of my own deep—indeed, I challenge any noble Lord to have a deeper—ignorance of the law than I possess myself, because we are often helped considerably. In this particular case, I am relying on the advice of a professor of law who has given enormous thought and care to this Bill and I am greatly reinforced by the view of my noble and learned friend who speaks, as does anyone who has held his high office, with great authority on this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, says that there is a simple way out of this. If a normal interpretation—that is to say, reading the words in ordinary English to mean what one would think they should mean—produces nonsense, then one must know that that could not be the case because no Conservative Government—and this is the first rule of existence—could ever commit a nonsense. The noble Lord would have to sit on that Bench for a very long time before he could persuade me of that. Of course, he knows and I know that this is a matter of Ministers, and Ministers alone. Either a Minister has given instructions and those who advise him have done their best to interpret them, or else some adviser has put forward an idea and the Minister has accepted it. He may have accepted it with a very quick look or with a very long and slow look, but he has accepted it. There is only one person responsible and that is the Minister. So let us be quite clear about that; clear also that I cannot accept the proposition that no Conservative Minister is capable of putting a foolishness before your Lordships' House. This is one such; and were it not for the fact that the noble Lord has said that he will look at it again we would, of course, be compelled, having regard to the views expressed in many parts of your Lordships' House, to take it to a Division again. But the noble Lord has said that he will look at it.

At this stage, may I make a general point about looking at things? We assume that the noble Lord speaks with full authority when he says that he will look at these matters again. We naturally accept that completely and without hesitation. But we are at Report stage, and the next stage is Third Reading; we have a great deal of work to do to get through on the Report stage, which is a very long stage. It is a Herculean task, because the more you do the more there is left to do. It is a sort of monster: the more pages you cut off at the beginning, the more pages there are added at the end. Your Lordships will have noticed that though we have gone a long way through the Report stage the Marshalled List is much longer than it was when we started. So the longer we go on the longer the list grows, and it is going to be a difficult task to get through it.

There are many other things to deal with which the Government may be kind enough to say they will look at again before Third Reading. So I am making a point which I am sure the Government are taking: that we take these offers very seriously indeed, and there must be opportunity to demonstrate that the matter has been considered and a conclusion reached when we come to Third Reading. However, the noble Lord has been good enough to say that he will give the wording further consideration, and I hope that in that consideration he will have regard to what the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, said. We are all saying the same thing, as far as I can see: that the words in their natural sense do not mean what we want. Therefore in the hope that ultimately the words will mean what we all want, I seek your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.13 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79BB: Page 151, line 19, leave out paragraph 14.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment with a little less hesitation than some others. Paragraph 14 was a case in which the Opposition thought that, as the rule provided in the Schedule made nonsense, we ought to draw it to the Government's attention; and that we ought not to have regard to the fact that every rule the Government propose must be full of good sense and empty of nonsense. We did, in our vain way, put this forward and it appears that we were not wholly mistaken because the Government have put down an Amendment to the clause which, in effect, achieves what this Amendment proposed at Committee stage. So I hope the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will not take it amiss if I say that the Opposition still regard it as their duty to examine Bills and not to assume that something which appears on the face of it to be nonsensical could not be nonsensical because it was the Conservative Party which put it forward. We are grateful to the noble Lord for having put forward an Amendment as a result of what we asked for, and for having put forward an Amendment to the clause itself. If the noble Lord tells us that when that Amendment comes forward he will move it then there is no need to spend any more time on this Amendment. I beg to move.


My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. He will have spotted Amendment No. 79DDD to Clause 88(6), and that will make the matter quite clear. With respect, I do not think this was nonsense as it stood, but it was read by some to mean that it was not possible to give away the rule book free. That was not the intention, and it would probably be better expressed in the clause itself. So I would invite your Lordships to agree with the noble Lord in his Amendment.


My Lords, is that the way the Government want it? Yes: this paragraph will have to come out if the Amendment to the clause is made. I am grateful to the noble Lord, and I take it he is going to move his Amendment when he gets there.

4.18 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79CC:

Page 151, line 23, leave out paragraph 15 and insert— (" 15. The rules must cover the questions of eligibility for and admission to the organisation.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, paragraph 15 sets out in detail the requirements relating to members of the organisation. It says: The rules must specify the descriptions of persons who are eligible for membership of the organisation, and the procedure for dealing with applications for membership, including provision for appeals against decisions of the committee or other body responsible for determining such applications ".

We are trying to put forward something which will act as a check-list to remind those who are drawing rules that a rule must cover this sort of question, the question of eligibility for membership of the organisation and admission to it. We do not think it is necessary to do more than this. This is not a matter of supreme importance: it is really just another example of how the rules could be turned from a over-detailed list of regulations, which in practice I am sure will be ignored because there is too much detail for anybody to take note of, into something sensible which could be a help to new unions who are preparing their rule books. I beg to move.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, replies, I wonder whether he would be kind enough to define what is meant by"descriptions of persons ". Does this relate to craft or skill, or to a particular occupation or vocation, or does it relate to behaviour or anything of that sort? What is meant by"descriptions of persons "? It does not relate, I suppose, to their height or their weight or their girth or anything of that sort, does it? What is it intended to mean?


My Lords, if I may reply first to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, the words"descriptions of persons"are of course used throughout the Bill in trying to define a specified group. He will find those words constantly used, obviously referring to the kind of group of people suited to be represented by a single trade union.

My Lords, I think that the difficulty with the noble Lord's Amendment is that he is really seeking to replace a fairly precise definition of what is required with a more than usually vague description. To say simply that"The rules must cover the questions of eligibility"without in any way relating to the sort of questions that arise is, I think, a bit dangerous. We attach importance here, particularly to the provision for appeals against decisions of the committee or other body responsible for determining such applications. Indeed, I think it right also to provide in the rules a procedure for dealing with applications; at what level admission is to take place, whether they need to be agreed at a higher level, and so forth. I should have thought that to be a reasonable provision, and I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, I am not going to waste time on this Amendment. It is merely an example of the way we think that the rules could be helpful to organisations; namely, by reminding them of the things which they ought to bear in mind, such as a check list, as opposed to the Government's method of specifying details at this unnecessary length. We cannot do more than put forward our views. The Government are not willing to change the rules and I do not wish to waste your Lordships' time, so I seek permission to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.22 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79DD: Page 151, line 34, leave out (" procedure and penalties ") and insert (" penalties, if any,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, line 34 comes within Rule 16 which says: The rules must specify…the contributions payable in respect of membership of the organisation… A little later it says: …and the amount of any such contributions or the basis on which that amount is to be assessed… and finally: …the procedure and penalties in case of default in payment of contributions. Why do we need a procedure"in case of default in payment of contributions "? I should have thought it was perfectly simple; in fact, it could be automatic. If you do not pay, you cease to be a member. Why should we have all this procedure laid down so that the Registrar could not admit a union to be a registered union unless it set out in its rules a procedure for dealing with default in payment of contributions? Presumably, the procedure is directed to the accountant who looks up the book, sees that the man has not paid, and puts a line through his membership card (or something like that) after a number of weeks, or whatever the time may be. I do not think it is a necessary detail and I hope the Government will agree that on this occasion also the word"procedure"could be omitted.


My Lords, I think this is a case in which I hope to be able to convince the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that there is value in retaining the word"procedure"as well as the word"penalties ". When a member has fallen into arrears, or appears to have done so, it is important that there should be some proper procedure for warning him of that fact, and indicating the consequences to which his default exposes him. Its importance was brought out by the case Edwards v. SOGAT concerning a member's wrongful dismissal from his union for alleged non-payment of dues. That case prompted the T.U.C. to issue recommendations on the matter to affiliated unions. A reference in the rules to penalties is not enough to provide the member with an opportunity to pay his arrears. He must also know, particularly in these days when more and more contributions are being paid by check-off, what steps the union will take before terminating his membership. Clause 65(9) requires that at least he should get a notification of the proposal to terminate membership. One would expect to see some reference to this in the rules. For that reason I hope the noble Lord will agree that a procedure is necessary.


May I ask the noble Lord why it is necessary to specify the procedure in these rules if all that is really necessary is already contained in the Bill? If your Lordships will consider the similar provision with regard to the Companies Act, it will be apparent that we do not have to specify everything in the rules of the company, in its articles of association, which are covered by company law. You cannot breach company law whatever your articles may say; you have to comply with company law. Surely, when this Bill becomes an Act, the unions will have to comply with it? It is set out in the Bill that there has to be a notification. In any event, everyone would act in that way out of common sense alone. Why therefore do you have in addition to provide for a procedure under these rules?


I should have thought the answer was quite simply in order that members may know, by reading their rules, what is the procedure to be followed in order to fulfil the guiding principle in Clause 65.


My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, aware that during all my life in trade unions it has been the case that on the back of a man's trade union card, and especially in the case of miners' it stated that if you were six weeks in arrears you were not in financial benefit. If at the end of ten weeks you still had not paid, you were struck off the books, and you became a non-member. This practice has been going on for years in all trade unions. Every union has a"non-financial"clause for a member, and also one which excludes a man from membership after a period of time if he has defaulted in the payment of his contributions. I see no reason why this should be embodied in the rules.


My Lords, do I understand the sense of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to be that what is meant here is notification that a member is in default because he has not paid arrears, or something of the sort, and his membership is likely to be terminated? If that is all that is meant, my noble friend Lord Blyton has dealt with the point. As I understand it—no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, would support this contention—almost all union rulebooks contain an item to the effect that if a member is in default, his membership may be terminated if the branch or the executive so decide. That was the position when I was associated with the trade union movement. There was also a notification that it was up to the member to see that his contributions were paid. If that is all that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, means, I understand it. But is anything else meant by"procedure ", apart from notification?


My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is trying, out of the goodness of his heart, or if the Government are trying, to help trade unionists, why do not they listen to what trade unionists have to say about this Amendment? They say that the words are not necessary, and surely they should know whether the words are necessary—unless the Government think that they are not capable of breaking the unions according to the Bill, and that it is necessary to put in these words. Otherwise, I fail to see the reason for them.


My Lords, if I may with the leave of the House, I will reply to the questions. I am a little mystified at the logic of what we are here being asked to do, or not to do. After all, it is not an answer to the suggestion that something should be put in the rules to say that it is being done already. We are here trying to make certain that the best practice is followed. Noble Lords have said that in some unions the best practice is being followed. I doubt whether it may necessarily be concluded that the best practice is followed in all unions. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, asked whether this just means notice. It is not for me to say whether it just means notice. A particular union might want to have a more elaborate procedure. It might give notice and allow for an opportunity for a member to make representations and so on. I would think that"procedure"is the right word to use in these circumstances and that it might be left to the unions to say what the procedure should be in any particular case, so long as there is a procedure. As the noble Lord says, it might amount merely to notification; it might go further and amount to an opportunity to make representations.


My Lords, I do not think that we need to press this Amendment any further. From the experience of my noble friends who have spoken it is clear that there is no difficulty about this in the present situation. Indeed, the normal situation, as I should envisage, is that every trade unionist has his card and looks at it and knows whether it is up to date. It is as simple as that. If it is not up to date he knows that he will cease to be a member. That is automatic, and unless"procedure"means an automatic procedure, then that would be a perfectly satisfactory explanation of the word. If it could be automatic that would be perfectly satisfactory. This is merely another example of how going into this kind of detail does not help the unions at all and the whole of this Schedule, for practical purposes, will be ignored. In those circumstances, I will not waste your Lordships' time any further and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 78 [Entry of organisations in provisional register]:

4.31 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79TTT:

Page 62, line 13, at end insert— (" (4) The registrar shall send to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue a copy of such particulars entered in the provisional register as the Commissioners may from time to time require.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move a most important Amendment on which I seek to engage the close attention of your Lordships' House. First of all let me say what the short purpose of this Amendment is. It is to enable the Government to carry out the Secretary of State's undertaking to provide a special register so that non-registering trade unions can get the benefit of tax relief on their provident funds. That relief they get at present; they will not get it in the future if the Bill goes through unamended.

Let me read out what the undertaking was. It was given on March 23, and appears in column 335 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the other place. The Secretary of State, Mr. Carr, said: I assure the House "— he did not say"I think ", but, I assure the House that if it were necessary to set up a special register for trade unions which wished not to register in the industrial relations sense, so that they could continue the other half of their activities, their provident fund activities, I would propose a special register. That is very clear. He went on to say some further words to which I shall refer shortly. Your Lordships will appreciate that this was an assurance given in the House and it related to unions which wished not to register in the industrial relations sense, that is to say, under this Bill, and it dealt with their activities which are known as their provident fund activities.

It is difficult to know why the Government have not so far implemented this undertaking. It is difficult because it is necessary, but it is not so difficult to understand the point of view of the Secretary of State, because he went on to say: …it is not necessary. I have gone into this most carefully. I am told that there is no technical advice that the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 or the Friendly Societies Act 1896 is available for registering for the provident funds of unions which do not wish to register under the Bill in the industrial relations sense. Therefore there is a special register in existence. I think there must be a misprint there, for there is no special register in existence. The Secretary of State took the view that as there was an Industrial and Provident Societies Act, under which non-registering trade unions could carry on their provident fund activities or, alternatively, a Friendly Societies Act, under which they could do the same, there was no need to set up the special register. I therefore have the duty of explaining to your Lordships—because the Secretary of State has not, apparently, given these matters anything like adequate consideration—why the advice tendered was wrong; why it is not possible for unions, which do not register, to carry on their provident fund activities under the Provident Societies Act or the Friendly Societies Act, and why I am calling upon the Government, and the Secretary of State, to honour his undertaking.

There are serious difficulties. The Secretary of State said: I am told that there is no technical, constitutional or legal difficulty…". My Lords, in fact there are serious difficulties, both technical and legal, which I shall explain to your Lordships. They are so serious as to make it impossible for the purpose to be achieved. Again may I say to your Lordships that what I am saying is not based exclusively on my own view of the matter, but derives also from the joint opinion of two eminent counsel whom the Trades Union Congress consulted so as to be quite sure that the advice given to their members was accurate.

First, may I deal with the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965? What is almost certainly the case is that the objects of Section 1 of that Act prevent registration by a trade union for these purposes. What is quite certain is that it is inappropriate to attempt to register under that Act because there is no general tax exemption for industrial provident societies. It is as simple as that, and I hope it is quite clear that when the Secretary of State referred to the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 he was wrong, and the reason I labour this point is in order to make it clear that if he was so clearly and absolutely mistaken on that matter, he might equally well have been mistaken on the next matters to which I am about to refer.

Having disposed of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, let us look at the Friendly Societies Act, which is a much more appropriate Act for this function. I will now detail the serious technical and legal difficulties, of which the Secretary of State said there were none but which make it impossible for a trade union to function in the way in which the Secretary of State suggested it could with regard to its provident activities. I am glad to say that on this point the Government have already gone a long way towards recognising these difficulties, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, was good enough to write to me arising out of the question that I raised on this matter at an earlier stage. He does not take the view that there are no technical, constitutional or legal difficulties. I will read what he says, but I am always anxious not to read out too small a part of a letter, lest I should be charged with being selective. It is a three-page letter so your Lord-ships will not wish to be bothered with the whole of it.

In his letter the noble Lord says: I would not, of course, wish to imply that it would be a simple matter for a trade union to take this step."— This is the step of transferring funds to friendly societies in order to continue to get the tax benefit— It might face problems depending on the provisions in its constitution "— this is what the Secretary of State had in mind, no doubt, when he talked about no constitutional difficulty— and rules relating to the powers of its trustees, the nature of the provident benefit to be provided to members and the methods by which they are to be financed. At the very least it seems probable that the consent of members to major changes in union rules would be needed. In come cases it seems quite possible that complex financial and actuarial questions might arise over the division of union funds and assets between those to be used for general purposes and those to be allocated to the friendly society taking over responsibility for provident benefits. All that is quite correct. There would be immense difficulties of the kind outlined by the noble Lord, and I will now, if I may, demonstrate to him why those difficulties are not only immense but insuperable.

There are three major difficulties. There are many more, but three major ones, which is two more than is sufficient for the purposes of this argument. First, there is the rule under Clause 154 of this Bill that no organisation of workers can register under the Friendly Societies Act. The organisation cannot register. But, according to the Friendly Societies Act, the benefit paid to individuals must be provided, by voluntary subscription of the members thereof ".

The subscription has to come from the members; the subscription has to be voluntary. The members of the friendly society therefore could not be tied up with the members of the union. There is no way in which one could ensure that these two memberships would precisely coincide. And of course they would increasingly diverge. Even if they started off by being the same membership, there would be the circumstance, first, that trade union members would cease to subscribe to the friendly society, and therefore there would be members of the union who would not be members of the friendly society. Secondly, there would be the circumstance that members of the friendly society would cease to be members of the union but would continue to subscribe to the friendly society. So in these two respects there would be increasing divergence between the members of the friendly society and the membership of the union. There is no method by which the two can be tied and kept together. In fact, by virtue of the statutory provision it is impossible to have a friendly society on any basis other than that the subscriptions are voluntary. So it is perfectly clear in the first place that it would be impossible to achieve what is being achieved at the moment; namely, a union providing provident benefits for its members or their dependants. That is the first point.

There is of course the further difficulty (this is still within this major difficulty which I am speaking about) that members not willing to join the friendly society would need to have their existing rights assured. One cannot assume that it would be possible even to start with the two memberships coinciding. There might be a considerable membership of the union which would refuse to join a new friendly society; and they would say,"We have subscribed to this union provident fund, or to the union funds part of which are used for provident purposes, and will require our rights to be assessed and valued and set on one side." So the continuing funds of the union would, in effect, under the present proposals, be reduced because of the tax provisions. That is the first insuperable difficulty.

The second is that this same condition which I have read out means that a friendly society set up for the purpose could not rely simply on the existing funds in the trade union. The condition, may I remind your Lordships, is"voluntary subscription of the members thereof ". So there is a union with its own provident funds; members have been subscribing for years and years, and there are a number of annuitants and beneficiaries who are drawing benefits. The annuitants, the aged, the sick, the widows, the children who are dependent—all these are drawing benefits out of the union provident funds or the general funds which are also used for provident purposes. Those funds could not be transferred to a new friendly society because the friendly society has to be provided by funds by way of voluntary subscription from the members themselves. The most that could be done is that from time to time the union could give a donation to the friendly society. But it could not provide the funds. So there are two reasons, insuperable reasons, why the union and the friendly society could not be identical bodies and why the funds could not be used.

There is a third reason. It is not quite so crucial, but it can be very important for various unions. It is that the range of benefits which, on the one hand, are provided by trade union provident funds and, on the other hand, are allowed as proper for tax purposes when paid out by a friendly society, differ. To a great extent they overlap; they coincide. To a large extent they differ. Not only do they differ, but in many important respects the friendly society range of permissible benefits is narrower than the trade union range of permissible benefits. When I say"permissible ", I mean, so far as a trade union is concerned,"permissible for tax purposes ", and so far as a friendly society is concerned"permissible for friendly society purposes ". So there will be cases where one or more kind of benefit cannot be continued if a trade union attempts to hive-off its provident activities to a friendly society.

So, my Lords, I am saying (I am sorry to have troubled your Lordships in some detail about this matter, but it is an issue of fundamental importance) that there are these three insuperable reasons, two of which are major and one is minor, in addition to many other reasons, why it simply is not possible for registration under the Friendly Societies Act to provide existing tax relief for the membership of the union in respect of their existing funds for their existing providential purposes. It is necessary therefore to set up a special register. I have demonstrated, first, that the reference to the industrial and provident society was merely a careless one; secondly, that the reference to the Friendly Societies Act has not been sufficiently thought out because it is incapable of achieving the purpose. Furthermore, I remind your Lordships of the undertaking, which I will now read once more.

I assure the House "— it was said— that if it were necessary to set up a special register for trade unions which wished not to register in the industrial relations sense "— that is exactly our position— so that they could continue the other half of their activities, their provident fund activities "— that is exactly what we are considering— I would propose a special register. I am saying there should be a special register proposed, and proposed fairly quickly, if the Government and the Secretary of State are to honour his assurance given in another place.

I come now to the precise wording of the Amendment. Why do I propose that: The registrar shall send to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue a copy of such particulars entered in the provisional register as the Commissioners may from time to time require "? Your Lordships are well aware of the procedure, which is that every registered union (which at the moment means a union registered under the 1871 and subsequent Acts) is entitled to this tax benefit in relation to its provident activities. So, incidentally, is every other body which carries out this kind of activity. For at least 50 years it has been a matter of national policy, carried out by every Government during that period, to encourage by tax relief every individual who saves in this way for these purposes. It is obvious common sense and good national policy, and it is always done. The unions are not being favoured in this way; they are being treated exactly as every other body which carries out similar purposes.

Your Lordships are aware, first, that every trade union which is so registered at present gets relief on its provident fund activities; secondly, that under this Bill every such union will be transferred automatically to the special register; thirdly, that the people who will need to know about it are the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, because they have to deal with the tax side. Therefore, all that is necessary to provide a special register, in accordance with the undertaking given by the Secretary of State, is for the Registrar, who has the details of all those who are on the special register, to notify the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. They then set up their special register by administrative means. It is as simple as that. My Lords, I have explained the matter fully; I hope that the Government are persuaded. I beg to move.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord has argued that the assurance which my right honourable friend gave in another place cannot be fulfilled and therefore a special register should be set up. That is the burden of what he has said. It was never said that there would be no change, and I do not think it was ever suggested that it would necessarily be easy for the trade unions who do not register (that is non-registered organisations) to hive-off their funds so as to register under the Friendly Societies Acts. I agree with the noble Lord that it would be inappropriate to register under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act; but, of course, it is recognised that there are differences between the Friendly Societies Acts and the present provisions. It is true, as the noble Lord says, that the range of benefits provided by trade union provident funds, and those allowed as proper for tax purposes, differ; that, although they overlap, they are not identical. I think those are roughly the words that he used. It is recognised that there will be some differences, but the basic principle of the Bill here is that those who do not register under the Bill when it becomes an Act will not be trade unions within the meaning of the Bill, and therefore they will not have the facilities open to them as trade unions.

In effect, this means that those who do not register will have problems, because they will be giving up the right to use their provident funds for any purpose they may think fit. Therefore, in order to get over that they will have to register under the Friendly Societies Act.


My Lords, who are"they "?


My Lords, I am speaking now of the unregistered organisations, those that do not register under the Bill. This is part of the essence of the Bill, and I do not think it would be possible for us to make any concession in this matter. The choice will be entirely open to the organisations themselves. If they choose to register, then they will be covered under Section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act; if they do not, then they will have to hive-off their funds and register under the Friendly Societies Act.

The statement made by my right honourable friend was quoted correctly by the noble Lord, and I think it is right to say that we still stand by that. There are no technical, constitutional or legal difficulties involved. I take note of the point made by the noble Lord, that it would not be possible to have existing funds transferred to a new friendly society because the funds have not been subscribed to voluntarily. All I can say is that this is not in accordance with the advice we have received. In the ordinary way there is no compulsion to be a member of a trade union, and thus there is no compulsion to subscribe to what is covered by the rules of the trade union. In many cases it is a fact that the subscription of anyone who is a member of a union also goes to cover provident funds, and therefore the argument must be that these are voluntary subscriptions. This is a matter of legal advice. The noble Lord said that he had received contrary advice, but all I can say is that the advice we have received was reflected in what my right honourable friend has said, and there is nothing to prevent organisations of workers hiving-off their funds in order to set up provident funds for the range of benefits that friendly societies can cover.

My Lords, I think perhaps I should go further than this. It is the case that the Bill leaves in doubt the question whether organisations entered on the provisional register will be able to benefit from this facility. Obviously, one of the points the noble Lord must have had in mind was what was going to happen in the intervening period. Perhaps the noble Lord will not wish me to pursue this at the present time because he has a later Amendment—


Please do.


My Lords, if the noble Lord wishes me to, I will certainly do so. This is obviously unsatisfactory because many of the organisations which go on to the register will be enjoying the appropriate benefits at the time of tax relief under Section 338. Of course this will apply to all the unions which are transferred automatically on to the provisional register, whether or not they decide to remain on it, for so long as they remain on the register. If they were to lose this benefit during the period when their eligibility for registration as a trade union was being considered, then the provisional register would have failed in its purpose of providing continuity for existing trade unions.

The proposed Amendment to Clause 78, together with the proposed new clause to follow Clause 80, would certainly provide one way by which the tax positions of organisations on the provisional register might be safeguarded, but obviously the noble Lord's intentions go very much further than that. The proposed new clause would clearly give a very definite meaning to the term"registered trade union ". The noble Lord will not be surprised to hear that both Amendments are totally unacceptable to the Government. The new clause, in particular, is nothing less than a new variant on the old Opposition theme that organisations should not have to be registered under the Bill to qualify for tax relief. Not only would this clause allow organisations on the provisional register to qualify for Section 338 relief whilst on that register—an objective which we support—but it would allow them to go on getting that relief even if they asked to be taken off the provisional register or if they failed to qualify for registration as trade unions under the Bill, or if, having been thus registered, they asked to be deregistered. Nor is that all—


May I interrupt?


May I first finish this point? If any organisation had at any time in the past hundred years been on the old register, no matter for how brief a period, it would under the Amendment qualify for Section 338 relief.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is speaking to an Amendment which has not even been moved. He asked me whether I should like him to deal with the position of the provisional register, not with an Amendment that has not been moved. I said that I should be grateful if he did so, although in fact the Bill makes that position absolutely clear. If the noble Lord wishes to deal further with the provisional register on this Amendment, to assist us on this Amendment, I shall be grateful. The time to deal with the next Amendment is when I put it forward.


My Lords, I was trying to meet the noble Lord's wishes. He will appreciate that to some extent his proposals cover transfer to the provisional register as well, because what he is suggesting is that a special register should be opened right away. What we are suggesting here is that there should be a transfer to the provisional register with the continuation of the existing benefits so long as anyone remains on the provisional register. I was only saying that to that extent the proposals coincide, and I was going on to indicate what our proposals are. I fully agree with the noble Lord that what I was going to say would come more appropriately on discussion of his later Amendment.


My Lords, may I ask for clarification of what the noble Lord has just said? He has just said that the trade union should, while on the provisional register, be treated in the same way as it is treated at the moment on the 1871 register. May I ask him to go on to say whether that is the case, irrespective of what the union then does; that is to say, whether it then gets transferred to the permanent register or then gives notice to deregister?


My Lords, as the noble Lord has indicated that he would rather deal with this matter later, I would rather cover that point at a later time.


My Lords, may I ask a question which I think is relevant? I am rather concerned about this provisional register. Suppose that in this age of automation, new machinery and the discovery of new tools, new skills are required with new types of industry and jobs; and suppose that I want to form a new group of trade unionists who have never been formed into a union and who have, say, in the field of bio-chemistry or electro-medicine new skills. Will this provisional register be kept open for me to enter a brand new Tory union in the brand new Tory world created by noble Lords opposite and their colleagues in another place?


My Lords, the noble Lord's question goes far wider than the Amendment we are discussing, but it is open to anyone to apply to be a registered trade union at any time.


"At any time ". I thank the noble Lord.


The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has given a most unsatisfactory and unconsidered reply to a most important question dealing with a matter of honour. I am going to make a suggestion to the noble Lord after I have gone through his speech. The noble Lord has made it perfectly clear that he was not expecting me to bring up the arguments I have brought up. That is perfectly understandable, and he has repeated advice which has been given to him previously, except to the extent that that advice was shown to be wrong. The first thing the noble Lord was good enough to do was to agree with me that the Secretary of State was wrong, just simply wrong, when he referred in his assurance to the House to one way out of the difficulty being via the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. I emphasise that once more. I am grateful for the agreement of the noble Lord because it shows that this advice was hasty. No one blames a Minister for accepting advice on a highly technical matter, but sometimes the advice is hasty. What I say to the noble Lord is that I hope on reconsideration he will say to me that in view of the arguments which I put forward—many of which he has not dealt with and most of which are quite new—and in view of the fact that the honour of a Secretary of State is at stake, he will be good enough to consider what will be on the Record to-morrow—the arguments I have put forward—and good enough, if he is not clear about them, to invite me and my legal advisers to meet the Secretary of State and his legal advisers to demonstrate that the Secretary of State has been ill-advised.

The noble Lord did not attempt to deal with two of my three major arguments. He dealt with the third one which I specifically called a minor one, but the two major ones, which are insuperable, he did not attempt to deal with. Of course they are new points, but they are very carefully considered points. I have given reasons for them and I can gladly supply the joint opinion of the two eminent counsel who took this view. This is not a view concocted by the Opposition in order to make a debate at this stage; it is a considered view of the law. I am most certainly not responsible for the Friendly Societies Act 1896, but that Act has certain provisions. If the Government want those provisions altered they must bring forward a Bill to alter them, or say that they will, as they can, deal with the matter in the next Finance Bill or how they choose. What they cannot say is that the law makes it possible for a trade union to register in the way in which the noble Lord said that it could. The noble Lord said that they can register, they can invest their funds, under the Friendly Societies Act. I asked the noble Lord who"they"were and he said that they were unregistered organisations. They would have to register under the Friendly Societies Act.


May I interrupt?


I will give way in a moment. May I refer the noble Lord to his own Bill? If he will be good enough to look at his own Bill he will see that in Clause 154—


While the noble Lord is looking it up—


I will read this and then I will gladly give way. Clause 154 clearly says: No organisation of workers shall after the commencement of this Act, and no employers' association shall after being registered as an employers' association under this Act become registered—

  1. (a)…
  2. (b) under the Friendly Societies Act, 1896."
It is the Bill which makes it statutorily impossible for a union or an unregistered organisation to register under this Act.


My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. I rather misunderstood his question, because I thought he was discriminating between registered trade unions and unregistered organisations of workers. It was made quite plain at the Committee stage that they would, of course, have to set up trustees; they could not register themselves. I took it for granted that the noble Lord realised that this was common ground here. All I was trying to say was that it was open to them to make the arrangements. Obviously it would have to be through trustees.


No, my Lords, it is not possible for unions to register. Now we are agreed about that, and agreed that the noble Lord did not follow my argument, as he said; I am also suggesting, in as kindly a way as I can, that the noble Lord did not follow the rest of my argument. We are not dealing merely with a matter of argument between two Members of your Lordships' House, but with a most serious argument affecting 8 million people, producing something of the order of £6 million a year, and having direct eleemosynary relevance only, to people who are annuitants, or in need, sick, widows, mourners, injured, children. What we are discussing is: will the £6 million or so continue to be made available to them, or will it be withdrawn from them? That is what we are considering. What I am saying is that I have made the case and shown that in one respect we are agreed, that the Secretary of State was ill-advised—hastily advised, let us put it—when he made that statement and gave that undertaking. As to the rest of it, I hope that I can satisfy the noble Lord, and the Government and their legal advisers, that what we are saying is right. The noble Lord has said,"It is true we never undertook that it was easy ". But the Secretary of State did not say that it was difficult. He said: I am told there is no technical, constitutional or legal difficulty ". I do not know what other kinds of difficulty exist. I think I am right in saying that what the Secretary of State was saying was,"I am told there is no difficulty ". I do not think it is open to the noble Lord to say, in face of that,"Nobody says it is easy ". It is the kind of playing at the borderline that one does not want to do to a statement made by an honourable Secretary of State.

I hope the noble Lord will be good enough to consider that here is a very serious matter, here is a question of admitted partial ill-advice. Nobody could know the whole story unless he had considered it as carefully as the two eminent counsel and the T.U.C. have considered it, because of its effect on all their members. I hope the noble Lord will accede to the request I am making. I do not want to push the Amendment to a Division. I do not want to be in the position of charging a Secretary of State with acting in a dishonourable way. I am asking the noble Lord, quite firmly, to be good enough to say that he will consider everything I have said on what is one of the most important issues raised by this Bill, and that he will deal with it again at Third Reading—no promise or undertaking, beyond an undertaking to consider the careful arguments put forward.


My Lords, the noble Lord has obviously made a very reasonable suggestion, and it would be ridiculous of me if I were not to accede to his suggestion that we should look at this very carefully indeed. Indeed, if he chooses to come and talk to us about it, we shall be very willing to see him and discuss it in depth—I think that is the phrase. It is our own view that, while a trade union cannot register itself under the Friendly Societies Act, it could quite easily set up a separate friendly society and that this is a solution which would be legally possible. Like all these things, it may be complicated, and therefore not easy. Before we start bandying accusations across the Floor of the House, I think it would be better if we do as I have said; that is, look at this point again very closely and discuss the matter with the noble Lord.


My Lords, may I appeal to the noble Lord, if he is going to let us have a copy of his legal opinion, to be good enough to send a copy to me. I can assure him it will be treated with all confidence.


My Lords, I am very grateful that the noble Lord has acceded to my request. I am sure it is right and sensible on such an important matter that both sides should undertake the fullest possible examination of the law and listen to advice about it. I am grateful for what he has said. I shall be very ready to attend any kind of conference which the noble Lord suggests, and discuss the matter after getting instructions—which I am sure I shall get, because nobody wishes these matters to be kept secret. Indeed, the T.U.C. has made it clear in a circular letter to its 8 million associated members that this opinion has been obtained and that it is on the basis of this opinion that it is saying the things it is saying, which are broadly, perhaps in less detail, what I have said. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for saying he will be willing to consider the written opinion; and after getting confirmation I shall, of course, consider it a privilege to send it to him. In those circumstances, and expressing my gratitude for the patience your Lordships have shown in listening to a long debate, albeit about an important matter, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 79 [Transfer from provisional register and cancellation of entries]:

5.18 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79UUU.

Page 62, line 19, leave out (' six months ") and insert ( three years ")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an Amendment which I am sure refers to the Industrial Relations Bill, and it seeks to leave out"six months"and insert"three years ". This is a clause which deals with the period within which, unless there are exceptional circumstances, a union which is put on the provisional register either moves on to the main register or has its provisional registration cancelled. I recognise that these matters should be dealt with as quickly as is sensible and expedient, and that there are provisions in the same clause later on under which, if six months is not enough, the period can in suitable circumstances be extended. I feel that six months sets the target, and I think it is an impossibly short target.

There are a vast number of unions, all with their rules. They have all got to be examined by the Registrar. One wants to see careful examination, one wants co-operation if possible, or consultation and discussion with the interested parties. Everybody knows how quickly six months go by in attempting to deal with huge problems of this kind. I do not know what the staffing arrangements are to be, but one does not want to see the Registrar overwhelmed at the start of his function; he would need an enormous new staff to cope with it. I should have thought it in everybody's interest to provide a reasonable period. I am sure that six months is not a reasonable period; three years would be. If the noble Lord thinks another period would be adequate, I will listen to what he says. But at the moment, I think three years is a reasonable period during which one can envisage most of these matters being cleared up. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for explaining the purpose of his Amendment. As he said, the object of the provisional registration is to provide a transitional period during which the registrar can verify that an organisation satisfies the conditions of eligibility for registration. We have set the period of six months which we believe to be right. Of course, in many cases he will not need as long as six months to carry out this task and he will be able to transfer many applicants to the permanent register without any delay. But, my Lords, we have put the figure of six months for two reasons: first, the registrar will have a considerable number of organisations to deal with, certainly at the outset, and in a small number of cases he may require to make some inquiries to satisfy himself whether the organisations are eligible before reaching his decision.

However, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, is slightly in error over one thing; that is, when he said he thought that full examination of the rules of an organisation is involved to see whether they satisfy the requirements of Schedule 4 and Clauses 65 and 69. That is not so at this stage. That examination comes later after the certificate of registration has been issued. At this stage, eligibility alone is examined; that is, the question of whether the organisation is an organisation of workers or of employers and whether, if it is an organisation of workers, it is under employer domination or control, and whether in either case it is an autonomous body.

A large number of existing unions will clearly meet these conditions without any difficulty at all, and where an organisation which genuinely wishes to seek and to secure registration is unable to satisfy these conditions there is the provision in subsection (3) of this clause for extending this period of consideration further. I would reiterate that at this stage all that the registrar has to do is to satisfy himself that the applicants concerned are eligible for registration; it is only after the certificate of registration has been issued that complete and full consideration is given in detail.


My Lords, the Bill itself provides that: Where the registrar refrains from cancelling the entry…such further period as he may consider appropriate for enabling it to make the requisite alteration in its rules ". In view of that, why cannot my noble friend's Amendment be accepted, because in that case the transition period would be a reasonable one in view of the great changes that are taking place. That will need a great deal of consideration by the administrative staff of the entire trade union movement. Further down in subsection (3) there is a hint that a longer period might not be accepted. Why cannot the noble Lord on the Government Front Bench accept this, what I consider to be a constructive Amendment, moved by my noble friend?


My Lords, if I may have leave to speak again, I would reassure the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, that we do not consider that this is not a constructive Amendment; we realise that it is moved in a constructive manner. All we are saying is that we believe it to be unnecessary because at this stage the registrar merely concerns himself with the provisions of Clauses 67 and 71 which, as I pointed out, are merely to satisfy himself that it is not under the domination of an employer and other such things which are relatively simple to ascertain. Only if the registrar finds that more detail is required and that a period of six months is not sufficient will he permit the union to have its period of provisional registration increased. But we believe that six months is an adequate period for this procedure. It is after the certificate of registration has been issued that Clauses 65 and 69, which contain the detailed considerations, will then be applied.


My Lords, I would not press the Government unduly on this matter. After all, this is mainly an administrative matter and the Government are better administrators than I am and know more about their own business than I do. I had thought that six months was too short even from their point of view, and my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek has made it clear that he thinks as I do that it is too short for many of the trade unions also. The noble Lord, in dealing with the position of the Government, did not deal with the position of the unions. Some of them may find it too short. However, we have made our point.

I am sure that the noble Lord realises that it is not a Party issue or a controversial issue. It is merely a question of which is the most sensible way of making a provision at the start; namely, the target date one should fix. I think the provision for extension is a discretionary one on the part of the registrar. It is not a discretionary one on the part of a busy general secretary of a trade union who has been away ill for three months with a further month's convalescence and then finds himself faced with a huge amount of work to be done in less than eight weeks. There is no discretion on the registrar there. We have made our point, and I hope that the noble Lord will give it consideration. I do not wish to press it any further and I seek your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.28 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendmeent No. 79VVV:

After Clause 80 insert the following new new clause:

Definition of registered trade union for tax purposes

. For the purposes of section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970, registered trade union includes an organisation which was, on the 30th June 1971, or had been at any time prior thereto, registered as a trade union under the Trade Union Acts 1871 to 1964.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment provides very shortly that for the purposes of the relevant income tax section a registered trade union shall include not only unions registered under this Bill but unions which have been registered broadly as at to-day under any of the normal methods of registration; that is, the Trade Union Acts 1871 to 1964.

We are again on this issue of tax treatment but this is a very narrow point. The application of this Amendment is quite narrow. It refers not to the general proposition of registration at all, on which there is a great deal at issue between the two sides, but to the question of registration for the purposes only of the Income Tax and Corporation Taxes Act 1970. That Act governs these matters,"and section 338"refers to a registered trade union. I have already explained and therefore I need not repeat it, that the policy of providing tax encouragement to provident saving is a policy which, broadly, has been carried out by every Government over the whole of this country. Therefore, what we are concerned with is whether that policy should be continued or whether certain persons should be singled out for exclusion from that general treatment.

The Amendment I have put forward is not one to provide all unions at all future times with this continuity of treatment; it is only to provide for those unions which register under the new Act, as it will be, or those unions which have registered in the past. My noble friend Lord Davies of Leek sensibly referred to the probability of new unions having to be formed in order to organise those working with new skills. They might need an umbrella and, very properly, might form a new union. Such a union might not wish to register under the Act; such a union would not have been registered under the 1871 Act; and such a union would, therefore, know when it was starting its life that that was the state of the law. That is one thing. That is quite a different thing from a union which has, over the whole of its existence, benefited with regard to its provident funds from the tax treatment which is available to all who carry out similar activities. Quite a different issue arises there.

The attitude of the Government has really been made clear by the Secretary of State in the statement I referred to on an earlier Amendment. The Secretary of State's attitude is not a consideration of whether certain individuals should or should not any longer get a certain tax benefit. That is not his attitude. His attitude is,"You can get this benefit, if not under this Bill, in another way." He does not say,"You shall not get this benefit "; he rests his case on the fact that you can get this benefit in another way, and therefore why should it be made available in this particular way. We had a discussion on the last Amendment as to whether it can be made available in another way, and I do not want to go over that ground again. I only want to make it clear that that has been the attitude of the Government, as voiced by the authoritative person of the Secretary of State himself.

I also want to make clear—although it has been referred to before—whom we are talking about. We are talking about the recipients of provident benefits. The recipients are the annuitants, those who are old. I was much saddened—and the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack will also be much saddened if he is not aware of this—to find that, for the purpose of, I think, the Friendly Societies Act,"old"starts at 55, when I, at the age of 64, thought I was merely approaching middle age. At all events, the old are those who benefit; the ill are those who benefit; the widows are those who benefit; the mourners—the mourners in a Jewish ceremony of mourning the dead—are those who benefit; and the children of ex-union members who need provision are also those who benefit. These are the people we are talking about. The question is whether their benefits should continue in their present amount or whether, by the withdrawal of tax relief, they should be reduced, in round figures, by something approaching a half. That is the issue that is involved.

I have sought not to reopen the general question of registration, because that is a different political issue on which we are totally opposed to one another. I have sought merely to narrow the issue down to the question of the treatment for tax purposes, and the definition for those purposes. I am therefore suggesting this Amendment as being a simple method of dealing with the matter, and regarding the registration test as it is defined in this Amendment. I should remind your Lordships that registration is indeed necessary, as the noble Lord has said, but it is purely necessary as an administrative matter. The Inland Revenue must be able to keep their tabs on those who are the applicants; those unions which seek these benefits for their provident funds. This has nothing to do with funds which are used for strikes, for industrial action, or anything of that kind at all; it is purely that these provident funds have attracted a certain kind of treatment ever since they were registered in 1871—or, at all events, I think since the 1922 Act, which gave the benefit to these particuar organisations and relied on registration under the Act of 1871, and we are merely asking that this treatment should be continued. I beg to move.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, I hope sincerely that some attention in depth will be given to this question, because there are other aspects to the Amendment that my noble friend is moving. I may not be right—that I will acknowledge; but I will put the matter hypothetically. If, as the position now stands, trade union funds are liable to be reduced because some are not exempted from taxation, a whole string of people could be affected, and not only regarding death allowances but in other respects.

I shall not detain the House more than two minutes, but let me give an example of which I have knowledge. For many years, together with six or seven other people, I was on the Miners Welfare Selection Board, selecting students from all over Britain, sons and daughters of men and women who worked in and about the mines. We included an academic group of people from various universities, and we selected the children of miners from secondary schools, grammar schools, and even private schools all over the British Isles. The miners of Great Britain had collected and put aside a fund for scholarships for these people. Once we were delighted that we made a couple of orthopædic surgeons out of miners' sons. What would happen if there were no protection afforded to scholastic funds like that, which had been collected, for instance, by the miners? Some noble Lords will have had experience of the old Miners Welfare Act, by means of which swimming pools, sports fields, and other things were established throughout Britain.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question, for clarification? Is he talking about separate funds that were set up as charities, or is he talking about funds that form part of the general funds of the union?


My Lords, they are funds which have been subscribed by the men. I cannot define them accurately in the legal way. All I can say is that these funds have, for instance, been collected for generations at the pithead on pay days. At one time 1d. or ½d. on every ton of coal collected was paid (as my noble friend Lord Cooper will know), for these welfare funds. There was also a fund for pneumoconiosis, which is an industrial disease. A miners' welfare fund was set up to pay a pound extra for pneumoconiosis and lung diseases for miners working on hard coal or at hard coal faces.

I have made my point, and I should be labouring it if I attempted to extend it. I should like the noble Lord to take into account that there is a kind of penumbra to this Amendment which my noble friend has moved, which affects other things besides mere funds for death and injury.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that consideration will be given to this Amendment. As the last speaker said, this is an extremely complicated situation. So far as I know, the direct funds are not taxed and the problem arises on investment income. Of course we should not be taxed. We are very much like co-operatives. The contributions of working men have already been taxed and ought not to be liable to taxation again. But, for good reasons, we accumulate large reserves—and the way things are going we shall have to accumulate more—in order to make ourselves capable of functioning. Those reserves, properly invested, yield considerable sums of money; the sum involved if this tax privilege is lost to us will be about £6 million, I sign document after document, and when I sign a document reclaiming about £100,000 of tax I sometimes feel that we are in a very privileged position. So long as we spend on certain friendly benefits amounts that exceed the tax, then we can reclaim it.

I think it is worth explaining the way in which we spend money which we reclaim. First of all, we have an accident benefit. It is a very small payment but it helps to bridge the gap, because very often when a man is injured his firm does not pay anything like his normal income. So we have this little benefit which helps to bring the amount nearer to his normal earnings. I think we spend about £900,000 a year on that. We also have a fatality benefit. In the old days when a man was killed, a cap used to go round for the widow. We have tried to formalise that and we pay £500 in a fatal case. We pay if a man is killed on the way to work. Another benefit of which we are very proud is for the sons and daughters of any man in our organisation, which is essentially a labourers' and semi-skilled organisation; if they qualify for university they receive from us a bursary of £50 a year for two years. Those are very generous, necessary and important benefits and I shall be surprised if it is the intention to interfere with them.

This brings me to the question of registration. We have heard this afternoon that the choice between registering or not has not been left to the unions. As a protest against the Bill, I think the T.U.C. tried to encourage every union to indicate that it would not register, and in a very clever way the Government then said,"All right. You are all provisionally registered, anyhow ", and that goes on for six months. I have been surprised to hear this afternoon that, without any of the basic tests in this Bill so long as you are a proper organisation you will be registered after six months. So the question of a choice for the trade union between registering or not hardly arises until six months after the Bill has been passed. Therefore, I hope that the taxation position will be made perfectly clear. If the Government are going to register us provisionally or after six months, then they should make it quite clear where we stand in regard to taxation.


My Lords, I gather from the part of the debate that I have heard that the Government are satisfied that the provident funds of the trade unions will be protected but that there are certain elements of finance associated with some trade unions which do not come within the category of provident funds. My noble friend, Lord Davies of Leek, referred to the miners' welfare fund. That was started many years ago—as far back as 1924, when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Mines—and followed the initiative taken by the late Lloyd George, who was interested in miners' welfare. The miners' welfare fund is not part of the provident funds of the miners' union; it is a separate fund. There must be assurances by the Government that that fund will be protected because, as my noble friend indicated, it provides swimming pools and a variety of other amenities which the miners have enjoyed for some years and hope to continue to enjoy.

But there is another matter which I think is much more important. The miners have a special pension fund which, again, does not come within the category of the ordinary provident fund. The provident fund provides death benefit or sick benefit and, in the case of some unions, unemployment benefit. But I am talking now about a special fund from which miners receive an addition of, I think, £1 a week to their State pension after a period of service in the mines. I think we are entitled to some assurance that these funds will be protected. Some years ago the seafarers had an education fund. That was provided by the seamen themselves and, to some extent, contributed to by the more enlightened and benevolent shipowners who were anxious to assist in the education of seamen and provide them with amenities. I imagine that that fund, also, is not within the category of a provident fund. So we ought to have assurances that these funds, which are associated with some form of provident benefits but are not an integral part of them, will be protected by Government legislation.


My Lords, can the Government take a more benevolent look at this clause? It seems to me that the position of the employers will be prejudiced, and I shall not have any of the benefits which usually come from industrial peace if the Government persist in keeping the Bill in its present form.


My Lords, if I may deal with the various funds, I am clearly not in a position to speak about the position of any particular one. That must depend upon whether it is a charity or a discretionary fund within a provident fund. There are all sorts of considerations and I could not give an answer off the cuff. All I can say is that, so long as a union is registered under the Bill, it will continue without change in so far as Section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 is concerned. Surely the point is that at the present time registered unions have this concession. Under the provisions of the Bill, registered unions will have that concession. As the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, indicated, the first stage will be that those unions that are registered at present will be transferred to the provisional register and within six months—not more—if they satisfy the two tests, they will be transferred to the permanent register and will be incorporated. They will then continue to enjoy, as long as they choose, the remission under Section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act.

At an earlier stage we were considering what would happen so far as unregistered organisations of workers were concerned or any trade union which ceased to be a trade union registered under the Act. There is this slightly difficult transitional matter of unions on the provisional register. I must deal with this at the present time to clarify the situation. It gives rise to a slight difficulty, and we have carefully considered with Treasury Ministers how best to meet the difficulty at this stage of the Bill's progress through Parliament. We have reached the conclusion that the most practicable solution would be to include a suitable Amendment in the next Finance Bill. I am therefore able to inform the House that this legislation will be included in the Finance Bill to secure that a trade union on the provisional register under the Industrial Relations Bill will be a registered trade union for the purposes of Section 338 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 and that the relief will have any necessary retrospective effect irrespective of what decision may be made ultimately so far as they continue on the provisional register, and thereafter until they cease to be registered; once again, when they are registered, they come back under Section 338 again. That provision will ensure that organisations at present benefiting from the provisions of Section 338 by reason of their registration under the Trade Union Acts, 1871 to 1964, will continue to do so while eligibility for registration as a trade union under this Bill is being considered.

On the broader question of making tax relief available to organisations which choose not to be registered under this Bill, I can only re-emphasise the Government's view that that would be totally unacceptable. This point was debated at length in another place and I should be taking up valuable time if I were to do more than briefly remind the House of the Government's key points on this issue, without prejudice to what I said to the noble Lord. It is a normal feature of this legislation that tax relief should be conditional upon the recipient organisation conforming to specified registration requirements relating to the character of the organisation and of its activities. There is no justification for making an exception to this rule simply because some organisations object to the idea of being registered under this Bill. It will be open to organisations of workers which choose to withdraw their registrations as trade unions to set up separate registered friendly societies to run their activities and thereby obtain similar, though not identical, tax relief—I emphasise once again to the noble Lord that we have always said,"similar, but not identical tax relief—although at the cost of giving up control over their provident funds and access to them. This Amendment seeks to overturn that principle and I can only invite the House to reject the Amendment.


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, a question before he sits down? I may be completely wrong, but I should hate to see the draconic effect upon a student, for example, taking medicine in his fifth year, in receipt of some welfare scholarship from a trade union, when suddenly his grant is cut off. May we have some assurance from the noble Lord opposite that whatever happens an effort will be made to see that students, either about to take a course or in the middle of a course, if receiving grants from trade unions, will not suffer as a result of Government legislation? Will they try to find some formula to give that guarantee?


My Lords, listened carefully to the noble Lord's first intervention, and now to this. I do not think that he was being sufficiently precise to formulate a question which was capable of answer. But, as I understand the matter, on the assumption that a fund is a charitable fund—and I remind him from recent debates, if he does not otherwise know, that education is one of the main objects recognised by the law as charitable—in that sense there is no change in its status proposed by the law. Obviously, as my noble friend said, until one has seen the status of a particular fund it is impossible to give an assurance carte blanche. But the objects of charity are the relief of poverty, the treatment of and assistance to the sick and the education of both young and old. All the things which he has said indicate to me that he is talking about a charitable fund. Obviously, I cannot give a legal opinion on that basis, but that is what he has conveyed to my mind. If it is a charitable fund, it remains a charitable fund.


May I ask a further question on that point? In my own union, we run the administration for friendly society benefits under a completely different name from that which does the negotiating, although the money is given by the administrative side which collects the money. The British Iron and Steel Trades Confederation is responsible for collecting all the money from members and handing over a certain amount to the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, which is responsible for negotiating. This was conceived as a method of merging, not for any other purpose at all. It worked very well some 30 to 40 years ago. But it does leave us in a very interesting position now because all our funds that are for friendly society benefits are governed by one section of the union under a completely different name from that part of the union which negotiates. Here I suggest that we should be free from any penalties of non-registration, whatever the union decided to do. Is that the case?


My Lords, I am reluctant to give instant law, because instant law is almost always bad law. But I listened as carefully as I could both to my noble friend and to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in a previous debate. My impression was that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, was not correct in saying that there were insurmountable difficulties. One of the very reasons I thought he was not correct, probably wrongly—because he is going to show me he has got another opinion if he receives clearance to do so—was precisely that it was within my general knowledge that friendly societies often do exist side by side with negotiating bodies as separate entities in law. I do not believe, therefore, that it was correct to say that the difficulties of creating such friendly societies were insurmountable. I did not interpose because I was afraid of speaking as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, put it, ill-advisedly; but my guess is that the noble Lord is incorrect in what he says. If he would like to communicate with me, or with my noble friend the precise situation in which those two particular entities exist, one could go into the point in depth. But all that is dealt with in this Bill, as I understand it, and under this Amendment, is the particular immunity which trade unions have hitherto been able to acquire for their invested funds under Section 338, as it now is; and that was tied to registration under the old Act.

What is covered by both the existing Amendment and the substantive clauses to which it applies is precisely that immunity, and only that immunity. What is provided by the Bill, as I understand it, is that registration under the Bill is substituted, in effect, as a condition of acquiring the immunity prospectively for registration under 1871 legislation, but that Treasury Ministers have agreed to insert into the next Finance Bill a provision retrospective to the extent necessary to cover the provisional register which is being created to deal with the transition period. But as I understand it, nothing is affected either by the substantive clauses in the Bill or by the Amendment which is proposed, which is not directly related to and comprised within the existing immunity under Section 338. In other words, if, by reason of some arrangements which are now in existence, the noble Lord's organisation has acquired an immunity which is not that of Section 338, so as far as I know that will continue. But if he would like to communicate with me further, or after what I have said rather"off-the-cuff"has been checked by my advisers—in either of those two events—I should like to write to the noble Lord, but I think that what he has said is quite right.


My Lords, if I may continue on the same topic for a moment, with great audacity, in order to assist my noble friend, as I understand the position it is not all that difficult. You either have a charity set up as a charity which is not affected by this clause or what we are considering at all, or you have the same kind of treatment that is given to a charity for the same kind of reasons in respect of its provident funds as is given to a registered trade union. The way my noble friend was describing it, it will be one or the other, but it sounded as if it was a union. However, there is a close affinity between the two, and I am grateful to those who have brought up the question of charity because, as the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack has made clear, charitable purposes comprise educational or, broadly, eleemosynary purposes, and it is the eleemosynary powers which are involved in provident funds that we are discussing now. So if it seems to your Lordships' common sense that it is right that funds which are acquired by a union for these charitable purposes should get the same tax treatment as funds which are acquired by a charity for these charitable purposes, then, with respect, I would say to your Lordships that your common sense is well founded. Of course that is the case, and of course it happens, and of course it has been the policy of every Government for at least half a century—every Government: Liberal, Conservative and Labour.

Now, my Lords, what we are considering is whether that treatment be withdrawn from a particular category of persons in order to exert improper pressure on somebody else—what I ventured to call blackmail, what Mr. Victor Feather ventured to call blackmail, what I have carefully looked up in every dictionary I can lay hands on and, I repeat, I regard as blackmail. The question is: is it right for a Government to exercise what has been called in some quarters duress, what has been called in other quarters objectionable treatment, what has been called in other quarters blackmail and what has been called intimidation? The question is whether these are fair appellations; and the Government are getting themselves into a bit of difficulty when a number of noble Lords find themselves compelled to use language of this kind and when a person of the responsibility of the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress finds himself compelled to use language of this kind. The question is whether these descriptions are accurate, or whether the Government propose to do something different.

The noble Lord did not deal with the arguments; he said that they had been dealt with before. Let me explain to your Lordships, therefore, what is pro- posed in the continuance of the provisions of the present Bill. I recognise that the noble Lord has moved some way in the interim period as to the provisional register. He has altered the provisions in the Bill itself so far as concerns the provisional register, because the provisions made it clear that while you were on the provisional register you did not get tax relief because you were not a registered union. The Government have realised the nonsense of that and have moved at all events to cover the position of the provisional register. But I am on the much more serious issue of the permanent situation. Who are the Government picking on, and why? The Government are picking on a particular category of beneficiaries from eleemosynary charitable subscriptions. Who are they? They are not members of unions. They are not even members of particular unions, because—it the noble and learned Lord seeks to intervene, I will gladly give way. Let me demonstrate why they are not members of particular unions. It is because, as my noble friends, or many of them, have made clear, it is the older unions who have these provident funds, and the newer, white-collared unions do not, or many of them do not. It is the older unions, formed in the tradition of the period when these provident funds were an essential part of trade unionism, who provided these funds for their members in their difficulties.

So what the Government are proposing, if they continue with this undesirable, objectionable, punitive attitude is that certain beneficiaries of certain unions should cease to get this benefit; that is to say, their relief should be reduced by about a half—not their tax relief, but that their relief in poverty should be reduced by about a half. Why? The Government have nothing against these particular individuals. It is because the Government are seeking to pressurise other bodies: not these individuals, but other bodies. The Government are seeking to pressurise certain trade unions, their officers and their committees who take the decision not to register for reasons which have been made very clear. The Government are seeking to pressurise them by saying,"If you continue with this attitude we will see to it that certain beneficiaries no longer get half their benefits ". If that is not blackmail, I do not know what blackmail is. It is exerting improper pressure on a body of persons or a person unconnected with the argument itself.

Now it is fortunate that the trade union movement knows how to deal with blackmail, as we all do. There is only one way to deal with blackmail and that is to ignore it. The trade union movement has democratically decided, and has made public its decision, that notwithstanding that it runs the risk of getting its tax benefits for its poor, its old and its sick extinguished, it is not proposing to be bullied and blackmailed by this Government into making the unions register. They are different bodies of persons: one is the union, and the other the beneficiaries. They are not the same, and they are not the same for all unions. They have decided to ignore the blackmail. So the Government should realise that this attempt to pressurise them has failed. It is no use the Government's saying,"We believe that once this Bill is law it will be all right." It will not be all right, and the Government will be saddled with this act of vindictiveness—which is greater than any that any other Government have ever perpetrated—in respect of a matter over which I am ashamed to think that noble Lords opposite should support the Government. I hope that they will not; I hope that we shall remove this blot on the Gov-

ernments honour and this provision from the Bill.


My Lords, the noble Lord will not expect me to leave the matter where it is—


My Lords, may I intervene because it is a matter of procedure? There is a procedure in your Lordships' House that whoever moves a Motion or an Amendment has a right of reply. This has been virtually denied to me throughout the Report stage of this Bill, because every time I have said something, using my right of reply, the reply has been turned into a non-reply by someone opposite getting up and making yet a further speech.


My Lords, I certainly will not insist if I do not have the leave of the House—


My Lords, has the Minister any further information to give? I would never attempt to deny to a Minister the right to give further information. But if he wants to continue the debate, he must realise that he is denying the Opposition the right of reply, which is part of your Lordships' procedure.

6.12 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 79VVV) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 50; Not-Contents, 91.

Archibald, L. Evans of Hungershall, L. Peddie, L.
Ardwick, L. Fiske, L. Popplewell, L.
Balogh, L. Fletcher, L. Royle, L.
Bernstein, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Rusholme, L.
Birk, Bs. Gardiner, L. St. Davids, V.
Blyton, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Shackleton, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Hall, V. Shinwell, L.
Chorley, L. Henderson, L. Slater, L.
Collison, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Sorensen, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Hoy, L. Stocks, Bs.
Crook, L. Jacques, L. Stonham, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Janner, L. Stow Hill, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Leatherland, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Diamond, L. Lindgren, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Longford, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Maelor, L.
Aberdare, L. Auckland, L. Bessborough, E.
Ailwyn, L. Balfour, E. Birdwood, L.
Albemarle, E. Balfour of Inchrye, L. Bledisloe, V.
Allerton, L. Beaumont of Whitley, L. Bolton, L.
Arran, E. Berkeley, Bs. Boston, L.
Brentford, V. Greenway, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Penrhyn, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hacking, L. Rankeillour, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hailes, L. Redesdale, L.
Burton, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Rothermere, V.
Carrington, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Lv.
Clwyd, L. Hanworth, V. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Colville of Culross, V. Hatherton, L. St. Helens, L.
Conesford, L. Henley, L. St. Just, L.
Courtown, E. Hood, V. St. Oswald, L.
Craigavon, V. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Selsdon, L.
Crathorne, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Sherfield, L.
Daventry, V. Kemsley, V. Skelmersdale, L.
de Clifford, L. Killearn, L. Somers, L.
Denham, L. Latymer, L. Stamp, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Stonehaven, V.
Dundee, E. MacAndrew, L. Strang, L.
Eccles, V. Mancroft, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Effingham, E. Merrivale, L. Strathclyde, L.
Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Milverton, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Exeter, M. Monck, V.
Falkland, V. Monsell, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Ferrers, E. Napier and Ettrick, L. Vivian, L.
Fortescue, E. Northchurch, Bs. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Goschen, V. [Teller.] Nugent of Guildford, L. Windlesham, L.
Gray, L. Oakshott, L. Wrottesley, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 81 [Application to registrar to investigate]:

6.20 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79WWW: Page 63, line 32, at beginning insert (" Subject to the provisions of the following section ")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is, as the words indicate, a paving Amendment to a proposal, which appears as Amendment No. 79BBB, arising out of a discussion we had during the Committee stage when the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, was good enough to undertake to look at the matter again because he had inadvertently given the case away by his own argument. We do not want to make much of that; we recognise that his argument was a telling one (in fact it was the one we were using) and he has been good enough to look into the matter and, I believe, subject to what he advises, provides exactly the same point, only much more neatly, as we would expect from his expert draftsmen. I refer to Amendment No. 79ZZZ. I am moving this Amendment merely to provide an opportunity for confirmation of that fact, and then I shall be glad to withdraw my Amendment in order to give way to his much more neatly worded Amendment.


My Lords, the noble Lord is perfectly right. Amendment No. 79ZZZ will bring the Bill into line with what I thought it meant, and what he wanted it to mean; so I think we will be happy on both sides of the House.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I ask your Lordships' agreement to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79FF: Page 63, line 35, at end insert (" for non-payment of any contribution which under the rules of the organisation he is required to pay, or ")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79FF. The clause at the moment reads: Any person who—

  1. (a) is a member of an organisation to which this section applies, or
  2. (b) was a member of such an organisation and has ceased to be a member of it otherwise than by voluntary resignation,…
shall be eligible to make an application… We think that those persons are properly described as being eligible to make an application, and that one of the persons who is not so eligible, as provided by the Bill, is a person who has ceased to be a member by voluntary resignation. We think there should be a further exclusion; that is to say, a person who has ceased to be a member for nonpayment of any contribution under the rules. In short, if the member resigns he cannot complain. If he does not pay his dues he cannot complain. If he pays his dues and continues to be a member, and satisfies the other conditions, he can complain. We think that that is a sensible way of organising matters, and I therefore beg to move the Amendment.


My Lords, we are really almost back on to a point that we have already discussed this evening. I agree that it is undesirable to give a perpetual right of complaint to former members who have let their membership lapse because they have failed to pay, or deliberately withheld, contributions. The difficulty with this Amendment—as with the previous one—is that it would exclude not only those people, but also those whose membership lapsed through no fault of their own. I quoted before the case of Edwards v. SOGAT. If I may remind your Lordships of the circumstances there, Mr. Edwards was deprived of membership because, unknown to himself, he had fallen into arrears following the failure of his branch secretary to forward to the employer a form authorising the deduction of union subscriptions from his wages. Fortunately such cases rarely occur, but it would be unsatisfactory if another Mr. Edwards was prevented from complaining to the Registrar and had instead to seek redress in the courts. It is for this reason alone that I cannot recommend your Lordships to accept the Amendment.

If, however, the noble Lord looks at the next two Amendments in my name, to this clause and to Clause 82, he will find that these go a long way towards meeting his criticism of the defect of this subsection. Their combined effect, if accepted, will be to restrict the right of complaint to an action taken against the complainant, whereas at present any person eligible under subsection (1) of Clause 81 can complain against any breach of rules or guiding principles. Taken together, with the four-week time limit imposed by subsection (2) of Clause 82, these will restrict severely, but appropriately, the right of complaint of ex-members. I hope that the noble Lord will agree not to press this Amendment.


My Lords, there is not a tremendous issue between us, and I agree with what the noble Lord has said about the other aspect, that the member should be an interested member before he starts complaining. But I am in a little difficulty because I did not think that the case of Edwards v. SOGAT presented a problem any longer. Although I cannot refer to the part at the present moment, I thought there was a provision in the Bill already which made it clear that when a member has paid by deduction, even if the intermediate party who was responsible for passing the payment on had failed to do so, or there had been a delay in the post, or something like that, the payment still counted as having been paid. I thought that was already provided for. If that is the case, then there is no application of Edwards v. SOGAT to my Amendment, because my Amendment deals with a person who has not paid, not with a person who has been erroneously thought not to have paid because there was a slip between the payment and the receipt by the secretary or accountant of the union.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he thinks it matters very much if a man is thrown out of a union in a case like this if the cause is alleged non-payment, although he has really paid? Does he think it matters very much what he is thrown out for? He ought in either case to have the right to come back if there is justification.


My Lords, the noble Lord has made two speeches: the first confused me; the second added to the confusion. Let me start all over again. This Amendment refers to a member who has not paid, not to a member who was alleged not to have paid. If he is erroneously alleged not to have paid through some slip-up in the post, or by an official, or by the cashier of the company which deducts the payment, then it does not count. I am dealing only with a man who has not paid and who knows he has not paid, and about whom there is no dispute as to the facts that he has not paid. All I am saying is that a person who has paid should have the right to complain. A person who is a member should have the right to complain, subject to these other provisions. But a person who is not a member—the Government say—who resigned voluntarily, should not have the right to complain. Absolutely right. I am also saying that a person who carried out the act which is the normal method of resigning voluntarily—namely, not paying the subscription—also ought not to complain. If he wants to complain he should have paid. If he has paid up, well and good; if he has not paid up, then that is the normal method of resigning voluntarily and he should not be one of the complainants. I hope, therefore, if I have now made the position clear, that the Government will depart from their previous view, which was clearly based on a misapprehension of what the Amendment intended, and will either accept the Amendment or say that they can accept it in some more polished wording.


My Lords, I do not wish to complicate the matter any further, because there is already a good deal of confusion about it, but the Amendment provides for non-payment of any contribution, not necessarily the ordinary, normal trade union contribution within the normal rules of the union, whichever union it may be. But from time to time unions require—the executives decide and it is accepted generally by the members in general—to have a levy in addition to the ordinary trade union contribution. A member may resign voluntarily because he objects to paying this levy, or he may refuse to pay the levy yet still claim to be a member. Surely in that situation—if he has not acted in accordance with the rules of the union—he has no right to complain. The union rules may provide, without specifying any particular sum by way of levy, that a levy can be imposed. What would be the situation in such a case? Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, could explain what would be the situation if a man refused to pay an additional contribution, apart from the normal contribution, by way of a levy not specifically provided for in the rules although the rules provide that the executive may decide to impose a levy at some time or other.


My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, misunderstood what was said by my noble friend, as I understood him. The case my noble friend quoted would result in the member's not having paid; that would be the result of the non-forwarding of the document instructing that the deduction should be made. In the case cited it would result in non-payment within the meaning of this clause.


But of course, my Lords; I am not disputing that for one moment. The noble Lord is right, as he always is. All I am saying is that I thought there was a provision in the Bill which specifically said, in effect, that, notwithstanding Edwards v. SOGAT, or whatever the case is called, anybody who has paid, even if the payment has not reached the union, shall be regarded as having paid.


But he would not have paid, my Lords; that is the point.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

6.34 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 97ZZZ: Page 64, line 11, after (" taken ") insert (" against him ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the Amendment to which I have already referred and which meets the point of the last Amendment but one. It adds a condition to the grounds for complaint which must be satisfied; that the action complained of, being a breach of the rules or guiding principles, has been taken against the complainant. The new emphasis is that the complainant must be the injured party. It might be convenient for your Lordships if we considered at the same time the Amendment to Clause 82, page 64, line 32, at end to insert: and that the application is made on grounds falling within subsection (3) of that section ". This is tied up with the same matter. On this Amendment during the Committee debate, noble Lords opposite pointed out that, as drafted, the provisions gave very wide access indeed to the complaints procedure. Ex-members of a trade union would retain a perpetual right of complaint to the Registrar against any breach of rules or guiding principles by the organisation, whether or not they were affected. Clearly this could lead to serious abuse by malcontents and cause great inconvenience for the organisations concerned and for the Registrar. This Amendment will have the effect of excluding extraneous parties. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I rise to thank the noble Lord once more for meeting our point of view on this, and for narrowing the grounds for intervention as we suggested on the other Amendment which he discussed at the same time.

Clause 82 [Action by registrar on application under s. 8I]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79AAAA, to which I have just spoken.

Amendment moved— Page 64, line 32, at end insert (" and that the application is made on grounds falling within subsection (3) of that section ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79GG. Your Lordships are word perfect on every clause in this Bill and will therefore recollect that in these circumstances it is right that the Registrar"should"defer consideration, not that he"might"defer consideration.

Amendment moved— Page 65, line 12, leave out (" may ") and insert (" shall ").—(Lord Diamond.)


My Lords, because throughout this Bill great emphasis is placed on the settlement of disputes without need to resort to the statutory machinery, we are happy to accept this Amendment.


My Lords, I am happy to repeat my gratitude on this part of the Bill.

Clause 83 [Investigation initiated by registrar]:

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79HH: Page 65, line 44, after (" persistent ") insert (" and substantial ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79HH. Clause 83 deals with investigations initiated by the Registrar, and provides that where the Registrar has reason to suspect that there has been a serious breach, or have been persistent breaches, of its rules ", then he shall investigate the matter. The Amendment relates to the question of persistent breaches of rules, and seeks to add the words"and substantial"so that in order for an investigation to be permitted the breach must be both persistent and substantial. The point is a simple one. One does not want investigations into trivial matters to be triggered off too readily. It can be a minor breach for which it is not worth setting up the whole machinery of investigation. There can be a very minor breach which is persisted in. It still does not matter. The important thing is that it should be a substantial breach as well as a persistent breach. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am afraid we cannot accept this Amendment, although I do not want to give the impression that there is much difference of principle between ourselves and noble Lords opposite. Noble Lords will remember that we debated this same point during the Committee stage, and my noble friend Lord Belstead undertook that the Government would look at it again. We have done so, and we have concluded that the present drafting of subsection (1) satisfactorily achieves what we intended to achieve.

Noble Lords have argued that in any organisation, however well run, there will inevitably be minor rules which are sometimes disregarded. But where there is a series of these persistent but minor breaches of rules, noble Lords opposite have pointed out that the Registrar will be bound by subsection (1) as it stands, to investigate the matter.

Perhaps I may first explain why we do not expect any difficulties or inconvenience on this score under the clause as it stands. Then I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to certain undesirable consequences of the Amendment. The fear of noble Lords opposite is that a good deal of unnecessary fuss and formality will take place on a matter of no consequence, and that there will be an unnecessary interference with the running of trade unions. But this is unlikely, on three grounds: the first is that the Registrar has to have reason to suspect persistent breaches of rules; in practice, he will rely on correspondence from union members, on his own close knowledge of registered organisations and on a variety of other sources of information. But where the breaches are so minor as not to worry or harm any member they are not likely to come to the Registrar's attention, and the question of investigation will therefore not arise.

Second, the breaches have got to be persistent. This word imports a degree of discretion, since it is left to the Registrar to decide when a breach has been committed often enough to fall into the"persistent"category. Third, let us suppose that the Registrar investigates breaches of a minor nature and of little or no consequence. Even in such a case his investigation need not be an affair of any great formality or weight, or anything even approaching a semi-judicial process. The Registrar will have to satisfy himself that the matter has been cleared up and that the breaches are unlikely to recur; but that can be done quite informally, perhaps by correspondence. Much will depend upon relations between the Registrar and the trade union or the employers' association, but where the matter is of no consequence the investigation may be correspondingly brief. We feel that subsection (1) would not require the full scale or frequent investigation of minor matters which the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, seems to envisage.

I think I should add that even if we wished to amend the clause the present Amendment would not be a satisfactory way of doing so. One reason is the use of the word"substantial ". Although the word has a clear enough meaning to the layman, its previous use in Statutes has given rise to considerable litigation and judicial interpretation. We do not wish to open up the possibility of wrangling of that kind, especially since the similar word"serious"is used in the previous line. But whatever the exact meaning of"substantial ", if the Registrar was in doubt about his power to investigate it would of course be difficult in some cases to determine without investigation whether a breach was substantial or not.

What is perhaps more important, the Amendment would probably be interpreted to mean that each of the persistent breaches must be substantial. The Registrar could therefore not investigate a series of breaches where one of them might be relatively unimportant in isola- tion but where their total effect was substantial. There might, for example, be a series of incidents in which branch officials had independently taken action for which union rules required them to seek approval from a more senior official—for example, in calling an overtime ban. Each incident might be less than substantial in its importance, but if they continued unchecked the Registrar might consider it a symptom of a deeper problem. He would need to investigate in order to establish whether the union was operating in the way its rules intended, or whether some branches were effectively outside the control of the union as a whole. In these circumstances, we do not wish to put in any peril or to hamper the Registrar's power to investigate, and this is a further reason why we cannot accept this Amendment. I hope I have given a fairly full explanation. I thought I ought to do so because we did undertake to investigate the position.


My Lords, the noble Lord has clearly given this matter careful thought in accordance with his undertaking, and as he said at the start there is not a great deal of difference between us. My anxiety was the same as his, that these investigations, with a good deal of formality, should not be triggered off too lightly. The noble Lord has said a great deal which may be helpful to those who find themselves faced with what they consider to be an unnecessarily formal approach to a minor matter, and no doubt the Registrar would feel it appropriate to have some regard to the spirit in which the noble Lord has spoken. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, I would point out that if the next Amendment, 79JJ is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 79KK.

6.49 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79JJ: Page 66, line 4, leave out from (" Act ") to end of line 6.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are always grateful for the assistance which comes from the Woolsack. I was going to move this Amendment—and indeed I now do so—and I was hoping that it might be convenient for your Lordships to discuss Amendment No. 79KK at the same time. These are, in fact, alternative methods of meeting the same problem that we have already discussed. I move the Amendment because on a previous occasion the Government were good enough to say that they would give it consideration and—one never knows!—they may have given it consideration and may have something helpful and accommodating to say. In those circumstances, I beg to move Amendment 79JJ, and would say to the Government that if they prefer 79KK I will withdraw the first Amendment and move the second.


My Lords, I do not think I can say much more than I said on Amendment 79HH. The point really seems to be a similar one and I do not think it would be worth developing at any length. I am afraid that we cannot accept this Amendment.


My Lords, I understand that. I moved the Amendment because, as I said, the noble Lord had promised to give it consideration, it is broadly the same point. But I seek your Lordships' permission to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 79BBBB: Page 66, line 23, leave out (" and ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a paving Amendment. This and Amendments Nos. 79CCCC and 79DDDD are necessary consequential Amendments following on the acceptance of Amendment No. 79LL in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, to leave out paragraph (b) on page 66, line 24.


My Lords, I accept this Amendment. When Amendments are accepted your Lordships may think that they are not important, but indeed this one is. This is an acceptance by the Government in a slightly tidier form of the Amendment in my name, Amendment No. 79LL, to leave out paragraph (b)in a most important subsection. We made this point in Committee and I will not repeat it now. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, both for accepting our Amendment and for using the good offices of the Government draftsmen to tidy up the wording a little.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 79LL.

Amendment moved— Page 66, line 24, leave out paragraph (b).—(Lord Diamond.)


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 66, line 31, leave out (" paragraph (a) of ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


My Lords, this Amendment again is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 66, line 34, leave out (" paragraph ") and insert (" subsection ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79MM. Page 66, line 34, leave out (" considers ") and insert (" is satisfied that ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this occurs in subsection (4) of the clause, which provides that where the Registrar gives notice about the investigation we have been discussing but is unable to secure such action or undertaking as is mentioned in the Bill and considers that in default it would be appropriate for him to present a complaint to the Industrial Court, it is open to him to do so. In other words, this is a subsection dealing with the discretion of the Registrar to present a complaint to the Industrial Court. As the Bill is worded, he can present the complaint if he considers that it would be appropriate. We think it is not adequate that the Industrial Court should be invoked merely on his consideration. We should much prefer it to be on his satisfaction. Therefore we propose to strengthen the clause by removing the word"considers"and inserting the words"is satisfied that."


My Lords, I do not think that this will have a world-shaking effect, but it may have the effect of addressing the Registrar's mind to the question in a more positive manner and for that reason I invite your Lordships to accept the Amendment.


I think that is a worthwhile effort. I hope that the noble Lord will not think me ungenerous if I say that if it were likely to have a world-shattering effect it would be a bit odd for the Government to accept it.

6.56 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 79NN: Page 66, line 35, leave out (" it would be an appropriate case ") and insert (" the only way of achieving either or both of the purposes described in the said paragraph (a) is)".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment deals with the same subsection. At the moment the Bill provides that where the Registrar is satisfied that it would be an appropriate case he presents the case to the Industrial Court. Again to strengthen the clause still further and not to trouble the Industrial Court except in cases of real necessity, the Amendment proposes these words, which would mean that the Registrar would present a complaint to the Industrial Court only if he were satisfied that it was the only way of achieving either or both of the purposes described in paragraph (a). Paragraph (a) deals with securing a remedy to, or mitigating the consequences of, breaches in the rules.

The Government have said time and again that reference to the Industrial Court should be only a long-stop and that first one should negotiate, consult and try to deal with the matter in a civilised way. Only if no progress is made on those lines should the Registrar be armed with these powers. We do not think that this is the way to deal with the matter generally. It should he a long-stop and here is an Amendment to make it a very long stop. I hope this will be acceptable to the Government.


My Lords, I think that what is immediately apparent is that what Clause 83 provides is in the nature of a reserve power which, almost by definition, will be invoked rarely. I accept that the investigation may, of course, reveal no breaches but where it does I expect that the organisation will almost invariably agree to put the matter right. What we are possibly left with is a very small volume of cases in which the organisation refuses to take action or to give an undertaking to remedy a serious or persistent breach of rules or guiding principles.

As the Registrar has no power of enforcement, he must have means of refering such cases to the N.I.R.C. and that is the purpose of subsection (4), together with Clause 104. Once this point has been arrived at, I think that quite a strong argument can be made for requiring all cases to be referred to the Court. However, this will be a very serious step and we think it is in an area in which the Registrar should have some discretion. For example, it may be that the organisation has given an undertaking in terms that, while not completely satisfying the Registrar, are such that he would not feel justified in asking the Court to issue a mandatory order.

What this Amendment seeks to do is to remove that discretion—which to my mind can work only to the advantage of registered organisations—and instead to restrict complaint to those cases which cannot be resolved in any other way. Although the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in moving the Amendment is clearly to restrict reference by the Registrar to essential cases, in practice I think that our formula will be to the greater advantage of organisations. The Registrar's investigation may, for example, reveal quite minor breaches of rules but, if the organisation refused to put the matter right and no other remedy were possible, under the terms of the Amendment reference to the Court would be mandatory. As subsection (4) stands, the Registrar would have discretion not to present a complaint.

I think there is not a great deal between us on this point; it is a very narrow one. We are both seeking to avoid unnecessary references to the Court. On balance, I think this is best achieved by giving the Registrar discretion which in these circumstances can operate only to the advantage of organisations rather than by narrowly defining the conditions for reference, which may have the opposite effect to that intended. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to agree with me and to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. The noble Lord has obviously given the matter great consideration. Here again, there is not a great deal between us, and I recognise that my Amendment might not give quite as much discretion to the Registrar as the way the Bill is drafted. Therefore, there is a great deal to be said for the noble Lord's point of view. I still think that it is a pity to refer to the Industrial Court unnecessarily but I do not think that it is a matter that I should wish to press. The Government have latterly been quite accommodating in the number of Amendments which have been accepted. Although there is not a great deal between us, I think it would be extremely timely if we were to devote our attention to other matters. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, there appears to be a natural break, and I hope that it will be convenient for the House to postpone consideration of this Report for an hour. I beg to move that the considerations on Report of this Bill be adjourned to enable the consideration of the Licensing (Abolition of State Management) Bill in Committee.