HL Deb 18 May 1971 vol 319 cc326-444

8.18 p.m.

House again in Committee


Amendment No. 243: The Lord Drumalbyn.


I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper, to leave out clause—


Are we not rather jumping the gun here? I think we divided on Clause 42. We now have to discuss Clause 43.

Clause 43 [Application to Industrial Court for reference as to recognition of sole bargaining Agent.]:


Clause 43: That the clause stand part of the Bill? The Lord Champion.

On Question, Whether Clause 43 shall stand part of the Bill?

LORD CHAMPION: This.clause—


I think it should go on the Record that the Lord Chairman did actually put to us at the end of the debate before we adjourned, That Clause 43 stand part of the Bill? That is therefore, presumably—I thought it was a mistake at the time—what we voted on, because that is what he put to us.


Having regard to that fact, clearly we cannot now discuss Clause 43, which is what I had proposed to do. I understood that immediately after the Division on Clause 42 we were going, without further ado, to the Fire Precautions Bill. Clearly that did not happen. I understand that a decision has already been taken on Clause 43, and therefore we must pass to Clause 44.


As a matter of record, it was I who moved the Motion, That the House do now resume, and I moved it immediately after the Division had been announced.


All I can say about that is that I thought the understanding was clear; that we should have the Division, then immediately resume the House, and after that—


That is exactly what happened. I moved the Motion, That the House do now resume, immediately after the Division was announced.


I may say that I listened with slight shock, and what happened was that when we had finished discussing Clause 42 the Lord Chairman put the question, That Clause 43 stand part. That obviously was a slip of the tongue. I do not know what the effect of it is, but that is what happened. Therefore, according to him, we voted on Clause 43 immediately after discussing Clause 42.


I think I speak now probably with the approval of the Committee. If there was simply a slip of the tongue, then the Committee know what happened and we can treat it as a slip. I think the effective question now before the Committee is whether Clause 43 shall stand part of the Bill.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and other noble Lords for having cleared up that slight misunderstanding. These things will happen in the best regulated families. They occasionally happen here; we straighten them out, and that is how it should be.

Clause 43 is the first of the clauses designed to implement the Government's decision to import into our industrial relations the conception of the United States of America of the recognition of one trade union or a joint negotiating panel as the only union or panel to conduct negotiations on behalf of the workers in a given industry. On the principle, we expressed our doubts about this importation on Clause 42. Here we should like to be satisfied on some of the wording of the clause, and some of the things said about it when it was being discussed in the other place on Report.

I want to be clear about subsection (2), in which we are told who may make an application to the Court for recognition as a sole bargaining agent. Subsection (2)(a), tell us that this applies to " one or more trade unions ". Am I to understand by that that only a registered trade union will be able to make such an appli- cation, and that any other organisation would be barred? I wonder about this, because when discussing the possibility of the Secretary of State making an application and having to consult before doing so the Solicitor General said: … it is at least right for the Secretary of State, before he makes a reference, to consult any worker's organisation, even a company union, because it is on the ground representing workers and it is entitled to have its members taken into account like an unregistered organisation." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons 17/3/71, col. 1547.] If a company union is entitled to have its views taken into account, in addition to an unregistered organisation, why is it apparently barred from taking an initiative under subsection (1)? I have no room for company unions, and I am not here supporting what the Solicitor General said about them in this context. But I want to clear up this matter of the relationship of the unregistered organisation of workers.

It is another instance of trying to force trade unions into becoming registered trade unions. I must add here that on reading what the Solicitor General said at various points of the discussion on this Bill, I find it quite confusing, because, further to the point about the company union, he said at column 1550: The C.I.R. has to be satisfied that the organisation, or if it is a joint negotiating panel every organisation represented on it, is an independent organisation of workers". This apparently refers to Clause 46(4). I wonder what the Solicitor General was getting at. First, the company union is to be consulted by the Secretary of State; then, to include such a body on a negotiating panel the C.I.R. has to satisfy itself that it is an independent organisation of workers. What a muddle the whole thing is as between company union, organisation of workers and trade union. The whole business of the organisation of workers and the registered trade union itself, without introducing the company union, is such a muddle that the Government really ought to clear it up by a series of Amendments eliminating the distinction they are trying to make throughout the Bill between the unregistered trade union and the trade union.

If I may point out one of the ambiguities caused by the distinction, under Clause 42(c) an unregistered organisation of workers can be a sole bargaining agent; that is to say, can have, in relation to a bargaining unit, negotiating rights to the exclusion of all other organisations. An employer can apply to the Court to refer to the Commission the question whether or not a registered organisation of workers should be recognised as the sole bargaining agent for a given unit, and provided it is an independent organisation of workers, the C.I.R. may make an order that it should be so recognised. But, as I understand it, under Clause 48 the Court cannot make a binding order for recognition unless the organisation is a registered union, and the order in that case remains binding only for as long as it is so registered. It surely is incomprehensible why an unregistered workers' association should not be able to set the procedure in motion, but can be brought into the procedure at a later stage.

These are points which I regard as of some importance. The last point that I wish to make about this clause and what lies behind it is that it appears to me to be a breakaway unions' charter. It is an invitation to disciplined groups to make a mockery of sensible, responsible collective bargaining. This whole business is really in a muddle, and if it cannot be cleared up to-day (clearly it cannot be, because it will necessitate Amendments to a number of clauses). then I hope that between now and the Report stage the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will look at what I have said, and, if possible, come up with Amendments which will put the whole matter right, and so ensure that the Bill, so far as it is possible, will be in a decent condition when finally we get to the end of it.

8.30 p.m.


The noble Lord has put to me a number of questions which I will attempt to answer. I think his main question related to the position of the unregistered worker in relation to this procedure. I shall try to explain the position to the noble Lord. He asked whether this was another example of trying to force organisations of workers to become trade unions. He quoted what the Solicitor General said: … it is at least right for the Secretary of State, before he makes a reference, to consult any workers' organisation, even a company union …". This, of course, is so. I think the difficulty that the noble Lord has is simply this, that although the application in the first place can be made only by a trade union, the C.I.R. may recommend that an organisation of workers should be either the sole bargaining agent or should be a member of the joint negotiating panel which would act as the sole bargaining agent. As I tried to explain, perhaps unsuccessfully, before dinner, it is thought right, however, that before the application is made for a binding order on the employer that organisation of workers recommended by the C.I.R. as the sole bargaining agent should, within the next six months, make application to become a trade union.

This makes clear the distinction between those who are trying to work in accordance with the guiding principles that are laid down, and to have rules as laid down in the Schedule, and the organisation of workers which is not prepared to make application for registration, whether or not it complies with those rules. We think that this is right, that the special privileges.thould be enjoyed only by the registered trade union; and it is really a very special privilege to apply to the Court to have an order made in your favour which is going to be binding on the employer. I do not think there is any muddle here at all; I think it is quite clear, and I hope the noble Lord will accept it.

As for the allegation that this is a breakaway union's charter, I can only say this. What this procedure provides for is that any union or group of unions can make application to the Court to be recognised as a sole bargaining agent for a bargaining unit which they themselves specify in the application. Noble Lords will see that it is open then to the C.I.R., in investigating this, to widen the scope of the application, if it thinks fit, and in such a case it will make a report to this effect. There will be an opportunity for the Industrial Court to consider this, and in due course the Industrial Court will decide whether or not the scope should be so widened. But how this can possibly enable a breakaway union to be encouraged in any way I fail to see.

It is, of course, true that once a bargaining agent has been set up—as we shall see when we come to it—it is possible, where there is a real and substantial undercurrent of discontent, for an application to be made for recognition to be withdrawn from the bargaining agent. But I cannot see that this is an encouragement to a breakaway union, because what it is doing is simply to apply the reverse side of the proposition that recognition in cases of this sort is going to depend upon the wishes of the majority, and if the majority no longer want that recognition to apply, and are dissatisfied with the conduct of the union, then the recognition can be withdrawn. This is just the reverse side of the same coin. I really cannot see how this could possibly be regarded as a charter for breakaway unions. I hope I have answered the noble Lord's questions. I do not suppose I have answered them entirely to his satisfaction, but at least I hope I have succeeded in explaining what the clause provides.


The noble Lord's remark that he has not explained it to my complete satisfaction or indeed understanding, I completely accept. This is perhaps not due to him, but partly due to me and partly to the fact that the whole Bill is in a muddle, and particularly this clause and the related clauses. When I was talking about a breakaway union, what I was suggesting was that if an unregistered union is in a certain position in relation to an industry it would break away from the union, not from the panel, not from the recognition as the sole bargaining agent or anything of that sort: a union is in existence, it is normally conducting negotiations with an employer, a number of people decide to break away to form a union, they then manage to get it registered by going to the registrar, they would then be in a position to start a procedure under this clause. I wondered if I had it right. If not, I should be grateful to the noble Lord if he would put it right.


This could happen, and of course it can happen now. It is perfectly possible for a body to break away and form a separate union; they may be in membership of another union at the same time, but it is perfectly possible for them to break away and form a separate union. If in such a case the members who are dissatisfied with the union then form a new union, it is quite true that that body, provided that it is then registered with the registrar, can make application under this clause. But I do not see that the position is very different from what it is now. A union can build up—and indeed in certain circumstances unions do build up, in spite of the Bridlington principles—its strength against the union that is in possession, so to speak.

That can happen, and what this provision is aimed at is to ensure that there will be one sole bargaining agent recognised. But if that bargaining agent loses the confidence of those whom it represents, then in such a case, of course, it may be that another union may be able to step in, have the recognition withdrawn, and itself become recognised. I would not have thought that this would happen very often, because I do not really believe the unions are likely very often to lose the confidence of their members to that extent. But where it does happen it can only be because the union that is recognised as sole bargaining agent has lost the confidence of its members, and it is difficult on any democratic principle to see why, in that case, the kind of situation the noble Lord has envisaged should not arise.


May I ask the noble Lord a question about what he has just said? If a majority decide to go to another union, what is to be the measuring rod of a majority—a show of hands, or the collecting of voices There is no mention in this clause. Could the noble Lord enlighten the Committee about this?


An application can be made to the Industrial Court for a ballot for the recognition of the sole bargaining agent under Clause 47, and an application with a view to withdrawal of recognition can be made under Clause 49. In that case, under subsection (3)(b), the court has to be satisfied that … not less than two-fifths of the employees for the time being comprised in the bargaining unit have signified in writing their concurrence in the application. That is where there is already a statutory sole bargaining agent. It is another thing where no order exists; under subsection (2) the requirement is one-fifth of the employees. This is the measure of initial support that has to be given to make an application. It does not follow that this is the strength of the union making the application. It is simply the number of signatures that have to be obtained in support of an application.


The noble Lord said that there would be little difference after this Bill is passed from what the position is now vis-à-vis a breakaway union, or the possibility of one. I think there would be a very great difference. If we pass this Bill, a sole bargaining agent will be created as a result of an Act of Parliament, and certain things will flow from that. Things could be done by organised workers which might be deemed unfair industrial practices, leading in turn to penalties. These are part of the difficulties I see. I cannot accept that there will be very little difference, or no difference, between the position to-day and the position after the Bill becomes an Act, and this procedure is in force. I was going to suggest to the Committee that we should divide upon this but, having regard to the explanation the noble Lord has given, and to the fact that it is almost impossible to grasp all the implications of what he said in the few minutes available to us on this clause, I propose not to divide the Committee, but I shall study deeply what has been said during the time between now and Report Stage.


I hope my noble friend will forgive me intervening, but I posed a number of questions about this situation in a previous debate and I still hold to the view I expressed at that time, that this clause is one of the most devastating in the Bill in relation to the legislative approach to the trade unions. I pose these questions to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. Supposing there is a factory with 2,000 people employed, and the negotiating bodies recognised by the employers are two distinct unions. Because of some happening—say, they do not like the leadership appointed to office—a number of the workpeople wish to form their own union, and they go through this procedure with the object of starting another union. When I was at the Post Office, we had no fewer than 21 unions, in certain cases with around 150 members. There is nothing whatever in the Bill to say what shall be the mini- mum, or even the maximum, membership of a union which would enable it to be recognised for negotiating purposes. We could finish up in that factory with five, six or seven negotiating bodies, where at present there are two unions carrying out the negotiations.

The noble Lord and other members of the Government have been propagating for a long time the view that there are far too many trade unions in this country. The Trades Union Congress has endeavoured to bring unions together to amalgamate, and many unions have come together as a result of their efforts. One of the great dangers in the Bill is the lack of conciliation machinery operating in such a way that it would be effective in stopping the setting up of such new bodies. I would take a lot of convincing that this clause will not cause more trouble than ever within the trade unions if it is allowed to go through. The noble Lord and his colleagues say that they want to help the unions, to make them stronger, to make them more viable and so on, but I see danger in what could happen here. My noble friend on my left knows what happened when the Spencer Union started up against the Miners' Union. We will have a repetition of that. It will happen in all kinds of industry, in the shipyards, in (engineering works, and in factories. I am giving noble Lords opposite and the Government this warning. That is what will ultimately happen if this clause goes through.

8.50 p.m.


I really do not think I should allow those observations to pass without attempting to make some answer to them because, if may say so, I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Slater, has really understood what this group of clauses is all about. The questions that have to be put under Clause 43 are, whether there should be a separate bargaining unit as defined in Clause 42 and, if so, should here be a sole bargaining agent for that unit? In one plant there may be two or more, or there may be only one bargaining unit; there may be a bargaining unit for a group of associated plants, or several bargaining units for a group of plants. The purpose behind this is to make certain that there is a clearly defined sole bargaining agent for particular descriptions of employees recognised by the employer.

The question that was put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, was, what happens if somebody else starts up another union catering for the same descriptions of workers? There is nothing to prevent a new union being set up under the Bill, any more than there would be at the present time; but it does not follow that because a new union is set up it will be recognised by the employer. The question that was put in fact went rather further, and before I leave that I should say that under the Bill it is not necessary to have a ballot to set up a new union. I think the noble Lord, Lord Slater, rather misunderstood that point.

The question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, was quite a different one; namely, if such a new union were registered it could then make application under Clause 49 for the withdrawal of recognition of the union that is at present recognised, and presumably subsequently obtain its own recognition. This is a simple question and I think it has a perfectly simple answer that indeed I thought I had given, but I hope I have succeeded in making the matter rather clearer to the noble Lord. The purpose of these provisions is to have orderly bargaining procedures, clear recognition by an employer of the descriptions of workers forming the bargaining unit, with one union or a joint panel of unions representing the workers in that bargaining unit.

I hope I have made this clear. There could be any number of separate unions in a joint negotiating panel. The noble Lord suggested six or seven; there might be six or seven separate unions but there would be only one bargaining agent recognised, which in that case would be a joint negotiating panel.

8.54 p.m.


I have the highest regard for the noble Lord and for his former association over the years as a Parliamentarian and as a Minister in various Governments. But I must repeat what I have already said. I cannot get this out of my system in regard to labour relations. Some of us have lived with this problem all our lives and we know what can happen. The human element is in operation all the time, and more so now because younger people are coming into industry and are taking a different view of the situation. It will need more speeches than the noble Lord has delivered to give answers to the questions that have been posed by my noble friend Lord Champion, with his long experience in the trade union world. What the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said will not convince me in the face of what I have already stated. I know what will happen. Despite the smile on the face of the noble Lord I reiterate that it will happen.

May I just say, in conclusion, that I have given my experience in regard to the 21 unions inside the Post Office when it was under Ministerial responsibility. At that time trying to get these organisations together, to work under the operation of one unit or two units or three units for negotiations, caused more trouble than anything else. This Bill will cause more trouble, and it will leave the door wide open for people who are engaged in some types of industry to take a line of approach which can be detrimental not only to The employers of the labour but to all the people engaged within that type of industry.

8.58 p.m.


I am afraid this discussion all stems from the Government's proposals in these clauses to interfere with what is written into the agreement. As my noble friend Lord Champion has said, this has been responsible for resolving, over 30 years, more than a thousand inter-union disputes. That is a magnificent record. It is a machinery which the unions have created for themselves, to settle disputes between one union and another about membership, about poaching members, and so on; and for this the Government have devised an elaborate machinery for compelling—instead of agreements being reached voluntarily according to the written formula, the unions will be compelled to arrive at conclusions, and the end result will not be any better.

Here we have this Clause 44, which is just part of the proposed machinery; again, it will not be any better. My noble friend Lord Champion, it seemed, was disposed to accept what the Government said in this matter; but judged by the experience of my noble friend Lord Slater, and also what is within the knowledge of all of us on this side of the Committee, I am convinced that this clause is, as it were, especially designed to foment and create trouble. It will cause a great deal of trouble. It may weaken some unions; it may destroy what they have painfully built up over the years. If that is the Government's object it is an unworthy one and a wrong one; but in any case it is not in the interests of the country as a whole. Of course I know that when the bells ring the troops will muster and a hundred-odd people will come in and again we on this side will he demolished. That does not matter. I think we should stand up for what we think—no, indeed, for what we know is right. I shall oppose the Government on this clause.

9.0 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is a very intelligent man. I really do not think that he can so have misunderstood these provisions as he has just indicated. We are primarily concerned in these provisions with the case where an employer will not recognise a particular union, or perhaps any union at all, as having negotiating rights. That is the primary case with which we are concerned, and the Bill will ultimately give powers to compel that employer to recognise a union as appropriate sole bargaining agent for the bargaining unit.

The second case is where there is a dispute between unions. It may well be that the Bridlington arrangements can settle this. I hope they can. The Bill is not going to stop that or interfere with it in any way at all. What is more, at every stage there has to be conciliation. The parties have to have attempted conciliation, will have to notify the Secretary of State before they can make an application, and the Secretary of State attempts conciliation at that stage. The dispute goes to the The N.I.R.C. can then again provide opportunities for conciliation. It may be that as a result of this conciliation the employer will concede the sole bargaining rights, the recognition of negotiating rights voluntarily, and will enter a voluntary agreement. It is only in the extreme case where this result cannot be achieved, that an application can be made by one or more trade unions, by the employer himself, by the employer jointly with the trade unions, or by the Secretary of State. It is only in the last resort that this machinery is put into operation.

I hope the noble Lords will realise that the primary object of these provisions is to ensure that there exists a bargaining relationship between the employer and the unions. That is the primary objective of these provisions. In many cases bargaining relationships do not exist just now; in many cases they are hampered by inter-union rivalry. The object of these provisions is to overcome these two disadvantages. I think perhaps I have explained the matter more clearly than I did before.


I rise only to correct something the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said. I do not accept this clause. That does not mean that I am prepared at this stage to advise the Committee to divide. I previously said the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, had given an explanation which took a lot of studying; it still does by his last remarks. It is an extremely difficult matter, and I think it is right that we should study it, having regard to the fact that we still have more stages on the Bill when we could introduce Amendments. Having said that (and I hope my noble friend is under no misapprehension of where I stand in relation to this clause) I still hope we shall be able to pass this clause without a Division.

Clause 43 agreed to.

Clause 44 [Reference to Commission on application under section 43.]

9.4 p.m.


I will now proceed to move what erroneously I was about to move before.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 243. Leave out Clause 44 and insert the following new clause—

Reference to Commission on application under s. 43.

"44.—(1) If on an application under section 43 of this Act the Industrial Court is satisfied—

  1. (a) that it is not precluded b3 section 51(5) of this Act from entertaining the application;
  2. 339
  3. (b) that the employer or employers to whom the application relates, and the organisations of workers appearing to the Court to have, or to be seeking, negotiating rights in respect of the whole or part of the specified group of employees, have endeavoured to settle the questions proposed to be referred to the Commission and, for that purpose, have made adequate use of any facilities for conciliation available to them, whether in pursuance of section 43(4) of this Act or otherwise; and
  4. (c) that reference of those questions to the Commission is necessary with a view to promoting a satisfactory and lasting settlement of them,

the Industrial Court, subject to the next following subsection, shall refer those questions to the Commission.

(2) The Industrial Court shall not be required to refer any questions under this section to the Commission on an application relating to a group of employees if it appears to the Court that—

  1. (a) a reference under this section relating to that group of employees or relating to a group of employees which in the opinion of the Court does not substantially differ from it, was under consideration by the Commission within the period of two years ending with the date of the application, and
  2. (b) in the circumstances a further reference on that application after so short an interval would not be justified."

The noble Lord said: Perhaps I owe the Committee a little explanation of this. These Amendments are consequential on the restructuring that took place on the Report stage in another place on Clause 43. The Amendments were tabled at that time, but for reasons of which your Lordships are no doubt aware they were not actually moved. The main object of the restructuring of Clause 43 was to make its provisions more flexible and appropriate. In particular, the questions which the have to consider were amended so that they are the same whichever party makes application under that clause, and it was made clear that the C.I.R. would always have to examine both the questions of the bargaining unit and of the bargaining agent.

This last Amendment is particularly important because clearly it would not be sensible for the C.I.R. to examine one question without the other. But this restucturing in another place meant that a number of consequential Amendments to Clauses 44, 45 and 46 were necessary. For instance, your Lordships will notice that there are a number of references in all these clauses to the examination of a question by the C.I.R. All these have to be amended to make it clear that the C.I.R. are always examining more than one question. There are other minor consequential Amendments; for instance, reference to conciliation in Clause 44(1) which needs to include a reference to the Secretary of State's conciliation required under Clause 43(4)(a), a provision which was inserted on the Committee stage in another place. As there were as many as eight such consequential Amendments to Clause 44, we thought it would be more convenient for the Committee to table a new clause embodying those Amendments rather than to set them all out separately.

Subsection (3) of the existing clause is not necessary since the groups of employees, which applicants are claiming should be recognised as a separate bargaining unit (or units) will have to be specified in the application in accordance with subsection (1) of Clause 43. I beg to move.

9.7 p.m.


The doubt I would express here is perhaps a rather small one; namely, as to whether the two-year period mentioned in subsection (2)(a) is a sufficient period to prevent the disrupting, intentionally mischievous applications being made to the Court. The very fact that an application has been made will have an unsettling effect on the bargaining unit previously decided upon on the original application. That is the first point.

Then, on the other hand, it has been put to me by someone very knowledgeable in that type of industry, that there is a doubt as to whether the two-year period is in fact too long and not too short. One reason for objection to the two-year period is that there can be industries and situations—for example, building sites—where the workers would be changing continuously, so that within two years a situation could easily arise where recognition ought to be accorded but is excluded by the two-year exclusion clause —that is subsection (2) of Clause 44. My difficulty here is that a company may be caught between the two ideas of this period. The first idea is that which has been put to me by someone knowledgeable about these things, that two years is not long enough. But it has also been put to me that two years is too long. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would tell us why this period has been decided upon: whether it has been generally agreed to, or whether it occurred anywhere; was it a recommendation made to the Government, or was the period just conjured up somewhere as being the best period that could be devised for putting into the Bill in this new Clause 44?


I think the noble Lord is right in his last supposition. Obviously, to some extent the choice of the period has to be arbitrary and it is just a question of exercising the best judgment one can summon as to what the right period is. If I may say so, the noble Lord has almost made the case for the two-year period—some people think it is too long and others think it is too short. Possibly there are arguments both ways, and therefore we might as well stick to the middle course.


Might it not be possible that it is both too long and too short?


The answer is " Yes " in certain circumstances and we have to make it fit all the circumstances.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. New Clause 44 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Withdrawal of extension of reference under s. 44]:

9.10 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 244: Page 35, line 11, leave out (" question has been referred ") and insert (" reference has been made ").

The noble Lord said: Clauses Amendments Nos. 245, 246 and 247 are consequential on the Amendment which has just been discussed.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. Amendment (No. 245) moved Page, 35. line 15, leave out (" question ") and insert I" questions in issue ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (No. 246) moved— Page 35, line 19, leave out from (" after ") to (" and ") in line 20 and insert (" such a reference has been made ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (No. 247) moved— Page 35, line 22, leave out (" question ") and insert (" questions in issue")—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 247A: Page 35, line 30, at end insert (" in the opinion of the Commission ").

The noble Lord said: This is a small technical Amendment, similar to the one already made to Clause 36. It is conceivable that under Clause 45(2)(6) as at present drafted, the C.I.R.'s proposals to extend Clause 44 reference would be null and void if a party claiming to be affected did not specifically have his attention drawn to the proposal. The purpose of this Amendment is to avoid that danger by making it clear than the obligation is to inform the people it considers would be affected by the propasal. The C.I.R. could clearly be relied on to exercise great care to notify all parties interested, and the matter is likely to come to the attention of all concerned, even if they do not receive notification. This is a very common Amendment in cases of this kind, and I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 248. Page 35, line 33, leave out from (" employer") to end of line 36 and insert (" unless he is an associated employer in relation to the employer or employers' to whom the reference originally related ")

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 248 and 252 are also consequential on the new Clause 44.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 45, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 46 [Report of Commission on reference under s. 44]:


This; Amendment (No. 249) is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 36, line 13, leave out (" a question ") and insert (" any questions, ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 250.

Amendment moved— Page 36, line 15, leave out ((" that question ") and insert (" those questions ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 251.

Amendment moved— Page 36, line 19, leave out (` on that question ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 252.

Amendment moved— Page 36, line 19, leave out (" on that to and ") in line 27 and insert (` comprised in the reference, either as originally made or as extended ").—(Lord Drutnalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 252. Page 36, leave out lines 29 to 34 and insert (" appearing to the Commission to be directly concerned in the questions specified in the reference ")

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to require the Commission on Industrial Relations to send a copy of its report on Clause 46 not only to the recommended bargaining agent; that is to say, recommended in the C.I.R.'s report, but also to any other organisations of workers which appear to the Commission to be directly concerned in the questions considered by the Commission. This seems to the Government to be a sensible and desirable change, and it is in accordance with the C.I.R.'s present practice. For instance, it seems right as a matter of courtesy that any organisation of workers whose claims to recognition were considered in a Clause 46 report should receive a copy of that report, rather than to read about it afterwards in the Press or to purchase a copy themselves. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE EARL OF HALSBURY moved Amendment No. 252A: Page 37, line 1, after (" and ") insert (" professional or other ").

The noble Earl said: In rising to move the Amendment which appears in my name in the Marshalled List, I shall try to be as brief as possible. It is the third of four interlocked Amendments distributed throughout the List, and the first two are associated with my noble friends Lord Platt, Lord Byers, Lord Nelson and others. I withdrew the first Amendment and did not put the second, by agreement with my noble friends, following an extended discussion—I thought, a very high quality discussion—of the principles involved in the protection of the professional man. I believed, as I said when asking your Lordships' leave to withdraw the first of these Amendments, that the sympathy of the whole Committee was on the side of what I was trying to do, but the means of doing it were agreed to be difficult within the structure of the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, himself expressed sympathy and promised sympathetic consideration for this Amendment, or something like it —which was then well forward of the point which we had reached. He did not commit himself to a precise form of words. The object of rising to move this Amendment instead of withdrawing it is to give the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, a chance of telling us whether his thinking has advanced in the interim; whether this subject continues to engage his sympathy, and whether he is yet ready with a form of words. In this connection I would say that, in view of the relatively short time since this matter first arose, I shall not press him for anything more than an assurance of his continued sympathy. He may well need until Report stage to decide exactly how he will express that sympathy, and if that is his view I shall be content, and ready to ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.

In the interim, I have had an afterthought as a possible solution to the problem in mind, and although I am not going to ask the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to comment on this, I would merely like to put it into your Lordships' minds as a possible means of expressing the end with which you have shown so much sympathy. Everybody seemed to agree that it is unfair to put a professional man between two fires. A great deal of this Bill is concerned with what is fair and unfair. Surely, it ought not to be beyond the wit of man to find a form of words which would express what is unfair to the professional man within the code of what is fair or unfair within this Bill. I do not intend to follow up this matter myself, or to ask the noble Lord to comment on it at this stage. It is just an afterthought which occurred to me quite recently. I beg to move.


May I just say a few words in support of my noble friend Lord Halsbury? I think we are now on page 37 of this Bill, and I think one looks in vain through the first 36 pages to find any mention of professional workers—perhaps there may be a mention somewhere. But there are such people, and it would be very nice if it were recognised that their problems are not solely those of employer and employee, master and servant, and all the tremendously important matters about which we have been arguing, but that they have certain other duties, certain other loyalties, and this might possibly be acknowledged. But I would agree with my noble friend Lord Halsbury that we should not push this at the present time, provided that we have some recognition that this point of view is accepted by Her Majesty's Government.


I readily respond to the noble Lords who have spoken. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Platt, that we are very well aware of the great value that the professional conscience has in the quality of our life. It is something that we wish to make quite certain we shall preserve. It is certainly no part of this Bill in any way to affect that adversely. Secondly, may I say that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, has made a very interesting suggestion about the introduction of the concept of unfair industrial practice into this sphere, and we shall naturally be glad to consider it and discuss it further with him.

Thirdly, the noble Earl asked whether our thinking on this had advanced. I may say to the noble Lord that it is advancing. but I am not yet in a position to say anything more than I did on the last occasion. I only say quite specifically that the undertaking I gave to him on that occasion stands and that we shall introduce an appropriate Amendment on Report.


We are delighted to know, amid the stresses and strains of this marathon debate, that Lord Drumalbyn's thinking is advancing. I should have thought that it would require at least the Whitsun Recess to solve what is— —and I am speaking seriously now—a very difficult problem. As I indicated at an early stage of our debates, this is a difficulty where there is a question of dual loyalties, as the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Platt, have reminded us.

On the other hand, certainly on this side of the Committee, we should be reluctant to acquiesce in anything which really deflected a loyalty from a union to which one might belong, because there is a genuine dual loyalty, both to the professional association which is not a trade union and, if someone is a member of a trade union—and after all it is such persons whom we are discussing in this Bill—to his union. Even if one is a professional person one can still be loyal to one's union if one is a member of it, and one should play one's part and try to make sure that the union's activities are in the best interests of the whole body of workers in the enterprise or organisation for which one is working. Therefore, it is most important that in any solution which the Government may find, both of those considerations should be given the fullest weight. However, I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury that we must give the Government time, and we should not dream of pressing them to-night.


May I ask whether the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor could help, in view of the extraordinarily eloquent speech which I heard him make in the Festival Hall either yesterday or the day before on the tremendous importance of the professions in our current society? This seems to me to be the fundamental point which determines the difference between the professional man and the nonprofessional man. Therefore, I should have thought that we could leave the drafting of this clause with confidence to the noble Lord who sits on the Woolsack when he is not sitting on the Front Bench.


I am sure that the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, has put forward is one to which the Government will pay attention. I feel that it is very important to take that into account. As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will understand, there are not large numbers of people involved but those involved have very clear standards and they wish to maintain those standards.

I have discussed this matter with some of my industrial trade union friends and, so far as I am able to understand it, they would not object to this provided it was properly worded. There is an obvious difficulty in wording in these matters, because if one simply leaves it in the sense of professional qualification without some further definition, there may be many people who would claim that they have certain professional qualifications. In other words, someone would have to decide what was accepted as a professional qualification. But if this be done —and I can see no reason at all why it should not be done—then surely this is something which would appeal to the heart of any Conservative (I am glad to see the noble and learned Lord nods in agreement) and it would certainly be something that they would feel desirable.

On the other hand, it might be argued that on this side of the House it might be regarded as undesirable, but I think this is not so, provided it is made clear that one is in no sense, first of all, setting up a special privilege, but rather that one is defining certain clear conditions; secondly, that it is not used as a method of evading belonging to a trade union. It seems to me that if this is done, then there should be no problem involved in accepting the general principle. I hope that the noble Lord will accelerate the thinking on the Government side. One realises that it may be difficult to accelerate their thinking, but I have little doubt that his persuasiveness could make the thinking move just a little more rapidly and bring us to a point at which an acceptable solution can be reached.


I feel we are on somewhat dangerous ground here, particularly after hearing the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, talk about " professional conscience ". If we are going to talk about " professional conscience ", why should we not talk about " industrial conscience ", or " manual workers' conscience "? I feel we are here on rather a slippery slope. I think this is slightly divisive in our society.

9.28 p.m.


I think all sides of the Committee support this Amendment, at least in principle. The noble Earl's suggestion that he was not going to press his Amendment was perhaps a little premature. It is scarcely conceivable in any circumstances that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, would not give satisfactory assurances on a matter of this kind. As we have heard again and again, assurances from the Minister are not words in the Bill. You can quote them, but you cannot quote them with any effect in a court of law. I should have thought that this should be a matter which the noble Earl ought to press but for my understanding of what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, finally said; as I understood it, he said that he would undertake to produce an Amendment from the Government between now and a later stage. If that is the position, I should regard it as entirely satisfactory. I hope he will confirm that that is the understanding.


Yes, my Lords, that is what I said.


Unless anybody wishes me to give way, I will express myself content with what I have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for his support. To the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, I would only say that she can see in the last of my Amendments in the list that I am talking of very tightly defined professional bodies, who publish an ethical code and have disciplinary procedures for enforcing it. I am not using these words loosely. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 46, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 47 [Application to Industrial Court for ballot as to recognition of sole bargaining agent]:

9.35 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 252V: Page 38, line 11, leave out (" an employer ") and insert (" one or more employers ")

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting Amendment and its purpose is simple. Clauses 42 to 46 are drafted in terms of a reference that may concern either a single employer or a number of associated employers, where associated " is used in the sense of financial association. Clauses 47 to 53, on the other hand, are drafted in terms only of a single employer. Clearly, consistency is necessary and desirable, and the Amendments which I now submit to your Lordships would achieve the Government's intention of carrying the concept of associated employers right through the recognition provisions. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252D: Page 38, line 12, leave out from (" employer ") to end of line 21 and insert (" the Commission may at its discretion hold a ballot ").

The noble Lord said: Under this clause, if an employer or worker applies for a ballot the Court may request the Commission to hold one. The objection to the ballot procedure is that the union's claim may be swamped by organised non-unionism, although on the merits there is a good claim for recognition. An example would be, for instance, a recognition claim for shop workers against a firm which had a high turnover of labour and a good many non-unionists working for it. There are very many industries where women work for short times and do not join the trade unions. Their votes could operate to the detriment of long-serving members of the staff who did belong to a trade union. The purpose of the Amendment, therefore, as in the Labour Party's own proposals which it submitted to the other House and then did not proceed with, is to make the calling of a ballot discretionary. It leaves to the Commission the discretion to call or not to call a ballot, and I should have thought that this discretion ought to be given to a body which will be of considerable importance. I beg to move.


I do not know whether the noble Lord who proposed this Amendment with such commendable brevity really wishes to press it. As the Committee will know, in the view of the Government the ballot procedure is essential, throughout the Bill, to cases where employes affected by certain types of recognition procedure or exclusive shops are directly concerned. This would make it entirely within the discretion of the Commission whether or not a ballot should be held; in other words, whether or not the workers should he entitled to express their views. I can understand that in some cases one may question the value of individual votes, but for those who believe in a democratic procedure it is a difficult case to sustain. We believe, of course, that the voluntary solutions to recognition problems are best.

In the end, a recognition order will be issued by the Court. A ballot is a necessary preliminary to an order, to establish the approval of the employees concerned. We therefore think it appropriate than an application for a ballot should be made to the N.I.R.C., and the N.I.R.C will have the duty of confirming that any conditions attached to the recommendation have been, or are being, complied with. A recognition order affects the parties directly and, in our view, it is therefore right that the initiative on enforcement should lie with them.

I would therefore respectfully submit to the Committee that a ballot following automatically on a reference of this kind should be an essential preliminary to an order, and it should not be made discretionary on the part of the Commission. I do not know how far it is an essential tenet of the Party opposite that it should be discretionary, but it is in our view essential to our case.


I think we are in some difficulty over this, for the reason which my noble friend Lord Champion described, in employments in which there is a very considerable turnover and also because in a different part of the Bill the Government refused to accept the principle—to put it very briefly—that part-time employees should not count the same as full-time employees. I think all of us can envisage situations in which really it would be very desirable to have recognition, but in which you just do not have that kind of homogeneity in your employee-force to be sure that the ballot would correctly express the desirable industrial solution.

The distributive trades are a case in point, where, as my noble friend Lord Champion remarked, there are a great many women who regard this as a sideline. They want to make some money from time to time, according to their family situation for the time being, but they do not regard it as the main object of their lives; and many of them work part-time, or they work seasonally, in the Christmas rush, or a holiday period at a seaside resort, and so on and so forth. They do not feel the same kind of interest and obligation towards the fortunes of the establishment in which they work as a person whose entire working life is devoted to it might be expected to feel.

It is for this kind of reason, which we find very difficult to express in legal language in a statute, but which we know very well from our experience is valid, that we are suggesting that there are certain circumstances where, if one insists on having part-time people in (and one may be in an occupation where there is a very considerable turnover), the Commission should be allowed an element of discretion, and it should not be absolute. I appreciate that this is not an easy thing. If one tries to legislate for all these situations then of course one gets oneself into this kind of difficulty; but it is a very genuine difficulty, and I would ask noble Lords who have any experience at all—particularly, as I say, of things like the distributive trades, the seasonal trades in holiday resorts, and so on—to reflect that we are pointing to something which is a very genuine difficulty, and we would really ask the Government to think carefully about this again.


I do not want to repeat myself, but the noble Baroness cannot but be aware that we had this argument before, and I replied—


It makes it none the less valid.


No, but it does make it rather more boring for me to repeat the arguments I made in reply to it, with which the noble Baroness has not dealt. So far as regards part-time employees, she must be aware that the argument we presented before was this. If you want to impose a recognition order in respect of full-time employees only, all right; then you make your application in respect of full-time employees only, and no one will complain if the part-time employees do not have a vote. But if you want to impose it on part-time employees as well as full-time employees—that is to say, if you want to say that the sole bargaining agent shall be the same unions for part-time and full-time employees so as to cover both—then they are affected by it, and they ought to have a vote. It is really as simple as that. There may be cases where it is more appropriate or less appropriate, but the Amendment proposed is that we should in all cases give the Commission a discretion. There is nothing in the Amendment about part-time employees or a shifting population of workers. Our view is that if you want to impose a sole bargaining agent on employees, before you do it they ought to have a say as to whether it ought to be imposed or not. I do not know how far this distrust of what we regard as a democratic process is inherent to the Labour Party, or whether they want to divide on it. But we have had this argument before and I do not want to repeat myself more than twice.


Every Amendment that is moved from this side is not necessarily one of the tenets of this Party. Quite often they are probing Amendments. This Amendment is clearly, to a large extent, a probing Amendment. It was designed to cover some of the points in the probing that my noble friend, Lady White, has made. You cannot legislate for every set of circumstances that may come up in such a diverse field as industrial relations. That is one of the difficulties about trying to legislate for them, and one of the difficulties about the Bill as a whole; you are trying to legislate for something which is so diverse in character as industrial relations. As I have said about something else, I would not go to the stake over this Amendment; it is only a probing Amendment. Therefore, I ask leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 252W. This Amendment is consequent on Amendment No. 252P.

Amendment moved— Page 38, line 16, after (" employer ") insert (" (or, if more than one, any of the emloyers)").—(Lord Belstead.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.43 p.m.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252E. Page 38, line 22, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: Once again we are calling attention to the fact that the Government by this subsection are putting on the screw to force organisations of workers to register. If we have called attention to it before and we do so again it is because we regard it as being of such importance that it is right that we should do so. We may have to call attention to it even more as we get to the clauses on registration. I do not want the discussion that we might have on this particular clause and subsection to pre-empt in any way the discussions which will take place on the next part of the Bill which deals with registration.

There is no doubt that what the Government are up to here is once again, in the course of these clauses, trying to put the screw on unions to do something which they regard as inimical to their wellbeing and to their interests. This Amendment highlights the point touched on before that applications cannot be made to the Court under this subsection except by a registered trade union. If, therefore, any organisation of workers, for example the Transport and General Workers Union, or the A.E.F., fail to register, they could not make applications for recognition. That would be a ludicrous situation in which you would have bodies of that size and importance not being able to submit an application, but you could have on the body recognised as the sole bargaining agent a professional organisation which did not cover any considerable part of the workers in that particular unit of employment. We regard this as absolutely wrong and I think it would be right for the Government to reconsider this whole nonsense of trying by means of this Bill to force the unions into registration. I beg to move.


The point made by the noble Lord is that well-known large trade unions will be unable to apply for recognition if they do not register. This point has been made many times. We on this side have said all along that we feel that the requirements for registration—they have been mentioned many times although the clauses referring to them have not yet been reached—when we come to the relevant clauses will be found not to be onerous. They will be no more than the functions and duties fulfilled at present by responsible trade unions— and not least by the trade union to which the noble Lord particularly referred The Government have repeatedly made it clear that it is a fundamental principle of this Bill that the substantial rights it proposes for trade unions should apply to those which by registering accept the statutory minimum standards. These standards are not onerous.

The right to apply for a ballot on the C.I.R. recommendation under Clause 46, which results in an enforceable recognition order in the event of a majority vote in favour, is one substantial new right. We cannot accept that it should be available to an organisation of workers which is not prepared to accept the fair, reasonable and not onerous requirements of registration. But it is true that under Clause 46 the C.I.R. can recommend as a sole bargaining agent an organisation of workers which is not registered. This may be the appropriate recommendation in some cases. There is nothing to stop an employer voluntarily accepting the recommendation and recognising the recommended bargaining agents. Also, as my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn pointed out, the unregistered organisation has six months in which to become registered and to have its status transferred through the machinery we are discussing into that of a sole bargaining agent. But it is a clear and consistent plank of Government policy that enforcement of the C.I.R. recommendation should be available only to registered unions.

May I reply to the noble Lord's opening remarks? It has been id (and greatly stressed in another place) that because the recognition procedure in our Bill is available only to registered. unions, the unregistered unions will cease to exist for bargaining purposes; and I felt that this was the burden of the noble Lord's remarks. But this is not so. We can argue on other occasiom about whether the conditions of registration are not right; but surely it should be possible for us to agree that the principle of registration is something which could be looked upon as very probably being right. The Donovan Commission recommended that registration should be a pre-condition of achieving trade union status. It is a fundamental principle that registration should be the means of obtaining certain important rights and privileges. For example, the right to compel employers by law to recognise a union is one such right. This does not mean that the unregistered unions will cease to exist for bargaining purposes. There is nothing whatsoever to stop an employer voluntarily recognising an unrecognised union and my noble friends and I have no doubt a good many employers will do so. We are talking about new machinery for use where the voluntary method of solving disputes has broken down.

I hope that it will prove to be unnecessary to make very much use of the recognition procedures. I earnestly hope that most recognition disputes will continue to be settled voluntarily as they are now. Even here we have bent over backwards, so far as we can under the Bill, to give a fair deal to organisations not prepared to register. However, it remains true that such organisations cannot initiate an application under Clause 43 because we say that that would be inconsistent with the philosophy of registration and the advantages that flow from it, but it is quite open, as we have said, to the C.I.R. under Clause 46, to recommend independent organisations of workers which are not registered. Of course, provided an organisation recommended in this way goes on and gets itself registered, it can use this machinery and go forward via the ballot to the sole bargaining agent status. On those grounds, which I hope do not go entirely against what the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has said but meet some of the points he has made, I hope that your Lordships will resist this Amendment.


The noble Lord mentioned during the course of his speech a period of six months for registration. Then he said that those unions who have not registered may negotiate with any employer if they feel so disposed. This is a paradox; you either can or you cannot. Why make provision for a position whereby a trade union must register in accordance with the Act, and at the same time assert that other trade unions, although they do not register, still have the right of their bargaining power with an employer? How is this going to work? Is it right that certain trade unions must register while other trade unions are excused from registering and yet will be allowed to negotiate with the employers on behalf of their membership?


No union is forced to register, but any union which has any sense will register. I do not understand the noble Lord's argument. There will be great advantages for unions to register. An employer has to acknowledge a union if it is a registered union. I cannot see the noble Lord's objection to this.


The unfortunate part about this is that noble Lords on the other side do not find the time whereby we can object and put forward a point of view. We have listened to this form of debate on two or three occasions. Noble Lords who are leading for the Government on this issue of registration, and the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that this would come up at a later juncture. Now the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in reply to a speech made by my noble friend Lord Champion, speaks of a period of six months in which registration can take place. What happens if they go beyond the six months? Secondly, the Government make provision whereby trade unions which do not register will still be allowed to negotiate on behalf of their membership. It may be that one of the reasons why these statements are being made at this time is because of what was said at the T.U.C. Congress, where certain white collar unions find themselves in a position where they will have to register, whereas other trade unions such as the E.T.U. and the Transport and General Workers Union say that they will not register. This may be one of the reasons why the Government are making these statements at the present time.


All I was seeking to do, although I am afraid I did it badly, was to draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Slater, to subsection (6)(a) of the previous clause, Clause 46, where of course the organisation has to have " a substantial proportion " of support. It is the same, it seems to me whether the organisation is a registered organisation or not. After that it is up to the organisation whether it wishes to become a registered trade union or not.

Here I am afraid there is a difference of opinion between thet wo sides of the Committee. We think the requirements of registration are not onerous and could easily be applied to almost any trade union. The noble Lord opposite is saying that this may be so, but nevertheless some unions, even great trade unions, may not wish to avail themselves of registration. On this we may have to wait and see. The period of six months mentioned in Clause 47(1) is the maximum period which can elapse before the ballot can be applied for. I do not think there is anything particularly magical about that; it is simply written into the Bill.


The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has suggested that the terms of registration will not be onerous. It seemed to me that on this point he was reacting a lecture to the trade unions. I should have thought it was for unions of the calibre and size of the Transport and General Workers' Union, the A.E.F., the N.U.R. and the rest, to decide for themselves whether or not the conditions laid down in the Bill will be onerous for a trade union. It it for them to decide whether it is proper to appear to he giving support to a Bill as stupid as this, and to register under the terms in the Bill.

It seems a very peculiar position in which the Commission on Industrial Relations may recommend that an organisation which is not registered may be the sole bargaining agent. That is what the noble Lord told us, and what we know as a result of reading the Bill. We have the position in which they may be recommended by the Commission, but on the other hand they cannot make an application. This situation which is being created by the Bill in relation to unions of the calibre of which I have spoken is ludicrous.

I am bound to say that the reply of the noble Lord does not in any may satisfy us on this side of the Committee. He said that we had made the point a million times. Sometimes it is necessary to make a point two million times to drill it into heads not capable of absorbing what is being directed at them. I am sure this Bill is a mistake, and that equally these clauses are a mistake. The very fact that we are here talking in terms on the one hand of giving the Commissim power to decide that an unregistered body can be the sole bargaining agent, and on the other that they cannot make an application, is so ludicrous that we are bound to ask the Committee to divide on this Amendment.

9.59 p.m.

On Question, Whether the sail Amendment (No. 252E) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 94.

Archibald, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Nunburnholme, L.
Ardwick, L. Gardiner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Beswick, L. [Teller.] Garnsworthy, L. Serota, Bs. [Teller.]
Bowden, L. Henderson, L. Shackleton, L.
Brockway, L. Heycock, L. Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Slater, L.
Collison, L. Janner, L. Stonham, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Stow Hill, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Mais, L. White, Bs.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Diamond, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Aberdare, L. Barrington, V. Burgh, L.
Ailwyn, L. Belhaven and Stenton, L. Burnham, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Belstead, L. Burton, L.
Allerton, L. Berkeley, Bs. Byers, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Brecon, L. Conesford, L.
Amory, V. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Cottesloe, L.
Auckland, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Cowley, E.
Balfour, E. Brougham and Vaux, L. Craigavon, V.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Buchan, E. Crathorne, L.
Davidson, V. Hankey, L. St. Just, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Harvey of Tasburgh, L. St. Oswald, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Hood, V. Salisbury, M.
Ebbisham, L. Inglewood, L. Sandford, L.
Eccles, V. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Sandys, L.
Elliot of Harwood,Bs. Kemsley, V. Savile, L.
Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Killearn, L. Scarbrough, E.
Essex, E. Kilmany, L. Selkirk, E.
Exeter, M. Landsdowne, M. Selsdon, L.
Falkland, V. Lothian, M. Sempill, Ly.
Ferrers, E. [Teller.] Lyell, L. Sherfield, L.
Ferrier, L. Margadale, L. Somers, L.
Fisher, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Strang, L.
Fortescue, E. Mersey, V. Strange, L.
Gage, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Gowrie, E. Napier and Ettrick, L. Thurso, V.
Gray, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Grenfell, L. Pender, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Gridley, L. Rankeillour, L. Verulam, E.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Rochdale, V. Vivian, L.
Hailes, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Windlesham, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L.Chancellor.) St. Aldwyn, E. Yarborough, E.
St. Helens, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

10.6 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendments Nos. 252X and 252Y:

Page 38, line 23, leave out (" by ") and insert ("in respect of a recommendation relating to ").

Page 38, line 25, leave out (" by ") and insert (" in respect of a recommendation relating to ").

The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' permission, I would move Amendments Nos. 252X and 252Y together. The Bill as originally brought to another place did not allow for the fact that an organisation of workers recommended as bargaining agent by the C.I.R. might choose to register in order to apply for a ballot on the recommendations—a point to which I tried to refer on a previous Amendment. An Amendment was therefore made in another place to allow for this possibility, but in doing so it has inadvertently been made possible for the employer to apply for a ballot in respect of a recommendation relating to an organisation of workers which at the time of application is not registered. I am bound to point out to your Lordships that this would be inconsistent with the aims of the Bill. and the purpose of these two Amendments is to rectify this point. I beg to move.


Amendment No. 252Z is a consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 3, after (" employer ") insert (" or employers ").—(Lord Belstead.)

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 48 [Order of Industrial Court with a view to withdrawal of recognition].


Amendment No. 252AA is consequential on Amendment No. 252B. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 11, after (" employer ") insert (" or employers ").—(Lord Belstead.)

10.10 p.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 252J: Page 39, line 11, after ("union") insert (" or independent organisation of workers ").

The noble Lord said: As I understand it, this is almost exactly the same point as was discussed a little earlier in relation to this clause, the previous one having been discussed in relation to a previous clause. if the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, agrees with me I will continue with my speech. If I misunderstood this, the noble Lord of course is better informed on these clauses than I am, and I should be grateful for a correction. As I understand it, however, we are dealing with exactly the same point that we dealt with before.

On the previous occasion, the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, explained to us his views about the comparison of the benefits and disadvantages of registration. He went on to say that he had told us it many times. He has told us it many times. He was good enough to say that we have not yet reached the clauses dealing with registration, and I am bound to say that in that he was accurate also. But if he will forgive me saying so, those are the only two respects in which he was accurate, namely that he has said it many times and we have not yet reached the clause.

I must make it clear to the noble Lord and the Committee that we take a very different view indeed of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of registration. And inasmuch as the principle we are discussing stems entirely from whether it is on the whole advantageous or disadvantageous to register, I am bound to make this clear, even though we have not yet reached the part of the Bill which deals with registration, and therefore it would not be right or proper for me to explain in detail why we take that: view. It is right and necessary that I should explain to your Lordships why those who are being asked to register take that point of view.

The first thing I must make plain is that at this moment three-quarters of all trade unionists are in unions which are registered under the relevant Acts, in particular the 1871 Act. I do not bother your Lordships with that date without reason. It is exactly 100 years ago. Therefore, I am right in saying to your Lordships that 'registration has been available for a century, and that trade unions have availed themselves of that to such an extent that at the moment three-quarters of them are registered. So I can answer the question which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, put to us very simply indeed. He wanted to know whether it was a fact that we are opposed to the principle of registration. Of course we are not, three-quarters are registered at this minute.

What we are opposed to is such penalties being attached to registration, such removal of rights being forced upon trade unions who do not register, that trade unions are being put in the position of either going into the frying pan to which they are invited to go, the registration frying pan, or else being told by this far-sighted Government, " Well, you have your alternative. You need not register. There is always the fire outside the frying pan ". That is the present situation. I hope I am making it quite clear to the Committee, and particularly to the Government, that registration is not objected to in principle. What is objected to strenuously is the Government's method of removing the rights of trade unions by two actions: first, getting them into their control by registration and then denying them certain rights and inflicting on them certain liabilities; and, secondly, forcing them into that position by making life as near as they can intolerable for them if they do not register.

The reason I mention this is that both the last Amendment and this one demonstrate that point with utter clarity. For what are the Government saying? They are saying, through the mouth of their spokesman, the noble Lori,Lord Belstead, " We have no object ion to a voluntary agreement under which a non-registered body, a non-registered trade union, is appointed a sole bargaining agent. We think that is a perfectly proper state of affairs. We even have no objection to a decision by the Industrial Court that a non-registered trade unit n should be appointed as sole bargaining agent. We think that that is a proper state of affairs. But, of course, it cannot continue, because so long as the trade union is not registered we have not got it under our control. Therefore, we are going to make it clear that although it is a prefectly proper state of affairs, and one which might be desired by both parties and which will achieve good industrial relations, we shall destroy that position within six months. We will see to it that, if within six months the union has not moved from a non-registered situation into a registered situation, in which it can be controlled and compelled to do what we want it to do, then it will lose its right as sole bargaining agent ".

This means making life intolerable for the union. It cannot do the job which it is created to do. Therefore, it is not surprising if we take a very different view indeed from that which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, put forward with regard to registration. In so far as this Amendment repeats the same point, I thought it was not unreasonable that I should repeat the arguments made so persuasively by my noble friend, Lord Champion, and explain to your Lordships why we take such a serious view of this unfair malpractice on the part of the Government.


The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has told your Lordships that at least three-quarters of the trade unions to-day—


I was most careful in my wording. I did not say that. What the noble Lord is on the point of saying is not accurate. What I said was that three-quarters of the trade unionists are in trade unions which are registered.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I apologise for misrepresenting him. The statistic which the noble Lord has just made plain to us makes clear the point, made from this side by my noble friend and by myself on the prevous Amendment, that the conditions of registration under this Bill will not be unduly onerous.


The noble Lord has suggested that the argument my noble friend has used, that three-quarters of the trade unionists are in trade unions —I must be careful not to misinterpret my noble friend either—which are regis- tered, means that it will not be difficult for them to come under the Government's registration scheme. Is that the argument the noble Lord is using, because it is rather important?


Unfortunately, the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in moving his Amendment is seeking to lead us on to Clause 63 and on into the nineties. Except for the point which I have made in passing, which I think I have every right to do, I do not think I could follow the noble Lord in detail on this point which is not really in order for another 10 or more Amendments.


Would the noble Lord repeat the argument he has just used in relation to the point of my noble friend Lord Diamond? This is one of the purposes of a Committee stage, to probe the arguments used.


We do not believe on this side that the registration duties are going to be any more onerous than the duties which are undertaken by trade unions to-day, and the noble Lord has given us statistics of the trade unionists who are registered. The point I do not feel the Committee will allow me to go into is the details of the different duties of registration to prove my point, because the principles are in Clause 63 in Part IV and the details are in the Schedule at the end of the Bill, but we are discussing Part III. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, then said, as he had every right to do, that the Government are taking away rights from the trade unions. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me, as I listened to the noble Lord, and read the Donovan Commission's Report, and the White Paper of the previous Government, In Place of Strife, that they all led to the same conclusion in the way that we should deal with matters of recognition.

What this Bill is offering to registered trade unions is the prize of being able to apply to be the sole bargaining agent. Thus, matters which have been so worrying in the past, namely, recognition disputes, can be resolved. Therefore on this side of the Committee we do not feel that we are taking away a right from the trade unions. We feel that in return for registration we are giving a prize which will be of the greatest possible use to trade unions, a prize which many of them have not had before and which will also be of the greatest use in achieving one of the first principles of this Bill, namely, the promotion of good industrial relations.


The noble Lord really has not dealt with the point. Some noble Lords think that this may not be the right moment to do it, but he has called in aid arguments which can only be demonstrated in relation to the clause which he will not discuss, namely, in relation to the duties and, in particular, the penalties and the constraints that will affect unions that are registered. I say this quite seriously. I could not believe that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, could believe in the arguments he used on the previous clause, namely, that it was all fine and dandy because if people who were in an unregistered union, if they were recommended by the C.I.R., all was well. Now in relation to my noble friend's speech the noble Lord has implied that there is nothing in being registered against which trade unions can object. He knows that that is not so. Although the Government have a consistent position from their point of view, their arguments in meeting our different points of view do not stand up. It would be much better if they were to accept the full consequencies of their Bill. It would be much better if they were to say that they are imposing constraints on registered trade unions and that they are exposing unregistered organisations to all sorts of pains and penalties. It would be much better if they would say so, but they will not say so, and I hope that my noble friend Lord Diamond will continue to press this point. This is one of the crucial points where we may as well at least recognise what the consequences of the Bill are, and that is one of the purposes that the Committee stage should achieve.


I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has quite understood the position. In the first place I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, is perfectly entitled to argue the point that he is arguing, but he must realise that the Amendment itself would not be particularly effectual. We are speaking here about the result of a ballot taken under Clause 47. As only a trade union can apply for a ballot in any case, only a trade union or a joint negotiating panel could come up in that ballot on that side, and therefore this Amendment is technically—and I emphasise " technically "—wrong. The noble Lord apparently recognises that. He is quite entitled to argue the case again, although I should have thought that as we have just had a Division on this matter it was hardly necessary to go over the whole case again. The point here is quite a simple one: that the right to apply for a ballot resulting in a compulsory order on an employer to recognise is a substantial right. We think it should be confined to those who accept t le responsibilities of registration. That is the narrow point, and I hope the noble Lord will accept it.


I am sorry; if the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is on the very narrow point, notwithstanding what his noble friend earlier said about the power of the Industrial Court to order that a non-registered union should be an appropriate body to be a sole 'bargaining agent—notwithstanding that, it is not technically possible for a non -registered union to apply for a ballot and therefore the result of a ballot in that case, but not in all cases, could only be in favour of a trade union. If he is on that very narrow point, I will hand that to him immediately.


If I may say so, it is not quite the point. It is the C.I.R. and not the Industrial Court which can recommend an organisation of workers, but before any organisation of workers can apply for a ballot, and so bring about the process that leads 'to the compulsory order, it would have to become a registered union.


We really must not go round in circles. I do understand that, but I am trying to elucidate the point at issue between the two sides, which is this: the Government think it is right for a non-registered union to be put in the position of being a sole bargaining agent —am I right?


By voluntary agreement.


By voluntary agreement: that adds to the point. The Government consider it is right that a non-registered union should have these responsibilities, but it does not consider it right for them to continue to have these responsibilities without registering as a trade union within six months, and it therefore compels a body, being a non-registered trade union which wishes to exercise its function as a trade union, to be registered if it wants to continue those responsibilities. I am saying this is an impossible position for the Government to take up; it is an impossible position for the Government to say that merely because a trade union has not registered it is incapable of carrying out the functions which the C.I.R. thought it capable of carrying out. And I say that the Government are taking it up purely to get unions into their control—that is to say, registered, so as to enable the Government to see that unions are burdened with the additional responsibilities and restraints which come from registration and, in order to prevent unions not being registered, are making life intolerable for them if they remain unregistered.

This Amendment which we are discussing, if it remains unaccepted, will be an example of the Government's determination to see that where a union does not register then it cannot carry out the function for which it was created. Its existence and its whole purpose is denied because, although it is acceptable to the Commission on Industrial Relations—the body which lays down and exercises the greatest authority as to what is and what is not appropriate in this area of industrial relations—it is not acceptable to the Government unless it registers and comes into their clutches. That is precisely what I mean, and that is the point of this Amendment. With respect, neither the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, nor the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, have dealt with this Amendment, except that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, dealt with it on a very narrow point indeed. I

will give him that immediately if he wants it, but both he and I are anxious that the truth behind this matter should come out, and that noble Lords on both sides of the Committee should be aware of the principle we are arguing about. I hope that I have made the principle clear. That is why we insist on using every power we can to demonstrate the force of our views behind this Amendment.


Is the noble Lord not going to give me any answer on this? He has received a piece of paper—


I really think the noble Lord intervenes a little too often on these matters. Quite plainly the noble Lord had invited the Chair to put the Question. It was perfectly plain to us on this side, and it did not seem to me that there was anything more to be said. We had given the answers to the questions. I could go on and give many more answers. It would not persuade the noble Lord, and in those circumstances it seems perfectly right that we should have a Division, as the noble Lord intended.


I was about to interrupt the noble Lord to make my apologies to him. I had in fact thought, since he received a piece of paper, that he was going to give an answer. But he is perfectly entitled to his opinion, and I apologise.


I accept that apology willingly. The paper merely says that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, is wrong in one particular, but I need not bore the Committee with that.


I would have liked to pursue this, to ask what the particular was.

10.31 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 252J) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships' divided: Contents, 20; Not-Contents, 91.

Beswick, L. Gardiner, L. Serota, Bs. [Teller.]
Bowden, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Shackleton, L.
Champion, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Shepherd, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Mais, L, Stow Hill, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Milner of Leeds, L. White, Bs.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Nunburnholme, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Diamond. L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Aberdare, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Ailwyn, L. Essex, E. O'Neill of the Mair e, L.
Allerton, L. Falkland, V. Pender, L.
Amherst, E. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Ferrier, L. Redesdale, L.
Amory, V, Fisher, L. Rochdale, V.
Auckland, L. Fortescue, E. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Balfour, E. Gage, V. St. Aldwyn, E.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gowrie, E. St. Helens, L.
Barrington, V. Gray, L. St. Just. L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Grenfell, L. Sandford, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gridley, L. Sandys, L.
Belstead, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Savile, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hailes, L. Scarbrough, E.
Bessborough, E. Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Selkirk, E.
Brecon, L. Selsdon, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hankey, L. Sempill, Ly.
Buchan, E. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Sherfield, L.
Burgh, L. Hood, V. Somers, L.
Burnham, L. Inglewood, L. Strang, L.
Burton, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Strange, L.
Byers, L. Kemsley, V. Swaythling, L.
Conesford, L. Killearn, L. Terrington, L.
Cottesloe, L. Kilmany, L. Thornevcroft, L.
Cowley, E. Lansdowne, M. Thurso, V.
Crathorne, L. Lothian, M. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lyell. L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Davidson, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mersey, V. Westminster, D.
Drurnalbyn, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Windlesham, L.
Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Yarborough, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

10.40 p.m.

LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 252B:

Page 39, lino 12, at end insert— (" and (c) requiring the employer and the agreed sole bargaining agent to negotiate a procedure agreement within a period of time to be specified by the Commission,")

The noble Lord said: Subsection (1) of Clause 48 states: Where the result of a ballot taken under section 47 of this Act, as reported by the Commission to the Industrial Court, is that a majority of the employees voting in the ballot voted in favour of the proposal that the recommendation should be made binding, the Industrial Court shall make … two orders; one … defining the bargaining unit ", and the other specifying the employer and the trade union or joint negotiating panel, as the case may be ".

To this we propose to add a third paragraph, requiring the employer and the agreed sole bargaining agent to negotiate a procedure agreement within a period of time to be specified by the Commission.

This is not a Party point. We believe in the importance of procedures, and that it is essential that procedures should not be delayed in being framed once the various agreements have been come to. If there is delay it will cause frustration. and we believe that it would be a matter of good practice for the Commission to set a term to the time during which a procedure agreement can be agreed. If there is some good reason for tardiness, there is no reason why this should not be reported by the parties to tie Commission or to the Industrial Court. We feel that this Amendment would be an improvement to the Bill, because: if there is no term set to the framing of procedures there can be interminable delay which, as I said, will cause frustration. If the Government are not prepared to accept this Amendment in principle, I would ask them what sanction there would be against delay in the framing of such procedures. I beg to move.


As the noble Lord rightly said, this is not a Party point and there is some substance in what he has said. Obviously, once the Court has announced the result of the ballot we want to see the bargaining unit defined and the other necessary machinery gone through, and the negotiating of a procedure agreement should start as soon as possible. He has made it clear that what he is talking about is not the starting of the negotiation on the procedure agreement, but its completion. I think he will agree that it is a little difficult to lay down a time within which a procedure agreement must be negotiated. It is a matter of both parties negotiating here, and it may take a short time or a long time. Procedure agreements very often take quite a long time. They are rather apt to take longer than substantive agreements, to negotiate, and the length of time will vary very much depending on the size of the sole bargaining agent and the unit covered. So I do not think that it would be very easy to specify the time.

In a sense, this is almost holding a pistol to the heads of both parties. On the other hand, I think that what we really have to guard against is an employer who, by definition in this case, did not want to recognise the union. He would obviously still be reluctant to recognise the union after the direction had been given, and he might demonstrate that reluctance in the form of an unwillingness to negotiate. But that can be guarded against by a complaint on the part of the union, on the grounds that the employer is not carrying on the collective bargaining, or taking such action —this is in Clause 53— … by way of or with a view to carrying on collective bargaining with that trade union or joint negotiating panel, as might reasonably be expected to be taken by an employer ready and willing to carry on such collective bargaining ". So that all the union has to do is to say, " Six months have gone by ", or whatever it is, " and the employer has shown no signs of being willing to negotiate; he has not even passed the subject to his personnel manager, for example ", and cite all the evidence that the employer is obstructing the negotiation of a procedure agreement.

It seems to me that this is the proper course to take; and then, of course, an order can be made by N.I.R.C. upon the employer to negotiate with the trade union. It seems to me that this is the proper course to adopt; in other words, the remedy to apply to N.I.R.C. is in the union's own hands in this case. I think it is probably better to leave it in this way. I do not think there is any certainty about this. I would not say that; but I think that the Bill as drafted at the present time really makes this Amendment unnecessary. I would not go further than that.


I was merely going to say that this is the most interesting Amendment. In interest, it is exceeded only by the interesting statement just made by the Minister, who likened this, and not without reason, to holding a pistol to the heads of both parties. I gathered from what the Minister said that he does not think that that is a good thing to do, and that is what I want to pursue for a minute or two. Because so far the whole of the Bill is based, so far as trade unions are concerned and so far as concerns making agreements binding, on holding a pistol to the head of one party.

What I want to get from the noble Lord is whether his philosophical position is that he does not like holding a pistol to the heads of two parties but likes holding a pistol to the head of one party —namely, the trade unions—or whether he has changed his mind on the whole of this question of holding pistols. This I would be delighted to hear about, because as he well recollects we had a long discussion one evening about shot-gun marriages, and one of us got confused and started talking about gun-shot marriages; so really that is the thing I am interested in. I know this is not going to be tremendously helpful to the mover of the Amendment, but I am bound to say that I thought the Amendment was something which we on these Benches ought to leave to be argued between the Liberals and the Government. We felt we really could not make a great contribution to this discussion; and I should really leave it at that. So I would be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, if he would enlighten us on the progressive thinking which has taken place with regard to holding pistols to heads.


I can answer that very easily. It is not much good holding pistols to heads if people have to use their heads and reach a procedure agreement. Perhaps it would have been better if I had said, " lock the two of them up in a room until they have reached agreement."


I do not think the Liberal Party is likely to be the subject of a shot-gun wedding with either of the Front Benches, certainly not during the course of this Bill, but I thought we would get to this question of the shot-gun wedding on this particular Amendment. The real point of this is that we do not believe that there should be too much delay in coming to a conclusion on these procedure agreements; and if the noble Lord assures me that this position is covered by Clause 53, then we feel that we have done our job in probing it. But I do not believe that, if Clause 53 is not satisfactory, we should avoid taking action by asking the courts to take a great interest in this, and by setting a time by which a report should be made either to the Commission or to the Court, so that this can he kept under some sort of regular review. There are not just two parties to this, the unions and the employers. There are also the workers to be considered. Quite often you can get dilatoriness between the two negotiating parties to the detriment of the workers themselves. But in the circumstances, and with the assurance that we have had about Clause 53, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 48, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

10.51 p.m.


Clause 48 is a clause under which the Industrial Court is compelled to make a rubber stamp order. I. call it a rubber stamp order because the Court has no discretion at all. It is compelled to make an order, not according to what the result of the ballot is, but according to what the Commission reports the result of the ballot to be. No provision is made for a case in which the Commission's report is incorrect; nor has any provision been made if the Commission, after making its report, and before the Court makes an order, finds out, as a result of evidence put before it, that its report is wrong. It has no power to ignore or amend the report.

As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, knows, I raised this on previous occasions, and ultimately I was told that the Government would consider this with a view to amendment. There has been time since then to put down an Amendment on this clause. Exactly the same point will arise again on Clause 51. I appreciate the difficulties of Ministers, with long hours of working at night, having quite enough to do to keep up with the next day's work without worrying about the implementation of the various undertakings that they have given. But the question is whether the Government are going to allow themselves enough time between the Committee stage and the Report stage to apply their minds to and work out the consequences of the various undertakings that they have given. I do not know whether, since I raised this a week or more ago, anybody has thought about it any more on the Government side, or come to any conclusions. thought that as it arises again on this clause I would ask whether they have done so, and if so whether they have come to any conclusion.


The question that the noble and learned Lord put is very clear, and he put this very fairly. He said there has been time, but I am afraid we have not had it. The noble and learned Lord knows how these things work. I personally have not thought about this since last week. I shall get the opportunity to think later. He makes the point that we must give ourselves time to think of these things. I cannot say more, I am afraid.


Could the noble Lord give any indication, because we will all have a lot to do between Committee stage and Report stage, apart from the short holiday we are going to have, how much time there will be between the conclusion of the Committee stage and the start of Report stage?


I am afraid this inevitably depends on when the Committee stage ends. I cannot answer that question.


Ought it to depend on when the Committee stage ends? Ought it not to depend on what is the necessary interval which both the Government and Opposition ought to have have between the time they return after the short holiday and the commencement of the Report stage.


It depends not only when the Committee stage ends, but also on how many things there are to reconsider. I do not think the noble and learned Lord could expect me to give an answer to that now.

10.55 p.m.


I wonder whether I might underline what my noble and learned friend has just said; because there will be a number of matters to be dealt with on Report, and as we have been going through the Bill the Government have been good enough once or twice—I almost said " from time to time " —to promise that they will look at what we have been saying about it on Report. We are grateful for that, but as we go through the Bill and the same point comes up more than once I had hoped that it would be possible to make some progress at a later point in the Committee stage—because the noble Lord is even more familiar than I with the difficulty that the Report stage, though not the final stage, is a late one for making alterations if you have not by then reached agreement. It is better to get some idea of the Government's reconsiderations during the course of the Committee stage so that the next stage can be more fruitful. I shall be grateful if the noble Lord and his advisers will be good enough to bear that in mind on the Question of this clause standing part of the Bill.

I had wanted to say a few things about the terms of the ballot (which appear in subsection (1)) but I am anxious to be right in what I say. Therefore I invite the noble Lord to carry out the normal process of describing the purpose of this clause. I hope then to be on stronger ground on the points I wish to raise. On a previous occasion I prefaced my comments by saying that I was basing them on certain suppositions. I asked for correction if I was wrong. I was not corrected; but the noble Lord subsequently said that I was not entirely right. It would be advantageous if the noble Lord could tell us now the effects of Clause 48—the effects other than the one point we have considered—and in particular if he could tell us what are the voting provisions and why they are such. I would then address to him one or two comments.


The purpose of the clause is really to bring to finality the processes/ that have been set in motion by the ballot's having taken place. Where a majority of the employees have voted in the ballot—and it is a majority of the employees and not a majority of those eligible to vote, which I dare say is a point that the noble Lord had in mind—in favour of the proposal, the recommendation would be made binding; that is, the Industrial Court would make the order defining the bargaining unit.


That is not so. The Industrial Court does not make the order because the majority voted in the ballot. They make the order only according to the results of the ballot as reported by the Commission—which may be a very different thing.


I thank the noble and learned Lord for that correction. He raised this point on a previous occasion and he has raised it again now. He is a quite right to correct me in that way. The Industrial Court then makes the order defining the bargaining unit. It answers two questions by defining the bargaining unit and by specifying the sole bargaining agent and the employer, and makes directions that for two months from the date of the order and so long as the order continues in force, the trade union or joint negotiating panel shall be recognised as the sole bargaining agent for that bargaining unit. That closes this process. Then subsection (2) gives two examples where the order automatically ceases to have effect. the first is where an organisation specified in the order as being a trade union ceases to be a trade union and the second is where a joint negotiating panel specified in the order ceases to be a joint negotiating panel of trade unions,". The noble Lord has paid due attention to the weight of those words. These purposes seem to me to be perfectly self-explanatory, and I do not quite know why he wanted me to explain the purpose in this way. Finally, subsection (3) says: Where the bargaining unit defined by an order under this section is the same as, or includes the whole or part of, the bargaining unit defined by a previous order under this section which is for the time being in force, the Industrial Court, on making the subsequent order, shall revoke the previous order. Again that seems to me to be self-explanatory.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said, and I agree that the words seem to be self-explanatory. The words incorporate the views of the Government as to how these matters should be ordered, and there are two major respects in which the noble Lord must recognise that we are at odds with the Government and cannot see why this clause should pass.

The first is the question of voting. Here the voting is a majority of the employees voting in the ballot. The noble Lord did not offer any explanation as to why it was right in the Government's opinion that the majority should be determined by reference to the employees voting in the ballot, and not the employees eligible to vote. Secondly, he did not attempt to explain why the order should cease to have effect upon (2)(a) or (2)(b) happening—(2)(a) being " an organisation specified in the order " ceasing to be a trade union; and " trade union " here means a registered union. Why is this order to cease to have effect? It was a perfectly good order at the time it was made, in the view of those making it; helpful to industrial relations, in the view of those making it. Why should it cease to be a beneficial situation merely because the union in question had not registered within the period of six months, or de-registered, or whatever circumstances these words cover? Those are the two points on which we are anxious to understand why the Government are following this particular course.


I do not see the noble Lord's difficulty in this—the majority of those voting and not those eligible to vote. This is purely a question of whether a majority of the employees voting consider that this union or joint negotiating panel should be recognised as the sole bargaining agent. It is quite distinct from the other cases of the agency shop or the closed shop where there is a question of a surrender of the individual rights of each person voting, and it is for that reason, as we explained on earlier occasions, that a majority of those eligible to vote is required in the case of the agency shop and the closed shop. Here a straight majority of those voting is considered sufficient for the question. of recognition.


Before the noble Lord goes on to the other point, may I say that I am grateful to him, but he will understand that we are anxious to pursue this matter. We regard it not, as he understands, in this case but in the other case, as of fundamental importance and we are anxious to know the way in which the mind of the Government is moving. Here is a case where the noble Lord is justifying the normal process of employees voting and a decision being taken according to the majority of the employees actually voting. He says that this is distinguished from the other case in which certain rights are forgone. That is the case here, because it is a question of the sole bargaining agent and other employees, members of other unions, wish to have those unions representing them and they regard this as a fundamental right. They envisage a method whereby in the interests of industrial relations affecting the group as a whole individual rights have to be forgone.

That is the usual situation in which the individual has to forgo some of his liberty in the interests of the community to which he belongs, in this case the community of the workshop or factory. It is a very familiar situation. comparable with any other situation when individual rights have to be forgone in the interests or efficiency of the community. I cannot see any distinction between these cases and any other case. What I can see is that the Government have here the normal practice of making a decision according to the majority voting as distinct from those eligible to vote.


The noble Lord, Lord Champion, explained the four different types of union. It may be that a general union or a craft union or something of that kind was involved. The point here is that where theme is a multiplicity one would expect to find the Commission on Industrial Relations recommending a joint negotiating panel. Where there is one union to which virtually all the employees in the factory belong, one would expect the one union to be the sole bargaining agent. There is no question here of requiring people to join a particular union or of any loss of rights. The C.I.R. seek to achieve a solution by means of negotiation; and it has to be satisfied under Clause 46(5) that its proposals are likely to be supported by a substantial proportion of employees in any case. I do not think that this situation is on all fours with that of the agency shop or the closed shop. The issues involved are quite different. To mark that difference we have a different requirement concerning the majority necessary to carry the ballot, if that is the right expression, in the two different sets of cases. I hope that that is intelligible, even if it is not acceptable.


It is quite intelligible and quite unacceptable.


Well, that is something. The other point is of course equally unacceptable to the noble Lord. We think that once this decision has been made and an employer has been compelled to recognise a union or a joint negotiating panel and where he remains compelled to do so, then if during the period of the order the trade union ceases to be a trade union, and is removed from the register, and operates simply as an organisation of workers, then the basis upon which it has received recognition is removed. That being so, it is only

natural that the compulsory order should cease to have effect. I think this is a quite clear case.


I do not want to take up the time of your Lordships any more. We do not accept that there is this great distinction with regard to the loss of individual rights and liberties such as would justify an entirely different method of determining whether the ballot has been carried. We hope the Government will be good enough to bear that in mind in the reconsideration they have undertaken to give in respect of the phrase " eligible to vote ", which we have already dealt with. On the second case, the noble Lord is quite right in saying that we strongly dissent from the view and the philosophy embodied in this clause; and therefore I can only invite the Committee to support our views in the Division Lobby.

11.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 48, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships Divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 19.

Aberdare, L. Essex, E. Platt, L.
Ailwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Allerton, L. Ferrier, L. Redesdale, L.
Amherst, E. Fisher, L. Rochdale, V.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Fortescue, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Amory, V. Gage, V. St. Helens, L.
Balfour, E. Gowrie, E. [Teller.] St. Just, L.
Barrington, V. Gray, L. St. Oswald, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gridley, L. Sandford, L.
Belstead, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Sandys, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hailes, L. Savile, L.
Bessborough, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Selkirk, E.
Brook of Cumnor, L. Selsdon, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hankey, L. Sempill, Ly.
Buchan, E. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Sherfield. L.
Burnham, L. Hood, V. Somers, L.
Burton, L. Inglewood, L. Strange. L.
Carrington, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Swaythling, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Kemsley, V. Terrington. L.
Conesford, L. Killearn. L. Thorneycroft, L.
Cottesloe, L. Kinnoull. E. Thurso, V.
Cowley, E. Lansdowne, M. Tweed smuir, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lothian, M. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Davidson, V. Lyell, L. Vivian. L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. Westminster, D.
Drumalbyn, L. Napier and Ettrick, L. Windlesham, L.
Elliot of Harwood. Bs. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Yarborough, E.
Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Pender, L.
Beswick, L. Gardiner, L. Serota, Bs, [Teller.]
Bowden, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Shackleton. L.
Champion, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Shepherd, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Mais, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Milners of Leeds, L. White, Bs.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Diamond, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 48, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 49 [Application to Industrial Court with a view to withdrawal of recognition.]:

11.19 p.m.

BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE moved Amendment No. 252BB: Page 39, line 33, leave out (" a trade union ") and insert (" an organisation of workers ").

The noble Baroness said: If it is convenient to the Committee, perhaps we can take with this Amendment the Amendments Nos. 252CC and 252 DD. The purpose of these Amendments is to enable the provisions for withdrawal of recognition in Clauses 49 to 51 to apply to an organisation of workers not registered under the Bill, as well as to a registered trade union. The first reason for doing this is that if recognition is to be withdrawn it surely is only fair that it should be able to be done from an unregistered organisation as well as from a registered organisation. The second reason is that the Amendments would enable the negotiating rights of an employer-dominated house union to be challenged. I beg to move.


I was getting up because, of course, one can only move one Amendment at a time the others have to be moved separately except in those cases where there has been an arrangement made that a certain number of Amendments shall be moved en bloc, I merely say that to explain why I was getting up before the noble Lord the Deputy Chairman had finished his remarks.

On this Amendment immediately before us—and, of course, we can discuss the others at the same time—I am in some little difficulty, because the noble Baroness said they wanted to apply exactly the same thing to an organisation of workers as to a trade union. Is it the case that for this purpose and it seems to be the only place where there can be withdrawal of sole bargaining rights—an organisation of workers embraces a trade union? Are they both embraced in this particular part which is now to be amended? What causes me to put this point is that in Clause 47, for example, it is made quite clear: No application under this section shall be made— (a) by an organisation of workers, unless at the time of the application it is a trade union …. In this clause, which is a withdrawal of the recognition of sole bargaining agent, " trade union " is to be struck out and " organisation of workers " put in in its stead. I am not being carping about this, but it does seem to me a little queer that we should be changing the words and making it appear that the words " organisation of workers " in this instance are words that embody within them " trade union" for this purpose. I shall be grateful if the noble Baroness Mill explain before we leave this Amendment.


I think the noble Lord will find the answer to his question in Clause 59. Tie situation is that all trade unions are organisations of workers, but not all organisations of workers are trade unions. This is set out in Clause 59(1) and (3). I hope that answers the noble Lord's question. Clause 59(1) deals with " organsation of workers " and 59(3) deals with " trade union ", and the posititon is that the relationship between the two phrases is that of genus to species.


That is at the beginning of Part IV. I must admit I have not been in charge of that yet. I rather fear I might have so nothing to do with it before the end. I lad missed that point. Of course the Amendment is completely acceptable.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 252CC.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 41, leave out (" trade union ") and insert (" organisation of workers ").(Baroness Tweedsinuir of Belhelvie.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252L: Page 40, line 3, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: I wonder whether we might discuss with this Amendment No. 252M; the second one relates to something which is contained in this subsection. This subsection raises the whole question of the dangers to orderly industrial relations in bargaining procedures, for it seems to me deliberately to invite disruption by a tiny minority. Under the preceding clauses a great deal is made of the safeguards that have to be satisfied before an order for the recognition of a sole bargaining agent is made. A ballot may be held and a majority of employees may decide the issue. Also in the preceding clauses there are embodied many precautions to try to ensure that no one, including the court or the commission, takes precipitate action or takes action on an application before the Court or the Commission that has not had full consideration by all possible parties, including the Commission and even the Court itself. Despite all these precautions, we get in Clause 49 a situation created in which a single employee may set in motion the procedure to secure a withdrawal of the recognition of a sole bargaining agent.

The Government have, throughout consideration of the Consultative Document and their every approach to the laying of this Bill, stressed the country's need of strong trade unions capable of negotiating on behalf of their members and of controlling their militants and C.P. elements. Yet in this clause the Government are positively inviting disruption by a comparatively small group of dissidents, inviting them to upset what has resulted from many months of patient negotiation by the Commission with the union or unions associated in the panel. We know what can happen in this sort of instance. Somebody with a glib tongue comes forward, the sort who could settle any dispute—if only, only, only. I have met them. I know them. They are always ready with telling phrases—" That lot is letting you down," " Look what is happening in that factory down the road." Then the approach and the application under this clause, followed by the agitation and organisation designed to get the one-fifth of the workers to support an application under the terms of this clause.

The point here is that under subsection (2), if the Commission makes a report under the terms of Clause 47 and a ballot is held, if the ballot favours the recommendation of the Commission, then under Clause 48 the Court will make the necessary order, but there will be a period of two months under Clause 48(1) before the order becomes operative. That means that during that period one-fifth of the employees could upset something agreed previously by a majority of the workers employed in that unit. We say by our Amendment that it ought to be at least two-fifths—that is all I am saying in the second Amendment—and I am in some doubt as to whether we have put that figure high enough, having regard to everything that has gone before in the making of this order that there shall be a sole bargaining agent. We shall listen with great care to what the noble Lord has to say about this subsection and the figure of one-fifth and see whether we shall divide on the Amendment, but I find the subsection a little difficult in the context of everything the Government have been talking about—namely, trying to secure strong trade unions and preventing little groups of militants from upsetting reasonable negotiating procedures. I beg to move.


May I be allowed to say, if I am not totally out of order, that I think that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, allowed himself to be easily put down by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on the last Amendment. He knew perfectly well what was in Clause 59(3) and before we come to discussing whether the clause shall stand part, perhaps he may look again. I thought that he asked a very pertinent question, to which he did not get a totally pertinent answer. But to move on to these two Amendments that we have been asked to discuss, I am baffled because they appear to me to be totally in opposite directions. I can see the point of No. 252M, which changes one-fifth to two-fifths, but No. 252L, which is to " leave out subsection (2) " would have the effect that there would not have to be any minimum amount for the Industrial Court to entertain an application. If this subsection were taken out, it could entertain an application if one person applied.

We on these Benches would certainly oppose No. 252M, because although we take the view that it is important that we should not encourage the fragmentation of unions, we also take the view—and I notice that I beat the noble Lord, Lord Platt, by a very short head to this speech—that minorities need considerable protection in this Bill. There are a great many minorities in bargaining positions who will not even make one-fifth, and two-fifths is a very large number indeed. Therefore we would oppose Amendment No. 252M. For the same reason, I think we are in favour of No. 252L, but I cannot believe that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, really means to press this Amendment. If he does he will have our support, but I suspect for the wrong reasons.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has not made it easier for us by putting these two Amendments together, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has said, really work in rather opposite directions. But I want to call attention to one point. At the end of subsection (1) we have the position that the claimant may be making out that the union or bargaining unit does not adequately represent a particular section of it. In other words, the noble Lord, Lord Champion, is thinking of a few militants trying to upset the apple cart, and I would go a long way with him in saying that that is an undesirable state of affairs. On the other hand, it may be that the particular section of it to which the applicant belongs is in fact a very important minority, and in that case it seems to me reasonable that that particular section should be able to try to upset the arrangement that has been made.

In that case, when we come to line 8 on page 40. where it refers to " one-fifth of the employees ", whether or not we agree that it should be two-fifths I would personally agree that it should be one-fifth in the bargaining unit. It should surely read, " the bargaining unit or with a particular section of it ", if in fact the first part of the clause is still going to make sense. I would like that clarified.


I have some sympathy with the noble Lord. Lord Beaumont, who found it perhaps a little confusing that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, wished us to take Amendment No. 252L together with No. 252M, because they do rather different things. It seems to me that if by the first Amendment one left out subsection (2) a rather peculiar situation would result, because under subsection (2) there is a situation where there is no Clause 48 order in force and an application is made under this clause by an employee in the bargaining unit. If this subsection were left out it seems to me that just one employee would be able to make the challenge to tilt particular bargaining agent; and I am sure that is not what the noble Lord had in mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, said he would oppose Amendment 252M, which seeks to raise the requirement from one-fifth to two-fifths, and I got the impression that the noble Lord, Lord Platt, would also prefer the qualification of one-fifth because particularly it affects minorities. While we certainly want to have stable bargaining positions, nevertheless I would suggest that we should try to get a balance whereby a minority is able to challenge a sole bargaining agent if they can, in these circumstances where there is a voluntary agreement, get one-fifth of those concerned which is quite a large proportion. Therefore I would suggest that the Committee should not accept Amendment 252L for the reasons that I have given; and if we are going to discuss—though it will not be moved at this moment—Amendment 252M, it would have been in the interests of minorities, and would have struck a fair balance, had we left the provision of one-fifth as it is in the Bill.


The purpose of moving this Amendment was to some extent exploratory, to find out what the Government had to say about this. Despite the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, would support us if we went into the Division Lobbies on this, and despite the fact that he has offered such generous help to us—and I may say we are glad to see him at this late hour, and to hear his voice on this occasion—I am bound to say that I hope to consider between now and Report what has been said, and we might return to this very point on Report. But I am certainly grateful to the noble Baroness for what she has said. I beg to move.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 252DD.

Amendment moved— Page 40, line 6 leave out (" trade union ") and insert (" organisation of workers ").—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252M: Page 40, line 8, leave out (" one-fifth ") and insert (" two-fifths ").

The noble Lord said: I do think there is a lot in this Amendment. Despite the words of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, I think that two-fifths, rather than one-fifth, ought to be the figure, because one-fifth might create a disturbing element that surely ought not to be brought into this. It would be comparatively easy for a dissident group, or a small group who were trying to break away from a union or trying to upset everything a union has been trying to do, to secure the support of one-fifth of the employees to bring about a situation of the kind that subsection (2) provides for. I am bound to say that one-fifth is a very small number in the kind of arrangement that is being set up under this Bill.

I do not know if the noble Baroness has any more to say on this. She has to some extent covered it, but I must at least invite her to say a few words before deciding whether or not to vote on it. I am rather keen on this.


I had some personal sympathy with this Amendment when I first saw it on the Marshalled List, and I took some trouble to try and explain to myself why the Bill should say one-fifth and not two-fifths, or some other figure. But I think that under this provision, where this is a voluntary agreement and not concerned with a Statutory Order—because this comes later, and I see there is another Amendment to it—on reflection perhaps one-fifth is fair.

It is a question of judgment. I think we must try and get the right balance between getting the stable bargaining arrangements, which I think we all wish to achieve, and on the other hand also make it possible for minorities to be able to challenge a bargaining agent on their behalf. This was said earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Platt. I think it is for that reason that, after having given it a lot of consideration myself—because

I think it is a question of judgment—I would recommend the Committee to leave it as the Bill stands.


In that case, would the noble Baroness clarify my point: is it one-fifth of the whole of the employees in the bargaining unit, or one-fifth of the particular section who had made the application?


It is one-fifth of all the employees concerned.


In spite of the kind but cutting words of the noble Lord, Lord Champion,—who, I may say, has sitting on the Front Bench the majority of his colleagues who go into the Division Lobby—he presumably can appeal to a very great deal of back-up power for this Bill, in the way of the research which has enabled them to table the number of Amendments that they have tabled. I have been here earlier in the evening, and I will be here later in the evening. This question of minorities is a very tricky one, and I do not think the Government have really faced up to it yet. The point which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, made, and the point which the Opposition Front Bench is making about the fragmentation of unions, is a very real and proper one.

The point which is being made by the noble Lord, Lord Platt, and other people who know the problems of minorities, is also a very real and proper point. If you have a largely homogenous work force, of course, one-fifth is not a very great many, and two-fifths might well be the right number to have. But where you have a totally unhomogenous work force, with minorities of very different kinds, one-fifth could easily be too many in itself. All I am saying at this stage is that, in spite of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who has I think gone to considerable pains to try and face up to this problem, the Government have not yet met it. They have merely said: " One side has got a point and the other side has got a point, and if we go through the middle and find a compromise, that ought to be all right."

Well, it is not all right. We are laying down industrial law now for a considerable period of time. The Opposition Front Bench may not agree on that, but I believe this is absolutely so, and we ought to get this right. When I say " we " I mean the Government. The Government ought to be able to find some way of drafting this Bill so that it is possible on the one hand to guard against the fragmentations of unions, which would be a very bad thing, and on the other hand to give a totally proper and satisfactory safeguard to minorities, who may find themselves in difficult positions. I cannot support the noble Lord, Lord Champion, in the Lobby on this particular Amendment, but I do hope that, between now and Report stage, the Government really will look at this very major problem, which they have not yet basically faced up to.


Since we so often go on to other clauses, may I call attention to the very next clause, Clause 50, in which it is quite clear that the Commission has to consider whether the ballot should extend to all employees or be limited to a particular section of the bargaining unit? Therefore, I should have thought that the words in Clause 49 meant one-fifth of the particular section and not one-fifth of the total bargaining force.


I am, of course, in complete agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, that we have to try to get this matter right. I agree with

him that one cannot always guarantee that there will be a change of Government at the next Election. Of course it is a probability, judging by recent local government results, but things can change in a wry short time, and the electorate tend to be a little bit fickle. It seemed to me that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, wanted to have it both ways; you cannot In a Bill of this sort you cannot fix it so that in one type of organisation you have two-fifths, three-fifths or four-fifths, and in another type of organisation only one-fifth. The Government here have to try to legislate to cover the broad spectrum of the trade unions, industrial negotiations, and the sort of thing they are trying to set up. The noble Baroness said that she had to try to explain this to herself. She must have had a good and charming audience. When I try to explain something to myself, I think have a sensible audience. In this connection I think that my good sense causes me to ask the Committee to go into the Division Lobby in support of two-fifths as against one-fifth.

11.47 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 252M) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 18; Not-Contents, 79.

Beswick, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Serota, Bs.
Champion, L. Hughes, L. Shackleton, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Shepherd, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Miiners of Leeds, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Diamond, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] White, Bs.
Gardiner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Aberdare, L. Cottesloe, L. Harvey of Tasburjh, L.
Allerton, L. Cowley, E. Hood, V.
Amherst. E. Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Inglewood, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Davidson, V. Jellicoe, E. (Lord Privy Seal.)
Amory, V. Denham, L. [Teller.] Kemsley, V.
Balfour, E. Drumalbyn, L. Killearn, L.
Barrington, V. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Kinnoull, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Essex, E. Lansdowne, M.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E. Lothian, M.
Bessborough, E. Ferrier, L. Lyell, L.
Brecon, L. Fisher, L. Mancroft, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Gage, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gowrie, E. Napier and Ettrick, L. [Teller.]
Buchan, E. Gray, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Burnham, L. Gridley, L. Pender, L.
Burton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Platt, L.
Carrington, L. Hailes, L. Rankeillour, L.
Chelmer, L. Hailsham of St. Marvlebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Redesdale, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Rochdale, V.
Conesford, L. Hankey, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
St. Helens, L. Selsdon, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
St. Just, L. Sempill, Ly. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
St. Oswald, L. Somers, L. Vivian, L.
Sandford, L. Strang, L. Westminster, D.
Sandys, L. Terrington, L. Windlesham, L.
Savile, L. Thorn eycroft, L. Yarborough, E.
Selkirk, E. Thurso, V.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

11.54 p.m.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252P: Page 40, line 16, leave out (" two ") and insert (" three").

The noble Lord said: Much of what I said on Amendments Nos. 252L and 252M applies with even greater force to this Amendment. I said on the earlier Amendments that I feared that the majority that was required was so low that it would be easy for dissident groups to upset the sole bargaining agent procedure. In this connection we are dealing with two years, and they are two years in which there will inevitably be time to work up steam on the inability of the sole bargaining agent to satisfy everybody employed in the unit. Two years is all too short a period really to test out the value of a decision which has caused a definite order to be made under Clause 49. Three years, even, might be too short a period, as those of us who have had experience of bargaining procedures and have been parties to collective bargaining will know, to test out thoroughly such procedures and the results which might flow from them. It is too short a period, I think. But it could very well be extended to three years; and I believe we ought not to include in this Bill too much to make it too easy to upset the procedures which we are now agreeing to in all the clauses which have now gone through the Committee. I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Champion, accused me of trying to have it both ways on the last Amendment, but he was slightly unfair about that, because I think it is the Government's job to make certain that in this Bill all parties are taken care of. I think that one of the ways to do that is probably to give more discretion to the Industrial Commission and to write smaller proportions into the Bill. It could be done in that way. But if the noble Lord accused me of trying to have it both ways on that Amendment, I certainly could accuse him of having it both ways on this one, because the Opposition Front Bench has been arguing that two years is far too long on applications going the other way.

It seems to me that we ought to have one rule for both sides. That is why I think the Opposition Front Bench and the Liberal Benches are in agreement on the question of eligibility to vote on agency shops, because we say that, whatever the rules are, they should be the same both ways. It seems to me that on applications, and the gap between applications, one way or the other, one may say that two years, which is the time which the Government have put forward all the way through as a gap for different kinds of applications, is too big, or one may say it is too small; but I do not think one is really entitled to say that it is too large in the set of circumstances where it is felt that it is to the detriment of the closed shop, or the agency shop, and that it is too short when it comes to the question of breaking up such a situation—a bargaining agency, or whatever it may happen to be. It seems to me that two years all the way through is a perfectly good figure. But whatever is decided, I am quite certain it should be the same all the way through the Bill. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and this really is not an Amendment which we should support.


I think the brief interventions by the two noble Lords have shown clearly that the Bill is right, because the noble Lord, Lord Champion, felt that the period should be longer—three years instead of two—and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. was I think right to point out to the Committee that it is really a question of getting the right balance, and that if possible the provisions should be fairly balanced right through the Bill. It is as it was on the previous Amendment, a question of judgment, but I would say to the Committee that to increase the period from two to three years, as is suggested in the noble Lord's Amendment, is really too long, and I would commend to the Committee that we keep the Bill as it is.


I am sure that the Government Front Bench must be rather satisfied with the position in which the Liberal Party and the main Opposition are at variance, and they can sit back and decide to come in between us and strike a balance between the two points of view. I do not regard this as the type of Amendment on which we ought to divide, and I therefore beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 49, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 50 [Action in pursuance of application under s. 49]:

On Question, Whether Clause 50 shall stand part of the Bill?

12.2 a.m.


We do not like this clause, and might have to vote against it. We oppose it for what is now the familiar reason that it involves the Court in the process of recognition and de-recognition, and also because it involves the Court in ordering a ballot to be taken, instead of having the matter considered by the Commission on the merits of the application. As the clause stands, it puts a premium on encouraging non-unionism and encouraging a multiplicity of unions. In subsection (6) a ballot can be limited to whether a trade union should cease to be the sole bargaining agent for a section of the bargaining unit. It contemplates one trade union, or a professional body, approaching the members of another trade union. We believe that this will not make for the best interests of the sole bargaining agent procedure, for the setting up of such a sole bargaining agent, or for ensuring that it works for a period. Therefore, we are opposed to this clause.


I can understand why the noble Lord, Lord Champion, does not support the clause as a whole. I am sure he must be aware now, from the long debates in another place and in this we feel that it is only just that we should Committee, that the Government are well aware of the importance of stable bargaining arrangements. At the same time not have fixed arrangements for all time. It is for this reason that certain provisions have been put in in Clauses 49 and 51 which make it possible to alter the particular bargaining agent, if necessary, and to do so under these procedures. It is not that we wish to encourage what the noble Lord would call " splinter unions "; we wish to have a stable situation certainly but we do not think it fair to say that a bargaining arrangement must be right for all time.

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 [Order of Industrial Court on report under s. 50]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 252EE.

Amendment moved— Page 41, line 29, at end insert (" of employers ").—(Lord Belstead.)

12.4 a.m.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 252S. Page 41, line 33, leave out paragiaph (b).

The noble Lord said: With the permission of the Committee, and the acquiescence of the Government Front Bench I thought we might discuss Amendments Nos. 252S, 252T and 252U together. I should have thought it was quite unnecessary to tie everyone's hands to a period of two years here. Circumstances may change quite soon after the result of a ballot becomes known, and the court makes the appropriate order. In this connection—


Are we talking about 252U.A?


In my copy the " A " has been deleted. I think we are talking about 252U, "A " deleted.


I am talking about " A " deleted. I think it is the same thing: page 42, line 24, leave out subsection (5). This I am including in those Amendments which I asked permission to discuss together. I must ask the question on subsection (2): What steps will be taken to ensure that a ballot is conducted in such a way as to ensure that the vote is not restricted in any way? Clearly a majority here is the important thing. I imagine that the Government have thought out this point carefully, and that the Commission will be expected to conduct the ballot in such a way that all employees will have the opportunity of participating in it. This is something that was raised and discussed briefly on a previous Amendment, but I think it ought to be brought out here. I am hoping that whoever replies for the Government will satisfy me that there will never be any possibility of a ballot, or of the people participating in a ballot, being restricted in such a way as to cause the ballot to go one way or another.

I cannot see any reason why, for a period of two years, no recognition of the party which was the sole bargaining agent shall be granted, no matter how much the position has changed. It is true that no group of employers, or a single employer, want to be under the instruction of the Court as to the sole bargaining agent, one day and then, as a result of the ballot, to be told that the order has been cancelled and within a very short period to go through the process all over again. I must admit that I am not too sure about this. I am anxious to hear what the Government have to say in favour of the retention of these paragraphs. The clause is important. The paragraphs I am talking about may or may not be important, but I want to hear what the Government have to say about them. I beg to move.


I am filled with admiration at the way in which Lord Champion has skated over what must be the main object of these Amendments. He is trying to have it both ways. Obviously, the main object of this Amendment is to do away with the two-year period, which he was trying to extend to three years in a different situation. Now he is trying to do away with it altogether. I think that there is a real point here, which was also raised when we talked about one-fifth and two-fifths.

It seems to me that at this stage we are trying to legislate in far too much detail for the cases that are likely to come up. If we have an Industrial Court and a Commission which are going to be the serious and high-powered bodies that everyone accepts they are to be, we are trying to tie them down too much. I think they should have more powers and more discretion about the proportion of the employees concerned in applications. I think also that they should have more discretion about time—not about the basic two years, which I agree is all right; but this business about how a section of the employees who are involved in an application may not then be involved in another application. You may have situations where two or three different classes of employees try to get a sole bargaining agent position, and it does not appear to work out, but it becomes obvious in the course of time that a slightly different combination of the various forms of workers in a rather loose industrial situation might have a better chance of succeeding. It seems a pity that it is tied down as much as it is, is as complicated as it is. I feel that there should be more discretion left to the Industrial Commission on questions such as this.


The effect of these Amendments, as I am sure the Committee is well aware, would be to remove the requirement that the employer must not recognise a union from whom recognition has been withdrawn after a ballot under Clause 50, for a period of two years. I should have thought that the two-year prohibition on recognition is necessary to allow the situation in the bargaining unit to settle down. I am sure that this is important. The first Amendment deals with ballots, which extends to the whole bargaining unit, and the second with ballots which extend only to a section of a bargaining unit. The provisions have been very carefully thought out, and I would suggest to the Committee that withdrawal of recognition can happen only if a substantial proportion of employees is dissatisfied with the bargaining agent. Also withdrawal can only take effect after the C.I.R. has tried to settle the matter on a voluntary basis and where those efforts have failed after a majority vote by secret ballot. If recognition is withdrawn from a union after all these processes have been gone through, I suggest that it should indicate some real dissatisfaction.

If these Amendments were accepted, and the related Amendment which the noble Lord said that he wished to discuss. No. 252UA, a dispossessed union would be able to make a fresh application for recognition under Clause 43 at any time after the employees on whose behalf it had been negotiating had said that they were dissatisfied with its performance, and for this reason I would advise the Committee not to accept the Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that explanation. I think she is on a good point in connection with it, and if I am permitted by the Front Bench to withdraw it, I shall be happy to ask leave to do so.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 252FF formally.

Amendment moved— Page 42, line 3, at end insert (" or employers ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


Page 42, line 26, at end insert— (" () the application is made by the organisation of workers in respect of which the order was made, or, where the order was made in respect is a joint negotiating panel, the application s made by an organisation of workers represented on that panel.").

The noble Baroness said: The effect of this Amendment is to relax the existing ban in Clause 51(5) on Clause 43 applications so that it applies only to an organisation of workers from which recognition has been withdrawn in accordance with a Clause 50 order. I beg to move.

Clause 51, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 52 [Unfair industrial practices relating to pending questions as to recognition of sole bargaining agent]:

On Question, Whether Clause 52 shall stand part of the Bill?


I have nothing particular to say against this clause because, frankly, I do not understand it. I do not know who has tried to read the clause and to understand it. I can well imagine that some of your Lordships have done so. This is one of the clauses under the label "Supplementary ". My dictionary tells me that " supplementary" means adding something that was lacking. I hope that in the course of discussion someone will add something supple- mentary to my understanding of this clause, because I must admit that there is something lacking in my understanding of it. It occupies 55 lines of the Bill, and in subsection (1) there are references back to subsection (4) of Clause 43 and to Clause 45 in paragraph (c). We learn that: A question to which this section applies, and which falls within paragraph (e) but neither within paragraph (b) nor within Paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, shall for the purposes of this section be taken to be pending at any time … and: At any time when a question to which this section applies is pending in accordance with subsection (2) or subsection (3) of this section it shall be an unfair industrial practice— … et cetera.

I have read the clause a few times and I vaguely feel that here we have another reference to the phrase so obviously loved 'by the Government, that if this, that or the other is ever done or not done, somebody will be " done " lot an unfair industrial practice. I honestly believe that I have sorted the thing out in that last effort. I should be grateful if some noble Lord opposite can now tell me in simple terms what the convolutions, the twists and turns, the reference; to things that have gone into the Bill and been passed and so on are all about.


I will try to make it clear. What this clause sets out to do is to make it an unfair industrial practice to take industrial action while a question is pending. This, seems a sensible thing to do. A quest on can be pending from the time when a notice is given to the Secretary of State of an intention to make an application. That is the first stage. The second stage is when the application has been made to the N.I.R.C. to refer questions to the C.I.R. The third stage is when the C.I.R. is investigating the issue. I think that while any of these matters is before the Secretary of State for conciliation, or before the Court for decision, or an application, is being studied by the Commission, it is reasonable that influence should not be brought to bear by way of a strike or lock-out or other industrial action. It would be an unfair industrial practice to bring such influence to bear. This is the purpose of the clause. I hope I have explained it briefly and clearly to the noble Lord, Lord Champion. It would be possible to go into each convolution as he calls them, but I hope that explanation satisfies him.


I do not think it is quite so easy as that. We have had a very busy night and some of us feel as fresh as daisies. We have had a very easy night and have gone through things easily and there is quite a lot of pleasure on the Benches opposite. That is as it should be, because we do not want too much asperity at this time of the morning. Nevertheless, this is quite a new concept, introduced for the first time in the history of trade unionism. It now gives us a wide variety of clauses of this Bill which can be related to " unfair industrial actions". So far as I can understand the matter at this early hour of the morning, it would be an unfair industrial action, as the Minister has just said, if an action were taken while discussions were pending about all sorts of (and I use the word used by my noble friend) convolutions—which is a beautiful word.

The courts would come in—this is the trouble. How clear are these definitions? This is serious. Am I not right (I ask this question interrogatively and not didactically) in saying that these courts could award damages or make orders—we have heard a lot about this during the two or three weeks we have been working on this Bill—and the remedies could apply against anyone who put pressure on an employer, or even on an employee. Could hearsay be used in this case? It is no good laughing at this, because at certain times when a nation feels in danger or when there is an isolated feeling because a great industry is at a standstill, or there is a lock-out or a strike, gossip in the village pub, or on the local Rugby field or elsewhere, can be repeated. Can things like that be used as evidence? Are we quite sure that the snooping element is not going to be used against this great trade union movement?

Finally, in regard to vague phrases, I use this axiom that should be understood in semantics: never let an abstract noun be the agent of a verb. This Bill is full of abstract nouns. One of them has been (although we have forgotten it; it was many clauses back), " to his best endeavours ". That was a vague phrase we dealt with somewhere in the middle of a morning a day or two ago. There are all kinds of vague phrases which a young barrister and others could use to absolutely blind with semantic and legal science a shop steward or leaders of the trade union movement. I think noble Lords on the Front Bench have been going far too easily. I am glad I came into the Chamber at this early hour. We have been going too easily in accepting these provisions " on the nod ", with very difficult explanations of legal phrases. I can see that to-night the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is in a cheerful mood. God forbid that I should make him irascible! But I would beg of him now to try to make the position a little more clear than it was a moment or two before I spoke.

12.24 a.m.


I would say only one word. I do not understand what the noble Lord has been saying about the danger of snooping. This is not a question of snooping; this is industrial action. There is no question of snooping about that. It will be for all to see.


I come back on the question of " an unfair practice ". Who decides what an unfair practice is? Can anybody report that an unfair practice has been done? If I am a member of the steel industry or work in a pit, and am a local scrum half for the Rugby club playing for my industry in South Wales (it was a game I enjoyed in my youth), I may talk about these things in the local club after a match. I might report on A, B or C because he has committed what I consider to be unfair practices. Is silly gossip of that kind going to be taken into consideration when we are trying to arrive at a decision in a very difficult situation about unfair practices? I think it is a fair question. When the noble Lord says he does not understand it, the truth is that nobody understands what this phraseology is in crystal clear English.


I will give a short answer to the noble Lord. The answer is, No.

LORD DAVIES OF LEEK: That at least is clear.

Clause 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 [Unfair industrial practices in connection with collective bargaining procedures]:


Amendment No. 253 is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 45, line 4, leave out ("relates") and insert ("related ")—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 253A: Page 45, line 26, after ("lock-out") insert ("either individually or in association with other employers").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is merely intended to add the plural to the threats contained in the subsection. It could be considered as drafting, and I am going to move it briefly, despite the fact that I might get into trouble with my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek, who is not a little bit satisfied with his Front Bench. I am sorry about that. First of all I got into trouble with the Liberal Party, and now with my own Back Bench. I must try not to do this. My idea is to keep these things sweet and smooth in every Committee that I participate in. I beg to move.


I should not like the noble Lord, Lord Champion, to be in trouble with anybody in this Committee, and I might say to him that the easiest way to avoid that would be not to press this Amendment. It is unnecessary, because if the noble Lord looks at the definition clause, Clause 158, at page 116, he will see that " lock-out " is defined, and it covers action by one or more employees. Therefore, I suggest the noble Lord would keep happy by not pressing the Amendment.


The definition clause, Clause 158, will be the death of me. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 53 shall stand part of the Bill?


This clause I find comparatively clear and understandable in comparison with the preceding one. Once again I find in this clause that where penalties might be inflicted the organisation of workers is ranged alongside a trade union. This is in contrast, for example, to Clause 43(2), under which only a trade union is permitted to make an application to the Court for recognition as a sole bargaining agent. Once again it seems to me that the attempt is being made to apply pressure on the organisation of workers to apply to the registrar for registration as a trade union. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, told us on Second Reading that there are some 170 references in the Bill to an " unfair industrial practice ". When I get time I must try to count the number of instances in the Bill of the attempts by the Government to apply pressure on organisations of workers—trade unions, properly so called, I would say—by such means as are included in this clause: because this clause contains the sort of references that we first met in Clause 34. I am bound to say that I am very much against this clause, and unless I get a satisfactory answer to these briefly put points, I shall have to ask the Committee to divide against it.


I hope that I shall be able to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Champion. The idea behind this Clause 53 is our belief that, where the N.I.R.C. has made an order concerning bargaining structure, that order must be enforceable, and that the bargaining structure established as a result of the C.I.R.'s investigation should be protected from disruption by a third party; that is why this clause describes as unfair industrial practice actions which would contravene those principles. I do not expect that at this time of night the Committee would wish me to go into every subsection of this clause, but this is the general thinking behind it, and I would suggest to the Committee that it is fair in its concept.

Clause 53, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 54 [General duty of employers to disclose information]:

12.32 a.m.

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 254B: Page 45, line 29, after (" of ") insert ("consultation and").

The noble Lord said: When one of your Lordships starts proposing an Amendment with the idea that it will be acceptable in all parts of your Lordships' House he is usually trying to " pull a fast one ". In this case I really am not. I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has put his name to it, which is consummating the rapprochement between the Labour and Liberal Benches. I hope the Government Front Bench will accept this Amendment, because it seems to me it is very much a part of their thinking, one of the points where we all come together; because we have on occasion all come together, and this was true during the Second Reading debate, which is now difficult to remember.

I think one of the things we were concerned about in all parts of the House was that there should be consultation and partnership between both sides of industry, and the giving of more information from the employers' side to the employees was regarded as a very great step forward. This clause, as at present drafted, says that: For the purposes of collective bargaining between an employer and trade union representative, it shall … be the duty of the employer to disclose …

Our Amendment would say " for the purposes of consultation and collective bargaining ". I do not know whether this is perfectly drafted, but the object of it, it seems to me, is perfectly clear: that it is not just when collective bargaining comes up on a particular issue that the employers have a duty to give information about what is happening in the firm. It is a continuing process, and if it is not a continuing process it will not be an effective process; it will not be an effective process even at the stage of collective bargaining. What we want to see is a continuing flow of partnership, consultation, information between the two sides of industry. It may be said that this can all be written into the code of practice, and I have no doubt it could. But it seems to me it is worth while writing it into the Bill; if you are saying it for the purposes of collective bargaining, I think it is worth seeing that for other purposes it is written into the law of the land that it shall be the duty of employers to disclose information to their employees. I beg to move.


I think I would like to support this Amendment. I agree with what has been said. Much of the weight of the discussion that has been going on for days seems to be based on the impression that, generally speaking all that is necessary is to get some form of straitjacket for collective bargaining. But before you can get that on a sensible plane I think an air of consultation needs to be developed, and one of the factors that seems to be standing high and paramount where we have peace in industry is consultation; where you have concultation between management and men there there is less likely to be friction.

I see no reason why this Amendment could not be accepted, because there are other things besides wages, conditions and consultations. I gave an example earlier of a shop, with the temperature well below zero, where metal had to be cut very accurately for submarines. It was not a matter of stopping the shop, but of bringing heat into the shop; it was only a matter of intelligent management and shop stewards getting together. Without delaying the Committee, and extending the debate, I wish to support the Amendment moved so ably by the noble Lord on the Liberal Benches.


I do not wish to argue for a moment that regular exchange of information between management and trade union representatives is not good industrial practice. Clearly it is a good thing. This is going to be provided for in Clause 2(2)(b) by the code of practice, and it will include practical guidance to employers about the establishment and maintenance of effective means of communication with their employees. Here we are all agreed. But I must disagree with the noble Lord about his Amendment. We see a real danger in extending the forms of consultations which are provided in Clause 54 beyond collective bargaining as defined in the Bill itself. We do not think this is a good idea. Indeed, we think it could be counterproductive.

I would remind the noble Lord that Clause 54 lays serious obligations on employers, and their failure to fulfil these may take them before the Industrial Court or the Arbitration Board. It is our belief that if we extend the umbrella of the clause to cover not only formal negotiations of collective bargaining but also informal consultations, this would discourage employers from engaging in just those informal consultations we believe they should engage in. Although I am not at all unsympathetic to ideas which would encourage consultations in industry, I do not believe that this Amendment is one which the Committee should endorse. Perhaps I should remind noble Lords opposite that their Bill, Mrs. Castle's Bill, was as tightly drawn in this respect as this Bill is, and I think for much the same reasons.


My first pleasurable duty is to welcome the noble Earl to the night shift. May I now turn to the Amendment, which has the support of both Liberal and Labour Benches? I have listened carefully to what the noble Earl had to say. I am not sure that I am going to agree with him completely, but I am going to press the Amendment a little further. The noble Earl seemed to be distinguishing between consultation and collective bargaining, and to be envisaging two separate processes.

By " consultation " I think he was envisaging what he said was informal consultation, which as I understood it did not finish up with formal collective bargaining. I do not know precisely what was in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, but what I particularly had in mind was that the total negotiating process should work as smoothly and happily as possible, and for that purpose I think the information is needed at an early stage rather than at a final stage, and I think an early stage might well be called the consultative stage as opposed to the hard collective bargaining stage.

I do not wish to dissent from what the noble Earl has said about putting unnecessary responsibilities on employers where a failure to carry out those responsibilities unfortunately, and by no desire on this side of the Committee, leads to difficulties and court procedures. But I am not absolutely clear what the words " for the purposes of " mean. Therefore I am not absolutely clear whether the information could be required prior to the collective bargaining proper taking place, on the ground that it is needed " for the purposes of ", and therefore in advance of the actual time of collective bargaining. I hope I have made my position clear to the noble Earl.

I am anxious that the total negotiations should proceed smoothly. For those reasons informal bargaining is a necessary precursor to formal bargaining. The information should come as early as possible. I am saying, therefore, that even though the noble Earl might wish to use language which would say " where you are just having a process of general consultation which is not intended, even, to lead up to collective bargaining, it is not a condition that the employer should supply this information ", nevertheless where you are having discussions which are preliminary to and intended to lead up to final collective hard bargaining, the information ought to be available at the earliest possible stage. Does the noble Earl think he can meet us by reconsidering that aspect of it, so as to produce the most hopeful atmosphere and circumstances to a successful outcome of collective bargaining?


I am grateful for the words of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, but I am surprised that he was so self-restrained; that he did not take advantage of the opportunity to point out to the Government how peculiarly their attitude on this Amendment fits in with their attitude on the rest of the Bill. A complaint, and to a certain extent a justified complaint, of the Opposition Front Bench has been that the Government wish to put shackles on that which would better be done voluntarily.

At this stage the Government are suddenly saying that if they put in a very mild addition to this clause it will somehow stop. Not only will it not actually ensure that what the Amendment seeks to do is done; it will actually in same ways stop it. The fact that it is written in the Bill that consultations should happen for this particular purpose will stop consultations happening. I find it difficult to accept that the giving of information for collective bargaining really will be of much use unless there is a continuing situation where the representatives of the trade unions know what is going on in the firm. The Government have spoken of this clause as if it laid some rather onerous obligations on employers. I do not think that they are onerous at all. I think this is probably the absolute minimum of what one would expect from any decent employer or from any employer with a good idea of labour relations. It is a situation in fact which exists already in a good many firms and industries. I look forward with interest to what the noble Earl will say in response to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. But unless the answer is the peak of precise satisfaction, I sincerely hope that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, will stand by his Party on this Amendment and that we shall press this to a Division.


If I may just say a word or two in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and also in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, this is not a question of an onerous obligation: it is a legal obligation imposed by Clause 54 and for which definite legal sanction is applied by Clause 98. For that purpose, it is absolutely necessary that the nature of the obligation should be defined with sufficient precision to be applied by the Court; otherwise it is meaningless.

The words " collective bargaining " are terms of art which are used in the Bill because they are the subject of precise definition in Clause 158. I mention this with trepidation lest I should again prove to be the death of the noble Lord, Lord Champion! But there is in fact, if noble Lords are sufficiently interested to look it up, a precise definition referring to negotiations on terms and conditions of work in subsection (1) of Clause 158; and therefore the obligation as drawn is a precise obligation, capable of being enforced by the Court. " Consultation " is not precise: it means anything that may be chosen between the parties and it would not, at any rate in my judgment —and I submit that this is a reasonable judgment—be right to ask the Court to decide what was necessary for the purpose of consultation. Anything may be necessary for consultation: it all depends on what you want to consult about.

Having said that, the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, asked what is the meaning of " for the purposes of ". I do not propose to paraphrase that, but I would say to him that as negotiations proceed, quite clearly more and different information may be desirable at different stages of a negotiation. Probably in the early stages information is forthcoming without much difficulty: as the negotiation becomes closer, it may become more difficult to extract the information. But at any stage when the union feels it is required for the purpose of collective bargaining and that the employer is not performing his duty, its remedy is to go to Clause 98 or, as the case may be, to Clauses 97 and 101, to enforce the duty on the employer imposed by this clause or by Clause 53. The Industrial Court can then impose the appropriate remedy.

Clause 54, of course, also contains a reference to the code of practice which will illuminate to some extent the kind of information that is required. What is quite clear is that the range of information will be extraordinarily wide and must necessarily vary with the type of negotiations that are contemplated. If you make the " triggering off " point anything so woolly as the word " consultation " rather than " collective bargaining ", I think you would ultimately reduce the clause to meaninglessness. My noble friend is quite right: without any kind of desire to cast doubt upon the desirability of consultation of the fullest and most continuous kind, it is not acceptable to insert the word here as part of the legal obligation imposed by the section.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. I obviously cannot speak entirely for the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, but so far as we were concerned consultation was put in not as a separate process by itself, but as the process leading up to collective bargaining. From what the noble and learned Lord has said, in conjunction with what the definition clause says, it seems to me to mean that at whatever point this information is thought to be necessary, however early in the negotiations, it can be asked for; and if the union is asking for it right at the start and thinks it necessary, and there is a disagreement whether it is necessary, it could—one would hope that it would not be necessary to do this—get substantiation for its point of view from the proper authority. Therefore the collective bargaining would not be held up or denied through lack of the appropriate information. In those circumstances, I think what the noble and learned Lord has said has been very helpful indeed.


I think the fears of the noble and learned Lord are groundless, because it is quite clear from the clause as it would be if amended, and as I hope it may be, that the interpretation of it is exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said our intention was, because it is still governed by paragraphs (a) and (b). These are the criteria of the kind of information which must be produced. The fears of the noble and learned Lord, that no one might be able to decide exactly what was necessary for consultation, I feel are groundless. He may then come back on the other tack, which I think has probably more substance, that in that case consultation does not add anything. But I do think it adds something psychologically. I think it adds something to the kind of industrial relations we want to see. I think the dangers are guarded against, and, if the Labour Front Bench would be in agreement, I would still like to press this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

12.53 a.m.

LORD TERRINGTON moved Amendment No. 254A:

Page 46, line 17, at end insert— (" or (c) being a body corporate to disclose information which it is not required to make available to members of the undertaking.").

The noble Lord said: I would like to speak very briefly to this Amendment. Its object is a simple one, to try as far as we can to arrive at equality of treatment on this whole question of disclosure of information. I would like to make quite clear that it is not designed in any way to try and withhold information from trade union representatives, and I would very much like to underline this point. The difficulty I find at the moment is that I do not know what sort of information is going to be involved in subsection (1). Presumably that will come with the code of practice. I imagine that certain information which will be given to the trade unions would not be of any particular interest to shareholders, and here I see no problem. On the other hand, I think there could well be matters of which the owners of the undertaking ought to be informed at the same time as the trade union representatives, and here I think perhaps there might be difficulties.

I originally tabled an Amendment which I thought would take care of this point, but I was subsequently advised that I was becoming involved with the Com- panies Act, and I therefore put down this alternative, although I realise that its wording is probably too restrictive for acceptance by the Committee. However, my purpose remains the some as it was, and as we are considering statutory disclosure of information I feel we ought to make quite certain that we are dealing with it in the fairest way to all people concerned. I beg to move.


I should like briefly to support the noble Lord. It seems to me that the idea behind his Amendment is sound. I have no doubt that a trade union and a company may very often give each other the fullest possible information quite regardless of what the law may require, but I cannot see quite why it is particularly necessary that one party should give a great deal of information to the other party which, if it were the other way round, would be described as " snooping ". I have no doubt whatever that to give a great deal of information is right, but I cannot see why the prospective employee should have more right to know about the company that is going to employ him than the shareholder has. I think there should be some relation between the two, and for that reason I support the noble Lord.


I do not know that all that much more is being asked for than is being given to the shareholders. In American practice it is quite common for the trade union movement, when making demands in collective bargaining, to make suggestions as. to how a shop or plant could work more efficiently. Where the union has responsible accountants and others representing it, the information can be kept professionally, so long as the trade union side has its professional representatives and the employer's side has its professional representatives. There is no need for a leakage of information.

When the professionals representing the trade unions know the financial position of a firm they are able to judge it and come to a sensible idea regarding collective bargaining or on wages. This will be helped by the fact that the trade union has, through its lawyers, information of a professional nature which could be divulged to them, and some of which at least may still be kept secret. This information, far from clogging the wheels of progress and the wheels of collective bargaining, would help. I consider that the producer is just as important as the entrepreneur who is in the lucky position of being able to invest. If we want this partnership, collective bargaining and this machinery to be successful, I believe that information should be given.

Without pressing it at this early hour, hope that note will be taken of the need for an absolutely honest approach to the trade union movement so far as the financial or other situation of a firm at a moment of difficulty when demands are made. I feel that both sides of industry have the right to access to the most honest information, provided that a formula can be found where there will be no undue use made of that information for private gain by any of the parties concerned. I know it is a very difficult question.


I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Terrington, would think that it might be convenient, at the same time that we discuss this Amendment which he has moved, also to refer to the other two Amendments which he has down on the Order Paper in the same sense, Nos. 286A and 287A, which amend Clause 151. If that is convenient to the Committee, I could perhaps refer to them. Did the noble Lord want to say something?

LORD SHACKLETON: See how it goes.


It is merely a question of referring to Amendments which are of the same sense, though they will naturally have to be moved separately. The noble Lord, Lord Terrington, was supported in his views by my noble friend Lord Cones-ford. It seemed to me that, in the case of bodies corporate, these Amendments would restrict the employer's obligation to disclose information to trade union representatives in collective bargaining under Clause 54, and to employees generally under Clause 55, to information which he is required to make available to shareholders and other members of his organisation. If we refer to the three Amendments together, the first relates to the type of information which can be disclosed. That is repeated in the second Amendment, which sets the same limits on the information which is to be disclosed by employers in annual statements to their employees.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, seemed to have a little doubt about this Amendment, and thought that in some ways trade unions might not be given sufficient information. As I understood what was said, and the way in which the Amendment is framed, I should have thought that all it did was to ensure that only so much information was given as was given to the shareholders of a company or an undertaking. Certainly it would be, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Davies, " an honest approach ", and adequate information would be given. There is a real point here and, if I may, I should like on behalf of the Government to say that we should like to consider these Amendments —perhaps not exactly in their present form, but certainly in their sense—and see what we can do at a later stage.


I should like—


I do not want to anticipate what the noble Lord, Lord Terrington, is going to say, but I think the Government would like to know our views about this Amendment. The noble Baroness was of course very careful to say that, although she was disposed to regard the Amendment with some sympathy, the precise words were to be considered. The precise words are: … to disclose information which is not required ". I imagine that the words " not required mean not separately required under the Companies Act. Therefore, I am bound to say that if that is what is in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Terrington, it would be such a limitation of the information required to be given that it would mean, when added to the various limitations included in Clause 151, that the supply of information would be virtually worthless. All this would mean is that the workers or unions acting on behalf of the workers could go and look at the balance sheet, in the same way as everybody else could go and look at the balance sheet—


By paying for it.


Did my noble friend wish to speak?


I merely said as anybody could see it under the Companies Act, by approaching it. I want something more than that, and I am expressing gratitude to my noble friend for making the point.


I am grateful. As usual, we are saying the same thing, only I am saying it a little less interrogatively than my noble friend is saying it. But they could either do that, or go to a shareholders' meeting by the simple process of buying one share on the market —assuming that it is a public company and is quoted—and ask questions in the same way as shareholders ask questions. That is giving no information at all for these negotiating or collective bargaining purposes. It merely means giving the same information as is normally given when a board supplies its shareholders with information. It means giving it at a time which may be convenient for the company but totally inconvenient, and probably wholly irrelevant, for the purpose of the collective bargaining.

Therefore I must say that if it were interpreted literally in that way we should be bound to say that this was a wrecking Amendment. The noble Lord understands that I do not mean this in any pejorative sense: just that in effect it would be a totally wrecking Amendment in the sense that what started off as a helpful way to improve collective bargaining and to bring up to the level of good companies which already supply the information the practice of those which do not supply it, by statutory requirement, would finish as being a mere nothing. So I hope I am making it clear to the noble Baroness that that would not be of any help at all. In fact, the more one thinks of it and the more one considers Clause 151, which is somewhat ahead of us but is referred to in the third line of this clause (I am sure the draftsman was wise in drafting his Bill in this way, but if the draftsman puts the provisions in a clause which is 100 clauses away instead of putting them at the bottom of the clause itself, it is inevitable that I should have to look somewhat ahead) and the rubric of which is "Immunity of confidential information ", one sees that it provides a pageful of protection and safeguards in respect of the information that can be required under the clause and under the Amendment we are now considering.

So the present position already is that there is ample protection, in our view. It is proper that there should t e protection, but there is ample protection. Coupled with the penalties which are provided somewhere else in the Bill for those who disclose information improperly there is already adequate protection. So although it is always pleasant to hear the Government say a hat they will consider sympathetically what has been put forward, I want them to understand—and I hope the noble Baroness will understand—that we are very concerned indeed about what she has said. We hope that nothing is going to be done to damage in any way at all—and this Amendment would damage fundamentally—the hopeful start that has been made in this clause to giving information and enabling collective bargaining to go ahead on the basis of both sides knowing the facts.


I should particularly like to draw your Lordships' attention to the importance of this clause in the fact that I feel it will encourage workers in an industry to take an interest in that industry. One of the terrible things in this country is the apathy that exists; men's complete lack of interest in their union, their works or anything else. I feel that the way Clause 54 has been drafted is an attempt by Her Majesty's Government to encourage workers to take an interest in what is going on. I like the drafting, and I should not like it to be amended in any way which has been put forward. I cannot support this Amendment, and I do not think that the Committee should support it.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, gave a valuable comment to this Committee in trying to put the other side of the case as he saw it. He will recall that when I said that we would consider these Amendments sympathetically I said that we could not accept the wording as the Amendments now stood. Of course, he is quite right, because the Amendments as they are drafted at the moment include limited and unlimited companies, some chartered bodies, public corporations and also trade unions as defined in the Bill. Members of companies, who may be shareholders, are entitled to receive information specified in the Companies Acts. That kind of information is not really the kind that was in the mind of my noble friend Lord Balfour when he said how important it was that in this whole process of collective bargaininc, as much genuine information as possible should be given to each side and there should be, if possible, an attitude of genuine partnership. I would agree with the importance of this.

The code of practice itself will give guidance about the kind of information which it would be correct for employers to disclose in collective bargaining, and regulations will lay down what should be included in annual statements to employees under Clause 55. I am sure that the Committee will realise from the way the clause is drafted that an attempt has been made by the Government to try to improve the method of giving information. I have sympathy with the views put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Terrington, and we will certainly look at what he has said and see whether we can put forward some provisions which are not as restrictive as is feared by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, but which will meet his point.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the sympathetic reply and the interesting discussion we have had on this point. I should like to reaffirm that it is in no way my intention to try to withhold information from trade union representatives. I am merely concerned about the method of its handling and the equity between the various people concerned. Having said that. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.


Is it your Lordships pleasure that this Amendment be withdrawn?


On Question, Amendment negatived.

1.12 a.m.

LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 254D:

Page 46, line 20, leave out (" or ") and insert— (" () an official of an independent organisation of workers, or ")

The noble Lord said: Here we are dealing with subsection (5) of the clause, which is the subsection in which the trade union representative is defined in such a way as to include an official of a registered trade union, or any other person authorised by or on behalf of a registered trade union. A trade union representative is referred to as being entitled to certain information. This Amendment wants to make it clear that the Government have in mind, and that the Bill will so provide, that an official of an independent organisation or a worker who has the identical problem of conducting collective bargaining on behalf of his members with the employers, or employers' association, will have the same rights to information so that collective bargaining can go on in exactly the same way.


As I understand it, this Amendment would require employers to disclose information for the purpose of collective bargaining to officials of an independent organisation of workers not registered as a trade union. I do not wish to go into any very long discussion about this, because the principle embodied in the noble Lord's Amendment has already been debated at considerable length in this House and in this Committee—not least this evening. It will not surprise noble Lords opposite if I reaffirm that registration is a central feature of this Bill.

A NOBLE LORD: Shocking!


The noble Lord says. " Shocking! " The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, must have been aware that this was the case.


Since the noble Earl has mentioned my name, did he not hear the speech of his noble friend, Lord Belstead, concerning the interim period? When the C.I.R. have recommended the approval of an independent organisation there is an interim period between then and the need to register. What happens then?


I am aware of that; but the noble Lord must be equally aware that it is in our view a fundamental principle that the privileges and rights that the Bill confers should be restricted to those organisations which have accepted the responsibility implied by registration. Among those rights is the very important right in Clause 54 giving trade union representatives access to information relevant to collective bargaining. To put it plainly and simply, I am convinced that there is no good reason for excepting the provisions of Clause 54 from this general concept. In view of this I cannot advise the Committee to accept this Amendment.


I really am shocked by the noble Earl's reply. Noble Lords may be amused: I am sure they are genuinely amused; but I am utterly shocked. It never occurred to me for one second that the Government would be openly expressing the view that it was right so to penalise the trade unions. which were not registered as to make it impossible for them to carry out their tasks. Nowhere else in the Bill is such a punitive attitude taken. Noble Lords who did laugh, and those who are still smiling, fill me with surprise because we are all interested in the same thing, improving industrial relations.

We all have a sense of fair play. I do not know how the Government can attempt to justify the claim that it is right for a trade union which has gone through all the formalities of registering to be enabled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of their members, but that it is wrong that a trade union that has not done so should be unable to conduct them. This is absolutely spiteful determination to destroy those trade unions which do not register. I now take a totally different view of the Government's intentions. I am now satisfied, because nobody could have made it clearer than the noble Earl speaking on behalf of the Government, that the Government are determined to smash the unions who do not register—knowing that the T.U.C. is proposing to advise all its member unions not to register. The Government have now sounded the knell for a complete head-on clash with the unions.

I do not imagine it will be possible for any of us to help with bridging the difficulties. This is a mistake of the first magnitude, an absolutely astonishing mistake. It is totally impossible to reconcile—even if the Government took the view that this was right—with those provisions of the Bill to which my noble Leader referred. This is why I am so astonished at what the noble Earl has said. It is regarded as proper, it is regarded as right, that a non-registered trade union should be not only in existence but should be a sole bargaining unit. I hope that information will be welcome to the noble Lord who is still sniggering. He is entitled to snigger. I doubt if he has given sufficient thought to the seriousness of what we are now considering.

The Government have laid down in the Bill that a non-registered trade union is not only a responsible institution but should have the sole bargaining rights, and should have them up to a period of six months—no longer. Under this provision that union is not going to be able to conduct bargaining on what the Government have accepted in this clause is a fair method of bargaining, namely, a system under which both the employer and the employees—for the first time—have the necessary information to be on all fours in bargaining, so that bargaining means that both start off on level pegging. Although that is accepted in this clause, it will not be capable of being put into effect. Any negotiations during that period of six months will have to be held over. I am astonished at the response of the Government.


We cannot let the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, get away with this one. He is mixing up two entirely different questions. I was not either laughing or sniggering; I think it is an important question. The two questions he is mixing up are whether an official of an independent organisation of workers should be able to have this information during the transitory six months, or always. What the Amendment says is nothing to do with six months. It just says that such a person should be empowered to have this information and to exercise his rights, and not within six months; if it did say that it would be a good Amendment; one ought to support it, and if the Government turned it down he would be right to be shocked. But it is not actually what the Amendment says. If he is carrying on his s lock to say that an independent body of workers has this particular right all the time, then I think the shock becomes slightly less, shall we say—



—acute. The point is that at the moment no trade union representative, no trade union official has such a right. The Government are introducing a Bill to produce certain laws and to give certain rights to certain people; they are not taking any rights away from an independent body of trade unionists, an independent organisation of workers, by excluding them. If the noble Lord cares to come back on Report stage with a slightly different Amendment I should be happy to support him, but I think this is a little mixed up.


I do not think the Government and the noble Earl have quite understood the import of this particular Amendment. I do not want to take very long, but I want to ask the Government to think again about this. It is clear that they are not going to give us anything tonight, and we shall vote on this. This is a difficulty which we have found elsewhere in discussions on this Bill. The logic of the Bill at certain points takes the Government into a position which seems to us wholly intolerable. We have had arguments on other matters, such as Equity, which I do not propose to go into now, but the reply by the noble Earl showed no sign of recognising the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. It was a flat denial, and seemed wholly inconsistent with what was said by his noble friend, Lord Belstead, and did not recognise the transition stage,

One of the things which this debate has brought out is that it is not generally appreciated that in addition to all the pains and penalties in relation to a registered trade union they are also to be denied—although I acknowledge that the Government have tried in this matter—certain of the important arrangements designed to help trade unions. They are to be driven out—I am not sure what we should be driven out of at this time of night—of the paradise which the Government think exists for trade unions. In these circumstances, unless the Government can make a gesture, even considering the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, we shall have to vote on this Amendment. We want to get on and the sooner we bring this matter to a decision the better.


I think this is a crucial point, and the case has been made by the Leader of the Opposition. It is relevant to point out that under the constitution of the International Labour Organisation Britain has a binding obligation to apply the conventions which Britain has ratified at Geneva. Convention 87, which was ratified in 1949, says: Workers' and employers' organisations shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority. The International Labour Organisation committee ruled in 1955 that deregistration could mean dissolution in circumstances when registration is essential for a union's existence, as under the plan put forward by the Tory Government.The proposed new registration set-up is totally different from that in the International Labour Organisation Convention which we ratified in 1949. We are confronted here with a problem. At this time of night, when tempers may be frayed a little, we do not want this debate to become raucous, but I think we on this side of the Committee have an important point here.


There is no substance in what has been said about dissolution of an organisation of workers who do not register. There is no problem here at all.


May I add to dissolution a point about impotence? Under this provision the impotence of the unregistered union would become obvious, but I do not want to labour that point.


The point I was going to make was simply this. There are of course a great many unions now called trade unions which will become organisations of workers, and which have negotiating rights at the present time. They will continue to exist and to have negotiating rights. It is up to the organisation of workers itself to decide whether or not it becomes a trade union. It is up to it to weigh the benefits that it will derive from becoming a trade union against any disadvantages that may be conferred. One of the benefits it will get is that under this clause a duty is laid upon the employer to give the information. That does not mean that if they do not register they will get no information; it merely means that the employer will not be under a duty under the Bill to give them the information. But it is right that we should understand this position quite clearly.

May I add just one other point? There seems to be some magic importance attached to the six months. The six months comes in twice, I think, or it may be more, in the Bill. There is a six months' interval on the provisional register. Secondly, there is the six months within which an organisation of workers or a trade union—which is recommended by the for recognition and where there has to be a ballot of workers and all the rest of it, and the Industrial Court has made a direction—may ask for a ballot. This is the point—they have six months within which to ask for the ballot, and unless they are registered they cannot ask for that ballot. There seems to be some magic being attached to this period of six months, but this is all there is to it. I think that at one point the noble Lord said that if a recommended bargaining agent which is unregistered does not register within six months, then it loses its negotiating rights. It does not lose its negotiating rights: it merely cannot get an order for negotiating rights from the Industrial Court.

1.32 a.m.


I am sorry I must return to the point. I think we both understood the position correctly, and that what I said was a fair description; that is to say, that when an organisation is appointed a sole bargaining unit as a result of a recommendation of the C.I.R., then that cannot be confirmed unless it registers in order to enable itself

to apply for a ballot. So the first step is that it will have to register, and there is a maximum of six months in which to do so. If it does not it ceases to be a trade union, and any order which would have been made would be revolved. But if it were a trade union it ceases to be one. The practical effect is that its sole bargaining rights are withdrawn from it.

As my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek said, the practical effect in terms of negotiation is that it will no longer be able to represent its members fully and adequately, as the Bill thinks a trade union ought to be enabled to do. That is the point. Therefore, I repeat: if it is not to have the right to the information to enable it to carry out its job of negotiating on behalf of its members in the same way as a registered union is, this is a vicious, punitive provision.


That is right; it is punitive.


I venture to think there are other considerations here. Before information of great importance to a company, and incidentally to its employees, is released to organisations which do not see fit to be registered and turn themselves into proper trade unions, some thought ought to be given to this. I personally support the idea that there should be privileges for registrat on, and the divulging of information should be one of them.

1.35 a.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 254D) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 15; Not-Contents, 64

Beswick, L. Gardiner, L. Shackleton, L.
Champion. L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Shepherd, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Hughes, L. Wella-Pestcll, L.
Davits of Leek, L. Milnersof Leeds, L. [Teller.] White, Bs.
Diamond, L. Serota, Bs. Wynne-Jones, L.
Aberdare, L. Burton, L. Ferrers, E.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Carrington, L. Ferrier, L.
Balfour. E. Chelmer, L. Fisher, L.
Barrington, V. Colville of Culross, V. Gowrie, E. [Teller.]
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Conesford, L. Gray, L.
Belstead, L. Cottesloe, L. Gridley, L.
Bessborough, E. Craigmyle, L. Grimston of Westbury L.
Brecon, L. Davidson, V. Hailes, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Denham, L. [Teller.] Hailsham of Saint Maryle- bone, L. (L. Chancellor.)
Buchan, E. Drumalbyn, L.
Burnham L. Dudley, E. Hankey, L.
Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Rankeillour, L. Strange, L.
Hood, V. Redesdale, L. Terrington, L.
Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Rochdale, V. Thorneycroft, L.
Kemsley, V. St. Helens, L. Thurso. V.
Lansdowne. M. St. Just, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Lothian, M. St. Oswald, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs,
Lyell, L. Sandford. L. Vivian, L.
Mancroft, L. Sandys, L. Westminster, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Savile, L. Windlesham, L.
O'Neill of the Maine, L. Selsdon, L. Yarborough, E.
Pender, L. Sempill, Ly.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. Clause 57, as amended, agreed to.

1.42 a.m.

BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 254H:

Page 46, line 25, at end insert— (" (6) The duty of employers to disclose information under the provisions of subsections (1) to (5) of this section shall also extend to the employers' side of a joint negotiating body or statutory committee set up under any enactment to deal with the remuneration of any description of workers.")

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this Amendment is to discover what thought, if any, the Government have given to the proceedings of the Burnham Committee. Your Lordships will appreciate that the last Amendment which we discussed faced us with the problem of a trade union which was not a trade union. The problem we face in this Amendment is the employer who is not an employer. We should be glad to know how the Government are proposing to deal with this matter. I suppose they have given it some consideration. Your Lordships will appreciate that in the teaching profession the negotiations on salaries and conditions are conducted through the Burnham Committee, and the management side of that Committee is not the employer; the employers, of course, are the individual local education authorities. What we wish to know is what is the position of the teachers' trade unions in this situation, because plainly it would be entirely unjust and inequitable if they did not, as trade unions negotiating about their terms of employment, have the same privileges and safeguards in the matter of disclosure of information as any other trade union or body of workers. But as we understand it, the management side of the Burnham Committee would not come under the definition in Clause 158 covering an employer. Therefore, that body would be under no obligation, as the Bill now stands, or at any rate as we read it. to disclose the type of information which any normal employer would have to disclose. I think this is a quite simple proposition. We should like to know how the Government intend to deal with the position.

The position at the moment, as I am informed, is that the local education committees give a good deal of information to the management side of Burnham which is not in fact transmitted to the teachers' side, and naturally enough they feel they ought to be in a position when they are negotiating to have the fullest possible detail of the representations made by the local education authorities to the management side of Burnham. The Amendment, as drafted, is rather wide, because there may be other instances comparable with that of the Burnham Committee. I will be quite frank with your Lordships; I do not know of any, but there may be other Members of your Lordships' House who may be aware of some comparable position. I would, of course, make it clear that at the present stage of our deliberations at any rate this is no more than a probing Amendment. We just want to know what the Government propose to do about Burnham. I beg to move.


We think that this is an important Amendment. It brings up the whole question of what is an employer. While I join with the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, and possibly with the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, in wanting to know the Government's reaction to this Amendment, I should also like to draw the Committee's attention to the possibilities of more carefully defining what is an employer in the interpretation clause. There are all sorts of awkward situations, particularly with reference to professional and semi-governmental employers, and I think the whole question wants to be looked into much more deeply.


What I had to say has been said. There are professional and semi-professional and other types of employers who are sometimes represented by national and, in other rare cases in the scientific field, by international organisations which look after their special standards. There is an echelon in the fields of biochemistry and other modern sciences. I think that the definition in Clause 158 needs extension. The impact of the Amendment is obvious to noble Lords opposite without long and involved speeches from this side.


This is a very interesting Amendment, but I am afraid that I cannot say to the noble Baroness that we feel able to accept it. I should like to try to explain why not. The effect of the Amendment would be to extend the duty to disclose information from individual employers to employers' representatives on joint negotiating bodies or on statutory committees established under an enactment dealing with workers' remuneration. As the clause stands, the duty of employers to disclose information cannot extend to the employers' side of representative negotiating bodies in either public or private sectors. This, I think, is the question which the noble Baroness particularly posed about the Burnham Committee. Employees' representatives are not entitled under the clause to receive information from individual employers. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, thought that perhaps we should amend the interpretation clause, Clause 158, as it relates to the term " employer ", but I think that at this hour we do not want to consider a clause of this nature so far ahead. No doubt the noble Lord will bring this up when we come to it.

The clause as it stands requires employers to disclose to trade union representatives the information which they need for collective bargaining and which satisfies the conditions specified in subsection (1)(a) and (b). The reason why the clause does not require employers' representatives to divulge information in joint negotiating situations is because all they can be required to disclose is information about the individual firms they represent, and where the negotiations are taking place on a wide front, with possibly thousands of employers involved, and perhaps in some cases the whole industry, information about individual employers is not of such importance. The Amendment also deals specifically with statutory committees which are set up to deal with the remuneratim of any description of workers, which is the point that the noble Baroness, Lacy White, particularly made. But in negotiations about an individual employers' liability to meet the demands, the sort of information that will be required is Principally about his ability to pay. This is particularly so when it comes to negotiations on teachers' pay, of which I happen to know a good deal North of the Border. But I would say to the noble Baroness that I recognise this is a probing Amendment to find out our views on it and why the clause does not go as wide as her Amendment seeks to make it go. I hope that I have explained to her why we feel we cannot accept this Amendment.


I am sorry, but this is most unsatisfactory. I was in my most conciliatory mood when I moved this Amendment, but I am conciliatory no longer. Surely the Committee can appreciate the position. Why should the representatives of the teachers' trade unions go into negotiations without having any right whatever to the disclosure of information, which would be afforded them if they were in other occupations? This is a quite monstrous position. It is completely unjust and, with great respect, I would ask the noble Baroness to put herself in the position of someone on the other side of Burnham who had to negotiate on behalf of her or her members and who went, to use z. famous phrase of the late Nye Bevan, " naked into the conference chamber ", because they would not have been given the type of information they sought.

The noble Baroness referred to the ability to pay. If by that she means the ability of Her Majesty's Government so to organise the affairs of the nation that they can pay a decent salary to the teachers, that might be a matter which would be rather difficult to disclose—I grant her that. But there are other matters of information which, I repeat, we understand are placed at the disposal of the management side of Burnham by the individual local authorities who are the employers of the teachers concerned. If such information is made available to the management side, we contend that it should also be made available to the trade union side. This is the case that they have put to us, and it seems to me this is a matter of plain justice.

I am sorry, but I do not think the noble Baroness can expect us to be content with the reply that she has given. I am quite certain that if she were on this side of the Committee she would be saying exactly the same as I am saying. I do not think she can for one moment expect us to accept the entirely unsatisfactory explanation which she has given. She has not met what I think we all agree is a perfectly justified request by the teachers' organisations that they should be treated for this purpose like any other employers. It is not their fault that the statutory Burnham provisions entail their negotiating with persons who, under the definition of this Bill, are not classed as employers. After all, Her Majesty's Government are not employers of teachers, either. They may have to pay something towards their salaries, but they are not themselves employers. My noble friends may not feel disposed at this early hour of the morning to divide on this Amendment, and I had not intended to press it to a Division. But having heard the noble Baroness I have doubts.

1.54 a.m.


Nor am I particularly satisfied by the reply given by the noble Baroness. She has a point when she says that Amendment No. 158 is a long way off, but the question that all of us who have spoken have agreed is the important question is that of the definition of " employer". If that definition were drawn much more widely it would cover the whole point put forward by the noble Baroness. At the risk of being slightly ungallant, I would suggest that possibly one of the difficulties is that the noble Baroness is not going to answer for that clause when we come to it. Perhaps one of her colleagues may possibly come to her help. If we may be told that serious consideration is to be given to the definition of " employer "—and I believe there are quite a number of rather anomalous cases of this kind—so that bodies like the teachers are covered and able to be given information, I imagine that noble Lords on the Labour Benches would be more satisfied, as we should. But honestly, we have not got any kind of answer at the moment.


We are entitled to a less " dusty answer," although it was delivered so politely, and I feel rather ungallant in challenging the noble and beautiful Baroness at this time of the morning on this issue. But the teaching profession, and other professions, want to know exactly where they stand. We have thrust upon us the reply, " We can come to this when we arrive at Clause 158 ". But we shall by then be almost at the end of this tunnel. Before we get to Clause 158, may we ask the Government to try to clarify the position regarding the Burnham Committee and other people similarly affected? I think I have said enough: it has been said briefly and reluctantly, but politely. I hope that the Government will say, " We will have another look at this."


May I ask whether the noble Baroness will respond to the gallant appeal of my noble friend and others? This is an occasion when the Government could, and should under-stake to reconsider this problem. I am sure the noble Baroness is sympathetic.


I hesitated in rising to my feet only in case any other noble Lord wished to speak. I certainly found the noble Baroness conciliatory, and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, felt that he had been given a very " dusty answer ". It was not intended to be so. However, I do not know that I could alter the view which I gave to your Lordships when replying in the first sense. To widen the clause, as is suggested in the Amendment, would create considerable difficulties. It is not only a question of the Burnham Committee, although that may be the particular concern of the noble Baroness. One also has to imagine that this clause was being widened to include all employers' representatives to whom information would have to be given, which in another context might be commercially damaging to each other. I think that this may go wider than perhaps the noble Baroness may have thought, and it is for that reason, and for the reason that I gave in the beginning that I am afraid that I cannot accept her Amendment.


I can only repeat that this is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. I freely grant that the Amendment may not be as clearly drafted as it might be. It was not intended, for example, to cover normal commercial negotiations; it was really meant for statutory bodies of one kind or another, and people in that situation. At the moment—it is nearly 2 a.m.—I do not propose to press this Amendment but I fully reserve our position to raise the matter again at a later stage. Having said that, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 54 shall stand part of the Bill?


We on this side of the Committee are in the rather difficult position that this is a clause which on the whole sets out to be helpful, although we have discovered that it has within it a most ghastly blemish. However, there are one or two questions that I should like to ask as to the meaning of the clause. First of all, subsection (1)(a) refers to: … information without which the trade union representatives would be to a material extent impeded … I cannot see why there should be the words about the trade union representatives having to be materially impeded, and why it would apparently be satisfactory for them to be impeded. I think we could well do without the words " to a material extent impeded". I should have thought that if the trade unions were to any extent impeded in carrying out collective bargaining they would be entitled to the information. So I should be grateful for some information about what the Government intend by the words " to a material extent impeded".

As for the rest of the clause, it is impossible to pursue it without knowing what the Government have in mind with regard to the code. Subsection (1)(b) refers to " good industrial relations practice ". It is in accordance with that practice that information should be given, and in determining that, one must have regard to the principles set out in the code of practice for the time being in force. I should have thought therefore that this was a convenient opportunity to ask the Government when we are going to be able to see the code of practice, and whether they have any idea what is going to be in it with regard to the provisions applicable to this particular clause.


I hope that at some juncture, before we come to the end of this Bill, a little information will be given to this Committee on the relationship of these independent unions—the unions which are not registered—to the International Labour Organisation agreements which have been made. Have this Government been in touch with the I.L.O., for instance, to discuss some of the points which have arisen in British trade unionism, which were never there before, and some others which were taken for granted over the years, at Geneva and the Internationational Labour Organisation. I once had a chance to see this at work. It was a very proud boast of this country that we could give a lead to the rest of the world in international labour organisations. This may not be the appropriate moment, but I should like to know at some juncture whether the point at which I hinted this morning, on the International Labour Organisation and its relationship to this new Bill, and the relationship of these unregistered unions, has been taken into account.

It is important for people in t lis country to realise the implications of this matter. There are some helpful points in the Bill. None of us is lumpen enough to deride the entire thing. Nevertheless, at this juncture (I do not know what we are going to do on the Front Bench at the moment, and I do not want to encourage them at this early hour), the issues are of such vital importance that I believe it would be a good thing to register our protest against the Motion, That the clause stand part. But I will take the lead from my Front Bench: if they do not feel like that I am not going to be adamant about it, because this is the wrong time of the morning to be truculent.


May I briefly respond to Lord Diamond's ques ions by explaining that the main purpose of the requirement placed upon employers to disclose information is to try to make certain that union representatives, in carrying on collective bargaining, are not unreasonably handicapped by lack of the information which they require. That is the point of the word " material ": that information should be something of significance. The second criterion governing this requirement is that of good industrial relations practice, and this will be set out in the code of industrial practice referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, which I anticipate would lay down guide-lines for employers in this particular area. This is specifically spelled out in Clause 2(2)(b), of which the noble Lord is very well aware. All I can do in reply to his search for information about the timing of the publication of this code of practice is to say that I think this long anticipated code will be with us very shortly indeed. This is my understanding. The weeks we have referred to in the past are rapidly shrinking, and I think that they may fairly soon become a matter of days. The points put by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, went rather wide, but I will look at what he said and, if need be, I will drop him a line about them, or come back to them at a later stage in our discussion.

Clause 54 agreed to.

Clause 55 [Disclosure of information to employees by major enzployers]:

2.6 a.m.

BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE moved Amendment No. 254J: Page 46, line 26, after (" which ") insert (" on any date within a financial year of the undertaking ").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 254J. I wonder whether it would be convenient to the Committee at the same time to consider Amendments Nos. 254K, 254L, 254M, 254N and 254P, because they are very closely linked? If that is convenient perhaps I may say that the effect of the Amendments is to make it clear that the clause covers all employers who employ more than 500 people at any one time in the financial year, and to specify those employees who are not entitled to a statement and are not included, and to ensure that a statement is issued annually in respect of each financial year. It is the last Amendment which gives the exclusions which really are those who are employed under a contract which normally involves employment for less than 21 hours weekly, or who have been employed in the undertaking in question for less than 13 weeks, or who is outside Great Britain and is a person who, under his contract of employment, ordinarily works outside Great Britain. Therefore, the main effect of these Amendments is to clarify the position. I beg to move.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for what she said, and I appreciate her desire, which is shared, to deal with these Amendments as quickly as possible. For that reason she no doubt thought it right to discuss them all at the same time. She has dealt with them very shortly, and I am afraid I shall have to come back to them individually to make clear the difficulties we have on this side. Quite apart from these excepted person—that is to say those in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of 254P—the purpose of Amendment No. 254L is to achieve the situation under which, instead of having periodical statements, we are going to have statements once per financial year. I do not understand why periodical statements should not be supplied if they are available.

Here we come back to what a noble Lord was earlier saying about not giving information beyond what is given to the shareholders. If you have a situation under which the shareholders are given information every six months (in some cases it is every three months), why on earth should it not be made available for these purposes? Nobody is suggesting that the employer, if he be a company, should have the responsibility of collecting information more than once a year if that is not the normal practice; but if it is the normal practice I cannot see why that information, which is normally prepared for the ordinary purposes of the company and which is in due course published, should not be made available in the same way that the annual statement, or the statement every financial year, is made available.

Coming to the excepted persons, a person is an excepted person on any date if, on that date, he is … employed under a contract which normally involves employment for less than twenty-one hours weekly ". We had a reference earlier on to this same principle, and the noble and learned Lord said that if a partly employed person was affected, that person was entitled to have whatever were the rights involved.. I think that was with regard to negotiation rights. I cannot see why, under the same philosophy, if a person is affected by the bargaining and that person is normally employed for less than 21 hours weekly, he or his agent should not receive information which is available to those who are employed for more than 21 hours weekly.

I cannot see the argument about the person who has been employed in the undertaking for less than 13 weeks. A person may have been employed for only 12 weeks, but the assumption is that that person will continue to be employed for a further long period. Therefore, as the negotiations will presumably take place only at long intervals of a year or two, that person is going to be affected by the negotiations and ought to be supplied with the information.

There is less of a case with regard to a person who is … outside Great Britain and who … ordinarily works outside Great Britain. But I should like to know why the Government think that in that case a person ought to be excepted. As I said,this is a less pressing case, but I see no reason why an employee should be excepted from the information under paragraphs (a) and (b).

2.14 a.m.


The noble Lord asked first why the word periodical " should be deleted and why an annual statement should be required. The reason is that " periodical " has a very wide definition. It could mean every two or three years or any odd moment, and we feel that it is too imprecise. We chose a financial year because that is a customary time when statements are sent out.

The noble Lord then asked about the provisions in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), and why those who have been employed in an undertaking for less than 13 weeks—


I am sorry to interrupt, but before the noble Baroness turns to that may I say that I am grateful to her for explaining why she thought that " periodical " was a vague word—which I well understand—ane why she thought that an annual statement was better—which I also well understand. But why should they only be annual statements? Why, if there are statements prepared every six months or every quarter, should they not be made available?


One can of cot rse debate at length whether to have six-monthly statements or annual statements. Indeed, there is nothing in the clause which prevents statements being issued more than once a year, which is often done in large enterprises. It is done, in fact, every six months; but we felt it was reasonable, if you are taking into account large and small enterprises, to put it down as one year, although some large companies certainly do it more often. But in his question the noble Lord said he hoped that certain employees would be able to work for longer than 13 weeks. Of course, he will recognise that there are many who work in, for example, agriculture or in the hotel and caterir g industry who move around a great deal and who are in some respects seasonal workers, and it is for this reason that excluded them in this Amendment No. 254P. It is for the same reason that hose who work outside Great Britain, ar.d who we had in mind would be resident outside Great Britain, would therefore perhaps not be quite so much in need of the information although possibly I would have thought they could be more in need of the information than the seasonal worker.

2.16 a.m.


I do not want to prolong this debate, but I would ask the noble Baroness to take ow or two points into account. There may be some noble Lords still left here to tight who have in fact been employers of labour on a large scale. In many industries it is usual to employ a certain number of part-timers, who are in fact very loyal and important members of the firm, and may be loyal members of the trade union. What bothers me—and I quite see why the Government are doing this, but I am wondering whether it is really necessary—is that they are singled out as being somehow less privileged. The same thing applies to people who have been working for only 12 weeks. It conveys the idea of a sort of probationary state. I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor disagreed. He told us the other night that he had never employed more than five people. Anyone who has employed 20,000 people—and there are noble Lords who have—will know differently. I put this point quite generally. I do not ask the noble Baroness to say any more now, but would she and her officials take this into account, as I think the responsible employer will in fact continue to issue the information to them; but there is an objectionable aspect to the matter.


I beg to move Amendment No. 254K.

Amendment moved— Page 46, line 27, after (" persons ") insert (" other than excepted persons ").—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Bellielvie.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 254L.

Amendment moved— Page 46. line 30. leave out (" periodical statements") and insert ("in respect of that financial year a statement"). (Baroness Tweedsnutir of Belhelvie.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 254M.

Amendment moved— Page 46, line 32, leave out from (" shall") to end of line 34, and insert (" be issued not later than six months after the end of the financial year to which it relates ").—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)

LORD DIAMOND rose to move Amendment No. 254E. Page 46, line 40, leave out from (" relates ") to end of line 5 on page 47.

The noble Lord said: I do not think there would be any point in pursuing this point unless it is the practice of the Committee for me to move the Amendment purely formally and then to seek to withdraw it. To avoid that perhaps I may say a few words. I do not think, in view of what the noble Baroness said on the rest of the Amendments, that it would be possible to pursue this particular Amendment. I just give notice that I regard the replies that we have received as either unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory, and we shall have to seek to put down Amendments at Report stage to elucidate the position in an attempt to make further progress.

2.20 a.m.


I do not dissent from what the noble Lord was saying about progress, although I would dissent about the alleged unsatisfactory nature of the replies. One point I should like him to bear in mind when considering this matter between now and the Report stage is that there is an analogy with exclusions—


I wonder if I may interrupt the noble Earl. I am not sure whether the Question has been put. I was not quite sure whether my noble friend moved his Amendment; I take it that he did.


I thought the noble Lord said he was explaining his reasons why he was not going to move it. If he wants to change his mind, I am not taking advantage of him; but to my understanding that is what he said.


The Committee would deplore noble Lords making speeches and then not moving the Amendment, because it denies other noble Lords the chance of replying.

THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES: Amendment proposed: Page 46, line 40, leave out from (" relates") to end of line 5 on page 47.


I think we are now in order, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition. One point the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, might like to bear in mind in considering the matter of exclusions between now and the Report stage, is that there is an analogy in the exclusions in this clause of the Bill, and exclusions which are similar so far as paragraphs (a) and (b) are concerned in the Contracts of Employment Act 1963. When we were considering the Amendments to the Contracts of Employment Act earlier (I think it was on Clause 17) those exclusions were found acceptable to noble Lords opposite. I merely put this forward as a thought which no doubt he will wish to bear in mind.


I am grateful to the noble Earl. They are there, but for somewhat different reasons. However, we will take full account of them. As the Question has been put may I seek leave to withdraw the Amendment?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 254N.

Amendment moved— Page 46, line 40, leave out from (" relates ") to end of line 5 on page 47, and insert (" and who is not on that date an excepted person ").—(Baroness Tweedsmair of Bellielvie.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 254P.

Amendment moved—

Page 47, line 36, at end insert— () In this section " financial year ", in relation to an undertaking, means a period for which the accounts of the undertaking are made up (including any such period part of which is before and part after the commencement of this Act); and for the purposes of this section a person is an excepted person on any date if on that date—

  1. (a) he is employed under a contract which normally involves employment for less than twenty-one hours weekly, or
  2. (b) he has been employed in the undertaking in question for less than thirteen weeks, or
  3. (c) he is outside Great Britain and is a person who under his contract of employment ordinarily works outside Great Britain."—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)

On Question, Whether Clause 55, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

2.24 a.m.


At this late hour it would be futile to attempt to mount a debate on the serious question of disclosure of information. It is a fact that there are many channels, and as somebody who was, like the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald (who has now left the Committee, although he was here fairly late) a former President of the British Association of Industrial Editors—and I was once responsible for editing about 20 journals—I hope that we shall have an opportunity in the passage of the Bill to have a debate on the whole question of information for employees. It has been referred to on a number of occasions. When we see the code it will he possible perhaps, to discuss it against that.

A great deal of work has been done, and the best employers set a very good example, and in the noble Earl's Department he will be aware that strenuous efforts are being made, which will go far beyond what the Bill provides. This is unavoidable. One hopes that the Bill will not unconsciously set a ceiling. I do not think it will. I will make my usual tribute to the noble Earl's responsibility in the matter of one journal, Works World now changing it; name to, I think, the Department of t/i Environment. There is a wide range of information and there is the work of bodies like the Industrial Society and many of the employers' organisations. It is a subject on which we should have a debate. When I say I am not too happy about this clause it is because I think it is difficult to cover all the eventualities. But it is; a matter of such prefound importance to industrial relations that I would not want the clause to pass without having made a few comments.


This is an important clause. I think there are a number of hinges on the door of this Bill and that Clause 55 is one ol them. I am delighted to hear that very soon we shall be seeing the code of industrial practice so that guidelines will be given on the disclosure of information by employers to the trade unions. What is to happen if the employer refused to disclose information in accordance with the code? Will the N.I.R.C. grant the union the right to refer their claim for improved terms to the arbitration boars, or will additional powers ultimately be given to the Secretary of State? Various points have been made in the discussion and I hope that they will be borne in mind.


I think that the only requirement on me is to say " Amen " to what has been said; because I endorse the views of noble Lords who have spoken about the importance of this clause and of better communication, consultation and exchange of information within industry. This has always been important but is more important than ever now, at this time of rapid technological change. It is important from the point of view of industrial harmony and avoiding disputes, important from the point of view of introducing new methods and of keeping ourselves up to date and, above all, important from the point of view of spreading the area of participation within industry. I would gladly welcome a further discussion on this at a later date.

Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 56 [Notification of procedure agreements]:

2.28 a.m.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment 254F: Page 47. line 37, after (" State") insert (" after consultation with the General Council of the T.U.C. and with the Confederation of British Industries ")

The noble Lord said: This is a very simple Amendment. Clause 56 gives the Secretary of State extensive instructions as to the regulations he has to make under the clause. Paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of subsection (1) seem to be likely to cover all matters that need to be embodied in regulations of this sort, but I am not sure about this. I think it would be an advantage if the Secretary of State, before he gets down to make these regulations, were to consult with bodies able to put their exceptional experience and knowledge at his disposal. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, earlier in the Committee stage gave me an undertaking that he would look at a similar Amendment, although not on this point.

In that case clearly the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. would be able to give some information to the Secretary of State which might very well be useful to him and improve the Bill. In this case it is not so much a matter of improving the Bill but rather that the Secretary of State may glean help from the bodies I have mentioned in framing the regulations. The instructions contained in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) (d) and the remaining subsections are extensive, but I think that if he accepts our Amendment it will be worth while. It will bring them into consultations which are very close to them. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.


I understand the point put very reasonably by the noble Lord, Lord Champion. All I would say in reply is that I am convinced that, in practice, the views of both bodies mentioned, the T.U.C. and the C.B.I., would be taken into account. As the noble Lord is aware, since companies with more than 5,000 employees were invited to notify their procedure agreements to the Department of Employment two years ago, there has been a voluntary scheme operating, with extreme success. I think that in all 277 large companies with over 5,000 employees were asked to notify their agreements. Of those, only eight have refused, and four had failed to reply by last month. Both the bodies mentioned, the T.U.C. and the C.B.I., have been co-operating in that voluntary scheme to the fullest possible extent.

Perhaps I may draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that the regulations which will be required under this clause provide a safeguard in that they will be subject to the Negative Resolution Procedure. Therefore there will be an opportunity for specific approaches by or on behalf of those concerned at that stage. I do not think the specific requirements spelt out in this Amendment are at all necessary. I am prepared, if this will help, to have another look at it, without commitment, to see whether it might in fact be desirable. I do not think it is necessary, but I have an open mind on this. I should not like to make an absolute commitment, other than a commitment to look at it hard between now and Report stage.


That undertaking to look at it beats me completely. It is true that, having regard to the fact that there is already a voluntary scheme working, and having had negotiations with the parties concerned, the Secretary of State must already have a considerable body of information as to what is required. Having regard to the undertaking given by the noble Earl I am happy to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 56 agreed to.

Clause 57 [Offences in connection with regulations under s. 56]:

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 254Q: Page 49. line 19. after (" false") insert (" in a material particular ")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment and the following Amendment, which it might be convenient to consider together, are on a very small point. We are dealing here with the furnishing of false particulars. When Amendments on these lines were tabled in another place I thought it worth while tabling Amendment No. 255 on the ground that I did not much mind if it were an offence even in a small matter, if people made statements which they knew to be false; but I thought it would be a little hard if it were not a material particular that it should be an offence if they recklessly made a statement about something they did not know because it was unimportant and they had not bothered to find out about it. However, I have been advised that it would be more acceptable to table both Amendments. I think it right, as I am sure the Committee will agree, that people should not be penalised for mis-statements which are not false in a material particular. I have some hope that this Amendment might be accepted, and I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, will be glad to know that it is with great pleasure that I accept both these Amendments, because we think they are useful. They prevent the possibility that an employer who is required to notify a procedure agreement to the Secretary of State by regulations made under Clause 56 might be prosecuted just because some minor and perhaps unimportant detail of his statement was not correct. I am grateful to the noble Lord for pointing this out, and we are glad to accept the Amendments because they improve the Bill.


I beg to move Amendment No. 255.

Amendment moved— Page 49, line 20, after (" false") insert (" in a material particular ").—(Lord Beaumont of Whitley.)

On Question, Whether Claw e 58 shall stand part of the Bill?

2.39 a.m.


At this late hour I could not allow this clause to go by without expressing the hope that on Report the Government will come forward with an Amendment. The clause says: This section applies to any enactment (not being an enactment contained in this Act) by virtue of which a body corporate, either directly or through any subsidiary body corporate, is required to take any steps with a siew to the establishment of machinery for the settlement by negotiation of terms and conditions of employment. I cannot think that the clause was designed unless the Government knew to which Acts they were referring. If they do know, they ought to say what they are. Is the citizen supposed to hunt through the whole of the Statute Book to find what are the Statutes concerned? It goes on to say: In so far as any enactment to which this section applies is inconsistent, and they do not know which they are— with an order made by the Industrial Court under this Part of this Act which is for the time being in force, the order of the Industrial Court shall prevail and the enactment in question shall have effect subject to it. I hope to enlist the sympathetic response of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, because I do not think this is the right way to legislate. People should not be left to hunt through the Statute Book to find to which Acts the Government refer. I hope that when we reach Report the Government will produce an Amendment showing which are the Acts to which they refer.

2.40 a.m.


I do not know why the noble and learned Lord assumes that an Order includes ultra vires Orders. I think this is an assumption which, without further consideration, I would not be able to share with him. It is necessary to give Orders made by the Industrial Court precedence over previous Statutes since some previous Statutes, particularly the various nationalisation Acts, have included requirements about negotiating procedures. For example, Section 46 of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946 requires the National Coal Board to set up machinery for consultation and negotiation; gives discretion to the Coal Board as to which unions are brought into the machinery. It would I think be undesirable for such constraints to continue to exist when the machinery of Part III is invoked. Moreover, if the Statutes in question could not be overruled by Order of the Industrial Court, then the nationalised industries would be in a privileged position compared with the private sector.

Having said that, I will of course make further inquiries. This is not a field in which I claim any particular expert legal knowledge. My information is that it refers to the nationalisation Acts. I am not aware of any others it refers to. But I had far better not commit myself finally. I take note of what the noble and learned Lord says and I hope that, with that explanation, he may be content to let the matter go at this stage.

Clause 58 agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at eighteen minutes before three o'clock, a.m.