HL Deb 20 May 1971 vol 319 cc533-710

3.42 p.m.


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

Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee.ߞ(Lord Drumalbyn.)


My Lords, as your Lordships know, personal statements are not debatable in your Lordships' House, and therefore I have reserved these few remarks until this moment. They concern the personal statement which my noble friend Lord Ferrier very kindly made a few minutes ago and which was heard and accepted by your Lordships' House. Your Lordships also heard that he suggested that the necessary correction to the Records of last Tuesday's proceedings should be made. Therefore I am intervening at this moment in order to be quite clear about this matter and to say that it is my assumption that this is agreeable to your Lordships.


My Lords, I am just a little unhappy about these proceedings. First, I think this ought to be on the Record. I know it is not the intention of the noble Earl to initiate a discussion on the personal statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, but I can see—and this is why I want to put it on the Record—that in other circumstances people might take an opportunity like that in order to discuss such a statement: but of course the noble Earl is discussing only the consequences. I think it is a little hard that we cannot express our sympathy to the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier. I would not dream of suggesting that he was tired, either. But I am sure we all have sympathy. In fact, I am doing exactly what I said we should not do. I am also a little unhappy about putting the Record straight in this way. I take it that the noble Earl is saying that the Record will be corrected unless any noble Lord objects; otherwise there ought to be a Motion before the House.

In your Lordships' House we do things sensibly and without too much attention to unnecessary protocol. None the less, this is a matter on which we want to be a little careful. I take it that the noble Earl is himself going to put the Record straight—if he is entitled to—unless any noble Lord objects. It is an odd way of doing it, but I support him.


My Lords, I am grateful for the remarks made by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, and since my noble friend's personal statement is not debatable I also shall refrain from expressing the understanding and sympathy which otherwise I would have expressed. The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition reads my mind absolutely correctly. I do not myself wish to make a meal " of this matter, and I thought I had made it clear in the way I phrased my few remark! that I was proposing to see that this correction was made unless there was objection from any noble Lord.


My Lords, would it not be more satisfactory if your Lordships now had a Motion before the Committee that Clause 42 or Clause 43 be added to the Bill?


My Lords, since the noble Lord has raised a point of interrogation on this matter I will assume that he has objected to the procedure which I was proposing.


My Lords, I am not objecting.


If the noble Lord is not objecting then we will let it ride; but if peradventure a similar incident should arise in the next hundred years or so I will bear in mind the noble Lord's suggestion.

On Question, Motion agreed to. House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 59 [Trade unions and other organisations of workers]:

3.48 p.m.

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No. 256: Page 50, line 5, after (" Act ") insert (" (subject to section 84)").

The noble Lord said: In order to help the progress of the Committee it might be useful to give one or two signposts to this Part of the Bill at this stage. In these clauses we reach the Part of the Bill concerned with registration, which is certainly one of the central features of the Bill and a matter of controversy between the two sides of the Committee. It so happens that the grouping of the Amendments on the Marshalled List is in such a way that there are a number of relatively minor detailed Amendments to Clause 59 before we reach the first Amendment of major significance, and this is the Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, No. 257B on page 12 of the Marshalled List. I would suggest to noble Lords in all parts of the Committee that perhaps the most constructive thing to do on this clause would be to reserve our general observations and comments on the major issue of registration until we reach the Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. In that spirit I shall move Amendment No. 256, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, very briefly. Thsi is a drafting Amendment which is repeated in Amendment No. 257. The reason for it is that in the course of the Bill through another place Clauses 82 to 84 were added. These clauses provide for a special register to deal with those bodies which are not trade unions but which are corporate bodies or chartered bodies who nevertheless fulfil some of the functions of trade unions. That is the reason for the Amendment. I beg to move.


I am not quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has fully explained what will flow from this Amendment. As I understand the position, it could be regarded as a paving Amendment for 257R. I am not sure whether I am reading this correctly, but as I understand the position if this proviso " subject to Section 84 " is inserted we should have the position, for example, that the Trades Union Congress would not be able to register as a trade union if it included within its membership those who were not themselves registered trade unions. For instance, it would preclude nurses or (unlikely thought) the B.M.A. from seeking to become a part of the Trades Union Congress. There may be other organisations which would be on the Special Register which are much more likely to be affiliates of the T.U.C.

I thought that Amendment No. 257R corrected that position and made it possible for the T.U.C. to have within its membership both these bodies without preventing it from being registered. I wonder, before we go further, whether the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, would be good enough to give the Committee a little more enlightenment on this matter?


Yes, I shall try to do so. Amendment 256 is not a paving Amendment for Amendment No. 257R. What it has in common with that Amendment is that it is consequent on the new clauses. Amendment No. 257R is also consequent on the three new clauses inserted in the House of Commons. What we are doing here by the Amendment to Clause 59(1) and (2) is merely adding the words " subject to Section 84 " because the definition in Clause 84 is slightly different from that in Clause 59.


The noble Lord is not being terribly helpful in explaining. It is one thing to say that this is a drafting Amendment, but what will be the position, for example, of the Trades Union Congress in this respect? There is at least a genuine doubt as to the position the T.U.C. would be in if their membership included both types of organisation.


I think that is the subject which we shall be discussing when we reach Amendment No. 257R. As 1 say, the present Amendment is not linked with that Amendment although both are linked with clauses later in the Bill.


In that event, I shall leave this matter for the moment and hope that we may have something which will place the Committee in the position in which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, obviously is, when we shall all know what we are talking about. We may have a further opportunity of discussing Amendment No. 257R and we can discuss the matter again on question that the clause stand part of the Bill.


The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has made reference to Clause 84. Was that intended to refer to the Special Register which excludes ordinary normal trade union organisations?


That is so. I think the question is one which we shall be debating at some length when we reach it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.53 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 256A: Page 50, line 11, after second (" employers' ") insert (" and is not under the domination or control of an employer or group of employers or one or more employers' associations ").

The noble Lord said: This is a perfectly straightforward Amendment and, unlike the 'previous one, it does not need any elaborate explanation. It cannot be a surprise to noble Lords opposite that we on this side of the House have no great love for what are loosely described as "company unions", unions which are under the domination or control of employers. There have been, and possibly still are, such organisations in existence. We should certainly regard it as an improvement of the Bill if there were inserted in it the words we ask for, which would make certain that no such organisation would be regarded as a trade union under the terms of this Bill.

I know that this was one of the matters which was discussed in another place, but it was in the rather limited terms possible then. I hope that if the Government have not had more intelligent second thoughts on the matter they may be able to explain a little more reasonably to your Lordships why they are unable to accept what seems to us a very sensible provision. If trade unions, in the Government's view, are to be brought up to date, surely it is reasonable to expect that they should be organisations which everyone would accept as bona fide trade unions. The insertion of these words would help to make that a little clearer. I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said that he and his colleagues had no great love for company unions. One accepts that that is a feeling which they have, but the noble Lord asked for some intelligent thoughts. I do not know whether I can supply them, but I shall try to explain the effect of this Amendment and why it is unacceptable to the Government, because it would have repercussions possibly wider than the noble Lord realises.

The Bill has been drawn to safeguard in many places the position of workers in regard to their membership of a union. The Bill sets out to state in subsection (1) of this clause what an organisation of workers is; that is clearly deft led. Then, in subsection (3), the further definition is given to those organisations of workers which have been prepared to register and which are thereafter called trade unions. Although the main rights and privileges given under the Bill go quite rightly to registered trade unions, nevertheless unregistered ones, which are organisations of workers, do have some rights and protections. The effect of this Amendment would be to remove those protections from members of an organisation which happened to be under the domination of an employer.

The effect would be to place those employer-dominated organisations of workers completely outside the scope of the Bill as it relates to organisations of workers. As a result, those organisations would he relieved of various restraints on their behaviour, including the responsibility of treating their members in a manner consistent with the guiding principles set out in Clause 63, an' the kind of rights which members of all organisations of workers, whether registered or not, have—the right to hold office in an organisation, the right to vote and to vote without restraint or interference, the right to attend and take part in meetings, the right to be protected from unfair disciplinary action and the right not to have their membership summarily terminated. If this Amendment were accepted, all these protections would be removed from people who were members of employer-dominated unions.

At the same time the Amendment would result in employer-dominated organisations of workers not being subject to restrictions on pre-entry to closed shops imposed by Clause 6. There would therefore be nothing to prevent an employer from making membership of such an organisation a condition of employment. The Government's view is that the obligations in the Bill should apply to all workers' organisations, whether they are under the domination of employers or not, but the privileges accorded by the Bill should be restricted to registered organisations from which employer-dominated organisations would be excluded. This Amendment would not prevent employer-dominated organisations continuing to operate, but it would severely weaken the restraints which the Bill imposes on them in common with other organisations of workers.

In any case, it would be impracticable to add the test of employer domination to the definition of a worker-dominated organisation since there would be no procedure for ascertaining whether a particular organisation were so dominated. The Bill applies the test only to registered organisations, so the Registrar and the Industrial Court have the responsibility of assessing an organisation's independence. I therefore hope that the House will not accept this Amendment.


I listened with great attention and care to the noble Earl's explanation and to his reason for asking your Lordships to reject the Amendment, but I should like to have heard a more definite, specific and precise statement on what I think—if I understand this subject correctly—is the fundamental point. Is it desirable in the interest of orderly industrial relations, goodwill between employers on the one hand and trade unions on the other, that there should be created organisations dominated by employers? That is the issue. According to the clause, an organisation, subjected to its purpose being to engage in correct and orderly industrial relations, could nevertheless be dominated by an employer or employers. It is very difficult to understand how such an organisation could be effective from a normal trade union standpoint, for, obviously, if it is allowed to be dominated by an employer or employers its operations would be regulated.

What is the purpose behind this matter? I should like to have heard the noble Lord add to his explanation (in which he engaged, if I may say so, with complete clarification) that it is not desired to have in any industry an organisation or a group or collection of people —call them workers, or in whatever category they may be employed, whatever their vocation may be—who are subject to, and whose decisions, to use the term which is employed here, are dominated by, the employers. Unless the noble Lord is prepared to say that on behalf of the Government, the impression must remain that the Government would encourage organisations of this character.

I can understand a group of people on the shop floor, or in any industry or plant, who combine for the purpose of, for example, improving the amenities on the shop floor, or providing effective canteens or perhaps are anxious to engage in social activities. That would be advisable and indeed admirable. But to have an organisation on the shop floor dominated by an employer or employers seems to me to falsify the whole purpose of the Government's legislation, which is to promote with the utmost goodwill orderly, normal and desirable industrial relations. Would the noble Lord be kind enough to reply to the point I have raised with him, because it seems to me that otherwise there will be a great deal of confusion in the minds of the trade unions in this country?

4.4 p.m.


May I follow my noble friend and point out, first of all, that in my view, the Amendment is a very reasonable one. The words there used are very strong indeed; namely, that the organisation is not under the domination of or control of … These are very strong words indeed. If any such body is under the domination or control of the employers' organisation, how can that body do precisely what is laid down in Clause 59(1)(a); namely, promote the question of relationships between workers and employers. It cannot do that if it is dominated by that organisation.

The other point I should like to bring up is the position in regard to the International Labour Organisation. My impression is that there is a clear indication and decision by the I.L.O., because this matter came up some time ago in relation to the banks in this country, which had precisely this kind of organisation in which hardly anybody pays any contributions; where the employers provide the secretarial staff for the organisation and meet nearly all costs. I think some of the associations in the banks now pay a very small fee, but it is nothing like what is known in a trade union. In a way it is offensive to include this type of organisation in a definition which relates to virtually independent organisations. The British Government, I think, are a party to an I.L.O. decision which opposes recognition of that kind of organisation as against proper trade union organisations. I would ask whether I am correct in this view; I am sure I am. How can you reject an Amendment in precisely the same terms as, and on the lines on which, the I.L.O. makes its proposition?

4.7 p.m.


I have been astonished by many replies from the Government Benches during the course of this debate. I must confess that the reply given by the noble Earl in rejecting this Amendment was one of the most astonishing we have received. One of his observations was that to accept this Amendment would remove certain protection from the non-registered trade union. This is indeed a most peculiar observation, because his following words gave no indication at all about what protection would be removed from the non-registered union. If the Government are desirous, as they have often said, of promoting good industrial relations by this Bill. I would think they would welcome this Amendment. What is to happen? In the future unions will not be able to define their rules as they so desire without receiving the consent of the new registrar and the judges. Therefore, it will be reasonable to assume that in these new codes of conduct which are to be prepared and are to be guidelines to the new registrar, some definition ought to be included of what is a workers' organisation.

By the noble Earl's rejection of this Amendment I am very suspicious that the Government have it in mind at some stage to give an authority to the new registrar to find some kind of union structure that will have employers involved in it. One can only assume that that must be. in the Government's mind. Here, in the Amendment, there is no ambiguity; there is a clear definition as to the type of structure to be officially recognised. The components of the structure to be officially recognised should not be included. We are very suspicious indeed about this matter. I sincerely hope that the noble Earl is not going to rely on his first observations, but will give us some assurance that, in view of the difficulties we have pointed out, he will have another look at this point to see whether it is possible to persuade his colleagues to accept this very reasonable definition Amendment.


I will do my best to allay the fears of noble Lords, which seem to me to be due to a genuine misunderstanding of the situation. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, said that Her Majesty's Government wanted some kind of union structures where the employer was involved in or dominated the union. This is not what is behind the Bill, and this is not what Her Majesty's Government intend. They are intending to try to make it perfectly clear under this Bill that the main rights and privileges go to bodies which are independent, and the very word " independent " is defined in the Interpretation Clause: Independent ': in relation to a trade union or other organisation of workers means not under the domination or control of an employer ", and so on. Therefore, it wall be seen that the main rights and privileges go to just such a body, which is what I imagine noble Lords opposite would wish.

As to such rights as there are under the Bill for members of an organisation of workers, if the noble Lord will look at Clause 63 he will see that: it defines exactly what rights members of any organisation may have, whether that organisation is independent or not. But if we accepted this Amendment it would leave those members of such an organisation without even those rights. It is because the Government believe that all organisations ought to have these rights that we feel the Amendment would run counter to what the noble Lords opposite really have in mind and would wish.


I must say that I find it very difficult to follow the noble Lord in his reasoning. My noble friends speaking from this side of the House and I have made it perfectly clear that our objection is to having in this Bill something which would lend a cloak of respectability and give encouragement to the creation of employer-dominated and controlled unions. Nothing the noble Lord has said allays these fears in the slightest. If the Bill remains unamended, we may find that in due course, instead of there being a few of these organisations, there may be many. They will be given rights and protections that will encourage certain employers to create this kind of organisation. The noble Lord has not said one single word in defence of this type of so-called trade union, and I think he was wise not to attempt to defend it. He has said that if they do exist they ought not to be deprived of the protections which this Bill otherwise would give them.


To get exactly right what I said, it was that members should not be deprived of their rights.


I am quite certain that the trade unions would be satisfied that in many cases the members of these so-called unions are members because they have no alternative, and they would be very glad to have the opportunity of becoming members of an organisation which could better look after their rights than if they were members of a company-dominated organisation. If, therefore, this Amendment were accepted, I have no doubt at all that among those who would be most grateful to the Committee for having made the Amendment would be those who can presently look only to the so-called protection of a company-dominated or controlled union.

The fact must remain quite clear that if the Government do not accept this Amendment they will be under the suspicion that what they want is to continue this type of organisation in existence, either in its present numbers or in any way in which it may be expanded. If their objections are only those stated by the noble Lord in rejecting my Amendment, I can assure him that it will not present any great difficulty at the next stage to table the necessary supplementary Amendments, to make sure that any non-beneficial effects which may flow from this Amendment will be confined to trade unions which are dominated or controlled by employers.

I cannot see how in a Bill, the purpose of which is supposed to be to main tain and improve industrial relations, industrial relations can possibly be improved if the employer is on both sides of the fence at the same time; if he is the employer and, in the last resort, is able to control what is being done by or on behalf of his employees through his company-dominated trade union. I would suggest, therefore, that if the noble Lord's objection to the Amendment is based merely on fear of the consequences which might flow to innocent parties, he should accept the Amendment, leaving to us the responsibility—or, alternatively, even better, accepting for the Government the responsibility—of tabling at the next stage the necessary Amendments that will have the effect of confining the objects to those which have been stated during this debate. I cannot accept the views put forward by the noble Lord; in my opinion they become tenable orgy if it is argued from the beginning that an employer-dominated or controlled organisation is one that is worth preserving.


I take issue with the noble Lord on one point because he said that part of the Government's idea was to give encouragement to the respectability of these unions. The whole of the noble Lord's argument really rested upon what the Government have done, which is to say that the unions cannot become trades unions. This is absolutely written into the Bill, since they are not independent and for that reason cannot be registered, they will not become trade unions. The whole purpose of this Bill is to give respectability to those unions that are prepared to register, and I find it extraordinary in some ways when the noble Lord says we are trying to give respectability to certain unions which by their very nature cannot be registered.


For the first time, as we suspected, the Government have revealed quite a strange consequence of this Bill. We were finding out things in the middle of the night, and I would seriously urge the Government again to look at their speeches, to see the consequence of what they have said, and appreciate that this is yet another example of the sort of reasoning which is causing such deep anxiety and suspicion on the trade union side in this country. I fully acquit the noble Lord himself of any form of duplicity, I am sure he believes in what he says. But from what we have just heard, we shall certainly have to register a protest at this moment when we had not intended to do so.

Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.19 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 256A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 117.

Addison, V. Fulton, L. Plummer, Bs.
Archibald, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Popplewell, L.
Arwyn, L Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bacon, Bs. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Royle, L.
Bernstein, L. Hilton of Upton, L. St. Davids, V.
Beswick, L. Hughes, L. Shackleton, L.
Birk, Bs. Jacques, L. Shepherd, L.
Brown, L. Janner, L. Shinwell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kennet, L. Silkin, L.
Burntwood, L. Leatherland, L. Sorensen, L.
Burton of Coventry, Bs. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Stonham, L.
Champion, L. McLeavy, L. Stow Hill, L.
Chorley, L. Maelor, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Morris of Grasmere, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Coventry. Bp. Moyle, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Crook, L. Noel-Buxton, L. Walston, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Nunburnholme, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Energlyn, L. Peddie, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Faringdon, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Wynne-Jones, L.
Aberdare, L. Derwent, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Digby, L. Merthyr, L.
Airedale, L. Drumalbyn, L. Meston, L.
Albemarle, E. Dundee, E. Milverton, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Dundonald, E. Molson, L.
Alport, L. Eccles, V. Morrison, L.
Amherst, E. Effingham, E. Mottistone, L.
Amulree, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Ashbourne, L. Falkland, V. Northchurch, Bs.
Auckland. L. Ferrers, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Balfour, E. Fortescue, E. Oakshott, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Garner, L. Ogmore, L.
Barrington, V. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gray, L. Rathcavan, L.
Belstead, L. Greenway, L. Rea. L.
Berkeley, Bs. Grenfell, L. Rochdale, V.
Bessborough, E. Gridley, L. Rockley, L.
Blackford, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Bourne, L. Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) St. Aldwyn, E.
Bradford, E St. Helens, L.
Braye, L. Hankey, L. Sandford, L.
Brecon, L. Harvey of Prestbury, L. Sandys, L.
Bridgeman, V. Hatherton, L. Savile, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hives. L. Somers, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hood, V. Stamp, L.
Burgh, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Strang, L.
Byers, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Strange, L.
Caccia, L. Jessel, L. Strathclyde, L.
Caithness, E. Kilmarnock, L. Sudeley, L.
Carrington, L. Kinnoull, E. Swansea, L.
Chesham, L. Lauderdale, E. Tenby, V.
Clwyd, L. Long, V. Teviot, L.
Colgrain, L. Lothian, M. Tweedsmuir, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Loudoun, C. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Conesford, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Vivian, L.
Cowley, E. Lyell, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Craigavon, V. MacAndrew, L. Windlesham, L.
Crathorne, L. McFadzean, L. Wolverton, L.
Daventry, V. Malmesbury, E. Yarborough, E.
Denhara, L. [Teller.]

4.27 p.m.

LORD HUGHES Moved Amendment No. 256B:

Page 50, line 12, at end insert— (". Or (c) is an independent combination of one or more workers' and employers' organisations or one or more federations thereof consisting of, but separate from either organisation or organisations or federation or federations.")

The noble Lord said: We appear to be casting the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, in the role of one who has a particular fondness for unions which are controlled or dominated by employers, but of course he knows that we are not referring to him personally but to the Government in general. Therefore, as the representative of the Government in general, he will perhaps look more kindly on the Amendment which I am now moving, which does bring within the scope of the Bill organisations of which there are not many but which do serve a very useful purpose, and which consist jointly of employers and employees. The effect of the Amendment No. 256B, which I now move, would bring these organisations within the scope of the Bill.

I know of at least three of these organisations. They are called Joint Industry Boards, and they serve a particularly useful purpose in the electrical industry. I believe there are three; one covering England and Wales, one covering Scotland; I am not certain whether the third is another Scottish one or a combination. They cover the electrical contracting and plumbing industries in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Boards are independent organisations set up by the employers' associations (the English and Scottish Electrical Contractors' Associations, and the Scottish Plumbing Contractors' Associations), and the trade unions, the electrical, electronic and telecommunications union and the plumbing trade union.

The principal object of each joint board includes the regulation of relations between workers and employers in a positive and active manner, so as to increase the efficiency of the industry for the benefit of employers and employees, and to the satisfaction of the customers of these industries, the general public. The Joint Industry Board for the electrical contracting industry serving England, Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, provides management services to employers, and acts as the National Joint Industrial Council for the industry by laying down terms and conditions of employment which are strictly applied and relate to wages and welfare benefits, annual holidays and sick pay, death and accidental death, dismemberment benefits, and indirect wages. Non-compliance with the J.I.B. rules and the national working rules leads to penalty and/or the loss of benefits, which ensures strict discipline for employers and employees.

The reason why these Boards should have the same privileges and/or disadvantages as registered trade unions is that they believe, under Clause 92, that unless they are registered their capacity to give any day-to-day advice to employers and employees in order to overcome industrial action would be seriously inhibited, and that the independent J.I.B. staff would be vulnerable to actions unless protected by this clause. Similarly, unless they are registered, the preferential position of a trade union would be lost, and that would inhibit the continuation and extension of the J.I.B. insured benefits scheme. Thirdly, there is the tax position. I am informed that the officers of these boards had a meeting with the Solicitor General, in the course of which their fears on these matters were discussed and various alternative suggestions put forward.

For example, it was suggested that there was no reason to believe that the " grace and favour " position, by which the income tax authorities give them exemption from income tax, would be altered if they were not registered; that nothing in the Bill would affect their position. But I am of the view, as are these people themselves, that it would be very much more satisfactory to have the position by right, as they would have if they were treated in the same way as other organisations, rather than continue under the rules which the income tax authorities may be operating at any given time, because they could be changed in certain circumstances without any legislation being involved. There are other matters in relation to insurance which could require the Boards—if they are not registered—to have themselves set up as an insurance company and come under all the difficulties of the insurance legislation.

It seems to my noble friends and to me that here is a first-class example of co-operation between employers and employees for the benefit of all in the industry, which ought to be encouraged. It is therefore very much better that we should make provision for them within the terms of the Bill, rather than say to them, as has been the position up to the present, "We approve of what you are doing, but we do not wish to bring it into the Bill ", and refer them to what they may do under a variety of other Acts, in the hope—I do not think it has been put stronger than that; it is not a certainty—that by those other methods they can achieve everything they want. This is a very worth while Amendment and I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, if he is dealing with this Amendment, will be able to be a little more helpful than he was on the last occasion. I beg to move.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for explaining the purpose behind this Amendment. He has referred to a specific problem which relates to three cases of which he knows, and has gone into the matter in some detail. I shall certainly wish to study exactly what he has said. I should he the first to recognise that these Joint Industry Boards do a very good job of work and should be encouraged. As the noble Lord said, they are a first-class example of employers and employees co-operating together, and that should obviously he encouraged. But the inclusion of his Amendment would put us in some slight difficulty, and I hope that I shall be able to explain this to the noble Lord without needling him as I did on the last Amendment.

The Amendment will bring the Joint Industrial Councils, which are bodies inclusive of both employers and employees, and other joint negotiating bodies within the definition of an "organisation of workers" and thus enable them to register under the Bill. But there are two reasons why this would be difficult to accept. The first is that joint organisations of both workers and employers do not fit logically into the concept of a workers' organisation, as it appears in the Bill. It would be illogical for a joint body bound by this clause to be regarded as an organisation of workers, when of course it is not an organisation of workers.

The second reason is that it would, in fact, prove to be unnecessary both for the purpose of providing legal immunity for the actions of joint bodies, and for the protection of the rights of members, because, as workers' and employees' organisations in their own right, the constituent members of these joint bodies can each obtain the benefits of registered status. Also, there is no evidence that the joint bodies themselves need legal protection, apart from the protection available to their individual constituent parts. There would be no reason to suppose that the organisations forming a joint body would have any need of the complaints procedure established by the Bib, though their own individual members will of course benefit from that procedure. While accepting the great value of these organisations, I suggest to the noble Lord that for those reasons the inclusion of this Amendment would be difficult to accept.


I appreciate the difficulties which this Amendment presents to the Government, because it is a little difficult to envisage an organisation which includes representatives of both the employers and the employees being properly regarded as a registered trade union. Yet I think such organisations are treated as trade unions at present, and this is where they will differ from the ordinary Joint Industrial Councils. After all, they are in this position because they have sought to get into this position. They wanted to have the benefits of being recognised as a trade union at the present time. The Joint Industrial Councils have not sought to get into that position, and I have no doubt that after the Bill becomes law—if it should unfortunately so do—the Joint Industrial Councils will no seek to become registered as trade unions, because they are in a different category altogether from these J.I.B.s.

I do not wish to press this Amendment to-day, because, if the noble Earl has a further look at it and I put down this Amendment or a similar one at the next stage, he may be able to make a statement about the way in which the rights and privileges these Boards have at the present time can be preserved under the new structure. I think that would probably be sufficient. The noble Earl could not be expected to know exactly what lay behind the Amendment, and it would not be reasonable to expect him to make such a statement to-day. But if he will undertake to have a look at it in this light, and, in particular, to consult with the Solicitor General in another place so that he is in a position to say something at the next stage, I shall beg the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.


The last thing one would wish to do is to prejudice in any way the position of these bodies under the Bill. I certainly give an undertaking to look at what the noble Lord has said, and to look at the very important points of detail which he has raised. At the moment, it is our belief that their position would not be prejudiced. But in the light of what the noble Lord has said, I shall certainly look at this again and make quite certain that that is so.


In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 257, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. This Amendment is identical to Amendment No. 256. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 50, line 13, after (" Act ") insert (" subject to section 84) ").—(Lord Windlesham.)


This is the same as Amendment No. 256, and I do not think it is necessary that I should waste the time of the Committee by saying any more.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.41 p.m.

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No. 257R:

Page 50, line 14, leave out from (" temporary ") to (" is ") in line 22 and insert (" whose membership consists wholly or mainly —

  1. (a) of constituent or affiliated organisations each of which either fulfils the conditions specified in subsection (1)(a) of this section or is an organisation for the time being entered in the special register to be maintained under the following provisions of this Part of this Act, or itself consists wholly or mainly of constituent or affiliated organisations which fulfil those conditions or are for the time being entered in that register, or
  2. 552
  3. (b) of representatives of such constituent or affiliated organisations as are mentioned in the preceding paragraph,

and (in either case) ")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this next Amendment, which also stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. This Amendment serves two purposes, one of which is to correct an unintended effect of the clause as it now stands and the other of which is to amend the clause consequential to the addition to the Bill of the provisions in Clauses 82 to 84 for a special register of corporate and chartered bodies. As subsection (2) now stands, any organisation whose members are other workers' organisations and which has as one of its principal objects the regulation of employer-worker relations would be regarded as a federation of workers' organisations. This is in line with the customary concept of a federation as a banding together of a number of separate organisations for a common object. However, some organisations whose members are individual workers can nevertheless be regarded as " consisting of " branches and sections. This situation can easily arise when a trade union is formed by the merger of several existing organisations which may retain a measure of separate identity as a section of the new union. It would be unrealistic in these circumstances to regard such a unified organisation, after a merger, as a federation. Therefore it is necessary to avoid any misconstruction of subsection (2) of this clause by making it clear that the term " federation " is to be confined to organisations whose membership itself consists only of other organisations, or of representatives of other organisations, and does not extend to the individuals in membership of those other organisations.

The second feature of this Amendment deals with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, on Amendment No. 256. This has been prompted by comments made in another place, and is related to further Government Amendments proposed to Clauses 65 and 82. It was pointed out to us that as Clause 65 stands a federation of workers' organisations could not register as a trade union, or would have to forgo such registration, if an organisation on the special register became affiliated to it. This is because Clause 65 requires all organisations in membership of a registered federation themselves to be registered as trade unions. We shall later be considering a Government Amendment to Clause 65 which would permit a federation to register whether its constituents are registered as trade unions or as organisations on the special register. However, this is not sufficient to avoid the risk that a particular federation may be precluded from registering under the Bill, because to be a federation in the first place Clause 59 requires that an organisation should consist wholly or mainly of organisations of workers or of representatives of such an organisation. An organisation on the special register is not an organisation of workers for the purposes of Clause 59, and any organisation of whose members half or more than half were organisations on the special register could not be said to consist " wholly or mainly " of organisations of workers. This Amendment will enable such an organisation to qualify as a federation. It will thereby be eligible to apply for registration either as a trade union or, if the federation itself is a company or a chartered body, as an organisation on the special register.

That answers the point put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, about the T.U.C.—not, I may say, a body which has shown any great inclination towards registering; indeed, which has urged its affiliated unions not to do so. But if the circumstances which the noble Lord postulated should arise, as a federation it could become registered itself provided its component members were either themselves registered unions or were organisations on the special register under Clauses 82 to 84. I beg to move.


As the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has said, the T.U.C. has not up to the moment placed itself at the head of the queue of those wishing to register should this Bill become an Act, and I do not expect that this will be one of their primary objectives. Nevertheless, I should expect that the Government would regard it as part of the success of the Bill if it were in such a form that so respectable a body as the Trades Union Congress could register; and the effect of this Government Amendment would be to remove one possible stumbling block to such registration. It will, however, not go more than a little way along that line, because as I understand it, the Trades Union Congress would not itself be able to register, even if it were so inclined, if its affiliated membership included both registered and unregistered trade unions. I should have thought that the Governrnent would at least have waited to go the whole way in giving every possible encouragement to the T.U.C. to register. It would have been helpful, in fact, if this Amendment had made it possible for a federation which included both registered and unregistered trade unions so to act. As to whether that would have made the Bill any more palatable to the T.U.C. I am not, of course, hazarding any opinion. An egg is not necessarily edible because you can find one small part of it which is not completely bad. I would therefore not oppose this Amendment, because in so far as it goes it is a slight improvement. My regret is that when the Government do belatedly find themselves in a position to, do a little good the emphasis always appears to be on the little rather than on the good.


Before my noble friend decides to withdraw opposition to this Amendment, I should like to ask one or two questions which perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, would be kind enough to answer. What is this special register intended to do? What functions are its members to perform in the context of industrial relations? Leaving aside the prospect (if indeed it is a prospect) of the Trades Union Congres; General Council applying for registration, or seeking to be brought within the ambit of the Bill, are we to understand that the special register applies to those associated with the various institutions, some of them under the Royal Charter—the Institute of Engineers, medical practitioners, scientific bodies and the like? If that is the purpose of it—and presumably it is because I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, gives his assent to what I have just asked: well, a modified assent, because first of all his head appeared to be moving affirmatively and now it is moving horizontally; perhaps we shall hear from him a little later.

Now there is everything to be said for organisations of the kind to which I have just referred—an organisation of scien- tists; an organisation of those associated with the medical profession; an association of journalists, and there are several of that character—being brought together for the purpose of engaging in social activities, and the like. But what, in heaven's name, has it got to do with the promotion of normal, orderly and desirable industrial relations? I cannot follow that. Let us take, for example, a body of medical practitioners, the Royal Society of Physicians, which I understand is very ably represented in your Lordships' House. If that body wishes to perform its ordinary functions, nobody is going to raise any objections. But what has it to do with the relationship between those operating on the shop floor, the manual workers, and a body of employers? Here are a body of middle range white-collared workers, not of the executive category, who wish to conduct their affairs according to their fashion. Nobody raises any objection; but what has it to do with industrial relations? I am open to correction, but I understand that the purpose of this Bill is to bring employers and trade unions into collaboration in order to avoid industrial turbulence. What is the purpose of the special register? Why bring this in? I do not follow it. If, after I am advised—and the noble Lord will no doubt endeavour to advise me—I find that I have completely misunderstood the purpose of this Amendment, then I will of course support my noble friend in offering no opposition to the Amendment.


I think the noble Lord is going a little ahead. There are three clauses in the Bill, Clauses 82, 83 and 84, which concern the special register. These clauses were added in another place following negotiations and consultation with certain professional bodies. In the main, these are organisations which are not themselves trade unions but which have taken on a negotiating character. Therefore there are these special provisions to meet their needs. It is an interesting subject and a large one, but I think we should discuss it when we get to Clauses 82 to 84.


May I ask one question? I have looked at Clause 84 and other clauses where the special register is mentioned. These professional bodies apparently wish to maintain negotiating rights. Take a body of medical practitioners. With whom do they negotiate? With the patients? No. There is no question of negotiating with the patients. With the Government? Is that what I am to understand. A scientific body, a body of mechanical engineers, say, of the highest rank have to engage in negotiations. But surely not with their customers! That is not what is intended. I take it that what is intended is negotiation with the direct employer, usually the Government of the day. Am I correct in that surmise? I do not see what it has to do with the Bill at all.


I presume that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham will be replying to my noble friend. It might be to his convenience if he were to reply to a question of mine at the same time. Is the Royal College of Nursing one of the bodies to go on the special register?


I do not think that I should be drawn further on this point. We shall be discussing it on Clauses 82 to 84. I am ready to debate it then, and I think that then is the right time to raise it.


I have no ulterior motive. Is the noble Lord in a position to answer the question. If so, can he say, Yes or, No?


Yes. The Royal College of Nursing is one of the chartered bodies eligible for inclusion on the special register. I still think it would be better to debate this point later.


That may be so. I want to make it clear in confining my remarks to the advantages or disadvantages, that Amendment 257R does not rule out a federation of a certain type. We have no great enthusiasm for the special register. If there are exceptional conditions which require exceptional measures, then there are better ways of dealing with them than this. We may come back to that matter. We can usefully have a much longer or, alternatively, better debate when we get to these clauses. I should not like the noble Lord, Lord Hughes—and still less the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—to think we are giving any blessing to this by not objecting to the Amendment at the present time. If we are to be stuck with Clauses 82 to 84 they will be better by the inclusion of Amendment 257R. If we wish to take Clauses 82 to 84 out of the Bill and succeed in doing so, then we can take out Amendment 257R at the next stage.


I must utter a protest which 1 think is justified. I appeal to noble Lords on both sides. Here we are discussing an Amendment, and when I venture to ask some questions in order to ascertain the content of the Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, who ordinarily displays the utmost courtesy, brushes me off and says, "Do not debate this now. Wait until we get to Clause 84 ". Is that fair? What is the purpose of moving the Amendment? The purpose is to gain the support of the Committee. Yet immediately we begin to ask questions we are told that we must not discuss it now. Is this the way we are to conduct our deliberations? It all seems very wrong to me, and certainly it is not the kind of Parliamentary behaviour to which I have been accustomed for many years. When an Amendment is submitted we discuss it; otherwise it is withdrawn. If an Amendment is moved by my noble friends and they do not want to debate it, they withdraw it. We are asked now to accept an Amendment on which there has been no debate. We are told that we must wait until we come to Clause 84. I should not he surprised when we come to Clause 84 that we are told that we should discuss the matter when we come to Clause 194. That is not good enough. And there is also just the chance that I may not be present when we come to Clause 84, so that all my questions will remain unanswered.

4.58 p.m.


I think that Lord Shinwell has underestimated the very big difference between the Rules of Order in this House and those in another place. I appeal to the Committee to take the clauses and Amendments in the proper sequence. The other House, where they have a Speaker, can do things differently. But we have no Speaker, and if we go on overstraining the Rules of Order here then we are going to be placed in the position of having a Speaker who can select Amendments. In this House, any noble Lord can nut down Amendments and every Amendment must be taken.

There is a big difference. We should not get into the position of overstraining the Rules of Order here which have stood up very well in the past.


My noble friend, Lord Shinwell, appealed to both Front Benches. I am bound to say that I support his attitude, and I will give my reasons. Here is a Government Amendment which is going to affect a rater Part of the Bill. It is not simply a paving Amendment. We dc not wish to debate the main part: that will come later. But it is not unreasonable for noble Lords to seek from the Government an explanation of the effect of the Amendment. My noble friend Lord Hughes spoke briefly and asked certain questions, and was somewhat discomfited when the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that we cannot discuss that now. My noble friend was asking a simple question about the Royal College of Nursing. In effect, he was saying at first, " I ought not to give this information ". From my knowledge of another place. I am bound to say that these sort of questions—and I would ask for confirmation from my noble friend Lord Shinwell about this—would be in order in order to judge whether or not it was proper to pass this Amendment. Clearly one would not wish to go too far or to discuss the main Question. But I think that noble Lords on the Government side are taking a somewhat restrictive view; and so is the noble Lord, Lord Byers. I fully acknowledge that he feels strongly and believes this to be right; but the Bill is of a nature which is very difficult to discuss without articulating the different parts.

We have not sought to drag this out. We have not been pressing hard, and if the Government would give the barest explanation in reply to questions, while reserving their position, we should not have to go on pressing them. I say that absolutely sincerely to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. I have been in your Lordships' House a long time--I was also in another place—and I am deeeply concerned that we should not get seriously out of order, but should deal with the relevant matters. These are relevant, and if the noble Lord wishes to debate this further we can go on doing so for hours yet. But I think that this is a matter that we shall have to thresh out before we are finished. I am perfectly prepared to say—I still have the Floor of the Committee—that from my experience as Leader, and in Opposition, I think that my noble friend's questions were relevant; and it would have been courteous, not to mention wise, if the noble Lord had answered them.


May I say that I think that the Leader of the Opposition has misrepresented me. I was quite clear, and I am sure that other noble Lords were—and I expected to get support from the Leader of the Opposition—that we were embarking on a debate, and not just putting one or two questions on Clause 84. If we do that, we shall spend a great deal of time. I have been used to having support from the Leader of the Opposition when we have sought together to try to get the Rules of Order working properly.


We do not want to prolong matters. I am not disagreeing with what the noble Lord has said. We ought not to debate Clause 84, but my noble friend wished to know whether it was right to pass this Amendment, and needed to know the effect on Clause 84. One cannot really know the effect of something unless one knows what it is going to affect. I think I have said enough, and that our debate should proceed.


I can quite understand that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition would want to support his Back Benchers —


Would the noble Lord allow me—


No; I have the Floor now. The noble Lord declined to give way to me, and he has spoken rather sharply. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, spoke from an independent position and with considerable experience. What he said about the sequence of this Bill undoubtedly was true. It is a complicated Bill and a long one, and we must try to address ourselves to the subject in some sort of coherent order. As I said, this Amendment is not a paving Amendment; it is one which is consequential on three clauses which were inserted in another place. I gave a rather full explana- tion. As a matter of fact, I wondered whether I should attempt to abbreviate it. But I chose to give a very full explanation. In, I think, about three interventions from the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. I was asked detailed points about the purpose of the special register; what it was for and how it would work. I replied to that by saying that I thought that the right time to debate it was when we reached that part of the Bill.

My second reason for not replying any further is that I have heard—with all respect—the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, intervening in this way at this hour in the afternoon on many occasions. He intervened on Tuesday with the Lord Chancellor, and he was told by his noble friend Lord Champion, from the Opposition Front Bench, that he " cast a pretty fly ". I think we may repeat that again to-day.


I did not speak sharply to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. I spoke about his courtesy in reply. I am merely trying to ascertain the purpose of this Amendment. Reference has been made to the Rules of Order in the other place. Nobody requires to tell me about them, because I have a longer experience of the other place than anybody in the other place, or in your Lordships' House. I know all about these matters. I do not seek to amend the Rules of Order in your Lordships' House; I do not want to interfere with them in any way. I give that assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Byers. At no time will he persuade me to interfere in matters concerning the Rules of Order. Your Lordships' House could go on for many years; and I shall respect it. I find your Lordships' House quite pleasant and entertaining—and sometimes very illuminating.

As regards my intervention, I want to assure your Lordships that I am not filibustering—not at all. An Amendment is submitted for your Lordships' consideration. My noble friend Lord Hughes ventured to indulge in some observations, and I followed on. What is wrong with that? Or are we to understand that interventions are not permitted, unless with the consent of the Government—or the consent of the noble Lord, Lord Byers? It that is going to be the behaviour that we are expected to respect, I warn your Lordships that that sort of thing will not suit me. As a Member of your Lordships' House I claim the right to express my opinions according to my fashion, and that is what I intend to do. At the same time, I give an assurance, sincerely and earnestly to your Lordships, that I will always respect what is said by members of the Government, because I recognise that they are just as sincere in advancing their points as I venture to be myself. But we are entitled to gain information; that is why we are here. That is the whole purpose of the debate. As to whether we are intending to have a debate, I was not trying to invoke a debate—nothing of the sort. I merely wanted to understand the purpose of this Amendment; that is all I asked for. So far, all I have is a reference to Clause 84, and that is why I uttered a protest.


I beg to move, That the House do now resume. I do so in order to put this discussion in order. We seem to have gone extremely wide, and clearly we cannot go on discussing procedure on a particular Amendment. When the Question is put, other noble Lords may or may not wish to speak on it. No doubt eventually I shall withdraw the Motion. I beg noble Lords opposite, and in particular the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham—if I may have his attention —to believe that I do not support noble Lords on this side of the Committee on procedure matters because they are members of my Party. I do not believe that any noble Lord would accuse any Leader of the Opposition of doing that—although he might, in a moment of temper, rush to the aid of, or occasionally support, a noble Lord. I was giving a considered opinion, which might have been right or wrong. as to what was the correct procedure, and I deeply resent Lord Windlesham's remark. I hope that he will withdraw it, because I say to the Committee, quite sincerely, that the views I have expressed—which may be wrong, but which I happen to think are right—were my own interpretation. I think we shall proceed rather better if these sort of suggestions are not made.

On the merits of the particular case, noble Lords opposite may feel that sometimes my noble friends speak with great vigour and sometimes for too long. My noble friend Lord Shinwell always expresses himself with the greatest courtesy. I say to the noble Lord. Lord Windlesham, and to noble Lords on the Government Front Bench generally, that a tiny hit more information would be appreciated. I know that they expose themselves to the criticism of debate, but too much obstinacy in this matter does lead to this sort of trouble. 'There have been times when I have thought that we have gone out of order, but on this occasion, possibly due to my own ignorance, I thought that what my noble friend was asking for was entirely justified. I do not wish to press this matter any further, but I think it will be in the interests of the House that we do not blow this up into a further row. I am sorry if I was at all sharp with the noble Lord, Lord Byers, but these are the views I genuinely hold. Perhaps we should allow the noble Lord to reply and then, unless the House wishes to continue the debate. I intend to withdraw my Motion. But he must put the Question first.

Moved, That the House do now resume—(Lord Shackleton.)


I appreciate the way in which the matter has been put by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. Let me say at once that if anything in my remarks gave him cause for offence, of course I willingly withdraw them. I said in reply to the earlier intervention, following the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and the Leader of the Opposition, that in my view the explanation which was given for a technical Amendment was quite a full one, and that the supplementary questions put by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, did go rather wide. The noble Lord perhaps took a different view on that, and we must respect one another's opinions He felt that it was in order and that it was appropriate to discuss the matter further at this stage, and I felt that it was not. But I certainly would not want to impute any motives to him which would he in any way discreditable, and I would withdraw anything which may have given that impression.


One of the things which gives rise to many difficultes is that we are passing many clauses of the Bill which refer to something else which we have not 'had the opportunity to discuss. On the whole, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has been most courteous in explaining those clauses. Probably on this occasion he has slipped up a little, and I sincerely hope that as we proceed he will go back to his normal line, which has been satisfactory.


It might at this point be worth while making one small observation. As the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition has said, we do not have a Speaker in this Committee. Lord Byers has made the point that there is a danger that, if certain of the proceedings to which we have been accustomed are not followed, we shall soon find it necessary to have the restrictions which the imposition of a Speaker's discipline will produce.

I understand that the Minister in charge, in the absence of other more senior Ministers, acts as the Leader of the House, and gives advice to the House as to how the procedures should be conducted. As I understood it, Lord Windlesham, in giving his views as to what would be the appropriate way in which to deal with the particular Amendment, was acting not so much as a Minister in charge of the Bill, but was giving his advice as a Minister on the Front Bench on the Government side, advising us as to what the proper procedure should be. If that sort of road is not available to the Minister in charge on any occasion, I cannot see how we can conduct our proceedings with the proper order that is necessary.

One of the problems which is worrying me, and has been worrying me for days past, is the very great time which has been taken on various stages of this Bill. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, has taken 50 columns of Hansard during proceedings on this Bill; and the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, 54 columns. That is an indication of the great attention that has been given to various parts of the Bill. But noble Lords throughout this House know perfectly well that the time which has been taken over this Committee stage will, in the end, unless we can make some progress reasonably quickly, prevent us from dealing with the various later parts of the Bill, which are very important, with the full consideration which is necessary.

As I have understood it, on the many occasions in the past when the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and his predecessors as Leaders of the Labour Party have carried through contentious legislation in this House, they have only been able to do so because it was accepted by the Opposition that certain ordered procedure should be followed. This has enabled the Labour Party to put on the Statute Book great and important legislation which otherwise could have been frustrated. So far as I am concerned, the only point I am making is that I think it would be right for the Government on this occasion (having a substantial majority in your Lordships' House, as it has in the House of Commons) to expect the same sort of treatment from the Opposition as we were accustomed to give to the Labour Government when it was in office.

5.16 p.m.


I wonder whether I might, for the first and I very much hope the last time, intervene on this Bill. The procedures in your Lordships' House are always very difficult, as I know, having been for a very long time either Leader of the House or Leader of the Opposition. Basically this House works only because your Lordships on both sides show restraint. Otherwise, we should lose all the benefits we have in having a House which has no Rules of Order and no Speaker; and I believe these are real benefits. I heard only a little of what was going on, but as I understand it, earlier this afternoon the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition referred to my noble friend as tired. In retaliation my noble friend apparently said that the noble Lord is sticking up for his friends. My Lords, I am both tired and sticking up for my friends, and I hope very much, that being so, that we can get on with the discussion of the Bill.


I do not wish to extend this discussion; indeed, if I have to apologise for saying that the noble Lord was tired, I would say that I did not quite understand why noble Lords got quite so excited when I said so. I shall in a moment ask leave to withdraw my Motion that the House do resume, but we have had flung in from the noble Lord, Lord Alport—who has a capacity for embarrassing his side of the House to an unprecedented extent— a series of mis-statements on the procedures of this House such as I have seldom heard before. He said that the Minister was also speaking as representative of the Leader of the House. This is not so. He may in fact intervene and do so, but when he is speaking as a Minister for the Government he cannot at that moment, and indeed he should not, handicap himself in that way. I do not propose to argue whether this is going on very much longer, beyond saying that nothing can curtail the discussion of the later stages of this Bill, and I hope that we shall proceed in an orderly fashion towards that. Having said that, I hope the Government will be helpful, as I know the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and other Ministers have been very helpful and very courteous to us, and that now and again they will bear with us in our ignorance on a matter about which in certain directions we feel very strongly. I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


We return now to discussion of Amendment No. 257R, and may I say that I appreciate the difficulties both of my noble friend Lord Shinwell and those of the Minister, Lord Windlesham? Obviously, this is the kind of difficulty which arises when one is discussing something substantive on an Amendment which can make sense only when one looks ahead to a much later part of the Bill. While it may not be the usual way of doing things, I think the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and his colleagues will have appreciated that it will probably make for more sensible and speedy discussion of business if genuine requests for information are answered as far as is possible. The noble Lord did on second thoughts reply to my own question, which I thought was a very simple and helpful one although his first reaction was to say, No. If he had been as courteous to my noble friend, Lord Shinwell, we should have been a bit further on in the Bill than we are. I hope that Ministers will get some value out of this discussion and will learn the lesson that denying information because it would come better at a later stage, is not always the best way of moving ahead.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.20 p.m.

LORD SHACKLETON moved Amendment No. 257B:

Page 50, line 27, leave out subsection (3) and insert — (" () In this Act, " trade union " means an organisation (whether permanent or temporary) which either

  1. (a) consists wholly or mainly)f workers of one or more descriptions and is an organisation whose principal objects include the regulation of relations between workers of that description or those descriptions and employers or employers' associations, or
  2. (b) consists wholly or mainly of constituent or affiliated organisations which fulfil the conditions specified in the preceding paragraph (or themselves consist wholly or mainly of constituent or affiliated organisations which fulfil those conditions) or consists wholly or mainly of representatives of such constituent or affiliated organisations, and in either case is an organisation whose principal objects include the regulation of relations between workers and employers of between workers and employers' associations or include the regulation of relations between its constituent or affiliated organisations, and
  3. (c) is not under the domination or control of an employer or group of employers or of one or more employers' associations.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Diamond. I hope that it will not bother noble Lords—] say this in the friendliest way—if in the course of my remarks I make some reference to other clauses in the Bill, because it is quite meaningless to discuss the effect of this particular definition unless one refers also to the consequences. I do not propose to discuss the con sequences in great detail. It is important to our consideration of what is the simple definition clause relating to trade unions. In the course of our debates we have referred to the consequences of registration. but this is a matter of great importance, and gives rise to such deep feelings, that I am sure it is right—and this is the purpose of this Amendment—that we should discuss whether or not it is a proper and wise thing to do to enforce the registration which is proposed under this particular clause of the Bill.

The general purpose of the Government is to force unions to be registered as a means of subjecting them to certain types of Government control. I appreciate that the Government sincerely believe that this is the right way to proceed.

Let me say straight away, so that there is no suggestion of an argument that we had indeed last night, that the fact that the majority of trade unions already register under the 1871 Act means that they want or should register under this Act. There are the severest penalties (I use that term not in the legal sense, but real disadvantages and dangers) for a union if it does not register; indeed, it ceases to be a trade union under this Bill. Trade unions which have existed for many years will, by a simple stroke of the pen, he destroyed as trade unions. They will have to call themselves something else. This is part of the object of the Government. I hope that we shall not have the argument that there was provision for registration under the Bill published by the Labour Party, because there would have been no difficulty in registration under our proposals in in Place of Strife, and no difficulty, in general terms, under the Donovan proposals.

Why is it that we object so much to this particular definition, and to the registration powers of the Bill? It is basically because, in relation to registration, there are imposed conditions of a . kind that are entirely alien to this country and, if it is not a contradiction in terms, alien to other countries: because there is nothing equivalent to the requirements that are imposed in the Bill on a registered trade union, or the penalties to which an unregistered body will be exposed. I do not propose to speak at great length on this because a number of my noble friends, who have great knowledge and long experience, are going to speak and will be able to illustrate the consequences of this particular definition.

Noble Lords are aware—and this deals with the second part—that even if the T.U.C. wanted to be registered, they would not be able to be unless all their affiliated bodies were so registered. Therefore it would be very much better, both in relation to the affiliated organisations and, indeed, to the trade unions, that we should get away entirely from the proposals of this Bill. This Amendment seems to be a proper means to enable us to discuss this very fundamental issue; and to illustrate it there are experiences of many of my noble friends. We feel very strongly on this, and unless the Government are in a position to give us, if not some major concession then some inkling even of understanding the case that we are putting forward, we shall have to divide. I beg to move.


This is the commencement of a Part of the Bill which is of vital importance and has caused more perturbation among the trade unions than any other Part. 1 propose to take a little time (I will be as brief as possible) in trying to set out the problems, and to explain why there is resistance from the trade union against this Part of the Bill. At the present time, registration is carried out under the Act of 1871. I had to go searching to find it, but it is 12 pages long; 11 pages set out the Act, and one page refers to the Schedule. Under this Act, registration is voluntary. A registered trade union has certain limited obligations under registration. The main two are: first, to send in a return to the Registrar, and the other to make available the books and accounts of the union to any member who may want to inspect them. At this moment, out of the unions affiliated to the T.U.C.—which represents 10 million workers in all—there are still over one million workers who are not registered under the 1871 Act. The fact that a union is not registered under that Act in no way affects its rights under the law to engage in collective bargaining, or take strike action. The main advantage of registration is that a registered trade union is entitled, in certain circumstances, to exemption from income tax in respect of interests and dividends so long as they are applied solely for the purpose of provident benefit. Obviously this definition does not include strike pay.

When we come to the present Bill, to be registered a union will have to satisfy the Registrar that it has complied with all the necessary requirements set out in the Bill. The rules of the union will have to conform to the principles in the Act and to any other requirements proposed by the Registrar as a conditions of registration. These requirements are set out clearly in Schedules 4 and 5 of the Bill, about which I shall have more to say later. The basic complaint against registration, quite apart from the very considerable administrative work it will create, is that it takes away from trade unions the right they have had for a hundred years—namely, legal protection in respect of inducing breach of contract so long as it is in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute. This protection will no longer continue unless the union registers under the proposals contained in the Bill. This is a terrific pressure. If unions are anxious to respect the law then they must register if strikes called by a union are to be legal and not actionable.

This is a new situation. This requirement that agreements are to be presumed legally binding takes away from unions legal protection which they have had for 100 years. This presumption that an agreement is a legal contract adds to the problem already created by requiring registration if unions are to be protected and are to maintain what is really the right to strike. I have always advocated that to strike is an action taken in the last resort after you have endeavoured to do all you possibly can to reach agreement. Most people agree--and the Donovan Report brought this out, too—that this is the ultimate sanction available to working people if they are not able by rational discussion and argument to reach argument with an employer.

Then if trade unions do not register they will be unable to claim tax relief on their investment income. I would say that this is a serious and—I choose my words most carefully—punitive measure against unions if they fail to register under the Act. I have already said that, because I believe that in the last resort the right to strike is fundamental to trade union activity, I would have to advise my union to register if these proposals become part of the Act. But that is not the advice of a person acting in a free situation. It is advice based on two very considerable pressures which are newly-created under the Bill—the threat of legal damages for inducing a breach of contract in furtherance of a trade dispute, and the threat to the finances of the union.

On the question of inducing breach of contract, for unions as they have developed in this country to be able to control every individual who could start a strike, right down to the shop floor, at every level and in every industry—my union covers about 150 indtstries—is quite a job. For a union to be liable for damages because it has failed to register brings about a very considerable and fundamental change. It is, in fact, taking away the right which unions have had for 100 years. Under this pressure I feel that 1 would have to advise my own organisation to register under the Act.

I have referred to the financial effect on unions if they fail to register. Income from investment makes my own union viable. if the position is altered we shall have to alter the contribution. Reserves are very important in unions and represent one of the protections we have against inflation; and at the moment our investment income exceeds half a million pounds. I estimate therefore that we shall lose some £250,000 a year if we refuse to register. This is another pressure. I understand that the overall threat to the trade union movement, if all trade unions refuse to register, would be some £,5½ million a year.

I have referred to the administrative problems created by Schedules 4 and 5 which set out the kind of requirements which the Registrar is likely to expect from unions. In Schedule 4, which will be discussed in more detail later, there are 13 requirements on the constitution and management of a trade union organisation, five requirements relating, to members of the organisation, four relating to property and finances; and in Schedule 5 there are 38 paragraphs dealing with the question of producing annual returns and qualifications for auditors. One of the most interesting things of which the Committee may take note is on page 145, at Clause 6, where the qualifications for auditors are set out together with provisions for the closed shop so far as the use of chartered accountants is concerned. They have to be members of one organisation or another. I was rather amused to see that unions who are to be deprived of the right of having their own closed shop must recognise a professional closed shop so far as their accounts are concerned. The Schedule goes in great depth into the business of trade union;, the provision of auditors, their appointment and conditions, setting out requirements in regard to the auditor's report.

There is a problem of additional administration proposed by the Act regarding the kind of form we return to the Registrar—a very detailed account of the union's funds, including all the investments of the union. The proposition is that the union will have to publish an annual report, and included in that report will be the return which the union makes to the Registrar. At the moment in our union we produce for our members a report which is easy to understand, readable and comprehensive; but presumably, under the law, that will not be any use. We shall have to produce an annual report including the return that we make to the Registrar.

It appears to me that the proposals in the Bill are causing a considerable amount of interference with what I would call the normal administration and running of a trade union. It is extraordinary that so much detail is being gone into by the Government in trying to grapple with their own legal provisions proposed in the Bill. By and large, the old arrangements under the 1871 Act have worked very well indeed, but I accept that in this colossal change of environment in which trade unions are working there is always scope for improvement, and I express the hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will give some serious thought to this question of registration. It is a section completely on its own in the Act; I believe it could be lifted out, and, instead of having this compulsory requirement the matter could be organised on a voluntary basis.

All the requirements in regard to the internal administration of unions, the question of discipline and the contents of Schedules 4 and 5 could be discussed between the Government and industry, by which we mean the Government and the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. The T.U.C. on behalf of the trade union movement as a whole I suggest would be able to work out on a voluntary basis a much more sensible and fair code of administration than the one which threatens to contain so many legal requirements. I suggest to the Government that they do not make the conditions of registration so onerous as to discourage people from registration. One way of proceeding would be to try to get a scheme of registration and requirement for registration agreed on a voluntary basis rather than in the manner proposed in the Bill.


I am sure that a speech coming from a person of such great experience as my noble friend Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath regarding the difficulties that this clause will create within the trade union movement must have impressed noble Lords on both sides of the Committee. The question arises, is there any need for registration? What has been the difficulty in the past that is now going to necessitate that unions shall operate only if they are licensed for so doing—because that is what registration means in this particular context.

Until now, under the present method of registration, unions have submitted their rules to the Registrar of Friendly Societies and have been generally accepted, as my noble friend Lord Cooper rightly pointed out; but under this particular clause the question of registration will not relate to union members themselves. It will not be for them to define their rules and their policy, because the rules that they draft must be submitted to this new Registrar. He will examine them, and not only will he be able to vet the rules but, by virtue of policy being embraced in the rule book, he will be able to influence the policy of the trade unions. This is not free trade unionism in any sense at all. Therefore this unknown code of conduct to which we have been repeatedly referring —as in Clauses 82 and 84. mentioned by my noble friend Lord Shinwell—has to be drafted and will he the guide to the Registrar. So we are being asked to pass something that will compel a union to submit its rules to obtain a State licence to operate, and that will embrace codes of conduct and anything else that will ultimately have to he drafted. It is reasonable to assume that, because the Registrar will want to know Government policy.

This policy will have serious implications within the trade union movement and within industrial relations generally. It is not just a question of the code of conduct, it is not just the Registrar; the rules will also have to be approved by the judge as chairman of the N.I.R.C. This will bring the whole legal fraternity into the field of industrial relations, and in so far as the union rules are concerned they will have to be drafted in precise legal language. It will be interesting to see whether certain trade unions will be able to embrace strike clauses, because we know that there is strong pressure at the present time that certain unions should not even now withdraw their labour because it interferes with the social or national economy.

It is evident, too, that this registration will take away quite a lot of internal discipline within the trade union movement, if the trade unions cannot embrace in their rule book the right to penalise a man for violating union rules, even as regards remaining at work if there is a strike; because some unions have clauses providing that if a man remains in work during the time of a dispute he is fined. Is this the type of rule that will be authorised by the Registrar and the judges? To say the least, there is a big doubt about it.

Further, it would appear that under registration the power is concentrated and is restricted to officials and members acting with their authority. What does this mean? Does it mean that only full-time officials will be able to make certain decisions? What will happen to the vast body of shop stewards and other officials? They will be prevented by rule from having any authority or freedom of action to defend the interests of their members. Probably there is something to be said for curtailing some of the actions of the shop stewards from time to time, but this is a fundamental right of those elected persons, and if local officials are to be dealt with in a separate way from the permanent officials one can see that friction may develop within the union. I do not think that that is in their best interests., As my noble friend has indicated, the penalties that are to be inflicted against non-registered trade unions take us back well over one hundred years. They take us back to the time when a union could be prosecuted and fined huge sums of money, and when their activities were confined to industrial matters. A non-registered trade union is dated back to those days. Surely that is not in accordance with the experience of this country in the building up of protection for organised workers? Surely it goes back to the Communist or Fascist type of direction, and that is not what this country requires. I sincerely hope that the Government will look again at this clause and will withdraw the requirement of registration.


In this Amendment and in the clause we undoubtedly reach one of the central features of the Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton Heath, has right y pointed out, strong feelings have been expressed on this subject, both outside and inside Parliament. The principal feature of this public debate seems to me to be how seldom the arguments meet. The protagonists of the Bill advance one line of argument and the opponents another, and on this particular issue it seems even harder than on some others to try to reconcile the arguments and to make some progress. Let me therefore look behind the present method of conducting these things to some of the questions underlying the attitude of the Government to trade union reform. These can be put in the form of some questions.

First, is it right for unions to have the power to organise workers collectively? The answer is undoubtedly "Yes"; that collective strength is needed to secure benefits for union members which individuals would not be able to secure for themselves. The Government wish to encourage and strengthen collective bargaining.

The second question is, is it right that trade unions should be able to take industrial action and to be protected by law when they do so? Yes, the right of a worker to withdraw his labour is a fundamental principle of trade unionism, but the strike weapon should be used—, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, who used this very description —as a last resort rather than as a first instinctive reaction. Where it is at the instigation of the trade union official, that official should he so authorised. In these circumstances, the present immunity from legal proceedings will be continued.

Thirdly, can we be satisfied that the present arrangements operate to the public good? That is a very profound question and one which we do well to ask ourselves. Trade unions, of course, are no longer the informal voluntary associations they were 100 years ago, nor even 50 years ago, with all the vulnerability of other new institutions struggling to establish themselves. To-day, they are established national institutions with a very profound influence on the standard of living of their members and on the standard of industrial behaviour of their members.

In addition, they can and do have a significant impact on the economic life of the nation.

I think we can all agree that it is not only the unions and the managers—that is, the parties directly involved in an industrial situation—who have an interest; it is the rest of us as well. There are the secondary manufacturing industries, for example, dependent upon materials for vital components; there are distributors and retailers and exporters; there are workers in other occupations and there are the consumers of the products. Much, if not all, of society has an interest as well.

What, then, are we asking of the trade unions? A simple thing: merely to register their rules with an impartial and independent registrar. The purpose of this is to ensure that the rules of the unions are appropriate to the functions that they fulfil in present-day circumstances. Stated in its essentials like this, it really is difficult, I think, to understand why there has been such widespread disquiet in the trade union movement about the requirement to register. Is it really such a terrible thing? It was recommended, we may remember, by the Royal Commission under the chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan. Can it be argued that this is an unreasonable requirement? if we think about it, we see that either the union rules are adequate and come up to the standards of the guiding principles set out in Clause 1 of the Bill and the provisions in Schedule 4, in which case they will be accepted; or they are not, in which case it surely is in the interests of everyone that they should be improved. The present inadequacies lie mainly in rules which are so badly phrased as to be ambiguous in practice, and secondly, in rules which are silent on some crucial matters, of which one example is the functions of shop stewards.

These rules also, where they do not already do so, ought to ensure that the members of a union exercise reasonable and democratic control, including control over the use of funds, and adequate protection for the individual member against any injustice which he may suffer at the hands of the union. They should prevent inclusion of rules designed to harm the interests of workpeople who are not members of the union and prevent the inclusion of rules designed to restrict output and efficiency or otherwise control of the public interest. I do not say that these things happen on any widespread scale, but it is surely reasonable to set a standard of rules and to ensure that the aims we all share should more easily be achieved.

I have tried hard in thinking about this Part of the Bill to see and to understand all the objections of substance there are to these provisions. Surely we can agree that very considerable benefits in practice will flow from registration, and consequently that non-registered organisations of workers are in a less privileged position than registered organisations of workers who are described in this subsection as trade unions. But what argument of substance is there against registering union rules? I think it comes down to the argument of tradition, that it has not been done in this way before. That response, I believe, is based on a deep-rooted emotional feeling. I say to the Leader of the Opposition, who asked if we were capable of understanding, that I think we can understand and respect the strength of this feeling and the reasons for it, the historical origins from which it springs; but we are in Parliament and this is a special interest argument. It is a very respectable one. but it is the argument put forward by special interests. Surely here in Parliament we have to think of the wider public interest and in doing so to base ourselves on what is reasonable and what is necessary in the interests of the public as a whole.

I have gone fairly wide in answering this Amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, did when moving it, but these are the reasons—and I think on this side of the Committee we ought to be clear in our minds about them—why we cannot accept the Amendment and why we feel it is necessary to stand on this requirement in the Bill.

5.48 p.m.


May I intervene, for one minute only, on an issue of fact? It has been said that the Royal Commission recommended registration. That is true, but your Lordships might like to know how it came about. I circulated a memorandum to my colleagues urging that trade unions should be given corporate status. After a full debate that recommendation was unanimously accepted. Then, as the Report says, once you had decided on incorporation you were committed automatically to registration because, while you could have registration without incorporation, you simply could not have incorporation without registration. That was the reason for that recommendation.


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, a question arising out of his remarks about union rules? It appears to me that what he said was striking at the very roots of the system and principle of democracy that has existed for more than 100 years in the unions. As I understand the position, with my fairly long trade union experience, the rules of a union come from below; they are decided by the members themselves. They are submitted through the normal machinery, through the lodges, through the branches and are gone through with a fine tooth comb before final submission to the Registrar of Friendly Societies. In regard to their rules this has been the acme of democracy over the last century in trade unions. Do I understand the position to be that that will now go by the board, and that whatever the members decide about rules, unless they conform to the principles laid down in the Bill they will not be accepted by the proposed new Registrar of Trade Unions? Unless I have misunderstood the noble Lord, it seems that the provisions in the Bill strike at the very root of democracy concerning the compilation of rules within unions.

6.0 p.m.


I should like to say one word here because I think this an extremely important provision. It seems very desirable, for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Donovan, and for other reasons which have been given, that trade unions should be registered. I do not believe that it will be onerous for them in any way. When it comes to the crunch. I think they will find it a great advantage. I should like to say that, as this Bill is drafted, there really is no chance of the Registrar playing fast and loose with unions which he will register and unions which he will not register, because the rules he will have to follow are laid down quite clearly in Clauses 65 and 66 and in other parts of the Bill.

Your Lordships will remember that we had a very interesting discussion also on Clause 1, where a number of principles are laid down which the Chief Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers Associations, among others, is enjoined to observe when carrying out his functions. I believe that these are very useful. I am all for trade unions enjoying a special status. I believe they are absolutely essential to the conduct of good industrial relations, and 1 think that the good conduct of trade unions is for that reason essential to the health of our economy. I believe that this registration principle will redound to the advantage of our good trade unions; if there were any undesirable collections of people who might have quite different aims and objectives, if they did not get through this particular network that would prove to be of great advantage to our good trade unions, of which I believe we have many. Therefore, I personally support this provision, and I suggest that it ought to meet with general support in your Lordships' House.


I suspect that the issue is not merely the question of registration, because I believe that some 75 to 80 per cent. of our unions are already registered. It is not a question of registration; It is the method that is involved in this Bill. We have had a very full debate, and I have a feeling that whatever else may be said on this matter is unlikely to convince either side of the House; therefore I think it would be. a good thing if we put this to a Division.


A question was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, and, therefore, although I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has just said, perhaps I may be allowed to intervene to give an answer. The answer is this: that it is very far from the Government's intention —and on my reading of the Bill it is wholly contrary to the intention of the Bill—that the long standing tradition whereby a trade union fixes its own rules democratically should be overridden by the Registrar, any more than it is the overriding of the parallel traditions in relation to, let us say, limited companies, that they, as equally voluntary organisations, should be what the shareholders Or the original subscribers provide in the memorandum and articles of association.

If the noble Lord will look at Clauses 63 and 73 and Schedule 4, he will see the kind of thing that is meant; and the kind of thing that is meant can cause no legitimate anxiety to any respectable body, least of all the existing trade unions. If the noble Lord will look at Clause 73, he will see that the object of this set of provisions is to ensure such things as everybody having a fair right to vote in the affairs of his association, and everybody being given a fair hearing; that the name of the trade union shall properly appear at the beginning of the rules, and that its accounts shall be properly kept by proper people. It is only really a means of seeing that the rules of natural justice and fair dealing are observed before it can claim the immunities and privileges of being a trade union. No existing trade union, I think, would find any legitimate source of anxiety in Clause 63 or Schedule 4, which are really what the Registrar has to look at. He does

the same sort of thing that the Companies Registrar and the Companies Court do in relation to companies.

When one is dealing with bodies which exercise a very great influence on our industrial life it is reasonable that they should be under the same sort of supervision, not with a view to overriding their freedoms but in order that only respectable bodies get on the register; and because those bodies we all know so well are perfectly respectable bodies, they have nothing to fear. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes convenient—I know that members opposite have a profound. suspicion of my profession—to have a lawyer look at your rules, and having in the course of my practice read the rules of numerous trade unions I rather suspect that that is done already.

6.7 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 257B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided:— Contents, 49; Not-Contents, 119.

Archibald, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Royle, L.
Ardwick, L. Hughes, L. St. Davids, V.
Bernstein, L. Jacques, L. Shackleton, L.
Beswick, L. Janner, L. Shepherd, L.
Birk, Bs. Kennet, L. Shinwell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Leatherland, L. Snow, L.
Burntwood, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Sorensen, L.
Champion, L. McLeavy, L. Stonham, L.
Chorley, L. Maelor, L. Stow Hill, L.
Collison, L. Moyle, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Noel-Buxton. L. Summerskill, Bs.
Crook, L. Nunburnholme, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Peddie, L. Walston, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Plummer, Bs. Wells-Pestell, L.
Energlyn, L. Popplewell, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs
Garnsworthy, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L.
Aberdare, L. Bledisloe, V. Cowley, E.
Abinger, L. Bradford, E. Craigavon, V.
Ailwyn, L. Braye, L. Cranbrook, E.
Airedale, L. Bridgeman, V. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Alport, L. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Daventry, V.
Ashbourne, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Denham, L.
Auckland, L. Brougham and Vaux, L. Derwent, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Burgh, L. Digby, L.
Balfour, E. Burton. L. Drumalbyn, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Byers, L. Dundee, E.
Barnby, L. Caithness, E. Ebbisham, L.
Barrington, V. Carrington, L. Eccles. V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Chesham, L. Ellenborough, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Clwyd, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs.
Belstead, L. Colgrain, L. Falkland. V.
Berkeley, Bs. Conesford, L. Ferrers, E.
Bessborough, E. Cottesloe, L. Fortescue, E.
Gladwyn, L. Lyell, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Goschcn, V. [Teller.] MacAndrew, L. St. Helens, L.
Gray, L. McFadzean, L. St. Just, L.
Greenway, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Sandford, L.
Grenfell, L. Merrivale, L. Savile, L.
Gridley, L. Milverton, L. Somers, L.
Grimston of Westbury,L. Mountevans, L. Southwark, L.Bp.
Grimthorpe, L. Mowbray and Stourton,L. Stamp. L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Napier and Ettrick, L. [Teller.] Strang, L.
Strange, L.
Hankey, L. Northchurch, Bs Strathclyde, L.
Harcourt, V. Norwich, V. Sudeley, L.
Harvey of Prestbury, L Nugent of Guildford, L Swaythling, L.
Hatherton, L. Oakshott, L. Tenby, V.
Hives, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L Teviot, L.
Hood, V. Orr-Ewing, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Howard of Glossop, L. Platt, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs
Hylton-Foster, Bs. Rankeillour, L. Vivian, L.
Inchyra, L. Rathcavan, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Jessel, L. Reay, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Killearn, L. Rochdale, V. Windlesham, L.
Lauderdale, E. Rockley, L. Wolverlon, L.
Loudoun, C. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Yarborough, E.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 59, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


It will not be a surprise to members of the Committee that I am not very enthusiastic that Clause 59 should stand part of the Bill. Ministers will probably agree with Inc that I might find myself in considerable difficulty with some of my noble friends on these Benches if I appear to be acquiescing in its remaining in the Bill. Strongly as we may feel against it, however, I do not wish to make a lengthy speech, because the very nature of the last Amendment almost inevitably meant that it took on the character very largely of the Question, That the clause stand part. So my remarks are almost supplementary to the previous discussion. I am, however, particularly concerned about some of the effects of registration and particularly the interference which they permit in the rules of the organisation.

My attention has been drawn to Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisition. I am advised—and I am quite certain that the advice is correct—that that Convention does not prevent us from passing a law on this subject. But what is in the Convention might quite seriously circumscribe the activities of the Registrar in due course, if we are to adhere to our ratification of the Con- vention. I would remind noble Lords that we were one of the first countries to ratify it, and the Convention has now been in operation for almost twenty years.

Convention 87 concerns freedom of association and protection of the right to organise. It takes, among other things, these forms: having decided to adopt in the form of a Convention certain proposals concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organize which is the seventh item on the agenda of the session; Considering that the Preamble to the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation declares recognition of the principle of freedom of association ' to be a means of improving conditions of labour and of establishing peace; Considering that the Declaration of Philadelphia reaffirms that 'freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress'; Considering that the International Labour Conference, at its Thirtieth Session, unanimously adopted the principles which should form the basis for international regulation; Considering that the General Assembly of the United Nations, at its Second Session, endorsed these principles and requested the International Labour Organisation to continue every effort in order that it may he possible to adopt one or several international Conventions; adopts this ninth day of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and forty-eight the following Convention: The Convention is very long and it would be quite wrong for me. to weary noble Lords by reading from it extensively. However, one of the things I wish to read from it is very pertinent to our discussion. I would like to quote the first three articles: Article 1: " Each member of the International Labour Organisation for which this Convention is in force undertakes to give effect to the following provisions. Article 2: " Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation. I will draw your Lordships' attention particularly to the last phrase, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisation of their own choosing. It would seem to imply a two-way choice: the unions would have the right to make rules about whom they would accept, and the individuals would have the right to choose the organisation which they would wish. Certain of the rules which will be laid down at least depart to a certain extent from the right of the trade union to form rules about whom they will accept. Article 3.1: " Workers' and employers' organisations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes. I think the most important part of all is Article 3.2: The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof. The advice which I have been given is that it would not be in breach of this Convention for a Bill of this nature to become an Act of Parliament. What could be a breach of our international obligations would be if, in pursuance of the powers which the Bill confers upon him, the Registrar intervenes in the formulation of a union's rules and requires them to abandon rules, which they themselves have freely drawn up, because they are not in accordance with Clause 63 of this Bill. It is not a course of action which could be objected to, as I understand it, in the courts of this country, but it is a course of action, which the Government may well be embarking on, which could be successfully challenged at international level.

I should have thought that, having regard to the long and excellent record which we have in trade union legislation, particularly during this century, it would be a disaster if this country voluntarily placed itself in the position that it could be successfully challenged for an infringement of a Convention of the International Labour Organisation. That in itself is a reason for objecting to these clauses of the Bill. I will say no more on the subject other than that I am convinced that we should be failing in our duty, notwithstanding what was said on the last Amendment and the fact that we divided on it, if we omitted to divide on this clause. I certainly intend to object to the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill.

6.22 p.m.


May I add my voice to that of my noble friend, because your Lordships all know of my long association with the International Labour Organisation. I was a member of its governing body from 1960 to 1969. Convention 87 is the important one and the most respected one among the workers of the world (and indeed the I.L.O.) of any. It has been a matter of great pride to myself and my predecessors, and the present workers' representative to the I.L.O., that this country was one of the first to ratify this Convention. I had doubts in my own mind, because I was not able to take advice, as to whether these clauses contravene that Convention. I think, in actual fact, in legalistic terms, maybe what we are doing now will not contravene the Convention, but I am not at all sure in my own mind whether in spirit—and that is what matters—it will not. Freedom of association, the right to organise, to determine your own laws, your own rules, your own procedures, are elemental for a trade union in the Convention, as we all know. I should not like the I.L.O. to feel that this country, of all countries in the world—the home of freedom—was doing something which could be seen (particularly by those friends of ours in Geneva in the I.L.O., whom I have known for many years) to be "ratting " on what we all believe in so much. As I said, I have not been able to take advice, but I am genuinely worried about this because of our position, prestige and our standing and leadership in the world, which are still important.

I wonder whether the Government themselves have taken advice. I have in mind the fact that one of our countrymen is now Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Dr. Jenks, who is recognised the world over as a great jurist. Have the I.L.O. been consulted about this? If not, I think they should be, and we should be absolutely sure that we are not doing something in making this kind of law that will be seen by others to be a reflection on what the British people as a whole, and the British Government too, have always stood for.


I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Collison with his great experience in these matters has said. I can assure him that this matter has been looked at very carefully indeed. Naturally the Government have considered carefully whether the proposals in the Bill arc in any way an infringement of the I.L.O. Convention. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has drawn attention in particular to paragraph 2 of Article 3, and that says: The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof. I should make it absolutely clear that trade unions will still be able to frame their own rules, subject only to satisfying minimum standards of justice and administration. If noble Lords look at Clauses 73 and 74, they will see how this works in practice. The registrar is to look at the rules to see if they are defective in that they are inconsistent with the principles set out in the law, as it will be in Clause 63, or do not cover the requirements of Schedule 4, and will serve notice on the organisation if he finds them defective. The Registrar himself cannot compel the union to alter its rules if it disagrees with the Registrar as to whether they are defective or not. It will be the courts, not the public authorities, in a judicial decision, which will decide whether or not the rules are defective.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but may I ask him to explain to us what he means by the rules being defective? The rules have been before the members and have been voted on. If the Registrar, or somebody, decides that they are defective because they are not in accordance with the principles of the Bill—the rules are the wishes of the members, and that is the cornerstone of democracy—are those wishes to be flouted?


What is meant by " defective " is set out in Clause 73. Broadly speaking, it is that they would be in conflict with the guiding principles in Clause 63, which will be part of the law of the land. Also they will be defective in the sense that they have not got rules to cover the points referred to in Schedule 4. It has been accepted by the I.L.O.'s Committee of Experts that legal requirements on constitutions and rules are net necessarily inconsistent with Article 87. That was in the report of the Committee of Experts in 1959. The proposals in the Bill on rules requirements, although they are more comprehensive than present requirements under the Trade Union Act 1871 and limit the freedom of trade unions to make rules which are palpably unjust 07 unfair to members, nevertheless seers to the Government to be consistent with the Article, because they seek to ensure sound and fair administration, and to protect the rights of individual members. They are, in essence, the same as those recommended by the Donovan Commission and accepted by the previous Government. In short, it will be easy enough for any soundly administered organisation to obtain, and to retain, registration under the Bill.

I hope that I have sufficiently explained this point to the Committee, but if there are any further points I shall be glad to try to answer them. I need only say that, having signed the Convention, the Government would not wish in any way to act otherwise than in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Convention. We do not think we are doing so, and we believe that we are soundly based by the interpretation that has been put upon it by the 1.L.O.'s own Committee of Experts.


I cannot say that I am completely satisfied with that reply. In fact, I would go a lot further and say that I am not in the least satisfied. When my noble friend interjected, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, appeared to be on the point of saying that the final decision on this matter will not be taken by the Registrar but, as there can be an appeal against a decision, by the Court; the implication being that the Registrar is a public authority in terms of the Convention, but the Court is not. This seems an extraordinary doctrine. It may be the sort of thing which the lawyers can think up, but we all have our own views about some of the things that the lawyers think up. I should have thought that any layman's view would be that the Court is part of the public authorities of the land. However, it seems that what the noble Lord is saying is that if the Government had made the Registrar the final authority it would have been an infringement of the Convention, but the Court does not have to consider whether the rules meet with the requirements of the Convention. What the Court has to consider is whether the rules meet with the requirements of the Bill; and the Bill lays down in Clause 63 certain things which may be an improper interference with the right of a trade union to form its own rules.

The noble Lord was good enough to say that consultations had taken place with the International Labour Organisation, and while I was searching for my pencil—


I did not say that. I talked about the ruling of the I.L.O.'s Committee of Experts.


Yes, I am sorry. What I was about to say was that while I was searching for my pencil the noble Lord went past the point, and I was unable to write down what he said. But what impressed me was that this Committee of Experts said that the kind of control of the rules about which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, was talking would not necessarily be a contravention of Convention 87. That is not the same as saying that it is in accordance with the Convention. " Not necessarily ", as I understand it, means that the Committee could not say right away that in was a contravention. At the same time, it also means that they are saying, " We cannot say that it is in accordance ". It therefore means that the Government are embarking on a course of action which is debatable, and at the end of the day we may find that we have written into this Bill a course of procedure which is appealable and which will be determined internationally, and that this country has departed in some measure from the ratification of Convention 87. That is an exceedingly serious course of action for the Government to embark upon.

My noble friend Lord Collison asked whether the Government had consulted the International Labour Organisation. In my ignorance of some of these matters, I must confess that when the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, spoke about the Committee of Experts I thought that this was another way of referring to the Organisation. But it might well have been better if the noble Lord and his friends had pursued this matter a little further to get something a hit firmer. one way or the other, than that it would not necessarily be against the Convention. I hope that before we have finished with this matter the noble Lord will examine this project further, because I am certain that, no matter how anxious the Government may be to have a Bill of this kind on the Statute Book, no matter how willing they may be to pay the price that must be paid of trade union antagonism to this legislation within the country, they have not thought out fully whether the price of antagonism international opinion, by appearing to depart from our commitments under the Convention, would be worth while. I am asking that this should be looked at further, because I am quite certain that there will be a great deal more to be said about this aspect of the Bill before we have finished with it. I am not asking for the commitment as a prerequisite for abandoning our opposition to the clause at this stage, and I intend to ask my noble friends to divide on the clause. But, notwithstanding that, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will at least reassure himself and his colleagues on this point if he cannot reassure us.

6.34 p.m.


I should not wish to stand between the Committee on this clause, and I rise because this is not only a Party political matter but one of very considerable constitutional importance. I am certain that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, appreciates the great value of the I.L.O., not only in Western Europe but throughout the world, and I know from my period in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office how much importance both of those Departments attach to the support of the I.L.O. Therefore, it is essential that the Committee should be fully satisfied that this part of the Bill is not in contravention of the I.L.O. Convention.

My noble friend Lord Hughes has suggested that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, should consider this matter and, presumably, that means consultation between the Departments concerned; in particular, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I am in no way suggesting that I have a low opinion of the legal advisers in the various Departments; they have very considerable merit. But we have our own Law Lords in this House—I am glad to see the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, in his place, though I gather he did not hear the debate and I wonder whether this is a matter which perhaps in the first instance Her Majesty's Government could put before the Law Lords—it could be done with a degree of delicacy—to see whether at the next stage of the Bill they could give us a firm view whether this Part of the Bill contravenes the I.L.O. Convention. If that is not possible, then there are ways and means by which your Lordships' House could seek the highest legal opinion. This may he one of the cases which we should want to refer, hut I should not like to use the rather cumbersome method of a Writ of Assistance. So perhaps the noble Lord and the Government will see whether they can. have consultations with the Law Lords in order that they may give us advice at Report stage.

6.37 p.m.


The noble Lord will of course be well aware that the Government normally obtain their legal advice from the governmental legal advisers, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.


They are not Members here.


No, but nevertheless there is that advice. The Government do not need to have the advice of this House on a legal provision of this kind. I am merely making the point that this has Lot been done without tie normal legal advice. Secondly, it is worth while drawing attention once again to the words in paragraph 2 of Article 3: Public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof. I am advised that there are several other countries which make requirements on rules of the kind proposed in the Bill, even though they may not in all cases be related to registration. So there are requirements of this kind. As the noble Lord has, invited us to look further at this matter, I can say right away that we will of course do so, but I cannot commit the Government to obtain advice from any particular source. I am sure he will agree that the Government should be free to take legal advice from whom they think fit. All I can say is that I take note of his suggestion.


The other place, of course, has an advantage over us: it has the two Law Officers who come to the House and give their advice to the House as a whole, not just to the Government. As I say, we here have not that advantage. I hope that we shall find ways and means by which the Committee can be satisfied in this matter, and I have a feeling that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will do his best to see that the Committee are so satisfied.

6.41 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 59, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: —Contents, 110; Not-Contents, 41.

Aberdare, I.. Beaumont of Whitley, L. Brooke of Ystradfellte. Bs
Abinger, L. Belhaven and Stenton, L. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Ailwyn, L. Belstead, L. Burgh. L.
Airdale, L. Berkeley, Bs. Burton. L.
Alport, L. Bessborough, E. Carrington, L.
Amulree, L Bethell, L. Chesham, L.
Ashbourne, L. Bledisloe, V. Clwyd, L.
Balfour, E. Braye, L. Colgrain, L.
Barnby, L. Bridgeman, V. Conesford, L.
Barrington. V. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Cottesloe, L.
Cowdray, V. Hatherton, L. Rhyl, L.
Craigavon, V. Hives, L. Rochdale, V.
Cranbrook, E. Hood, V. Rockley, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Daventry, V. Hylton-Foster, Bs. St. Aldwyn, E.
Denham, L. Inchyra, L. St. Helens, L.
Digby, L. Killearn, L. St. Just, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Lauderdale, E. St. Oswald, L.
Dundee, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Sandford, L.
Eccles, V. Loudoun, C. Savile, L.
Effingham, E. Lyell, L. Somers, L.
Ellenborough, L. MacAndrew, L. Stamp, L.
Falkland, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Strang, L.
Ferrers, E. E. Merrivale, L. Strange, L.
Fortescue, E. Mountevans, L. Strathclyde, L.
Goschen, V. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. Swaythling, L.
Gray, L. Napier and Ettrick, L. [Teller.] Tenby, V.
Greenway, L. Netherthorpe, L. Teviot, L.
Grenfell, L. Northchurch, Bs. Tweedsmuir, L.
Gridley, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Oakshott, L. Vivian, L.
Grimthorpe, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Hail sham of Saint Marylebone L. (L. Chancellor.) Orr-Ewing, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Platt, L. Windlesham, L.
Hankey, L. Rankeillour, L. Wise, L.
Harcourt, V. Rathcavan, L. Wolverton, L.
Harvey of Prestbury, L. Reay, L. Yarborough, E.
Archibald, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Plummer, Bs.
Ardwick, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Popplewell, L.
Bernstein, L. Hughes, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Beswick, L. Jacques, L. Royle, L.
Birk, Bs. Janner, L. St. Davids, V.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kennet, L. Shackleton, L.
Burntwood, L. Leatherland, L. Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Lee of Ashridge, Bs. Shinwell, L.
Collison, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. [Teller.] Snow, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Stonham, L.
Crook, L. McLeavy, L. Stow Hill, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Maelor, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Energlyn, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Peddie, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. Clause 61, as amended, agreed to. Clause 62 agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 59, as amended, agreed to accordingly.

6.48 p.m.

Clause 60 [Employers' associations and other organisations of employers]:

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 257S:

Page 51, line 3, leave out from beginning to ("is") in line 11 and insert ("whose membership consists wholly or mainly—

  1. (a) of constituent or affiliated organisations each of which fulfils the conditions specified in subsection (1)(a) of this section or itself consist wholly or mainly of constituent or affiliated organisations which fulfil those conditions, or
  2. (b) of representatives of such constituent or affiliated organisations as are mentioned in the preceding paragraph,
and (in either case)").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is the counterpart of an earlier Amend- ment, No. 257R, which my noble friend Lord Windlesham moved, affecting the definition of a federation of workers' organisations. Like that Amendment, this one is intended to prevent an organisation from being regarded as a federation where the members of the constituent body themselves comprise the membership of the organisation. It is to make it clear that a federation is an organisation whose members are other organisations and not individuals. I beg to move.

Clause 61 [Appointment of Chief Registrar and assistant registrars]:


I call attention to the fact that if Amendment 257D is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendment No 257E.

6.50 p.m.

LORD BURNTWOOD moved Amendment No. 257D: Page 51, line 27, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is moved because we on this side disagree strongly with the proposition that the Chief Registrar should, in effect compulsorily, be a barrister, advocate or solicitor of not less than 10 years' standing. We are intrigued as to why parallel action to withdraw this subsection has now been taken by Her Majesty's Government. I hesitate to use the term " unholy alliance ", but we should like to know in due course the reasons for the action proposed to be taken by the Government. I should explain why we feel that this subsection should be withdrawn. It is probably within the experience of noble Lords—and I say this without any disrespect or irreverence—that legally qualified people in general are not as other men arc from the intellectual point of view. The effect of this subsection would have been that a man who might be highly qualified in the legal profession might be totally inexperienced and, therefore, totally unqualified to judge the merits or demerits of action taken on the initiative of people not merely on the shop floor but at higher strata in our industrial life. We feel that it would have been wholly undesirable to have a legal personality taking on this important position. For that reason we now propose that this subsection be deleted. I beg to move.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Burntwood, for moving this Amendment. The Committee will be surprised to see that there is indeed an unholy alliance both on this Amendment and on Amendment 257F to which, if it is convenient, I should like also to refer. As the noble Lord pointed out, the effect of these Amendments is to remove the qualification that both the Registrar and assistant registrars must be legally qualified. The reason for its inclusion in the first place is that by the provisions of the Friendly Societies Act 1896 registrars are required to be legally qualified. However, an Amendment was tabled in another place to remove this qualification. The Government have therefore given attention to the views expressed, and we are glad to support the noble Lord in the Amendment he has moved.


I feel that I should say I found the collaboration more enjoyable than I had thought. The noble Baroness has given reasons which appear satisfactory; we hope that they are the only reasons.


I beg to move Amendment No. 257F.

Amendment moved— Page 51, line 36, leave out subsection (4).—(Baroness Tweedstnuir of Bellielvie.)

Clause 63 [Guiding principles for organisations of workers]:


If Amendment No. 257H is agreed to, then Amendment 257J cannot be called.


I suspect that we are in some difficulties. I wanted to speak on Clause 62, but I did lot hear it called. I merely wanted to ask one or two questions. Will the Committee agree that I may do so?

Clause 62, which deals with annual report of the Chief Registrar, does not say in any great detail or clarity what the report will contain. I am lot suggesting that we should seek in this statute to lay down in specific terms what ought to he included in the report; but clearly this is a report in the very early stages that will be of great importance both to Parliament and, in particular, to the trade union concerned. I think it would be helpful if we could have some indication from the Front Bench opposite of what the Government have in mind for inclusion in the report.


This is an unusual procedure and I am not familiar with it; but I understand it is the custom to help as much as possible. Therefore, although I suspect that I am completely out of order, so long as I am not stopped by anyone on either side I will say that the report which has to be laid annually before both Houses of Parliament by the Chief Registrar is expected to contain, for example, the same kind of information as is given by the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, and it will contain reports concerning statistical material on registered organisations, including financial information and details of the use of the Registrar's powers under law, all of which are to be discussed on a later Amendment.


I am grateful for that statement, but I am still in some difficulty because my noble friend Lord Delacourt-Smith should have been present in order to take part in our proceedings —I see that my noble friend is here. This is not the first time (though it is the first time with Lord Delacourt-Smith) that I have had to play for time. I thank the Committee for their indulgence in permitting me to be out of order. There is nobody with whom I would sooner be out of order than the noble Baroness.


To put right both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord I will again put the Question that Clause 62 stand part of the Bill.

Clause 62 agreed to.

Clause 63 [Guiding principles for organisation of workers]:

7.0 p.m.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257H: Page 52, line 16, leave out subsection (1).

The noble Lord said: To some extent we have already touched on the matters bearing upon this Amendment, which stands in the name of my noble friend. The subsection to which this Amendment directs attention is the governing subsection of Clause 63. It is that subsection which gives meaning and purpose to the clause as a whole. In moving that the subsection be omitted we wish to draw attention, once again, to the characteristics of this clause and the impact of the registration proposals on the trade union movement. The proposals contained in this clause impose on the movement a system of registration and intervention in internal affairs for which we believe no justification exists. The Donovan Commission made a most detailed examination of the organisation of the trade union movement and the rules which govern trade unions. It is clear from the Report that although the Commission recognised there was a need for some reconsideration of the rules under which trade unions were governed, they did not envisage arrangements of the character set out here.

Such a degree of registration, combined with intervention in internal affairs, might perhaps be justified if there were widespread evidence of malpractices, of lax administration or of the thoroughly unsatisfactory running of individual trade unions. The Donovan Commission gives no support to any implication of that kind. Indeed, in respect of the honesty with which trade union affairs arc conducted, there is a striking paragraph in the Commission's Report, paragraph 637, which describes how almost 500 trade union members were asked, in a survey carried out by the Government Social Survey, whether they knew of any elections in their union which were not carried out fairly. Of the 494 people to whom this question was put, four believed that there was cause for complaint. In each of those four cases, reference was made to a union branch election. In two of the cases, the complaint was that the election was thought to be unfair, solely because it was believed that too few people had been present when it took place. In the other two cases allegations of some irregularities were made. The Donovan Commission with great moderation observed that on the evidence of this survey there is no general disquiet among trade union members concerning the honesty with which trade union elections are carried out. Is there any evidence that in other respects trade union arrangements for internal government are unsatisfactory? Again, there is nothing in the Donovan Commission Report which lends colour to that suggestion. It is true they recommended that the requirement in respect of rules should be revised, with a view to ensuring better safeguards for individual members. They went on to add the most important qualification: without impairing the freedom which trade unions ought to enjoy to frame rules to meet their own circumstances ". The Commission went on to make a series of recommendations on detailed matters.

Of course, as I pointed out on an earlier Amendment, there is a most important further qualification in the Donovan Commission's Report which affects their whole treatment of the internal affairs of trade unions. It is their recommendation that while there should be a new Registrar there should also he, as is suggested in paragraph 658, a review body consisting of three members—two to be trade unionists and one a lawyer to act as a chairman. This is a provision which finds no place in the Government's proposals.

There can be no doubt—and I do not think that noble Lords opposite can be in any doubt—that these proposals to begin the process of detailed regulation of, and therefore detailed intervention in, the affairs of trade unions is deeply and widely resented by the trade union. movement. It will produce a situation in which, when rules have been thoroughly discussed among the members in their branches, voted on at conference in accordance with the rules, a Government official—the Registrar—will be able to reject the new rules or the amendments to rules which are proposed. This is a new departure, and I am bound to say that from everything I have heard so far in the proceedings on this Bill, the Government have done nothing convincingly, or anything like convincingly, to justify their taking this step.

They are departing from Donovan, and I should be glad if they would say on what grounds they think it is necessary in this clause to go so much beyond what Donovan recommended; and to do so without the review body which Donovan recommended. They are certainly not, in our judgment—and again I quote the Donovan Report—proceeding without impairing the freedom which trade unions ought to enjoy to frame rules to meet their own circumstances.

As we go through this clause, and later through the Schedule, we shall see the various steps which are proposed. One to which we shall come very soon is the intervention in the power of trade unions to decide which individuals they shall admit. We shall have to probe very closely the effects this provision will have on the whole machinery which the trade union movement collectively has established through the Bridlington Rules, to keep some kind of order aid sense in trade union membership and in the fields covered by the various trade unions.

This subsection is the beginning of the process. It is not only a process which is unsupported by the recommendations of the Donovan Commission; it also goes beyond what the Donovan Commission recommended. It ignores the work which the trade union movement itself was beginning to do, following the Donovan Report, to examine trade union rules and to seek to lay down, in the light of the collective experience of the trade union movement, what alterations were necessary; to see what general principles. if any, could be laid down, having regard on the one hand to the Donovan Report and on the other to the experience of the trade union movement a; a whole. It is surely common sense to imagine, and to recognise, that any new arrangements or guidance in determining or re-framing the rules of trade unions is much more likely to be acceptable and to he effective if it springs from die trade union movement than if it is imposed through a Bill of this sort and through an official of the kind proposed.

Perhaps the noble Lord will say what account has been taken by the Government of the views of the trade union movement and of the work which the T.U.C. has done to review trade union rules in the light of the Donovan Report. I suspect that his answer will have to be that the Government have ignored the sort of work the T.U.C. has been doing. I have no doubt he will—as Government spokesmen usually do—couple it with a statement that they are, of course, always anxious to assist the Trades Union Congress in the work it is doing to improve internal arrangements in the movement. So often, I am afraid, the declared intentions, the declared purposes, of noble Lords in respect of this Bill are quite different from what they are providing in the Bill itself and from what the Bill actually means. I hope that on this subject we are going to have an explanation of why it is that the Government have felt it necessary to go so much beyond Donovan, and why it is, as I suspect will prove to be the case, that they have so largely ignored the work which the trade union movement itself was doing on the subject of trade union rules. I beg to move.

7.11 p.m.


Perhaps the noble Lord will permit me first of all to deal with the Amendment itself, and then I shall be glad to go on and comment on some of the points which he has made. The subsection which he seeks to remove by this Amendment simply provides that the organisations to which the principles set out in the following subsections should apply are organisations of workers, other than federations of workers' organisations. The effect of the Amendment would be to remove this clear statement, and that would only create confusion. It could not remove from organisations of workers all responsibility to observe the principles in Clause 63, since under Clause 64 it would still be an unfair industrial practice for an organisation of workers to take, or threaten to take, action against a member or other person which contravenes these principles. In respect of organisations of workers which sought to register as trade unions, it would still be incumbent on the Registrar to ensure that their rules complied with the principles in Clause 63.

If it is the intention of the noble Lord that organisations of workers should not have to comply with the guiding principles in Clause 63 relating to fair and equitable dealings with their members, the Amendment would fail to achieve this object. What is more, I cannot accept the implication that these principles are not appropriate to organisations of workers. As we go through the principles themselves in dealing with the later Amendments I believe that noble Lords will come to see that they do provide necessary safeguards for the individual member in his relations with the organisation, and that they are therefore carefully designed to protect him where he needs that protection.

The noble Lord spoke about the position as recommended by Donovan. I should like to make it clear that while there are differences between the recommendations of the Donovan Commission and the Bill, there are also great similarities. Perhaps I should say that the Donovan Report made comments on admission, on discipline, on disputes between a union and a member, on elections and on shop stewards. Then it went on to say this: The requirements as to the rules of registered trade unions will henceforth be rather more extensive and will call for more supervision on the part of the Registrar than in the past. The Registrar already advises unions informally on the drafting and redrafting of rules, and we hope that this beneficial practice will continue. The possibility exists, however, that disagreement may at times arise between the Registrar and a trade union as to whether its rules comply with the revised requirements of the law. We think that such disagreements should be referred for settlement by the independent review body whose establishment we propose. So far as I can see, the only difference in principle here—and I do not think it is a principle; it is a difference merely in means—is that the independent review body as recommended by Donovan, as the noble Lord says, consists of two persons chosen from a panel of trade unionists and a third person who would be a lawyer and would act as chairman. Under the proposals in the Bill, in some cases it will be the industrial tribunal to which complaints will go, and the composition of that tribunal is not all that different: it is not wholly a trade union body with an independent chairman, it has not got two trade unionists, but generally speaking it is a body with an independent chairman and someone with trade union experience on the one side and someone with experience in industry on the other.


Will the noble Lord forgive me? With respect, he really must not brush over these important differences in quite that lighthearted fashion. The Donovan Commision's Report of course made provision at another point for labour tribunals, and dealt with that question. In respect of trade union rules it quite specifically recommended that the review body, apart from the legal chairman, should be drawn from the trade union movement. Really the noble Lord must justify the Government's departure from that recommendation on merit, and by argument, and not suggest that there is not a difference, because there quite clearly is.


On the actual rules, the appeal would go to the Industrial Court, which is slightly differently constituted, as noble Lords will have seen. The point here is that in both cases they are independent review bodies. I quite understand the position of the noble Lord, that it is more appropriate to have two trade unionists looking after trade union rules, with an independent chairman, but the fact remains that in many cases somebody with trade union experience will be present, and this in itself is quite a safeguard. So far as the industrial tribunals are concerned, existing bodies are being used for the purposes of appeals by individuals. So far as the Industrial Court is concerned, here we have a court which will have a wide range of responsibilities over the whole of industrial relations, and it will be essentially independent. I quite see the noble Lord's position and why he probably thinks this difference a great deal more important than perhaps I do, but the fact remains that the structure here and the duties are very similar. I find it difficult, therefore, to go along with the noble Lord in saying that there has been a wide departure from the Donovan recommendations in this regard.

The noble Lord then went on to say that the Bill ignores the work—I cannot remember whether he said the Bill or the Government—which the trade union movement was beginning to do. We are well aware of the T.U.C. circulars, and, as the noble Lord prophesied, we welcome this work very much indeed. The fact remains that this is advice on disciplinary procedures, and it may be pertinent to say that in the case of expulsion the circular said that the rules shall provide that, wherever practicable, an expelled member shall be allowed to remain a member while his appeal is under consideration. One has to take into account the fact that the T.U.C.'s circular on these matters is only advisory. Our view is that the trade unions are bodies with immense responsibility; they have risen from small beginnings to immense power, and power carries with it responsibility. Power can be abused, and it is the responsibility of the community, to the individual, to ensure that the power is not abused.

Nobody has said that there are widespread abuses. In the land as a whole the law is broken hut, by and large, it is observed. Nevertheless, there are laws in the background to ensure a general observance of the needs of the community. These provisions do no more, except that they relate to the needs of the individual in his relationship with his trade union. I hope that I have said enough on this point to dispose of it. This Amendment is not worth pressing on its own merits simply because it would be virtually ineffectual. It may be that noble Lords will wish to mark their opinion in regard to this Amendment. All I can say is that they will be voting, if they vote on this Amendment, for something which will be ineffectual.


The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that by accepting this Amendment we should be creating a great deal of confusion. I do not think that any Amendment on this clause would create as much confusion as the clause itself—or, in hot, as the whole Bill. Also, the Government keeps claiming kinship with Donovan. The Bill has a good many resemblances to recomendations of the Donovan Report; they are usually minor and very obvious. But on the matter of real, strong principles, as in this clause, the Government's proposals have no comparison at all with Donovan.


I must support my noble friend on the Front Bench. I listened most attentively to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, moving his Amendment. To hear the noble Lord speak you would think that unions are like the Angel Gabriel—he rather likened them to an angelic body. Any of us who have had any dealings with unions would agree that they are, on The whole, highly responsible bodies. But to hear the noble Lord speak you would think that there was no such thing as a malpractice in a union; we know that there are malpractices. There is victimisation of certain members, kangaroo courts, and abuses like that. I cannot see why the noble Lord opposite should object to the very mild guiding principles that any decent organisation would be only too pleased to adopt. We keep on referring to the Donovan Report as if it were God. I agree that it is a very good Report, but one does not have to follow it slavishly.

7.25 p.m.


I do not think that the response we have had to this Amendment has been very satisfactory, or convincing. I was not suggesting that. everything in the Donovan Report must be put into operation because it was in that Report. I was asking—and I did not get any answer—why the Government have chosen to go to a very substantial degree beyond what was recomended in the Donovan Report, and have omitted the review body which the Donovan Report Commission recommended. It is no good the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, trying to tell us that there is just a slight difference—there is a very fundamental difference between the kind of review body that he is talking about, and the body the Donovan Commission recommended.

Subject to having a legally qualified chairman, the essence of the Donovan review body was that it should be drawn from the trade union movement. If the trade union movement—to whose responsibility every noble Lord who speaks from tile opposite Bench feels bound to pay tribute—is such a responsible body, it is a pity it cannot be given the responsibility, which it has had for a hundred years, of framing the rules under which it is conducted. Where there is any conflict, reference should be made to a review body drawn from the trade union movement. I must press the noble Lord to tell us why the Government thought it necessary to depart from the Donovan Report in this way, to depart from these quite specific recommendations. There are resemblances between the Donovan Commission Report and what is in the Bill on this point. Nobody can deny that.

I am asking the noble Lord to explain and justify—and I ask him quite explicitly—why the Government have departed from the Donovan Report. What are they suggesting or implying about trade unions that Donovan did not discover? The Donovan Commission was quite prepared to lay down specific recommendations about rules, and the way, by means of a review body, that any conflict with the Registrar should be resolved.

I must ask the noble Lord not to try to suggest there is no difference. If there is no difference in effect between the Government proposals and the Donovan Report, why cannot we have the Donovan proposals? But they are not the same; there is an important difference. I am asking the noble Lord not to suggest that there is no difference, but to say why the Government have made this difference. I put the point to the noble Lord that the proposal set out in this clause is a feature which has caused widespread resentment among the trade union movement.

It is one of the unfortunate features of the Government's handling of this Bill that the way in which the consultative document was communicated to the public, and the limitations which the Secretary of State for Employment chose to put upon the representations he would hear from the trade union movement, meant that there has been no effective consultation with the trade union movement about the framing of this Bill—either this part or any other part. If the noble Lord is aware of the resentment and extreme criticism which these proposals have aroused among the trade union movement—I am talking now of the proposals in this clause—will he either explain why the Government have thought it necessary to depart from Donovan, or will he reconsider this matter, and put it to his right honourable friend that the Government should be asked to see whether we cannot go back to the Donovan Commission recommendation.


I do not suppose I can convince the noble Lord on this. But he asked me a number of questions, and the least I can do is try to answer them. He referred to responsibility for framing rules. That rests with the trade unions. Incidentally, we are not really considering the rules at the moment: we are considering the guiding principles. The rules come in Schedule 4, and we shall deal with them when we come to Clause 73. But, talking of rules, the short answer is that the unions frame their rules, except in so far as they are defective in the sense that there is no rule corresponding to a requirement of Schedule 4, which provides that they must have certain rules, or defective in the sense that they arc at variance with the guiding principles. I cannot see anything incongruous about this at all. The unions have responsibility for framing their own rules. Nobody writes their rules for them. They merely have to comply with the law regarding the rules and have the rules specified in the Schedule.

The noble Lord asked why we have departed from Donovan in this. The Bill envisages a certain framework of law, with the N.I.R.C. and the existing industrial tribunals extended. It would be rather painting the lily to have another review body for the purpose of framing the rules. Frankly, we think it is much better that we should have the judicial bodies that we have in mind because that recognises the responsibility, which we debated long ago, on Clause 1. of the trade unions to the community. If we have a review body such as the noble Lord suggested, this becomes almost a domestic affair.

The whole point of this Part of the Bill is registration. 'The noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, intervened earlier on the relationship between registration and corporate status. Here registration is inherent in the whole conception of the responsibility of the trade unions to their members, on the one hand, and to the community, on the other. The noble Lord may not like it, but this is the answer. We do not think that this is, or should be, an entirely domestic matter for the trade unions. We think it is proper that the law should lay down these guiding principles for the defence of the individual and for the standards of his treatment in the trade unions. These rules will have to be complied with, whether the organised workers are regis-

tered or not. The only difference is that if they are registered the rules will come under the purview of the Registrar, and he will he able to help the trade unions to bring their rules up to the standards which, under this Bill, the community, expects of them. That is the position.


I am tempted to pursue this matter further and to ask the noble Lord why it is that a number of occupational groups are allowed a large measure of self-government and the Bill imposes substantial discipline on the membership of professions and why he does not think the time appropriate for the degree of self-government which we are asking to be extended to the trade union movement.


Many of these are subject to the Privy Council.


That may be a possible line of approach. I was about to say that this is a matter to which no doubt we can return on other. Amendments to this clause but, to mark our feelings upon the principle in this subsection, we must divide the Committee upon it.

7.36 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 257H) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided:— Contents. 35; Not-Contents 94.

Archibald, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Popplewell, L.
Ardwick, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bernstein, L. Hughes, L. St. Davids, V.
Birk, Bs. Jacques, L. Shackleton, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kennet, L. Shepherd, L.
Burntwood, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Shinwell, L.
Champion, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Stonham, L.
Collison, L. Maelor, L. Stow Hill, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Strabolgi, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Noel-Buxton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Peddie, L. Tenby, V.
Gardiner, L. Plummer, Bs. Wynne-Jones, L.
Aberdare, L. Bledisloe, V. Craigmyle, L.
Ailwyn, L. Bradford, E. Cranbrook, E.
Airedale, L, Bridgeman, V. Cullen of Ashbourne, L
Alport, L. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Daventry, V.
Balfour, E. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Barnby, L. Burton, L. Digby, L.
Barrington, V. Clwyd, L. Drumalbyn, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Conesford, L. Dundee, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Cork and Orrery, E. Effingham, E.
Belstead, L. Cottesloe, L. Ellenborough, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Cowdray, V. Falkland, V.
Bessborough, E. Craigavon, V. Ferrers, E.
Fortescue, E. Latymer, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Lindsey of Abingdon, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Goschen, V. Lyell, L. St. Just, L.
Gowrie, E. Mancroft, L. St. Oswald, L.
Gray, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Sandford, L.
Greenway, L. Merrivale, L. Savile, L.
Grenfell, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Sempill, Ly.
Gridley, L. Somers, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Nairne, Bs. Stamp, L.
Grimthorpe, L. Netherthorpe, L. Strange, L.
Hailes, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Strathclyde, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Oakshott, L. Swaythling, L.
O'Neill of the Maine, L.. Teviot, L
Hankey, V. Orr-Ewing, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Hanworth, V. Platt, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Harcourt, V. Rankeillour, L. Vivian, L.
Harvey of Prestbury, L. Reay, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Hatherton, L. Rhyl, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Hives, L. Rochdale, V. Windlesham, L.
Killearn, L. Rockley, L. Wolverton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7.43 p.m.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257J: Page 52, line 18, leave out from beginning to end of line 19 and insert (" trade union ").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment will, I think, speedily become clear. As noble Lords know, it is a feature of this Bill that it seeks in the future to confine the term " trade union " to an organisation of workers registered under the Act. However, in this clause, where guiding principles are set down, they are to be applied, as the Bill now stands, not merely to trade unions but to all organisations of workers. This is a very strange provision, and I hope the noble Lord will explain why it is included. Surely the Government will be willing to allow an organisation of workers to choose freely, in the light of the views of its members, whether or not it wishes to become registered as a trade union under this Bill.

Already the provisions of the Bill, some . of which we have discussed and some of which we have yet to discuss, impose very heavy penalties on those organisations of workers which choose not to become registered. Some of these impedances seem to me to be difficult to justify. But at least it will be agreed that the organisation of workers is not gaining what it pleases the Government on many occasions to call " privileges " under this Bill. It seems strange, therefore, that the organisation of workers is nevertheless expected to be conducted by the same guiding principles which, as I shall be able to show, I think, on some subsequent Amendments, involve considerable and unacceptable interference with internal affairs of the trade union. I hope the noble Lord will be able to explain to us why it is sought to bring organisations of workers within the framework of these guiding principles along with trade unions—that is to say, those organisations which have chosen to register under the Act. I hope he will agree that it is fair to confine the operation of this clause to the trade union registered under the Act. I beg to move.


The noble Lord says it is very strange that this clause should cover organisations of workers that do not register under the Act. I should find it extremely odd, from my point of view, if individual members of organisations of workers were not to be protected simply because the organisation to which they belonged did not choose to register. This clause is about the rights of workers, about the rights of the individuals vis-à-vis their unions, and it lays down requirements which the organisations of workers, be they registered or not, should observe. The effect of accepting the Amendment would be to confine the application of the guiding principles to those organisations of workers, other than federations, which apply to be registered as trade unions under the Bill. That would destroy a fundamental object of the guiding principles, which is the protection of members of any workers' organisation, whether registered or not, against unfair or unreasonable action by the organisation.

It surely would not be right to protect only members of registered organisations. Let the noble Lord consider this point. An ad hoc shop floor organisation is likely to be much less careful about the treatment of its members than a registered trade union, with great experience. The registered trade union would be bound by the rules approved by the Registrar, but this ad hoc shop floor organisation might be purely temporary, although it might still be an organisation of workers within the definition of the Bill. Surely those who belong to such an organisation deserve to be protected just as much as those who belong to a registered trade union. I see nothing at all incongruous in this. It would he quite wrong to deprive such members of unregistered organisations of any right of redress.


; Before the Minister resumes his seat, may I ask what protection would be given to these organisations of workers to which he refers'?


I am talking about the protection given to the individual members of the organisations of workers. This is what this clause is about.


What puzzles me is that the noble Lord does not seem. to recognise who makes the decisions, in effect, whether in organisasations of workers or in trade unions. He says that to adopt this Amendment would deprive the members of organisations of trade unions of certain rights and certain protections. If this point has any validity, this is no doubt a matter which those members would take into account when they took their part in framing the decision of the organisation whether or not to become a registered trade union. This is a great piece of paternalism, if may say so, on the part of the noble Lord and he ought to take into account that organisations surely should be enabled to choose reasonably and freely for themselves. This means that the members should be able to choose reasonably and freely for themselves, through their organisations, whether or not they wish their organisation to become registered.


This is not a question of whether or not it is registered. I am surprised at the noble Lord. Does he really think that the protection of minorities is paternalism? We are deal- ing with the protection of every individual worker—they are all to have these rights, whatever their majority may say. Surely this is right when one comes to individual members. These are basic rights. Some of these rights are almost constitutional rights, and are treated as such in some countries.


The noble Lord is quite mistaken in thinking that an organisation of workers cannot guarantee these things for its own members by its own organisation, and he is overlooking the degree to which the guiding principles set out here involve, in the view of very many workers, a quite unwarrantable intervention in the affairs of their organisation by an outside Government official. It is a threat to their freedom, which they are much more concerned about than they are about any threat that may come from within the organisation.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

7.53 p.m.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257K: Page 52, line 28, leave out ("appropriately") and insert ("eligible under the rules of the organisation to be admitted as.a member and").

The noble Lord said: Here we come to a very good example of the kind of intervention in the affairs of a trade union or an organisation of workers that this clause involves. It is to be a guiding principle that a person shall not be excluded from membership by way of any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination if he is a worker of the description with which the organisation deals and is appropriately qualified for employment as a worker of that description ". We really must have some clear indication from the Government of what this is intended to mean; for, as it stands, the subsection with this phrase," appropriately qualified for employment as a worker of that description", almost completely removes from an individual organisation the power to control admissions to its own membership, and it completely undermines the arrangements which were made (and which have been in existence for many years) by tie trade union movement collectively—known as the Bridlington Rules. Those are designed to keep a measure of order as between trade unions and to ensure that each of them confines itself to its own proper sphere of membership.

I must press the noble Lord to explain how he thinks this subsection is going to operate. It is clear that it departs specifically from the admission recommendations made in Donovan in paragraph 650. The rules should state ", says the Report, who is qualified for admission to the trade union, or any separate section.…They should he framed in such a way as to avoid discriminating arbitrarily against any type of applicant, but unions must be allowed to retain discretion in deciding whom they should admit. I hope the noble Lord is not going to say, " There is only a slight difference between what Donovan recommended and what the Bill is saying." I hope he is not going to take that line, because there is clearly a very fundamental difference. Donovan clearly recommended — and this is an example of the way in which the Government are departing from Donovan—that the union must be allowed to retain discretion in deciding whom they should admit. Without that discretion, I do not see how orderly trade union organisation can be maintained. I hope the noble Lord will try to explain to us how it can be.

May I give an example from my own experience? I remember that not so many years ago the Union of Post Office Workers and my union were both engaged in pay negotiations. The Union of Post Office Workers represented some men who on the postal side of the Post Office were engaged fundamentally in driving vehicles; and their category of workers was defined by reference to that. My own union, on our own side, represented workers who drove vehicles for the service of the engineering department. The men were in different unions and indeed the grades to which they belonged were differently designated. But their duties were almost identical, except that one group served the postal side; the other served the engineering side. Their conditions of service were virtually identical.

These men were extremely discontented at the progress of pay negotiations, and those on the postal side were agitating to leave their union and join ours, while those on the engineering side were agitating to leave us and join the Union of Post Office Workers. This is not by arty means an uncommon situation, because very frequently when difficulties arise which are quite objective difficulties the workers concerned will, not surprisingly, blame their trade union. Within their trade union they express their point of view; they express their criticism; they get their point of view fully taken into account. That is what trade union democracy means. But if we are to have a situation, as we should have if this Bill were made an Act in this form, in which men who are appropriately qualified to drive vehicles (in the case I took) insist that to express their discontent they will transfer to another union, perhaps being met by a stream of people leaving that union to join the one which the dissidents have just left, it will be extraordinary. This is the sort of problem which naturally causes great concern to the trade union movement.

Unless there is some regulation and some discretion vested in trade unions as to whom they shall admit and whom they shall reject, we shall have endless friction, endless difficulties, endless disputes, a weakening of the trades union movement and a great complication of industrial relations, with no benefit whatsoever. If this Bill had been an Act at the time of which I am speaking, I cannot see how my union could legally have refused dissidents from a sister union or how they could have refused dissidents from our union. In fact, because we have a well understood agreement on these matters which are in conformity with the Bridlington Agreement, neither union would accept them (although they might claim to be qualified for the work in question), because they were appropriate to the other union. Are rules of this kind going to be maintained or not? They appear to me to be completely undermined by the terms of this subsection.

This is a matter of the most grave practical importance to all kinds of trade unions for, if one thinks of it, there are enormous numbers of workers, particularly in the general employment field, who can claim that they are " appropriately qualified " for employment in a particular occupation or union sphere. I see nothing in this subsection which would permit the Bridlington Rules to continue in existence. I raised the Bridlington Rules on an earlier occasion and, as he so disarmingly does, the noble Lord assured me that it was the most earnest desire of the Government and nearest to their heart to maintain the Bridlington Rules in full force and being, while at the same time firmly going ahead with measures which would render those rules without meaning and, so far as I can sec, quite inoperable.


I gather that my noble friends are not proposing to expunge the words that immediately follow the reference which has been under review and which is the subject of the Amendment, because it reads: …shall not, by way of any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination, be excluded from membership of the organisation or of that branch or section of it. Indeed, in the following series of Amendments the suggestion that no arbitrary action should be taken which might imply discrimination or mean eventual discrimination is suggested. Therefore, it seems to the that if these words are not to be expunged there is no reason at all why the word " appropriately " should remain, because then if the Amendment is accepted it would read: …is eligible under the rules of the organisation to be admitted as a member. Thereafter, it provides that no arbitrary action should be taken against that person which should be regarded as discrimination. Therefore, what is the purpose of retaining the word " appropriate "? Union rules would provide for a certain category of member who would be qualified in a particular department of trade or industry, and he would thus be eligible to become a member of the organisation. Why, then, the word " appropriately "? Is it really necessary, particularly in view of the fact that my noble friends are not proposing to exclude the words that follow?

8.4 p.m.


The subsection in which this Amendment falls is so drafted that an organisation will he free to determine in its own rules the class of worker it seeks to recruit and, provided that those appropriately qualified are included, it will not prevent the organisation from rejecting an applicant, provided that the grounds for doing so are neither arbitrary nor unreasonable. Organisations whose rules authorise them to reject applicants on clear and specific grounds—as for example where there is an unsatisfactory record of past membership, or where admission would conflict with a Trades Union Congress award under the Bridlington principles—will not be in conflict with this subsection. But what we on this side are saying is that what organisations will not be able to do is to adopt a rule sanctioning arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination.

The noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, was very eloquent in wondering about the text of this subsection of the Bill, but what did not come out so clearly from his speech was that this Amendment would give these organisations—both registered trade unions and unregistered organisations—an inviolable right to adopt any condition for admission, however unreasonable it might be in its application to individuals. Such an organisation is not prevented from having other rules of eligibility—we are certainly saying that—so long as they are reasonable and in conformity with the guiding principles of this clause. Therefore the crucial question is whether the trade union is free to reject a worker who is appropriately qualified for the type of work they set out to organise, without there being any reasonable ground for refusal; and on this side of the House the Government are convinced that the answer should be, No.

The noble Lord asked specific questions about the operation of the Bridlington principles, and he gave a concrete example. The guiding principles of this clause will provide for the fist time a basis on which members of workers' organisations can complain to an outside body about their treatment by such organisations. Inevitably this means that complaints may be made about an action which a trade union has taken in compliance with the Bridlington principles, but it does not follow that the Registrar or the industrial tribunal, or the N.I.R.C., in considering the complaint, will find the union's action to have been in contravention of the guiding principles contained in this clause. If a trade union rejects an applicant on the ground that it has a joint working agreement with other unions which precludes it from recruiting workers of the type represented by the applicant—that is to say, members or former members of another trade union —this refusal, we say, would not be arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination against that person.

Subsection (3) of this clause gives a member a right to resign or terminate but it leaves the organisation free to impose reasonable conditions, such as the payment of arrears by that particular person. If the Registrar or the tribunal were satisfied that a complainant had not met these conditions, then a union refusing to accept a resignation could be regarded as being fully justified in its action. On the other hand, if the conditions have been met—and cases could arise where there was room for argument over this—. it may be, I agree, that the complainant's case could be upheld. It is certain that the existence of the guiding principles will henceforth oblige unions to have regard to the rights of the individual, as well as the interests of the organisation, in taking action under the Bridlington umbrella. We feel that this is surely reasonable, for it is also true to say that the guiding principles will not prevent unions from continuing to base their general recruitment policy on Bridlington principles. The same reasoning, I suggest, applies to the application of decisions from the T.U.C.'s Disputes Committee. Where the Committee has given a ruling on spheres of recruitment, a union which rejects an applicant in pursuance of that ruling would, we imagine, have a prima facie basis for defending its action as being neither arbitrary nor unreasonable; and the registrar or tribunal would, we think, be likely to uphold this view. The individual will nevertheless have the right to challenge the decision if he thinks it unjust in a case of that sort.

The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, drew our attention to the tie-up between the word " appropriate " in the subsection and the words following it, " arbitrary or unreasonable ", and questioned the need to have in the word " appropriate ", which is the subject of the Amendment. May I try to reply to the noble Lord in this way? I felt that this subsection was in line with paragraph 358 of the Donovan Commission Report, which said that trade unions should review their rule books, once objective standards had been laid down to ensure that no qualified worker would be arbitrarily denied the right to enter a union or to use acquired skills, and we feel that the principle under discussion now, as a principle, marches in line with that thinking in Donovan. It will be a matter for agreement, of course, and in the light of the whole of this clause, and as a result of initiatives by both trade unions and employers together, to see that the balance of objective standards is maintained —a balance between fairness to the individual and the excellence of skills. It can be only in the light of standards that the exact meaning of " appropriately qualified " can be judged in any particular case. I entirely concede that point, although I would remind the Committee that this is already a change of words which has been made in the subsection, and a move from the wording in another place.

What is absolutely certain is that the Amendment itself could allow absolutely any conditions for eligibility and could indeed, in extreme form, allow discrimination—the sort of discrimination which all parts of this Committee and all trade unions would condemn out of hand. We believe that it would be wrong that there should be a possibility of this happening, that it would be against the wishes of everybody throughout the country and against the intentions of the Bill, and that the wording of the Bill as it stands is in line with the intentions which would be widely held.


I was under the impression that we were trying to help the Government in this matter, and the words I used, which are contained in the subsection immediately following the words that are now subject to an Amendment, are quite clear. In other words what I am saying—perhaps I am speaking personally—is that I should object to a trade union adopting any arbitrary or unreasonable action against any person seeking to be member of the union. I think that is a sound principle, but it is not intended that the words that I have just used should be deleted from the subsection, so the Government have got all they want. My noble friend says that there is no intention on the part of the Opposition to ask the Government to delete the substantive words, " arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination ". The Government have got that, and we are not seeking to take it away from them.

It is difficult to 'understand why they want to include the word " appropriate ". The noble Lord has conceded the point that I ventured to make earlier on, that it is possible to interpret " appropriate " in a variety of ways. That is true. It very seldom happens—though there are exceptions of which I am aware—that a trade union will permit a person to join the union unless that person is in some way associated with the industry with which the union is concerned, so that the words " eligible to become a member" seem to be quite appropriate, if I may use the term " appropriate " in this context.

I am bound to say that I wonder sometimes why the Government are so difficult about these matters. They ought to be a little more resilient, especially when there is no attempt on the part of the Opposition to delete words which after all we are seeking Ito retain, as the Government are seeking to retain them, because we regard the words as reasonable. It seems to me that there is no reason why the word " appropriate" should be included. I do not know who suggested that it should be included. The noble Lord himself, in the latter part of his argument, conceded the point that it is a matter of interpretation. For example, if the question of what is appropriate goes before a tribunal it will be difficult for them to define it and decide whether or not something is appropriate. It would require many pages, for example, if somebody who was an engineer's fitter sought to join the Boilermakers' Union on the ground that he could weld as well as any boiler marker according to the modern practice. If the union refused to accept him, the matter would go before the tribunal, which might consider, on compassionate grounds. whether the engineer's fitter was entitled to become a member of the Boilermakers' Union. But otherwise that sort of thing is not likely to happen. We must have regard to trade union practice. If normal trade union practice is to continue, there is no reason to employ words which are redun- dant and superfluous, and would be difficult to interpret if ever they required interpretation. I beg the Government, if they feel they cannot give way at this stage, to look at this point and see whether it is worth while retaining words which will only cause more difficulty.


May I reply to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell? The reason why we set store by the word " appropriately " is that if the word is removed there will be no check on the way in which trade union rules may be framed in this respect. We entirely concede from this side of the Committee that trade union 'intentions are thoroughly honourable in this respect. This fortifies us, I think, in the belief that it: is right that the Bill should be drawn in this way. The noble Lord referred to eligibility for membership of the union. I was not quite sure where in the subsection those words were. I did not readily find them.


It is in the words of the Amendment.


The spirit of those words is to be found also in paragraph (a) of subsection (2). We are saying from this side of the Committee that the words " arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination hang together with both paragraph (a) and (b), and if you remove the word or substitute other words for the word " appropriately " there will be no yardstick by which it is possible to measure " arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination ". That is the essence of our case and that is why we do not like the removal of the word " appropriately ".


These rules are made up by the membership and they have to go before the Registrar fir ratification, and possibly before the. Court. If the Amendment is accepted, it states quite categorically, eligible under the rules of the organisation to he admitted as a member Surely that is a much better definition than leaving in the word " appropriately ", which may lead to all kinds of arguments.


I think tie noble Lord has overlooked the fact that the Registrar must have regard to Clause 63 in deciding what is reasonable. Again, if we withdraw the rug from underneath the feet of the Registrar by removing certain words from Clause 63, the Registrar will noť have this guiding principle as a yardstick.


I do not understand that last intervention.


If the Committee will allow me, as this is most important perhaps may I put it in this way. The Registrar must have regard to Clause 63, and it is no use saying that one can change Clause 63 as one wishes and that it is all right if the Registrar is standing in the background because he will see that all is well. On the text of the Bill that is simply not so.


I wish the Government would look at this again, because I do not think they appreciate the difficulties that are being raised by this form of words. I wish they would heed the appeal of my noble friend Lord Shinwell to re-examine this matter. The noble Lord. Lord Belstead, referred us to paragraph 358 of the Donovan Report. That paragraph refers to the situation which should arise once objective standards have been laid down. Is the noble Lord saying that that situation has been reached? Perhaps he will comment upon that when he replies.

I quoted paragraph 650 of the Donovan Commission's Report, where emphasis is laid upon the necessity for unions being allowed to retain discretion in deciding whom they should admit. I take it that the Government do not deny that they are in fact rejecting the Donovan recommendation on that point. At least they have not contended that what they are doing here is coincident with what the Donovan Commission recommended on this point. I think the Government would be much wiser to go back to the Donovan Commission.

If I understood him aright, the noble Lord made an important statement—and I do not think it has been made with quite such clarity anywhere else—about the impact of this upon the Bridlington Rules and upon any awards of the T.U.C. Disputes Committee. It is important that we should get this quite clear. As I understood it, the noble Lord said that if a man applied to join a union and was rejected because the acceptance of his application would be in breach of the Bridlington Rules, or of an award of the T.U.C. Disputes Committee, and if he was appropriately qualified to do the work performed by members of the union to which he was applying, he would have a prima facie case to appeal.

What I am not quite clear about is this. If the trade union then replied with the defence that what they had decided was as a result of an agreement into which they had entered under the Bridlington Rules, or which had followed from an award of the T.U.C. Disputes Committee, that need not necessarily be a conclusive answer. The tribunal could then, if it wished, investigate the agreement and decide whether they regarded what was being done under the agreement as unreasonable and arbitrary or whether they thought the agreement was reasonable and justified. Have I stated the position correctly? Because I can see great difficulties arising if that is indeed going to be the case.


Perhaps the noble Lords have not quite sufficiently understood what is involved here, because subsection (2) says: Any person who applies for membership of the organisation, or of a branch or section of the organisation, and who— (a) is a worker of the description…of which, in accordance with the rules of the organisation, the organization…is intended wholly or mainly to consist…". So it is the union itself that decides what description of workers it is intended to cover. The subsection goes on: …is appropriately qualified for employment as a worker of that description". In other words, he must be of the description and be appropriately qualified for employment of that description.

What the noble Lord is trying to do is to introduce a totally different element about being eligible under the rules of the organisation to be admitted as a member". The noble Lord will probably say that the unions could be trusted to make reasonable rules as regards eligibility; that is to say, they fix the description in their rules of the work that they are intended to cover, and they fix the appropriate qualification. This may also be in the rules. If not, it will have to be judged whether this is the reason on which they found to exclude somebody. But the point is that as the word stands they could make any kind of test of eligibility at all—some of which could be undesirable. They might be on the grounds of race, religion or anything else, and this would not be right. That is what these words mean, and surely the noble Lord must recognise that they are undesirable. I think it is a narrow point. We have strayed widely on this.

Perhaps I may amplify what my noble friend was saying by going back to remind the noble Lord a little about this. The right of a worker to join a union or not to join is a right between himself and his employer. It is not a right as between himself and the union. It still remains open to the union to decide whom it is going to admit. The union has that discretion but it must not exercise it arbitrarily. In fact discretion is the very opposite of " arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination ". I cannot advise the Committee to accept this Amendment because I can assure them that it would not do what noble Lords wish it to do.


Whether or not the Amendment would do what we desire it to do, I think the noble Lord has demonstrated abundantly that the present arrangement is extremely unsatisfactory. In my view, he has adduced some very strange arguments to criticise the Amendment. Is he really saying that unless suddenly, in the year 1971, we introduce art Act of Parliament which has these words in it, we are in danger of having trade unions making all kinds of undesirable rules? Is he really saying that if we import into an Act of Parliament in this context the term that the people they admit must be eligible within the rules of the union, the unions are suddenly likely to make all kinds of undesirable racialist rules? This is quite absurd, and I am surprised to hear such an argument coming from the noble Lord. Noble Lords opposite have not dealt at all with the problem. I do not blame them; it is just another example of the way in which those who drew up this Bill failed to understand the problems with which it is trying to deal.

There are many arrangements between unions which define the field of membership in terms of employers or in terms of parts of the country, in terms of districts. There are many workers who have the qualifications to do work which is appropriate to a large number of unions. There is a very large number of people, for example, who have the qualification to do work in the distributive trades and many who have qualifications to do work which involves driving vehicles. Noble Lords in the Committee can think of a whole range of occupations in which there are large numbers of people who have the qualification to do the same job. In order to keep some kind of reason and order in the trade union movement, there exist many arrangements under which a trade union may say, " We will organise the transport workers in X, Y and Z firms and we accept that you will organise the workers in A, B and C firms." Or they may say. " We will organise the people engaged in various kinds of distributive work in one part of the country and you can organise and represent those in another part of the country."

These arrangements are not necessarily written into union rule books because that would be impracticable, but they are made operative by virtue of the discretion which the executive council of the union or some other appropriate authority has. That discretion is exercised in unions by bilateral or multilateral arrangements, by actual formal arrangements registered with the T.U.C. under the Bridlington Rules, or under an award of the disputes committee where there has been a difference of opinion between the unions.

If a union, as a result of an arrangement like that, rejects an application from a worker or a group of workers and the workers concerned go to the industrial tribunal or wherever they may take their case, will that tribunal under this clause be expected to examine who her the arrangement between the unions is reasonable or arbitrary or not? Many of these arrangements could be said to be arbitrary in one sense. They define in what some people would regard as an arbitrary fashion what shall be the field of recruitment for union A and what shall be the field of recruitment for union B. They define it in terms of geography or of the firm which employs the workers. In one sense that is a purely arbitrary distinction because a man engaged in transport will be doing the same job whether he works for one firm or for another, or whether he works in one part of the country rather than another.


What is the objection, if it is likely to be arbitrary, to this sort of thing being decided in a tribunal or a court?


The objection is that the whole thing would become utterly chaotic. I should have thought that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, would have seen that.


I think I have got the point that the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, is making, but I do not think he is on the right point. If there is a rule, an agreement, an understanding and a way of doing things that is of common application then it is not arbitrary discrimination: it is something which is being applied as a rule. What my noble friend, Lord Belstead, has said is that it could still be that the applicant in question might say, " That is not fair. We shall take the matter to the industrial tribunal." That is quite possible, but then the industrial tribunal would have to examine whether the thing was arbitrary discrimination. But if it is in accordance with a rule, an understanding, an arrangement or anything of that sort and is itself fair, it is obviously all right.


That is exactly the point which I raised, and I did not get an answer to it. Are we to understand that, if an individual makes a complaint, the fact that there is an agreement between the unions defining spheres of recruitment will be regarded by the tribunal under this clause as an answer to the complaint? Or will they go beyond that and inquire whether the agreement itself is a reasonable one?


I did say that they would have to consider also whether it was fair. I think there will be circumstances, certainly in the early days, in which the tribunal will want to consider the issue as a whole, but there is no doubt that there will be a general approach to these things. You cannot sort out the thing in abstract. It is a practical matter which has to be decided by the tribunal and we cannot fetter the tribunal's hands. The criteria seem perfectly clear.


I am glad that the criteria are clear to the noble Lord, but they are not clear to me and I do not think they will be to those who have to face these problems. If I understood the noble Lord correctly, he said that if something has been decided by the T.U.C. disputes tribunal and the workers are appropriate for membership of union A while other workers are appropriate for membership of union B, the tribunal—if there is a complaint by a group of workers—will in effect re-open the T.U.C. disputes hearing. Is that right? This is a matter of great importance and I should like to have an answer.


Obviously the tribunal will have to hear evidence of what has happened and make up their mind. It is not a question of re-opening the whole inquiry. It is a question simply of knowing the facts, knowing whether there is an agreement, whether the agreement is being applied reasonably and whether the agreement itself seems reasonable to the tribunal. This seems right.


I am very sorry, but either the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, does not understand the point I am trying to elucidate or he is not giving a very clear answer to it. A great many of the reasonable arrangements of the trade unions about membership—which can be a very sensitive and difficult subject—depend on the fact that in the background there is the disputes procedure of the T.U.C., which in general the Government say they applaud and want to see accepted. That disputes procedure rests on the fact that once a finding has gone through Congress (where there is an opportunity to appeal against it) if it is endorsed by Congress, as normally it is, it has hitherto been final. Now, I understand, it will not be final because under this clause an individual worker, or a group of workers who do not like the decision which has been reached, will be able to go to a tribunal and the tribunal will look at the whole subject. They will have to see, the noble Lord says, whether the agreement was reasonable and whether the award made by the T.U.C. disputes committee was reasonable. Is that what he is saying? I think we ought to have this quite clear.


I think it is quite impossible to say what will happen in particular circumstances. What one has to appreciate is the kind of circumstances in which this situation will arise. As the noble Lord says, when an applicant goes to a tribunal and claims that he has been unfairly excluded from a union, obviously the tribunal will have to look at the facts in each case. It will have to consider whether the rules and agreements, and so on, cover general cases, and whether or not the rejection of the individual has been by way of arbitrary discrimination. That is what they will have to decide. But they will obviously have to decide also whether the rejection was fair in itself in the circumstances.


May I ask a layman's question? As I understand it, the question is whether what appears to be an arbitrary decision ought to be a matter for arbitration. I should have thought it was, but the noble Lord thinks it is not. Am I wrong or right?


The answer is that it would depend very much on the rules of the union.


Does this not highlight once more how blurred the whole situation is? The terms of the Amendment follow out a practice that has been in operation for very many years. There has been no outstanding difficulty in its operation. But now, to achieve the desire of the Government, by the use of this particular word " appropriately " a scheme of machinery is suggested, going through the voluntary arrangements first, I presume. To sta1t with, the rules have to be approved by the Registrar; and the Registrar having approved the rules, this point of difficulty may arise. Then the matter has to go through the tribunals and it may ultimately go to the courts. Is that not too ridiculous, and does it not justify our words on so many parts of the Bill, that in effect it will be a lawyer's paradise? Why not withdraw this word and accept a well-tried definition which has thrown up no serious objections over a long period of time? And why not trust these unions who formed the Bridlington Agreement so many years ago? This is by way of example. as pointed out by my noble friend Lord Delacourt-Smith.

There is the dividing of the firm, or dividing the part of the country, or the union organisation, all with the same objectives. The presence of this word can cut right across that type of thing which has proved most useful, most beneficial and less costly by far than the old cut-throat type of organisation which used to operate previously. It is evident that the draftsmen drafting this Bill have not thoroughly understood the background about the trade union's work, or I am certain they would never have put in this particular word, because it will be capable of so many differences of opinion. It will once more give the lawyers a real lead to argue the point, when the matter could be dealt with so easily, as has been proved in the past.


I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but in the 1945 to 1950 Parliament I had to Like up a case which has become something of a classic, the case of Mr. Throstle. This was a closed shop case, where a particular man was expelled from one union and although he was appropriately qualified for two unions he could not get into another one. That was a real case. It can be looked up in Hansard, but I have not prepared these remarks because I had not thought of it. But I am extremely worried. Lord Delacourt-Smith is usually a very moderate person, and he has come along to tell us that there is nothing wrong with the present system and that a person does not need to be appropriately qualified; all we need to do is to leave it to the union to draw up its own rules of eligibility. That was exactly what the Throstle case was about. The more I follow the Labour case—and I am told that everything is all right at the moment —the more I become semi-enthusiastic about this Bill, having started out, as we did in the other place, in a very lukewarm fashion. I would ask the Labour Party—


We admit there have been difficulties in the past, but does the noble Lord realise.hat the Bridlington Agreement which we talk so much about came into operation after 1945, the period he mentioned?


We had to fight to get things changed on the Floor of this very Chamber—to get that sort of thing. But what worries me is the change of atmosphere after the Throstle case. There was no closed shop case for two years because Mr. W. J. Brown and myself, and others, raised this matter, and W. J. Brown was not liked very much in the trade union movement. What worries me is that the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, asked the question: is the union to be asked to justify its actions and to show whether or not there was unreasonable discrimination? All I say to him is that I hope to goodness the unions are, because we are not going to have unreasonable discrimination in any part of our affairs in politics.

8.47 p.m.


It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, did not listen to the first part of the debate.


Indeed, I have been here the whole time.


Then the noble Lord must have been asleep while the debate was going on. I am not at all surprised at the noble Lord, Lord Byers; he has always been on the other side of the industrial fence.




Ever since I have known the noble Lord he has been on the other side of the industrial fence.


Will the noble Lord give way? The only clashes I have ever had with the trade union movement have been on matters of personal injustice and personal freedom. I am a staunch supporter of the trade union movement, but once they start victimising individuals the Liberal Party and I go into action.


Some people have a very strange way of behaving when they want to strengthen the trade union movement. However, we have to dismiss the noble Lord, Lord Byers, as indeed I dismissed him many times in the other place. He was not there very long. I hardly noticed him since his stay there was so brief. He came in and then shot out for a better job. But I do not want to be too personal. When he mentions the Liberal Party, it is just too much for me. However, I want to come to the point. What he has forgotten and we tried to demonstrate was that what the Government have been asking for is contained in the Bill. Can that be denied?

There has been no challenge to what I said originally about this: there will remain in the Bill in that partciular clause the words " arbitrary " and " discriminating ". Those words are intended to prevent any arbitrary or discriminating action from being taken against anybody wishing to join the union. There is no denial about that. The noble Lord who spoke first has not denied it. Nobody has denied it, not even the noble Lord, Lord Byers, because he did not seem to take notice of it. This is the position, and we say to the Government, " You have got what you want. Why do you want to use a word that is redundant, superfluous and unnecessary and will simply lead to a variety of interpretations which will befog any kind of industrial tribunal? "

I never use the term " a lawyer's paradise ", but my noble friend has. I have great respect for lawyers and the legal profession; they have assisted me a great deal in the past when I have been in difficulties—not for anything outside political activities. Nevertheless, I do not believe there will be anything in the nature of a lawyer's paradise. There will be pickings here and there, but that does not apply peculiarly to the legal profession; of course not. I rather deprecate language of that kind. What I deprecate also are these draftsmen. I have an experience of draftsmen going back to 1924, when I was a Minister for the first time. They get a lot of words together, and they discuss among themselves which are the appropriate words to inject. One says this, another says that, and then we get this kind of legislation. In the end what are we going to get but a lot of trouble? I come back to the original point.



I do not require any applause. I can assure noble Lords that I never seek applause. It could be applause or resentment, it is all the same to me. I come back to the original point: the question I put was, are the Government not satisfied with the words " on no account can we tolerate arbitrary or discriminatory action against anybody who seeks to join a trade union "? The Government have got that; what more do they want? They want to say that the applicant must be " appropriately qualified ". I gave the illustration; the boilermakers' union is almost sacrosanct. They do not like to allow anybody to come in. Sometimes an engineer's fitter happens to be out of work—and there are quite a lot at the present time due to Government policy; he goes to seek a job in a shipyard. and the boilermen say, " You cannot come in. You know nothing about the modern method of welding ". He says, " I am appropriately qualified ". They say. " No you aren't, and therefore you are not eligible to join our union ". They are craftsmen, and entitled to keep people out for no other reason than that they are not qualified to do the job. And that is " appropriate " in the rules. I take the word " appropriate " from the Government text. It has also been forgotten that the rules that are promoted by the union must go before the Registrar. That will not be denied.


I think this is where the fundamental misunderstanding comes. If we are talking of an organisation of workers which is registered, then the rules will go before the Registrar. They do not go before the Registrar if we are talking of an organisation of workers which is not registered. That is why the words proposed instead of the word " appropriately " are quite unacceptable.


I cannot understand that. Surely it is immaterial. There has been a lot of talk about this, but I believe that at the end of the day most of the unions will become registered. Whether it is a registered trade union or not, what is the difference? Whichever union it is, the words " eligible to join the union under the rules " must come before the Registrar, if it is a registered union. What is the Registrar going to do? What is he going to say? It is not sufficient for the union to say that this man is eligible under the rules, because he belongs to a particular craft. That is not enough for the Government. They say, " We want the words ' appropriately qualified ' ". He is bound to be appropriately qualified, otherwise what is he joining the union for?

Men do not join unions except to be associated with their comrades and other operatives engaged in the same category of industry. I am completely mystified by this Government; mystified and baffled. What surprises me is that when they get what they want, they do not want it. I thought that applied only to the female sex. There is nothing effeminate about members of the Government sitting on the Front Bench, not even the noble Baroness.



Not effeminate, I said. She is a very tough character when she wants to be; very charming but a bit tough.

I beg of the Government, when you are presented with a gift do nit look at it in the mouth, even if it is the horse's mouth; just accept it. We are giving you something, and if you look at the succeeding Amendments on this question of discrimination, you will set; that my noble friend is shortly going to move an Amendment which says this: " We are not going to allow you people to come into the union if you are going to cause trouble. If we know you are a person who is going to misbehave, disrupt industry, cause unnecessary strikes, you are not coming into the union ". This is the Amendment we shall propose very shortly. It would not surprise me if this Government would object even to that. There is no saying what this Government would object to. I am not going to ask them to accept the Amendment, because I know they are not going to, anyway. I beg of my noble friends to divide on this. We really must show our resentment against the conduct of the Government.

8.56 p.m.


Perhaps I should make it quite clear that what we are objecting to here is the idea that either the rules of the union, or any inter-union rules, are to be treated as Holy Writ. If they are unfair, then they can be challenged.


We have never suggested that anybody's rules ought to be treated as Holy Writ. We are in no way differing from the recommendations of the Donovan Commission on this subject. It is the Government which has departed on this.

Before I invite the Committee to divide on this Amendment, I would just make a reference to the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Byers. I must emphasise what my noble friend Lord Shinwell said: we are not in any way seeking to remove the reference to ensuring that there is no arbitrary or unreasonable action. What we are doing is seeking to draw attention to the real and practical difficulties affecting quite a field of industry, which can arise as a result of the clumsy wording of this subsection, to which the Government are so wedded. I think this is a matter to which we shall have to return again at a later stage in the proceedings.

I hope that the Government will study what has been said on this subject, and will recognise that a real problem is posed by their wording. If our wording is not

perfect, that still does not dispose of the fact that the wording, as it stands, is liable to give rise to a great deal of unnecessary difficulty. This is not a question of seeking to open the way to people being treated unreasonably or arbitrarily as individuals; it is drawing the attention of the Government to the fact that the wording can raise real difficulties which will not be of benefit to anybody, and certainly not to good industrial relations.

9.0 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 257K) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30; Not-Contents, 94.

Archibald, L. Hughes, L. St. Davids, V.
Ardwick, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Shepherd, L.
Bernstein, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Shinwell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Stonham, L.
Champion, L. Maelor, L. Stow Hill, L.
Collison, L. Milner of Leeds, L. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Peddie, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Plummer, Bs. Wells-Pestell, L.
Gardiner. L. Popplewell, L. Winterbottom, L.
Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Ritchie-Calder, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Abinger, L. Dundee, E. Mills. V.
Ailwyn, L. Effingham, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Airedale, L. Ellenborough, L. Nairne, Bs.
Aldington, L. Falkland, V. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Alport, L. Ferrers, E. Netherthorpe L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Fortescue, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Balfour, E. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Oakshott, L.
Barnby, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Barrington, V. Gowrie, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gray, L. Redesdale, L.
Belstead, L. Grenfell, L. Redmayne, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Gridley, L. Rochdale, V.
Bessborough, E. Grimston of Westbury, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Bolton, L. Grimthorpe, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Bourne, L. Hailes, L. St. Oswald, L.
Bradford, E. Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. (Lord Chancellor.) Sandford, L.
Braye, L. Sempill, Ly.
Bridgeman, V. Hankey, L. Somers, L.
Burnham, L. Hanworth. V. Stamp, L.
Byers, L. Harvey of Prestbury, L. Strange, L.
Clwyd, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Strathclyde, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hatherton, L. Swaythling, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hives, L. Teviot, L.
Cottesloe, L. Ilford, L. Teynham, L.
Craigavon, V. Inglewood, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Craigmyle, L. Killearn, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Cranbrook, E. Latymer, L. Vivian, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Lyell, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Derwent, L. Mancroft, L. Windlesham, L.
Digby, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Wolverton, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Merrivale, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

9.6 p.m.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257L:

Page 52, line 32, at end insert— (" Provided that it shall not be deemed to be arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination to exclude from membership of the organisation, or any branch or section of it a person who, having previously been a member of the organisation. has resigned from it in exercise of the rights confered on him by section 5 of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the next. Amendment, which appears on the Marshalled List in the name of my noble friend Lord Diamond. This Amendment demonstrates the difficulty which one gets into when one tries to introduce into a Statute matters which are going to affect so deeply the domestic affairs of large organisations. It seeks to give some protection to trade unions and organisations of 'workers against the individual—and there are a certain number of them about—who will join a trade union when he thinks it to his advantage to do so who will drop out when for any reason it becomes inconvenient to him to remain a member or when he has some trifling difference of opinion with the branch to which he belongs, or simply when he gets sick of paying the contribution and who, as soon as he sees some advantage to himself in rejoining, will apply again for membership, having while he was out of membership done everything he could to point out to his fellow workers that he was still getting the benefits of membership without paying the contribution.

Now I shall be quite frank: I should not have thought it necessary ever to have directed the attention of your Lordships to such a category of persons, for the trade union movement is well able to distinguish between an individual who for a good and valid reason has dropped out of membership and should be readmitted when he seeks it and an individual who has not shown himself to be consistently in sympathy with the trade union movement. But if we are going to have such elaborate legal regulation, noble Lords opposite must bear in mind the weapons which they are putting into the hands of individuals who often do not show a great sense of responsibility to their fellow workers or to the industry in which they are employed.

It is important to remember that the trade union movement depends for its own work and future character and value upon the enormous number of people who devote their services to it and who are not full-time salaried officials. The trade union movement runs on the good will and the good service given to their fellow workers by hundreds of thousands of voluntary trade union workers. Anybody who has any experience in the trade union movement will agree that there are very many fields in industry where the tiny number of individuals who pop in and out of the trade union as the whim takes them (and often show their attitude by being extremely derogatory to the trade unions, particularly when outside its membership) are a real embarrassment to these hundreds of thousands of people who carry on the voluntary work of the trade union movement.

We ought not to create a situation in which an individual who falls out of trade union membership can claim under some Statute that he has the right to be readmitted whenever the mood takes him. We feel that it is necessary in view of the character of the provisions which the Government have already put into this Bill, to put in this proviso for the reasons I have tried to explain. I beg to move.


The noble Lord has devoted a considerable proportion of his remarks to the worries held by the other side—and we recognise them—about people going in and out of trade union membership. I should remind the Committee that our case on this side is that at the moment substantial dissenting groups of employees can be channelled off into a splinter group and in that way can go out of trade union control. Under this Bill an unofficial organisation will not enjoy protection for inducing a strike in breach of contract of employment. They will lose their negotiating rights. I would suggest that the Bill strengthens the case against withdrawal from membership. It allows it—and this is something which has been the cause of dissention between the two sides—but it deprives that worker who withdraws of the rights which membership of a registered trade union would give him.

At the cost of repeating what has already been said, I must point out that Clause 5 does not give the worker any rights as between him and his trade union. It provides that an employer may not prevent a worker belonging to an organisation of workers and that an employer may not compel anyone to belong. Therefore this Amendment would create a situation whereby those workers who resign from their union after an employer has ceased to operate a closed shop (and therefore it has ceased to be a term of employment that a worker shall be a trade union member) shall not be entitled to rejoin that union at some later date. This is the narrow technical effect of the Amendment. This would place pressure on the worker to refrain from exercising the freedom of choice over trade union membership which is accorded by the Bill. The suggestion in the Amendment is no more acceptable outside the closed shop situation. A union member may resign for a whole variety of reasons. He may leave if he disagrees with union policy. But the policy may change or the member may have a change of heart. It is not reasonable to say that in these circumstances the mere fact that a worker has once resigned should debar him from rejoining.

The subsection does not give an unqualified right of readmission to former members who have resigned, and I feel that this is what the Amendment envisages. What the subsection says is that, like other applicants who are properly qualified, such people shall not be arbitrarily or unreasonably refused admission. If therefore, this Amendment has been inspired by genuine fears on these lines, may I try to put them at rest? It may be thought that the effect of the subsection will be to weaken the power of the unions to discipline members who act against the interests of organisations, since such members would be able to resign rather than be subjected to disciplinary measures and could later seek to opt in again. However, it is not the case that the subsection would give a former member a guaranteed right of readmission in these circumstances. All it does is to establish that, if challenged, a union will have to justify its reasons for not readmitting the individual concerned and to show that the union has not been arbitrary or unreasonable. The Amendment would relieve the union of this obligation; and in so doing it would undermine both the right to resign from an organisation of workers and also the right to complain to an independent body against an unreasonable refusal of membership. For those reasons I ask the Committee to resist the Amendment.


Very much of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, did not address itself to the case I was putting. This is part of the difficulty we are in. As I have said on earlier Amendments, so much of this Bill is utterly remote from the actual work and problems that trade unions have to face. Noble Lords opposite cannot look at an Amendment of this sort without thinking in terms of a closed shop and tyrannical and unreasonable behaviour, and the rest of it. The vast majority of trade unions and trade unionists—as has been said by the noble Lord and his colleagues—are reasonable people with great tolerance and understanding. But the Government must understand that there is a small minority, not heroes or people of immense principle and courage, but people just a bit below the level of general social responsibility, who will exploit the trade union movement and the provisions of this Bill if they get a chance. Our concern is to see that the vast majority of trade unionists are not put in a position where they can be made monkeys of by people of the kind I devoted my speech to describing.

I should not have thought it necessary to direct the attention of the Committee to this fringe of people in the trade union movement, although everyone who has experience of operating in the movement will know the friction and difficulty which a tiny minority can cause. I am simply seeking by this Amendment to remove the danger that individuals of this sort will be able to claim some statutory entitlement to go in and out of trade unions as the whim pleases them; and while they are out—or, for that matter, while they are in; but particularly while they are out—to do everything they can to embarrass their fellow workers who, for no remuneration, or very little, are often carrying very heavy and exacting burdens of representative office on behalf of their fellow workers. I am afraid that the response of the Government to this Amendment is one more example of the fact that, for one reason or another, they are insistent on pushing through the provisions in this Bill without regard to the practical problems and difficulties which we on this side of the Committee are trying to bring to their attention and for which we are trying to get some kind of constructive response and answer.

9.18 p.m.


I cannot accept that this is just a matter which affects the Committee, so far as the Government are concerned, from the point of view of pushing through the. Bill. We have listened to a speech which, when it is read, will horrify a number of people who believe in minority rights. We have heard the phrase people who go in and out on a trifling difference of opinion ". Who is to decide whether it is a trilling difference of opinion on which people resign from a union? This is the fundamental basic principle of personal freedom. We had this horrifying phrase, which I never expected from a noble Lord like Lord Delacourt-Smith. "minorities who are not heroes ". Who is to decide whether the minority contains a hero?

What about the people in the Electrical Trades Union when it was Communist-dominated, who, rightly or wrongly—I think wrongly, because Les Cannon made the right decision; he stayed in—wanted to get out because it was Communist-dominated? I think Les Cannon was an absolute hero to stay in and do the work he did. What about the Musicians' Union, who stopped a whole orchestra from going to Athens because of the political régime in Greece? I hold no brief at all for that régime, but as a musician I should have bitterly resented being stopped from going to play in this particular festival, where there had been the tradition that there would be British representation. I am quite horrified that the argument put forward should have been the casual one that the unions must have the undisputed, unfettered control over this awkward minority which makes things difficult. This is the essence of freedom. When the noble Lord re-reads his speech I am sure he will wish to withdraw it.


If I may say so, we have again listened to a speech which was quite remote from the realities with which people have to deal. It is all very well for noble Lords, and the noble and learned Lord who is commenting from a sedentary position—


I was only telling my noble friend that I might want to reply to the noble Lord, and I shall do so if I choose and if the Committee permits me.


That is something to which we shall all look forward. But I am sorry to say that I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has done me the credit of believing that I am quite as keen on personal freedom as he is—


I do believe that—


Just a moment. I am concerned with the position of individuals who are doing a great deal of voluntary work, and who can find that work put at naught by people who are not differing on grounds of principle but are content to exploit the trade union movement when it suits them to be members, and to drop out when, for one reason or another, it doe; not suit them. I am not talking at all of people of the kind to which the noble Lord was referring. I am dealing with the problem which every trade union which operates on a voluntary basis recognises that it has: the individual who is in and out. And it is a real problem.

I am not in any way suggesting that trade unions should be arbitrary in their handling of it. I am merely suggesting that it should not be deemed to be arbitrary or unreasonable to exclude from membership a person who has previously been a member and has resigned. I am not suggesting that trade unions would never want to readmit people. Trade unions frequently readmit people who have dropped out of membership. But it is no good noble Lords' failing to recognise that there are cases where a trade union ought to he allowed to refuse readmission. That is the important point which I am making, and I am drawing attention to the fact that, as the Bill is at present drafted, it appears to us—perhaps wrongly—that there is no protection in such cases as that.


I just wanted to say this, since the noble Lord referred to me. The person who is remote from reality is the noble Lord who has just spoken, because, clearly, the first subsection of this clause does not permit arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination, and in the case which he is postulating all he is saying is that he is not prepared to trust a third party, however reasonable, however impartial,

9.32 p.m.

LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 257U:

Page 52, line 32, at end insert: (" Provided that, unless the contrary be shown, exclusion from membership shall not be deemed to be by way of arbitrary or un-

however judicial, to back him up when he is in the right. This is the point of difference between the two sides of the Committee on this Amendment.

9.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 257L) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 26; Not-Contents, 90.

Archibald, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Sherfield, L.
Ardwick, L. Hughes, L. Shinwell, L.
Bernstein, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Stonham, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Stow Hill, L.
Champion, L. Peddie, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Collison, L. Plummer, Bs. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Ritchie-Calder, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. St. Davids, V. Winterbottom, L.
Gardiner, L. Shepherd, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Derwent, L. Mancroft, L.
Abinger, L. Digby, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Ailwyn, L. Drumalbyn, L. Merrivale, L.
Airedale, L. Dudley, E. Mills, V.
Aldington, L. Dundee, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L [Teller.]
Alport, L. Effingham, E.
Amulree, L. Ellenborough, L. Nairne, Bs.
Balfour, E. Ferrers, E. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Barnby, L. Fortescue, E. Netherthorpe, L.
Barrington, V. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Oakshott, L.
Belstead, L. Gowrie, E. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Gray, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Bessborough, E. Grenfell, L. Redesdale, L.
Bolton, L. Gridley, L. Redmayne, L.
Bourne, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Rochdale, V.
Bradford, E. Grimthorpe, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Bridgeman, V. Hailes, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Burnham, L. Hailsham of St. Marylebone, L. [L. Chancellor.) Sandford, L.
Byers, L. Sempill, Ly.
Chesham, L. Hankey, L. Somers, L.
Clwyd, L. Hanworth, V. Stamp, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Harvey of Prestbury, L. Strange, L.
Conesford, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Swaythling, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hatherton, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cottesloe, L. Ilford, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Craigavon, V. Inglewood, L. Vivian, L.
Cranbrook, E. Killearn, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Latymer, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Daventry, V. Lauderdale, E. Windlesham, L.
Denham, L. Lyell, L. Wolverton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

reasonable discrimination, if it proved that the person excluded has persistently by his public statements and behaviour or by his conduct in taking part or in purporting to take part in the activities of the organisation demonstrated his hostility to the general purposes of the organisation or its general activities on behalf of its members or its general structure and his unwillingness to co-operate in the promotion of such purposes and activities and that such public statements behaviour of conduct have persisted up to a date not earlier than six months before that person applies for membership.")

The noble Lord said: it would be stating the obvious if I asserted that great difference of opinion has been manifested in the course of our discussions on the question of exclusion of persons who wish to apply for membership to a trade union. The present Amendment is on a different basis from that of those which your Lordships have previously considered, and it adopts a different method which I may not inappropriately describe as the halfway method. It seeks to shift the onus of proof and to define in rather strict language the type of person one seeks to exclude from membership of the trade union.

May I first make the case for a change such as I embodied in the Amendment? Under Clause 63(2) as it is drafted, if an applicant asks for membership and it is the desire of the trade union, for whatever reason, to exclude him from membership, the matter can go to the industrial tribunal and the tribunal can be called upon to decide whether the exclusion, in the circumstances of the given case, is arbitrary or unreasonable. I can understand a Government spokesman arguing that that is a sufficient protection for the trade union. But many of those who know much more about the trade union world than I do have advised me and assure me that in practice it leaves the trade union very much exposed, in the sense that it is difficult to predict on any given statement of fact whether or not the tribunal will come to the conclusion that the discrimination was or was not arbitary or unreasonable. The whole matter is at least much too uncertain. And it is represented to me by my noble friends, who know so much about this subject, that a trade union is very much open to attack—and I deliberately use the word " attack "—by the person who is by nature a saboteur.

Sometimes he takes the form of a super barrack-room lawyer. Sometimes he is one of those people who by nature is quite incompetent of growing together with other people. Sometimes he is the sort of person who is absolutely convinced that on every conceivable occasion he knows much better than everybody else. And sometimes—and this is the case about which I think the Committee may be more anxious than in all the other cases to see that strict justice is done—he may be a person actuated by ideological situations to be disloyal to the union. But when one adds all these people together, they constitute, I am advised, quite a formidable host, and unless a trade union can be protected from insidious activities of that sort, in the aggregate its work over a period of years can be seriously disrupted and its effort disorganised. It is in a desire to afford some more protection, but not excessive protection—and I emphasise the words " not excessive "—to the trade union that the scheme embodied in the proviso which forms the subject of my Amendment is constructed.

I would ask your Lordships to look at it in a little more detail. First it defines, with what I hope your Lordships will think is a considerable degree of precision, the sort of person that one is dealing with. He does not come within that definition unless it can be affirmatively predicated of him that he has persistently "— and I emphasise the word " persistently "— by his public statements"— in other words, I exclude merely private conversations, private intrigues, or anything of that sort— and behaviour or by his conduct in taking part or in purporting to take part in the activities of the organisations"— he must come within that rather narrow gateway before he is touched at all— demonstrated his hostility to the general purposes of the organisation "— not a hostility or dislike to any given individuals, or anything like that— or its general activities on behalf of its members or its general structure and "— it is not in the alternative, but is additional— his unwillingness to co-operate it the promotion of such purposes and activities and that such public statements behaviour of conduct "— I may say that the word " of " should be " or "— have persisted up to a date not earlier than six months before the person applies for membership.

Before the trade union, therefore, can avail itself of the provision in this proviso that the burden of proof should to shifted away from it, it has to show that the individual in question is precisely such a person: that he is the really awkward customer, because of conceit, because of quirks of character or—and one always approaches this aspect of it with more anxiety—because of his ideological beliefs. In this country we thoroughly dislike the idea of penalising anybody, for any beliefs that he has, but one has to recognise that there are some ideological beliefs which impel those who hold them to act consistently against democratic processes and thus against the democratic institutions of this country of ours. Because we so value freedom of political belief and ideological belief, one must deal with great caution with persons who are so actuated. Those are the individuals who have to be pointed to affirmatively, the proof of showing that they are persons of that sort resting on the trade union. But if the trade union can show that a person is that sort of person, and that he has remained that sort of person and his conduct and behaviour have been such right up to a date not earlier than six months before he wants to join the union, then—so the proviso runs—the onus is taken off the trade union and put upon the applicant to show that his exclusion is unreasonable.

I would respectfully submit that that is a fair distribution of burden between the union at risk and the ill-intentioned individual who wishes to become a member of it. As I say, I do not wish to repeat myself. First, the trade union must be able to show he is that sort of person—the onus being on the trade union to prove it by evidence. When the trade union has done that, it can say as a matter of law, " We, the trade union, have now discharged the onus upon us and it is put upon the individual who wants to apply for membership to show why, being such a person, we, the trade union, should have to allow him in." I speak in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, but I feel that he may look rather more kindly upon my endeavour than he has looked upon some of our previous endeavours. I thought he was a little harsh upon those. But I feel that his strong liberal feelings may not be offended by what really is a modest shift from one party to the other of the onus of proof when that party has laid the foundation in fact why the onus of proof should be shifted.

It is in that desire—that is to say, to afford some but reasonable protection to the trade union; some additional protection to that which is already afforded by the wording of the clause—that I put forward this proposal. I submit that it does not go too far, but I submit, nevertheless, that it introduces a considerable measure of security for the trade union, which, when it is dealing with that sort of person—the kind of person as to whom it can demonstrate that that is his character and those are his proceedings—can know with a reasonable degree of certainty that, unless there are circumstances which show that the individual has wholly repented and changed his disposition and approach, it is perfectly safe in saying to him, Your application for membership of this union is rejected." I beg to move.

9.42 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has proposed his Amendment so eloquently and so reasonably that I only wish my judgment in the matter enabled me to give him a more favourable reply than that which I feel able to do. I am all the more reluctant to disappoint him because I agreed with almost all he said about the merits of the case, though not about the merits of his particular Amendment; because I think if the Committee looks objectively at the drafting and words of the Amendment, it will see that it has exactly the opposite effect from what he intends.

The noble Lord starts with the same feelings as I have: that it is wrong for a union arbitrarily or unreasonably to exclude an applicant from membership. He goes on to say—and I again agree with him, and he again agrees with me—that if you once accept that proposition it cannot be for the union to decide entirely by itself what is arbitrary or unreasonable. We have an old saying in the law that nobody can be a judge in his own cause; and therefore some objective, impartial tribunal must decide for us. The noble Lord says he wants to shift the burden of proof. But of course, as I shall show, his Amendment does precisely the opposite: it puts a heavier burden of proof on the union than does the clause as drafted.

All that has to be done under the clause as drafted is this. The applicant, or complainant, has to say, " I was arbitrarily or unreasonably excluded from admission ", and then the union says why it did exclude him; and here again I am on common ground with the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill. It says lie is an unreasonable sort of person who would break up any organisation he belonged to—and that seems to me an admirable reason for excluding anybody from admission to anything from a tennis club to a political constituency association. There are such people—we know they exist; and in the rare case, though one hopes one exercises every kind of discretion in their favour, at the end of the day one has to say, " No ".

We have all had to deal with them in one way or another in the course of our lives; but instead of just leaving it to the tribunal, which the Bill would do, the Amendment says that in order that the tribunal may be free to make up its mind in favour of the union, the union has to prove that a person has persistently, by his public statements or his behaviour, or by his conduct in taking part in the activities of the organisation, demonstrated not earlier than six months before he applies for membership his hostility to the general purposes of the organisation. That seems to be too heavy a burden to be placed on the union. It may well be that he has more recently betrayed his inability to be a member of an organisation. He may be an old "resigner" and the noble Lord, Lord Delaeourt-Smith, in the last Amendment, or the last but one, was talking about persistent: resignations, in and out. There is no reason why the period should be six months.

Or again, the union may know perfectly well that by reason of his private statements or private activities he was such a person, and may be able to prove it. But it would pose an almost insuperable difficulty for the tribunal if the clause were to be put in, as it is proposed to amend it, by limiting that kind of behaviour to public activities or public statements. Equally, since ex hypothesi the man is not a member of the union, or would not be trying to join it, it is difficult to see how he could have taken part in any activities of the organisation not earlier than six months before, although, by pretending to be a member, he could have purported to take part in it.

For all these reasons, although I can honestly say I accept the case on its merits in toto without differing from it in any degree whatever, the Amendment seems to me to have the opposite effect to what is intended. It increases the burden on the union while at the same time reducing the discretion of the tribunal; I think the union would be very much better off if we were to take the Bill as drafted at this stage and to say that we accept that the tribunal, faced with a person like this, will always back up the union which excluded him. There may be many cases where a person who is not exactly like this, but rather the same sort of person, ought to be excluded, notwithstanding that he does not come within the four wells of this Amendment.

Although I do not wish to say a word in derogation from what the noble Lord has said, I would not advise the Committee to adopt the Amendment and I wonder whether, in the light of: the arguments I have put forward, which I trust are reasonable, the noble Lord would perhaps seek to withdraw it.


I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord. I fear that I have not made myself clear, and it is my fault. With great respect, I do not agree with his conclusion. Let me take an individual case. X is a thoroughly unreasonable person and he and the union—he having beer excluded —come before the industrial tribunal, and the industrial tribunal says to the trade union representative, " Have you got anything against this man in the last six months?" The answer is, " No, he has behaved himself so far as we know. He has stopped denouncing us and he has stopped his hostility for a good six months before this application and we have no complaint at all about anything that he has done for the last six months ". As the clause is drafted, if that is the situation I should think it was at least an even chance, if not more than an even chance, that the industrial 'tribunal will say, " If you cannot complain about his behaviour in the last six months we propose to say that it would be unreasonable to exclude him. A person may change his mind, and you have not the smallest ground for saying, there is anything objectionable in this man. He may be as innocent as tie angels now; therefore we are going to say against you that it is unreasonable if you now exclude him ". The object of the Amendment is this. If the union can say, " Never mind about the last six months; this man last year was a bitter enemy of ours. He denounced us; he denounced our whole purposes and so on ", then the onus is shifted upon the man to show why, notwithstanding that conduct in the previous year, he nevertheless should be admitted.

I follow the reasoning of the noble and learned Lord and I am grateful to him for his obviously careful thought about it, but I submit that it does not have the result he suggested. On the contrary, it limits the reasons which may be regarded as constituting " unreasonable excuse ". It pinpoints a particular ground, as constituting, unless the contrary is shown, a reason for excluding him, and it enables the trade union to escape the difficulty which it must constantly be in by saying of a person who has been as good as gold within the last fortnight or the last month or three months, " It is all very well, but this man last year and the year before and the year before that was our bitter critic. We know his ideological views; his character has not changed ". If the clause reads as as it is unamended, I should have thought, in the sort of situation that I have described, it is at least an even chance against the union that that man will have to come in. If the clause is changed as I would propose to your Lordship's Committee that it should be changed, then the onus will be put upon the applicant to show why, in spite of what the union has shown about his previous conduct, he nevertheless should be regarded as a reformed character and as being entitled to enter the union.

I respectfully submit that I have made a change in favour of the union. I have not increased the burden of the argument; I have provided the union with a means of escape in a number of cases where there is very likely now not a means of escape. I have provided some extra protection, but I would again—I hope without repeating myself—submit that I have not provided them with " unreasonable " extra protection. It is still a question of assessing the considerations on either side. That is certainly fair to the individual and I submit I have added extra protection to the union.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

10.0 p.m.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257M. Page 52, line 33, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 257M which stands in the name of my noble friend, Lord Diamond. This proposes to leave out the subsection which deals with the question of the individual member having the right, on giving reasonable notice and complying with any reasonable conditions, to terminate his membership of the organisation at any time. It would be useful if the noble Lord could give some indication of the intention and purpose of this subsection. So far as I can see, this does not appear in the Donovan Report as one of those items to which attention should be given in connection with union rules and it seems to me questionably desirable to include this provision in this form in the clause which we are discussing.

I am not aware of any widespread difficulties arising out of resignation from trade unions, save for the problem which I mentioned on an earlier Amendment. This arises in the cases where the trade union is recognised by the employer and membership is on an entirely voluntary basis, and one has the problem of the perpetual resigner. If one puts this provision in this form into the Statute, elevating it to the position of a guiding principle which must be observed, one is putting an undesirable and unnecessary emphasis upon entitlement to leave an organisation. Where there is a closed shop arrangement in operation the situation is somewhat different, but I am hound to say I cannot see the value of emphasising in the Statute in this way the particular point with which the subsection deals, and I should have thought that it would be advantageous to omit this subsection. I do not. believe that would add to the difficulties which might arise in regard to individuals resigning from trade unions, except in the case where a closed shop is in operation, which is an entirely different problem. I beg to move.


I do not think we can accept this Amendment. If a union or any other club or association is a voluntary association, the essence of its being a voluntary association is that you do not have to belong to it, and the only way in which you do not have to belong to an association of which you have become a member is to resign from it. This subsection provides that you are to be allowed to resign on giving reasonable notice. The noble Lord has reverted to his problem about the perpetual resigner, but he must give the industrial tribunal or the Industrial Court, consisting of highly paid individuals with a good deal of experience of life, some credit for common sense. The perpetual resigner will be dealt with by them and the union will be able to say, " No, you have resigned five times—that is too many. You must stop trying to get in because you cannot be relied upon ", and the Court would back them up. The fact is that if you do not allow people to resign you abandon your claim to be a voluntary organisation, and although the situation is exacerbated if there is a closed shop, a situation which I hope will not be the commonest case after the Bill becomes law, it exists whether there is a closed shop situation or not.

The fact is that if I belong to the Carlton Club, unless the Carlton Club is to be a concentration camp I must be entitled to resign from it. The same is true of any voluntary organisation, whether it is an Inn of Court, a political club, a trade union, a friendly society or, any other organisation you like to name, including the Zoological Society. The fact is that this is only common sense and common justice, and I really am surprised that the noble Lord should feel it necessary to try to delete it from the Bill.


The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor did not deal with the point that this does not appear in the Donovan recommendations; it is something which the Government have judged it necessary to add. I do not claim to be an expert on the rules of the Carlton Club, but in most organisations with which I am acquainted it is not necessary to have a specific proviso in the rules saying that a member is entitled to resign. It still seems strange to me to have added this particular point. After all, we already have in Clause 5 a right to be a non-unionist. Why one also needs to have in this Part of the Bill an affirmation that there must be in the rules of the union a specific recognition that an individual can transform or transfer himself from the status of being a unionist to a non-unionist, I am bound to say I still do not understand.


May I deal with the one point the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, made that I did not deal with: the absence of this obvious provision from the Donovan Report? The Labour Party really have to make up their minds. They have opposed the Donovan Report bitterly throughout the registration provisions, and the registration provisions were a pretty fundamental part of the Donovan Report. On the whole, we have backed up the Donovan Report, at any rate in this Part of the Bill, although there are points on which we differ. I thought that in giving the Committee the merits of the argument I did not need to refer to the Donovan Report. I preferred to use the Donovan Report as a lamp to light my path and also as a lamppost to support my instability. But the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, habitually condemns the Donovan Report. Although I regard the Donovan Report as a lamppost to support my instability, I still would not he prepared to accept its verbal or fundamentalist inspiration. In spite of the present of the noble and learned Lord the author, sitting patiently on the Cross-Benches having his masterpiece dissected by the two Parties, I must say that I think my objections were adequate without referring to the noble and learned Lord's Report.

On Question. Amendment negatived.

LORD DELACOURT-SMITH moved Amendment No. 257N:

Page 52, line 36, at end insert— ("Provided that it shall not be deemed to he an unreasonable condition to require that the person terminating his membership shall satisfy the organisation that he is simultaneously terminating his employment as a worker of the description of which the organisation is intended to consist.")

The noble Lord said

Here we are dealing with a question of whether it shall he proper for a union, if its members so decide, to require that the person terminating his membership shall satisfy the organisation that he is also terminating his employment…of the description of which the organisation is intended to consist. Here I think it is appropriate to raise the question of whether a union or an organisation of workers, if it so desires, may place such a proviso in its rules. I can envisage many unions which would think it a proper provision to insert, and I move the Amendment for the purpose of seeing whether such a proviso would be deemed to be a reasonable one.


I am bound to say that we on this side of the House think this would be unreasonable. It would be in direct conflict with the right not to belong to a trade union afforded by Clause 5. and for that reason could not be accepted. Subsection (3) of Clause 63 establishes the basic right of any member to leave an organisation whose policies he can no longer support. Its whole purpose would be defeated if the right was limited solely to persons who leave the particular kind of employment represented by that organisation. Of course it is recognised that this leaving the organisation and leaving employment at the same time may be one of the reasons why a member would wish to resign from his trade union, since it would no longer he able to represent him adequately in his future employment. What I take fundamental issue with is the suggestion that this might be stipulated as the only reason for which the member may resign. My noble friend. Lord Windlesham, has on earlier clauses put forward the reasons for the Government's concern about this matter, and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has touched on the point of its importance in an increasingly regulated society when the freedom of the individual is at stake.

I would remind the House that the position of the person who does not wish to join a union in an agency shop or approved closed shop situation has been agreed in earlier parts of the Bill. Although there are strong feelings on this matter on both sides of the House. I would ask noble Lords to remember the Government's case. that what we are trying to do is to find a balance between an individual's rights on the one side and stability in industrial relations on the other. We do not feel that termination of membership should equate with termination of employment and I would remind noble Lords of the Lord Chancellor's opinion some days ago that 95 per cent. voluntary members are preferable to membership which includes 5 per cent. of pressed men. Therefore, for the interests of trade unions as well as of individuals, I would suggest to noble Lords that this Amendment is not agreeable to the House.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 257T: Page 52, line 41, at end insert (" and having the like facilities as other candidates for promoting his election to any such office").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is intended to ensure that the right of a member to stand as a candidate for office in an organisation of workers or employers is not frustrated by any unreasonable actions intended to hinder him in the promotion of his candidature. In putting forward this Amendment the Government have in mind that it may be insufficient to give a member a means of redress against interference which aims at preventing him from standing as a candidate and being voted for.

It is not inconceivable that a group within an organisation. once having gained control, might deny rival candidates for office the facilities for circulating things like their election addresses, or for speaking at meetings, and so forth. This sort of action would render subsection 4(a) of this clause relatively ineffective, and therefore needs to be guarded against. The Amendment enhances the efficacy of this protection in the important sphere of office-holding and for that reason I commend it to the Committee.


I am rather worried about the practicability of the addition which is proposed. Already in this subsection (4) we are told that No member of the organisation, or of any branch or section of the organisation, shall, by way of any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination, be excluded from—(a) being a candidate for or holding any office in the organisation or in a branch or section of it; Then, as the noble Lord has told us, the Government seeks to add: and having the like facilities as other candidates for promoting his election to any such office I have not yet made up my mind what advice I would tender to my side on this Amendment. I want to ask what exactly it means. I must admit that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has told us nothing, or has not really suggested the sort of thing the Government want to prevent happening within a trade union. One of the rules of my own trade union is that a candidate for the post of general secretary must have a minimum of 10 years' consecutive membership. I take it that because this is applicable to all members, it would not be held to be unreasonable discrimination. I must add that the candidate for that post must also be an individual member of the Labour Party, in order that, to use the words of the appropriate rule, he will be able to attend the Labour Party Conference as a delegate. I ask the noble Lord, would that be unreasonable discrimination? Would it be unreasonable discrimination against a member of the Communist Party? Would it be unreasonable discrimination against that very rare bird, a Tory trade unionist? I think that is a fair question to ask in this connection.

Coming to the actual Amendment, what do the Government mean? I was the secretary of an organisation within the National Union of Railwaymen of a district council of 23,000 members. That very fact brought me into very close contact with the whole of that membership and, perhaps even more important, with all the branch secretaries and the officers of the union within that area, which was the whole of South Wales and Mon-mouthshire. The result was that, as a result of being able to keep in contact with all that membership and the officers that really mattered in that connection, I was able to secure election to the National Executive Committee with comparative ease. I had been able to go round them; I had been able to impress upon them that I really knew a little bit about the job I was doing. I was able to impress them with the thought that, if I was elected to the National Executive Committee, I could there serve them well. That was a facility which arose out of a post to which I had been elected.

I had been elected, it is trite, but it gave me a tremendous advantage in seeking election to this particular post. If everybody has not that facility for election, what is going to happen? Is he going to be caught under these few words that it is now proposed to add to the Bill? A candidate for the post of general secretary within my organisation, and indeed in most, has facilities for becoming known to the membership. As a result of that, he has a tremendous advantage when the post of general secretary is vacant and he is an applicant for it. I should have thought that the clause, without the addition of these words (which will be extremely difficult for anyone to interpret, and extremely difficult for anyone to see exactly what they mean), is ample as it now stands. The words that I have read out seem to me to give an ample protection to anybody who is within a union and who seeks to become an officer, or to attain some post within the union.

I am not against the principle which I think lies behind this Amendment. All I am saying—and this arises from such experience as I have—is that the Amendment is loose, woolly, and meaningless in the context of experience in trade union election of officers, and in trade union handling of these matters. I really do not think that these words ought to be added to the Bill. It is something which has been conjured up from somewhere—I do not know from where—after the Bill has been printed. If the Government have received any suggestion from any trade union, or from somebody with practical experience, that this is something which ought to be added to the Bill, and have been given examples of the sort of thing that would cause them to ask the Government to do precisely this, I hope the Government will tell the Committee.

This is an extremely difficult clause, as everybody admits. We have had enough difficulty up to now without adding to it words that would appear to me to be quite unnecessary in the context of the Bill and in the context of what the Government are trying to do; namely, to say that if a man is accepted into trade union membership he should have the like facilities as everyone else within that organisation. I believe this is already safeguarded by the words of the clause. I think that the Government will have to show us some additional reason to that which we have already heard to cause us to say that this is a reasonable Amendment and that we ought to let it go.

10.15 p.m.


I am sorry that the noble Lord has taken the line he has on this. I should have thought that this was common sense, and that it would be applied with common sense. He himself said he really did not disagree with the sentiment: he was just a little frightened that it might be applied in a narrow or restrictive way. I think one can distinguish quite easily between what would and what would not be acceptable under this Amendment. For example, I think we would all agree that it would be wrong that a candidate, because he was already in office and was seeking re-election, should be able to be supported in any way by facilities which were not available to other people; that is to say, that he should have the use of the establishment for sending out his propaganda, or whatever it was.

I think the sort of thing this means is that everybody should have access to a list of members so that he can invite them to vote for him. If the list of members is supplied to one person, then it should be supplied to another. Undoubtedly there are these difficult questions. Of course, a person who is very much in the forefront of trade union affairs has an advantage; but this is right. He is doing the job, and it is perfectly right that his name should be mentioned in the organ of the trade union. He may even write articles for it. That is not an unfair advantage to take. But if somebody were deliberately excluded in his favour, then that would be unfair; it would be a question of discrimination between the two of them.

The kind of example that comes to mind outside the trade union sphere concerns Party political broadcasts. If one Party has broadcast, then the other Parties will have, not necessarily equal facilities but proportionate facilities. This is a rather different matter. On the other hand, whoever is in office can make an announcement on a matter of national importance. Admittedly, if it appears to be too Party-biased then somebody else can claim the right to reply. But these matters are all matters of common sense; and if you state the principle here, then I think you are quite safe in relying on the application of common sense. The noble Lord says he does not disagree with the principle but doubts whether it is necessary to add these words. This has been looked at, and it was thought desirable to put down this Amendment. I hope my noble friends will support it.


This clause has ten paragraphs already, and the whole of the Bill has such an inflation of words that it seems to me that if the principles and the meaning cannot be expressed in these ten paragraphs it is positively indecent to add the words in this Amendent to the clause. I suggest that the Minister has a good look at it and takes it out.


I am puzzled by the remarks which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has made, because he has been telling us that we ought to leave this matter to be decided by common sense. Unfortunately, I have been trained as a scientist, and one of the things I have learned is that so-called common sense is the worst possible guide when you are dealing with the interpretation of words, when you are dealing with definitions. You have to put these down clearly. You must not say, " We leave this to common sense and everyone knows." 'What everyone knows is usually wrong. It is rarely that you can rely upon this generality of interpretation. You have to put the matter more clearly. What is meant by the word " facilities " in this Amendment? If, when I was a member of a university, I said to the administration that I wanted facilities, what would they understand by it? They would understand such things as typewriters and equipment in the laboratories. It seems to me that the word is being used in a different and undefined way. Surely the noble Lord cannot ask the Committee to accept an Amendment in which words are used which are not defined, and their meaning is to be left to some vague thing called common sense? If the noble Lord cannot give more thought to this matter—and we have been urged continuously by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, to " use our heads " and to think about things: he has said that he wanted to din things into our heads—I would suggest that the heads on the other side start off by having, something in them before they proceed to din things into ours.


At an earlier stage in the debate there were Amendments from this side to insert the word " democratic " in certain clauses. I had the temerity to suggest that my friends were wrong on this. We all know that if we proceed democratically we give to candidates equal facilities as far as is possible. It is part of our heritage to dc so. The fact that the Government suddenly stick a clause like this into the Bill is indicative of a grave suspicion that the trade unions will not behave in this way. This is grossly unfair. All sorts of marginal departures from this practice are going on all the time. In earlier days, when the divergence of wealth was greater, one Party in this country offered greater facilities to its candidates in Parliamentary elections than the other Parties were able to afford; but nobody groused about that. It is the normal more, of our society to give candidates what are reasonably the same facilities.


I wonder if the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, could take this away and give it some though. Could the noble Lord consider this Amendment being put forward in some form of legislation about political Parties? The noble Lord knows that, particularly within the Conservative Party, if a " plum " constituency becomes available some two or three hundred applicants apply to be considered by the local constituency committee. They whittle down the number to four or five and then it is agreed that the candidate should arrive with his wife. The candidate is inspected, he makes a speech, they wonder if he is all right; and then they look at his wife. Is she attractive? Are her skirts sufficiently long to avoid offending the older members of the Party? In the end they make a decision based on the appearance of both. If you consider this Amendment in terms of a political Party it could be argued that some 200 or 300 people may say that, according to this, they should have the same facilities to appear before the committee. I think this is taking it too far. As my noble friend, Lord Champion, said, we do not disagree with the spirit behind the Amendment but I have a suspicion that this Amendment will cause not only grave embarrassment but also considerable and unnecessary difficulty to the various organisations.


Without wishing to follow the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his argument that a Conservative wife is a facility—I have never thought of it in those terms—I suggest to the Government, from the experience that we have had in politics, that on reflection this will not work. I ask them to take it back and let the draftsmen look at it again, and perhaps get the political agents to look at it. As it stands now, it is going to cause a great deal of trouble if we have to put it into practice.


The arguments from noble Lords opposite would seem persuasive until you start looking back earlier in the section and you realise that all this refers to is: by way of any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination. I think that is the essence. A frivolous complaint cannot be made on this; it would never be held out to be arbitrary or unreasonable.


I am grateful to my noble friend, I think he is dead right. With respect, I do not think that the points made by noble Lords opposite have any great validity. This Amendment will be taken as a guide by those who are responsible for holding the election. In particular, it will be a guide to the establishment. All we want to ensure is that there is no exclusion by " any arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination " from the same facilities; that the facilities may be available to all. People could be denied these facilities. The noble Lord, Lord Brown, said that this is part of our tradition but, as he knows, it does not always happen.


I quite agree that it does not and that is not my argument. I say that there are unequal facilities and it is part of our tradition to try to make them as equal as possible. If you insist that they are not to be denied unreasonably or arbitrarily, you are going to be in a mess.


We agree with the sentiments here but I am sure the phrase " like facilities " will lead to all sorts of arguments. Whether to use a duplicating machine for a one-page or a three-page piece of propaganda—all that sort of thing—will cause a great deal of trouble. I suggest that it is looked at again before it is put in the Bill.


I am talking about the facilities that are made available by the union. Noble Lords have said that they are in favour of this; I suggest that we add it to the Bill, and we shall certainly look at it again.


Well, well! My godfathers!


That goes a little way. As I said at the outset, I do not regard this as a matter of tremendous importance although I think it would be absolute nonsense to add the words to the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that perhaps the refusal of a list of members might deny to someone facilities he ought to have. If I were a branch secretary, or the secretary of a district council, and I denied to anyone a list of members in circumstances in which a candidate ought to have them, I should say that I was acting in an arbitrary and, unreasonably discriminatory way. These are words already in the clause.

I do not want to keep the Committee long over this; I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, is absolutely right. The use of these words makes nonsense in the view of people who know something about this sort of thing. It is a minor point, and as I said about another Amendment a couple of nights ago, I would not go to the stake about this one; I doubt whether I would go to the Division Lobby.

Having regard to what has been said from this side of the Committee—reasonably, quietly and properly—I think that the noble Lord should not press this Amendment at this stage but look at it again. If he comes back with it on Report and then is able to justify it by instances of where such facilities have been denied to people—for example, to a member even of the Communist Party trying to secure something within an organisation to which he has been elected and become a member—then I should regard that as a justification for this particular Amendment. I think that in the circumstances the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, ought to say that he will not press this Amendment at this stage. He still has the Report stage and Third Reading, and if as a result of further consideration he comes along with this Amendment again and I happen to be still sitting on this side, as I hope to be, I personally would not object to it if at that stage he is able to justify its inclusion. I think he ought to accede to this; it would be reasonable to do so.


The noble Lord, Lord Champion, is very persuasive. I take Lord Byer's point: what we have to look at here is its practicability. I shall not come along with a great many examples to prove it is necessary; I think we agree that something like this is desirable, but it must be practicable. I shall not press this Amendment to-night, and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.32 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 257P:

Page 53, line 9, at end insert— (" " Ballot " in this section means a vote which is taken by the completion and counting of votes other than by show of hands, oral expression or similar method and this section shall in no wise prejudice the right of an organisation to provide by its rules and practices those matters which shall be subject to voting by ballot and those which shall be subject to voting by other procedures.")

The noble Lord said: I do not intend to say a great deal about this; it seems to me to be a very simple Amendment. I cannot imagine the circumstances in which it would present any difficulty with regard to the Government. The word " ballot " is not defined in the Bill in any way, and this does it in a rather satisfactory fashion. I do not think the part about prejudicing " the right of an organisation to provide by its rules " and so on, is in conflict with what is in the Bill, it just puts it specifically. It makes the matter a little more explicit.


This is a rather detailed matter. The Amendment seems to have two objectives. First, it sets out to define the meaning of the term " ballot " as used in this subsection secondly, it seeks to make plain that organisations may provide in their rules for such other methods of voting as they find appropriate. Neither objective is in itself in any way objectionable, but both seem to be unnecessary. First, the term " ballot " is used in this clause in its ordinary everyday sense to mean a written vote, and there is no real likelihood that it would be taken to mean anything else. The term is also used in other parts of the Bill—for example, ballots on the C.I.R. recommendations in Clause 47. It would seem odd, to say the least, to define the term as used in one clause and not in another, unless it is the intention to give the term a different meaning in one or other of these contexts. and I do not think that is the intention of noble Lords opposite

The second part of the Amendment does not add anything to what is already implied by subsection (5) of the clause; that is to say, that in those situations where voting is by ballot the secrecy of the voting must he assured. The subsection makes no reference to, and does not apply to voting by other means; but the possibility that other methods of voting might be used is explicitly recognised in subsection (6), which deals with a member's right to vote without interference or constraint, on any motion, as well as in any ballot, on which the rules of the organisation entitled him to vote. Schedule 4 also leaves the organisation entirely free to determine for itself when, if ever, a ballot is to he required.

Therefore, with respect. I do not think that this Amendment is worth pressing in the circumstances. I think the points the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has in mind, are already covered and that to define " ballot " here, and here alone, would be out of place.


I take the noble Lord's point. that this may in Let be the wrong place to define " ballot ", but I think it is reasonable that the7e should he a definition of a ballot, particularly as his definition of " ballot " is not one that appears in the dictionary. He said that we take " ballot " in its ordinary meaning, which is " a written vote ". took the precaution of looking up in the dictionary in the Library what was the meaning of " ballot ", and the first definition was: A small ball used for secret voting. Hence by extension a ticket, paper, et cetera, so used. We know perfectly well that the noble Lord does not intend that trade unions should have to collect a large number of small balls so that it could revert to that form of a ballot. The second definition is: The method or system of secret voting. —not written voting, but secret voting; and that is the meaning of " ballot " which is in ordinary usage. The third one—and again I know that the noble Lord does not have this in mind—is A method of drawing lots by taking out small balls, et cetera, from a box; hence generally lot drawing. The Government are not suggesting that the method to be followed here is that all these things should be decided by drawing lots, so we come to the ordinary everyday meaning of " ballot ", which is a method of secret voting ". If we now look at what is in the Bill, it becomes a nonsense, because the clause to which I am proposing to add the definition is: The voting in any ballot of members of the organisation, or of a branch or section of the organisation, shall be kept secret. If we wish to interpret this, what we are saying is that the voting in any secret vote shall be kept secret. After all, if it is not kept secret it ceases to be a secret vote. Alternatively, if we accept that the ballot is a secret vote, we are then saying that the voting in any ballot shall remain a ballot. That seems to me to be nonsense. If we look at it in another way, " The voting in any ballot of members of the organization…shall be kept secret," could be interpreted as saying that, having taken the ballot, no one was authorised to declare the result, because you would not then be keeping the vote a secret. It would be a complete waste of time.

It seems to me, therefore, that there is some need of a definition somewhere, unless the Government are going to get themselves, on this completely innocuous thing, into an even greater mess than they are deliberately getting themselves into in some other clauses. I therefore accept the noble Lord's point that this may be the wrong place to insert the definition, but there certainly is a need to define a ballot somewhere. I should willingly withdraw the Amendment if the noble Lord would undertake to look at the possibility of including it at another place, if on reflection he thinks that some of the points I have made have some validity.


The noble Lord has made a rousing speech on this subject. I think he has failed to distinguish between voting in a ballot and the result of a ballot. But, apart from that, we shall consider whether a definition of a ballot in the appropriate place is required.


After hearing Lord Hughes's elaborate description of drawing balls, I must say I find myself very much in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn.


In view of the undertaking which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has given, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.40 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 2570: Page 53, line 12, leave out (" have") and insert (" be given by the employer ").

The noble Lord said: I would not propose to deal with this Amendment in the same lighthearted fashion. This is rather a simple Amendment, and I think it fits in with what the Government have declared to be their intention. At the moment the clause reads: In any ballot, and on any motion, in respect of which he is entitled to vote, every member of the organisation shall have a fair and reasonable opportunity of casting his vote without interference or constraint. If the Amendment were accepted, it would read: In any ballot, and on any motion, in respect of which he is entitled to vote, every member of the organisation shall be given by the employer a fair and reasonable opportunity of casting his vote without interference or constraint. The Government have accepted the principle that there is a responsibility on employers to give every chance for these votes or ballots to be taken. We wish this to be taken a little further, to make this a specific duty on the part of the employer. That does not necessarily mean that it would have to be done on the premises. It may be that he should give the opportunity for people to go through an adjoining church hall, or something similar. It is wrong to lay down any specific way in which it should be done. Having regard to the fact that what is intended is that if a vote is to be taken as many people as possible should be encouraged to take part, then the best way of doing it is by placing upon the employer a duty of this kind.


I wonder if I could ask one question? The employer does not come into anything in Clause 63. I do not understand why an employer should be brought into this clause at all. It is a matter for a union, and its members; and I do not think that ballots, or anything else should necessarily be carried out on the factory floor, but in union premises, or somewhere else. I do not see why you want to bring the employer into this.


Probably the most effective way of getting the maximum participation by members would be if the ballot took place at the factory. If one is accepting the principle that it is desirable to have a vote in which a majority of the members take part, rather than a vote in which only a minority are participating, one should seek to find the way in which this is most likely to be brought about. If such a duty were placed upon the employer, it is more likely than not that the vote would take place in or about the factory or workshop. Frankly, it does not worry me if this is the only place in the clause where reference to the employer appears. It is enabling him to participate in such a way as to help the job to be done; it is not giving him any rights of interference, or anything of that kind. If it were, I would not be so moving.


I agree with the intention of this Amendment. What worries me is the fact that if the Amendment is passed, the burden of responsibility for providing a fair and reasonable opportunity for a man to cast his vote in a ballot is loaded entirely on the employer; everybody else concerned with the organisation of the ballot is not under the constraint to provide that fair opportunity. think it is a technical defect in the Amendment. If the Amendment is not accepted, I hope an opportunity will be taken by the Government to draft in at some more appropriate point—possibly in in the next clause—words that lay this burden on the employer. Although wise employers provide the maximum opportunity, some unfortunately do not, and they get into trouble. Their trouble affects other industries which they supply, because they have strikes. With great respect, the Amendment would probably be more suitable in another part of the Bill.


I,should like to thank my noble friend Lord Balfour for putting his finger on the difficulty with this Amendment—that it is really not in place in this particular clause—and to the noble Lord, Lord Brown, for adding his words, which I felt were quite right. But could I say in the same breath that I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is on an important point here, though perhaps on the wrong clause. This is something about which I hope it may be possible for the code of practice to say something. I feel that, in the light of the remark about the subsection made by the noble Lord, Lord Brown, perhaps it would be valuable to your Lordships if I said that now.

Could I add a word or two of caution? The Amendment as it stand.; would remove from the workers' organisation any responsibility or obligation to ensure fairness in elections and for other votes; therefore it would deprive members of an important safeguard and would put the responsibility for that safeguard on the employer. It is clearly necessary, as the Donovan Report showed, to provide a simple means for complaints about such matters to be investigated and settled by an independent body; the trade unions themselves, we feel, may come to value this provision in the light of experience, because it may in itself save expensive litigation. But the suggestion that an obligation should be put on employers to give the trade unions a right to participate in union affairs is, I feel, inappropriate. I should like to thank the two noble Lords who joined in this debate and to reiterate my assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes.


I should like to thank the noble Lord for the assurance he has given, which I accept. I must admit that even before he got up to speak, I had been persuaded by what my noble friend, Lord Brown, had said—that we had chosen the wrong place to attempt to do this. Therefore, on the assurance that has been given by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.47 p.m.

LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 258: Page 53. line 13, at end insert (" and shall be given due and reasonable written notice of the place and time of any vote").

The noble Lord said: I shall deal with this briefly. The Amendment affects subsection (6) dealing with the conduct of ballots. I think it is self-evident that it would complete the subsection and I commend it to the Committee. I beg to move.


The Government have considerable sympathy with the noble Lord's Amendment but feel that there are difficulties in it. At the moment we do not feel that it could be easily accepted. The substance of the Amendment is already contained in the more general wording of the subsection, providing that every member entitled to vote shall have a fair and reasonable opportunity of casting his vote. This means that a member denied an opportunity of voting, for whatever reason, will have a means of redress. If an organisation took a vote without taking proper steps to inform its members of the place and time of voting, with the result that certain members were unable to vote, any one of those members would have the right to complain to the industrial tribunal or to the Registrar that he had been denied the reasonable opportunity of casting his vote. For this reason we feel that there is no need for the Amendment.

There is a little more in this. The detailed nature of the requirement put forward in this Amendment may cause some difficulty and I am sure that none of the noble Lords sponsoring the Amendment would wish to open the way to petty complaints which could interfere with the orderly conduct of the business of a trade union. If this Amendment were accepted, it would seem that a dissident member in a trade union would be able to harass the union—perhaps on the ground, for example, that a branch chairman had accepted a motion at a meeting, on a subject clearly specified on the agenda, but written notice had not been given that a vote was to be taken on the resolution. The subsection. as it stands, sets out the principle, as do the other subsections of this clause. It does not attempt to write the rules of the union for it. In the Government's view, this Amendment comes a little close to specifying a rule rather than stating a principle. I hope that, basically for that reason, the noble Lord will think again before pressing the Amendment.


This is really almost amusing, if I may say so, because what the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said in argument—I was listening carefully to all the arguments—has been used against the Government's Amendment in regard to having like facilities as other candidates. So we have the amusing situation that, having argued from this side of the Committee that the Government's Amendment should not be accepted, and they having agreed to reconsider it, we, being quite honest and frank, are using precisely the same type of argument to the Government to get another Amendment put in. I agree with the intention of Lord Byers' Amendment, but I think it stands subject to the same criticism that was put against the previous Amendment.

I know it is not possible, but it would be nice to see a sort of bargain made on this: that if the Government want to go into great detail, and want to put their previous Amendment in on Report stage, then they ought to put Lord Byers' Amendment in, because they are of the same kind. But if the Government do not want to put their Amendment in, then I think the noble Lord, Lord Byers, ought to be persuaded not to press his Amendment. That I believe to be common sense.


May I press my noble friend to go a little further on this? This goes a shade further than subsection (6), which offers fair and reasonable opportunity, because this asks that reasonable written notice should be given. I think that many of us were rather shocked at the ballot in the Ford dispute. Evidently a great many union members did not have proper notice. Of course, the Amendment as put down is not acceptable from the drafting point of view, but I should have thought that my noble friend might find there is a point here that is worth taking back and seeing whether it could not with some benefit be added to the Bill.


Surely this depends on the number of people to be given written notice. Supposing that you have thousands of people, what difference will this make?


I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that as this is drafted, and as it refers not only to " ballots " but to " motions ", it is probably inappropriate, in that it would give grounds for petty complaints, and indeed would probably make the machinery unworkable. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, for his suggestion. What we want to see is that on important ballots there should be written notice given to every member, no matter how many workers there are. I would suggest that if the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, is sympathetic to the idea behind this Amendment, he might look at the possibility of tabling an Amendment on Report to subsection (5) of this clause, which deals only with ballots and not with motions. In view of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, could the noble Lord take this back and look at it in a slightly different context, but in the spirit of the Amendment?


The other place where I feel this might be rather important is on page 142 of the Bill under paragraph 8, which states: The rules must make provision as to the manner in which meetings, for transacting any business of the organisation, are to be convened and conducted. I think the place and time of those meetings might be a help. That is all I wanted to suggest at this stage.


We are sympathetic to the way, certainly, in which this proposal has been put forward. Having said that, I would remind your Lordships that the Amendment which noble Lords opposite reminded us about was in fact withdrawn by my noble friend. I do not know whether this might be a nice precedent for the Liberal Party on this occasion with this particular Amend- ment. What I have really risen to draw your Lordships' attention to is this. May I make a passing reference to paragraph 11 of Schedule 4? That provides that rules must make provision as to the manner in which—and I paraphrase—elections are to be held or ballots taken, including the procedure preparatory to ' any such election or ballot, et cetera. Therefore, it will still be up to the trade union to draft their ballot arrangements in the light of that requirement in the Schedule. But, of course, it will also have to satisfy the scrutiny of the Registrar as guided by the guiding principles of Clause 63. I wonder whether, in the light of that remark, I could place the onus on the noble Lord and ask him whether he would perhaps consider withdrawing the Amendment and looking at it again in consultation with the Government.


We have no intention of pressing this matter. I think we have done a service by raising it. Time and place and written notice are important. Perhaps it is something which could be fitted into the code of practice, when we see it. At the present time, I Deg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.57 p.m.

LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 258A: Page 53, line 14, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment and I do so in a desire to seek information; in other words, it is a probing Amendment and I should be most grateful if Ministers would be so kind as to say what their reactions are to the question I put to them. I say at once that I would not advise any of my noble friends to press the Amendment; but if we feel that the answer does not satisfactorily deal with the doubts which I desire to raise, we would desire to reserve our position to come back to the matter on Report.

The Amendment is to leave out subsection (7). It arises upon the mainstream of the argument on this clause; namely, as to the objection which is felt on this side of the Committee to the while principle of registration. Noble Lords opposite say to the unions, " You really have nothing to complain of because, after all, all the Registrar can do is to mike sure that your rules cover what is set out in Schedule 4 and also that they do not conflict with the 10 principles set out in Clause 63." The argument which comes from the other side of the Committee is that that is not imposing any burden upon the unions to which they should take objection. From the union side, of course, it has been repeatedly said that the burden is wholly intolerable, and they thoroughly object to it.

In moving the Amendment I fasten upon the words in subsection (7): no disciplinary action shall be taken against any member of the organisation by reason of his refusing or failing "— and now I paraphrase—to take any action which would constitute an unfair industrial practice on his part or to participate in any action which would constitute an unfair industrial practice on behalf of the trade union or any other person. May I, with the permission of the Committee, digress for one moment at this stage to ask a question which stands, as it were, by the side of my argument? That question is this: Who is contemplated in the phrase, " or any other person "? I can understand the question relating to unfair industrial action on the part of the union, but I do not at the moment know what is the object of adding the words " or any other person ". What other person is in contemplation?

The main point of my argument is this. The process of registration as set out in later clauses involves the deposit by the union of its rules, the payment of a fee, and then, provided that it is a union which qualifies for registration, it obtains under Clause 72 a certificate and becomes an incorporated body.

If one looks at Clause 73—and I think one has to look forward in order to make the point—one finds that after the certificate of registration has been granted, the registrar is under a duty to examine the rules of the trade union and then to ask himself the question: " Are the rules defective in that, among other things, in the case of a trade union they are in any way inconsistent with the principles set out in Clause 63 of this Bill? " It is on those words that my question arises and around which the anxieties which I harbour centre. I know perfectly well that Ministers cannot bind decisions to which the Court may come hereafter, nor can any of us, by any of the comments we make in the discussion. The Registrar's view is not final: it can be challenged in the Industrial Court, so if it thinks the rules are defective the Industrial Court may take a different view. But what I want to know, and what I should be grateful if the Government would indicate their view about, is this: what is the effect of the words " inconsistent in any way with the principles set out " in that context? What is the question the Registrar has to ask himself?

Ten principles are set out in Clause 63. In the case of some it would be perfectly easy to answer that question. For example, in subsection (8) there is a provision that a person who is to be disciplined shall be afforded a full and fair hearing. If the Registrar looks at the rules and finds that the rules in terms provide that a person being disciplined shall not be afforded a full and fair hearing, it is an easy and obvious conclusion for the Registrar to reach that the rules do conflict with the principles set out in Clause 63. But how does one apply that to the previous subsection which says that no disciplinary action is to be taken, followed by the words which I read out? May I take one extreme instance? It is of course theoretically possible but in the highest degree unlikely that the Registrar, when he looks at the rules, will find that disciplinary action can be taken against a member of a union if he fails to comply with a decision of the national executive that industrial action is to be taken, even though that industrial action may constitute an unfair industrial practice either on the part of the member or of the union. That is about as obvious as it can be. If there were written into the rules something which plainly conflicted with the principles in Clause 63. there would be no difficulty at all.

Having given the matter the best consideration that I can, I should have thought that both the Registrar and the Industrial Court would not limit themselves to looking simply at the written rules. I should have thought that they would take the rules as a whole and look at their purported objective and scope as a whole, and perhaps considering them against the practice which the union has previously ascertained, would ask themselves in a general sense whether they conflict with those principles set out in Clause 63. In that case, if they found there were words which enabled a member of the union to be disciplined if he did not obey the behest of the national executive to take part in industrial action, they would have to say: " There is no excuse that the member can raise under the terms of this rule that the action which he is called upon to embark upon may constitute, either on his part or on the part of the union, an unfair industrial practice." If that is the view the Registrar took as to the general effect of the rules, ought he, or ought he not, in the view of the Government, to come to the conclusion that the rules conflict with subsection (7)" I should have thought it was arguable that he ought, in those circumstances, to say, " Yes, they do conflict " unless there is an expressed defence provided in terms for a member to refuse to take part in industrial action if that action is or might constitute unfair industrial practice. In any other case he would be bound to say to himself, " These rules are wholly general in scope but they might involve the member in an unfair industrial practice; therefore I, the Registrar, ought to draw the conclusion that they conflict with subsection (7)". In that case the Registrar would serve the appropriate notice on the union, and if the union disputed the Registrar's contention the matter would have to go to the court.

If I have correctly analysed the position I would respectfully put it to Ministers that there is a large area of uncertainty. If one looks through the Bill one finds the unions can be involved in all sorts of unfair industrial practices. Under Clause 34 if they break a collective agreement which is binding; if they fail to take all reasonable steps to procure other persons to agree with a binding collective agreement; in Clause 93 if they take sympathetic action with another union which is not a registered union; in Clause 94 if they take action which affects an outside company—those are some of the unfair industrial practices in which a union can become involved. In any given case whether a union has engaged in an unfair industrial practice will often rest upon a narrow question of fact.

To go back to Clause 93, it will rest upon the narrow issue of fact whether it can be shown that the purposes of the union were to aid and abet the unregistered union. If I am right in my analysis, and if I have not misunderstood the position, I should have thought that it could be forcibly argued from this side of the Committee that if the unions are being placed to a very large extent in the discretion of the Registrar and subsequently the Court, it is far from the truth to say that the unions have nothing to complain about. They are being put in the position that the Registrar, in a wide and uncertain field in the exercise of fairly wide discretion which he must exercise judiciously, is enabled to say, "Your rules do not comply ", and in effect to tell the unions to take them away and recast them.

If that view is right, I would respectfully submit that the arguments from this side of the Committee are very much reinforced, and the proposal in the Bill to require registration or put the unions in a position in which they really must register is one to which they have every right to object strongly. I may have got it wrong. As I say, the object of this Amendment is to probe, to ask the Government what their views are, how they think the Registrar should have to answer that sort of question. But if the suspicions I have are echoed by the Government, if they feel I have not gone badly wrong about this, my noble friends would want to consider whether they should come back to the question on Report.


I have listened with great attention to what the noble and learned Lord says. I was happy to hear him say at the end of it that he regarded this Amendment as one of a probing character, because, quite clearly, he would not wish to omit from the Bill a provision like that in subsection (7), which provides that no member of the organisation shall be subjected to any unfair or unreasonable action. Clearly, if he had meant that, I should have had to say to him that he was thereby making it desirable that a member should be subjected to unfair or disciplinary action. I know he does not mean that and he did not say anything which suggested that he meant it.

What he did ask is a rather more difficult question to state shortly, but I think it is my duty to try to state it shortly because a short answer is often a clearer answer. He referred forward—rightly—to the provisions of clause 73, and in particular to clause 73(1)(a), where it becomes the duty of the Registrar to examine the rules of the organisation and he is required to serve notice on the organisation indicating what alterations are needed for the purpose of remedying the defect if, in the case of a trade union, the rules are in any way inconsistent with the principles of clause 63.

I think the answer is this, if I may put it to him in simple, but I hope not over-simplified language: what the Registrar must look at under clause 73 is whether the rules are defective in that they are inconsistent with the principles. He does not have to look at the question whether a dishonest or irresponsible trade union can operate rules, which are not inconsistent with the principles, in a way which would be inconsistent with the principles. In other words, it is no part of the Registrar's duty to be astute in finding ways in which a union could misbehave itself. What he has to look at are the rules, and if the rules can be operated consistently with the principles, then he has to let them through, at any rate so far as that subsection is concerned. This is how I read the clause, and if I am right, as I believe myself to be, that would be the answer to the noble Lord's question, and I myself an confident that it is the right answer.


I would like to thank the noble and learned Lord for that answer. I am glad if that is the view he takes, and I believe I do not misinterpret him in thinking that by " the rules " he means the written word of the rules?


Yes, I do.


I am much obliged. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.13 p.m.

LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 258C: Page 53, line 26, at end insert— (" () A worker to whom an approved closed shop agreement applies shall not be subject to disciplinary action by reason of his refusing or failing to take any action which is unconnected with the pay and conditions of the industry, or for taking any such action.")

The noble Lord said: I think this is an important Amendment. This is the same subsection (7) as the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has been dealing with and we seek at the end of this clause as as additional subsection to add these words: A worker to whom an approved closed shop agreement applies shall not be subject to disciplinary action by reason of his refusing or failing to take any action which is unconnected with the pay and conditions of the industry, or for taking any such action. We feel it is just as important to make a declaration against unfair practices by trade unionists to one another as it is to declare against unfair practices by unions against employers, and vice versa, and this Amendment tries to ensure that union members shall not be disciplined for any action unconnected with pay and conditions. It is necessary because we believe that the Government did not originally envisage in this Bill permitting a closed shop, but now provision has been made for an approved closed shop and the disciplinary power of the unions is therefore much greater. As we know, expulsion can lead to the loss of livelihood, but even so there are many cases—far more, I think, than come to the public notice—of injustice to workers. These injustices to workers have always excited the sympathy of the Liberal Party. As I have said before, this is about the only point on which I have ever clashed with the trade unions. We are in a position where a number of people who are the victims happen to be members of the Labour Party; they find it difficult to go to their own members to get redress, and they come to us.

I should like to quote in aid of this Amendment a letter, which does not come from a member of the Labour Party. It is the case of the prospective Liberal Parliamentary candidate for Rugby. I have had a letter from him. He is a member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers Foundry Branch. He says that he refused to obey the strike order on March 18 and he is against this Bill. He wrote: I am employed as an iron-moulder by G.E.C./E.E.C., Rugby, and on the following day, Friday 19th, I was denied a hearing at a shop meeting at the instigation of the Shop Stewards Convenor. It was decided to black' my work. No ancillary worker, crane driver, slinger, labourer, was to assist me. As the management refused to suspend me on the request of the shop stewards, the shop gradually came to a stop as men were laid off including, eventually, myself. On Saturday, 20th March, I was told to return to work on Monday morning as usual, when a shop meeting was held and the decision to 'black' my work was revoked. On the evening of that day a Union branch meeting, which I attended on invitation, was held. It was addressed by…the National Organiser for the foundry section of the A.U.E.W., whose main effort was to incite those present, possibly a quarter of those employed in the workshop, against me. This culminated in his asking and encouraging members to tell the Branch Committee, who were mainly present, how angry they were with me and how severely I was to be dealt with. This before the Branch Committee, who were to 'try' me had any chance to hear my point of view. On Thursday, March 25th, the 'trial' was held. The Branch Committee was dominated by Labour Party sympathisers. I am sorry to have to relate that the concepts of equity we Liberals tend to take for granted were lacking. They had been mandated by the Branch meeting to deal with me as severely as possible. I have been sentenced to a fine of twenty pounds subject to confirmation by the Foundry Section of the National Council, whose verdict I am now awaiting. I am glad to say that on appeal that was reduced to £5, but if anyone can tell me that there is nothing wrong in the trade union movement and still not a great deal of man's inhumanity to man, I refuse to believe it. I could quote other cases, from the Musicians Union and others. For that reason I move this Amendment.

11.18 p.m.


The Government have considerable sympathy with this Amendment in so far as it appears to be intended to protect workers employed under an approved closed shop agreement from disciplinary action by their union for refusal to strike. If the underlying object of the Amendment is, as the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said, to stop unions hounding individual members who choose not to comply with instructions to strike when the object of the strike is unconnected with an industrial dispute, the Government have a great deal of sympathy with it, but I am bound to point out some features which make it unacceptable as it stands.

In the first place, the phrase any action which is unconnected with the pay and conditions of the industry goes much too far and could be interpreted as preventing unions and other organisations from disciplining their members in a variety of situations which are clearly very pertinent to their main representational or negotiating functions. It might be held to apply to the conduct of members, for example, in disputes between unions over the allocation of work. In that situation, it could prevent unions from disciplining members who took industrial action in definance of a union agreement.

The word " action " is itself open to varying interpretations and might conceivably be held to cover members' fulfilment of obligations under their contract of membership, such as the prompt payment of subscriptions. If interpreted strictly, the Amendment could undoubtedly reduce the ability of unions to exercise control over members in respect of matters which are traditionally of great importance and where it is important that union agreements should be observed by them.

I should like to point out that the position under the Bill as now drafted is a good deal better than the existing situation. A member who is unreasonably or unfairly disciplined will in future have a means of redress, but this may not be enough to protect the member. If there is a case for restricting unions' power to discipline members—and the Government accept that there is—the circumstances in which it will apply need to be defined with some care. Equally, one has to ask whether there is any justification for restricting it to members covered by a closed shop agreement, as in this Amendment. Although in this situation employment will normally depend upon continued union membership, making the possibility of disciplinary expulsion a serious matter, it does not follow that workers not covered by approved shop agreements have no need of an" protection in these circumstances. They should also he able to enjoy the benefits of union membership without fear of harassment when they are unwilling to be involved in activities outside the industrial sphere with which they do not agree.

I should just like to say that in another place my right honourable friend the Secretary of State gave an undertaking (and this stands) to introduce an Amendment to make it an unfair industrial practice to impose disciplinary sanctions on anyone who refuses to comply with an instruction of the trade union to take part in a strike that is not in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute, such as a political strike.


That last assurance, repeated from another place, was extremely welcome, but it has not yet been put down for the Committee stage of this Bill. I should have thought that if it was an assurance in the other place it should have been put down by now, because this is an extremely important point. This point may need a great deal of consideration, and if it is only put down at Report stage it makes it rather difficult for us to consider and arrive at a satisfactory solution. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that security may be needed wider than the approved closed shop, but it is in the approved closed shop that it is absolutely vital because it is there that a man's union card and his livelihood may depend on the action taken.

The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that the proposed Amendment would deal with obeying an instruction about a strike. May I ask him a hypothetical question? In a recent action—perhaps not all that recent—by the Musicians' Union, members of the Union were forbidden to play in Athens in the presence of a régime for which we share, with them, complete detestation on these Benches. In a situation like that, if someone says that they do not see that this is any business of the union, and that it has nothing to do with the purpose for which a union is created and for which they are made to join, and they refuse to obey, is that considered to be refusing to take part in a strike? What is the definition of a strike in this particular kind of circumstance? This is just one question. I hope—and, as I say, we very much welcome the assurance of the noble Lord —that we are going to have a draft of this Amendment as quickly as possible.


This is an important matter, and it seems a great pity to have a Bill of this sort, Which is going to be comprehensive about the unions, but which does not deal with this particular problem of injustice to the individual which goes on in this country. While I do not want to press this matter to-night, can the noble Lord tell me what provi- sions the Government have in mind for trying to solve this problem? It is not just a question of a political strike, and using a strike as a political weapon. This kind of treatment goes on by workers against their fellow workers, and it seems a great pity if we cannot deal with this problem in a measure of this magnitude.

11.25 p.m.


I wonder whether I could put in one other point here? Shortly before I left Scotland to come to your Lordships' House for this very interesting debate on the Industrial Relations Bill, there was a work-to-rule by the tanker drivers. One driver told me that he had been 10 minutes late back to base because he decided that it was easier for him to wait and empty the tanker than stop it at this particular garage. For this he was fined 25s., which felt was quite a hefty fine. Let me say that I have not heard the union's side: I have heard only his side. But let us, for the sake of this argument, assume that this is true, and that it did happen. I feel that this Amendment is the sort of thing that must be introduced to try to protect this sort of chap against this rather unfair practice. He can appeal, but by the time that his appeal is heard it may have cost him even more in loss of wages, with days taken off. That is the sort of thing I am rather worried about.

Otherwise, I think that Clause 63 will do more to strengthen the union movement than any other thing which could have been introduced through this Bill, because if people realise that the rules of the union will be fair and that they have the right of appeal they are much more likely to take an interest in the union. I know from personal experience that many people who have stayed out of unions have done so because they did not know what went on and they were scared of joining an organisation which might domineer them. This clause is certainly going a long way to achieve a sound relationship; but I most sincerely ask the Government, and particularly the draftsman, who I must admit has a very difficult job, whether they would take into consideration what I have said and what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has said on these points, and try to write it into the Bill somewhere. I should have liked to put this down in words, but I could not quite find words which covered the point.


I am getting a little worried about the way this argument is going, and though I personally deplore the abuses that go on in some trade unions—and there are abuses; I have heard about them—no noble Lord has produced a list. Noble Lords have instanced one or two examples, but they have not produced enough examples to justify the stand they have taken about this matter, and until they do I personally am not convinced that these abuses are as strong or as great as some noble Lords have made out.


Will the noble Baroness let me know how many of these cases she would like me to collect for her in order to prove the point?


As many as the noble Lord can give.


I will bring the noble Baroness a whole dossier of these cases, particularly cases involving Ford workers. I can bring her a whole dossier. I will bring them up next week.


I thank the noble Viscount.


It is most disgraceful.


I think that before the noble Viscount becomes too emotionally involved in this subject it would be appropriate for us to say that we have had cases quoted by noble Lords but in both cases, certainly in one case, they conceded they had not heard the other side of the case. Nobody anywhere this Committee has taken the standpoint that there is nothing wrong, although that point of view has been repeatedly attributed to my noble friends by the noble Lord, Lord Byers. We have repeatedly said that we support the Donovan recommendations upon this subject; but at the same time, having said that, and while endorsing what my noble friend Lady Gaitskell has said, I think it is appropriate for noble Lords, when they are raising matters of this kind, to seek to ascertain the full facts.

Perhaps again I could illustrate this by a personal anecdote. I remember some years ago a colleague of mine in the Labour Party in another place raising with me, with great concern, a case which had been put to him by a constituent who was a Post Office engineer. This gentleman alleged that he had been much discriminated against by his employer, that he had been refused the opportunity of being retained after the age of 60, and that the union had done nothing whatever to defend him, represent him or protect him. When we examined the situation we found he had not told the whole story. The member concerned had got into an altercation with a householder for whom he was fitting a telephone and had hit him on the jaw. We had the greatest difficulty in preventing him from being removed entirely from the service. So I recall that anecdote as an example of the fact that one does not always get the full facts at the first hearing.


The case that my noble friend instanced was of someone who refused to take part in a political strike. Would the noble Lord deny that large numbers of trade unionists and branches would regard it as a perfectly proper action to take, to have a court and fine a man for taking such action? There is no question about the facts. The question is whether this is the proper action to take.


I cannot pronounce a view upon the rules of any particular trade union.



It is no use noble Lords saying, " Oh! " The point is that I should prefer to know the precise rules and the position in the case quoted. I should like to know what happened on appeal within the union and what were the rules under which the union action was taken. I am merely suggesting that I am not sure that the noble Lord has necessarily given the other point of view in this case. He has given eloquently one point; there may be another.


I should like to say I am a little sorry that we have not been able to welcome the principle behind Lord Byers' Amendment. We do not accept that there are an infinite number of abuses of this kind: but in so far as there are any I should have thought everyone would be in favour of having legislation to stop them. We have been provoked into resisting rather dogmatic and exaggerated illustrations. I should not like it to be thought that anybody on this side considers that this is all right. It is not. It may not happen as often as noble Lords on the other side have suggested, but when it happens at all, we are against it.


May I, too, support the idea that lies behind the Liberal Amendment on the very grounds given in the most welcome speech to which we have just listened? I cannot follow the argument of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, that if there are not very many abuses they do not matter. If there is one, it matters. The point is that punishing a man for refusing to take part in what is an illegal strike is perfectly monstrous. There were any amount of attempts to punish men for refusing to take part in one-day strikes, the whole object of which was to overawe Parliament and to defeat Parliament in their proceedings with this Bill. That was a public mischief. Some lawyers believe it could have been—I am not saying it should have been—indicted as conspiracy. To say that this is something that should not be dealt with seems quite monstrous.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn—and I imagine that this will not surprise Lord Byers at all—in thinking that the drafting of his Amendment is imperfect. It does not deal with everything that it should; and it deals in inappropriate terms with some things that should be dealt with. But that he has raised a matter of great importance and something that must be dealt with in the Bill is undoubted. I personally share his regret that we have not already had a Government Amendment to deal with the matter.


As the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has attacked me for what I have said, may I say to him that when this Committee produce evidence of abuses by employers in the same way as they are now producing evidence of abuses by trade unions, I will accept their argument. I do not accept it because of that. This is life; there are abuses from employers and from trade unions, and I deplore both.


Before I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment may I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, that I deplore abuses whether by employers, employees or trade unions. But I deprecate the experience which I always have with the Labour Party when we, as Liberals, raise any question of victimisation or man's inhumanity to man. We are always told there is a doubt about the facts; they play the thing down. My point is the one made by the noble Lord. Lord Conesford. If there is one injustice going on tonight, at this moment, we ought to be able to put it right. In this Bill we ought to have the means of stopping that sort of thing. I believe that this debate itself is important. because it concerns a respectable Parliamentary candidate who has taken the matter to Mr. Emlyn Hooson in another place, who has come to me and has given the facts: that he refused to obey a political strike call, and was fined £20 which was reduced to £5. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


Before the noble Lord withdraws the Amendment I wonder whether he would give me the courtesy—


I have withdrawn it.


Well, we shall have to continue this discussion on the Question, Whether Clause 63 shall stand part of the Bill?

11.37 p.m.


Is it your Lordships' pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn?



The Question is, That this Amendment be agreed to?


In that case I understand that the debate continues. We have not given leave to withdraw the Amendment. I am merely intervening to say that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has made a number of statements of great importance and interest, and the debate has gone rather further than he intended. It is the noble Lord's Amendment, and we on these Benches have hardly spoken about it. I wish to make two things clear. No one on this side of the Committee supports political strikes. Some of the speeches have been about political strikes. It is very important that we should not widen the area of disagreement between us. We have heard the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and others and this is a matter which, clearly, we shall have to discuss further.

I do not wish to stop the noble Lord making his point. I merely wanted to make clear once again, because other noble Lords did not fully understand it, that we on this side of the Committee do not support political strikes. There are other matters which we need to discuss when we come back to the question. We did not intervene at length because we wanted to get on, but the noble Lord will agree that he did suddenly generate excitement. I am not blaming him, but it was necessary to refer to our position on this matter.


Of course I welcome the fact, and it does not surprise me, that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition does not support political strikes. But the point raised by the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, is whether there shall be a remedy when a man is punished for not taking part in one. The mere fact that the Leader of the Opposition does not support it does not mean that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, is not perfectly right in wishing to provide a remedy.


I am sorry, but if the noble Lord wants to, we can continue this debate. We have been trying to keep silent in order to get on, but we have had a number of implications—



Yes, we have —on this matter, and if noble Lords wish to stay very long, they are entitled to. I hope noble Lords on the Government Front Bench will admit that we are taking a conciliatory view here, but a number of accusations has been made and great excitement has been shown. The T.U.C. has condemned political strikes, and I do not wart any contrary sort of message to go out. I hope we shall have an opportunity to debate the matter more fully at a more convenient time. That is all I want to say.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

On Question, Whether Clause 63 shall stand part of the Bill?

11.40 p.m.


I do not think at this hour of the night it is necessary to spend very long upon this particular part of our proceedings. I think we have covered in the discussions the objections which we have to the provisions of this clause. There has really been no justification produced by the Government for the degree to which they are going beyond the Donovan recommendations on this subject, in introducing a whole series of guiding principles which, taken in the context of the Bill, will involve an intervention in the internal affairs of trade unions which goes far beyond anything that is justified on a reasonable and impartial investigation.

In those circumstances my noble friends and I shall feel bound to divide the Committee.


Before we deal with Clause 63, I should like to point out if we look on, to Clause 84—and we have often done this kind of thing before in the last two or three years—where we deal with the entry in the special register, which is where the professions come in, and particularly the profession of medicine which concerns me, subsection (2) says: Subject to the exceptions and modifications specified in the following provisions of this section. all the provisions of this Act shall have effect in relation to an organisation which is for the time being entered in the special register as they have effect in relation to a trade union. As one of the exceptions is not Clause 63. I assume that Clause 63 applies throughout to the medical profession. I should like the Government answer to be quite clear on that. In that case, of course, the medical profession is an organisation of workers " other than federations of workers' organisations." I am not quite clear what that means, but I am sure that it is very important.

Then we have laid down the guiding principles in the conduct of every organisation of workers other than federations of workers' organisations. I take it that that also applies to the medical profession. We are then entertained by a large number of rules about voting and balloting, and who may be members and so on, none of which seems to be of any relevance to the question whatever. But we then come to Clause 63(7), which reads: No member of the organisation shall be subjected by or on behalf of the organisation to any unfair or unreasonable disciplinary action; and in particular…by reason of his refusing or failing— (a) to take any action which, in accordance with any provision of this Act, would constitute an unfair industrial practice on his part". I ask Her Majesty's Government in all seriousness whether the profession of medicine is part of industry, and if it is not part of industry, exactly how this subsection applies to a doctor, that he might take some action which would constitute an "unfair industrial practice ". Before making up my mind on how to vote on Clause 63, I should like the answers to some of those questions.


The workers, of course, are not entirely confined to industry. I would only say two things to the noble Lord, Lord Platt. First, the members of his profession have a right as members to be treated fairly by their organisations, just as much as members of any other profession have a right to be treated fairly. Secondly, I cannot conceive that his professional organisation would not treat its members fairly, or would have any difficulty whatsoever in complying with these guiding principles. That applies to every other trade union and organisation of workers. They ought to have no difficulty whatever in complying with these guiding principles. They are right, and I am really rather shocked that the Party opposite even thinks of dividing against them.

11.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 63 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents 88; Not-Contents, 15.

Aberdare, L. Dudley, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Abinger, L. Dundee, E.
Aldington, L. Eccles, V. Napier and Etrrick, L.
Alport, L. Ellenborough, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Ferrers, E. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Balfour, E. Fortescue, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Barrington, V. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Pender, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gowrie, E. Reay, L.
Belstead, L. Gray, L. Redesdale, L.
Bessborough, E. Grenfell, L. Redmayne, L.
Bolton. L. Gridley, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Grimthorpe, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Bridgeman, V. Hailes, L. St. Just, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Sandford, L.
Burnham, L. Savile, L.
Byers, L. Hanworth, V. Sempill, Ly.
Carrington, L. Harcourt, V. Somers, L.
Chesham, L. Harvey of Prestbury, L. Stamp, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Strange, L.
Conesford, L. Hertford, M. Strathcarron, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hives, L. Swaythling, L.
Cottesloe, L. Ilford, L. Terrington, L.
Craigmyle, L. Killearn, L. Teviot, L.
Cranbrook, E. Latymer, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lauderdale, E. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Daventry, V. Lindsey of Abingdon, E. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. Lothian, M. Ward of Witley, V.
Digby, L. Lyell, L. Windlesham, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Wolverton, L.
Archibald, L. Gardiner, L. Shackleton, L.
Beswick, L. Garnsworthy. L. [Teller.] Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.] Wells-Pestell, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Platt. L.
Gaitskell, B. Ritchie-Calder. L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 63 agreed to accordingly.

Clause 64 [Unfair industrial practices in connection with principles stated in s. 63]:

11.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 64 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to ask a question with regard to industrial tribunals. This is probably the appropriate place to put my question. A number of proceedings will be brought before industrial tribunals arising out of the provisions of Clause 63. Clause 105 of the Bill requires that those proceedings by persons agreed shall be before industrial tribunals, and equally under Clause 5 and Clause 20 claims have to go before the same tribunals. The industrial tribunals were set up under the Industrial Training Act 1964 and they already exercise a very wide range of jurisdiction, both under the Employments Act 1963, the Redundancy Payments Act 1965, the Docks and Harbours Act 1961, the Selective Employment Payments Act 1966 and the Equal Pay Act 1970.

The effect of Clause 64, read together with Clauses 102 and 105, would in all probability impose upon them a considerably enlarged burden. From all accounts I hear that those industrial tribunals do their work extremely well, and are highly thought of. I do not know whether they are sufficiently numerous and will be able to cope with what might be a very considerable extra burden. I should like to ask the Government whether they have plans with regard to increasing their number, or taking other steps to enable them to shoulder this additional burden. Schedule 7 deals with them, but beyond laying down principles as to the way in which they are to function, it does not give any indication as to the Government's intention in this matter. I believe it is the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State and not of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. But if the Government have any plans, I should be grateful to hear something of them.


As the noble Lord has said, the industrial tribunals are in existence and have built up an excellent reputation on both sides of industry. They take the form of a legally qualified chairman—a barrister or solicitor of seven years' standing—a representative of the employers, drawn from a panel nominated by the C.B.I., and a representative of the trade unions, nominated by the T.U.C. Under the industrial tribunal legislation, I understand that a large proportion of their work at the moment is concerned with redundancy claims. The Government believe that the extension of the jurisdiction of the tribunals in this and other parts of the Bill, to which the noble Lord has referred, will involve about 320 additional staff; so the tribunals in existence will be strengthened to that extent. I think that the changes recently announced, for example, in S.E.T., will relieve them over the next two years of some of the burden.

On Question, Clause 64 agreed to.

Clause 65 [Organisations eligible for registration as trade unions]:

11.57 p.m.

LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 258B. Page 54. line 24, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: This is art Amendment to which we attach considerable importance. The clause sets out the organisations eligible for registration as trade unions, but the subsection goes be-yond the eligibility of the independent organisation of workers—that is, a single organisation as such—to federations of workers' organisations. Subsection (2) says: A federation of workers' organisations shall not be eligible for such registration…unless all the constituent or affiliated organisations of which it consists, or which are represented on it, are trade unions. If the Government Amendment No. 258D is agreed, the final words, " trade unions" will be replaced by: either trade unions or organisations for the time being entered in the special register. As I understand these words, they mean that any federation of workers seeking registration must ensure that each and every organisation that goes to make up the federation must be registered either on the ordinary register or on the special register mentioned in Clause 82. Perhaps the largest federation of trade unions is the T.U.C. It might be argued that it is not a federation in the sense of being " an independent organisation", in the strict application of those words, although it has no parent organisation to which it must apply if it wishes to alter its rules.

In any case, I should like to explore the position created by subsection (2). As I understand it, under this subsection, if the T.U.C. sought registration, it would have to ensure that each and every one of the unions that comprise it is registered under the various clauses of the Bill. So there might be the quite intolerable situation of the T.U.C.'s being denied registration if just one of the trade unions which are members of the T.U.C. was in a position to deny the T.U.C. registration. should it want registration. Such a union could do precisely that, unless the T.U.C. expelled it. This is something, I should have thought, that is not desirable in the national interest.

The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, who replied to me on one of the Amendments on Tuesday last, paid tribute to the work of the T.U.C. through the Bridlington agreement, and said it was hoped very much that the voluntary work of the T.U.C. would continue rather than have to bring into operation the procedure designed to secure " a sole bargaining agent ". There is so much else the T.U.C. can do in the national interest that it is basically desirable that as many unions as possible should be and remain affiliated to it. At the moment. the T.U.C. would not want to seek registration—that is quite clear—but no decision of that kind necessarily binds an organisation for all time. If the T.U.C. wished to avail itself of registration, and was eligible, in order to secure immunity from action for damages for taking any action which encouraged a constituent organisation in the course of taking industrial action it ought to be able to do so.

The noble Lord might tell me that the T.U.C. would not be classed as a federation for the purposes of this subsection, and would not in any case be permitted to register. But the considerations I have mentioned would. I think, be applicable to a federation of unions of which T do know something. Working in the railway shops—I am talking here about engineering shops—there are craftsmen belonging to some 33 unions. For the purposes of negotiating with the British Transport Commission, there is a confederation of these 33 unions. The confederation has a secretary and staff, and might well be found to fall within the category of an organisation such as that envisaged in this subsection. That confederation makes for order in negotiations for the railway staffs in the railway shops. To allow it to be broken up, or even to allow one union to be expelled in order that the confederation might be registered, would be folly indeed. Another federation is that of the building trades operatives, and although I know less about that federation, I think it also would fall within the terms of subsection (2). Both that federation. and the confederation of 33 unions that I have mentioned, would be of precisely the sort which would be called for the purposes of this Bill a " joint negotiating panel ". As such. they make for orderly negotiations and ought to be encouraged to remain in being, even if one or more of their member unions will not go along with the rest in the matter of registration.

I am not proposing in this Amendment to delete subsection (2) in the hope that the idea behind it will find no place in the Bill, but rather that an amended subsection may replace it on Report, so that a majority of unions in a federation may bring about registration and not be denied it by a minority. This is the point that I am getting at here. I want to see the position created in which the confederation, for example, that I have been talking about, the confederation of the 33 unions in the railway shops, provided that a majority of unions in that confederation want to register should be allowed to register despite the fact that one or more of the unions in that confederation felt that they could not agree to registration. That is all f am after by this Amendment. It is really a matter of trying to ensure that we do not by this subsection spoil the position of confederations or federations of this kind and prevent the possibility of their registration. That is why I move this Amendment, and I hope the Government will accept it, and delete this subsection and come back on Report with a better one; or. alternatively, that the noble Lord who is to reply will give me some satisfaction about this matter—at least the hope that the Government will consider it between now and Report stage. I beg to move.

12.5 a.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Champion, was, if I may say so, particularly persuasive in his last remarks when he said that he hoped the Bill would not have the effect of making one or two unions who did not wish to register—I think he used the words "break up a federation the majority of unions of which wished to register". The second part of his argument with regard to this Amendment, which he used at the beginning, was that the Trades Union Congress might at some time wish to register as a federation, although at the moment they had stated they were against this.

One wants to examine this matter fairly carefully and the way it will affect unions, and the first thing I would say to the noble Lord is that the benefits and the immunities associated with registration are likely to be of value primarily to organisations which need them in order to further the interests of the individual workers who constitute their membership. The registration of federations could be seen, therefore, as what one might describe as a second-stage operation: to make these benefits available to trade unions acting together in the same way as they are available to unions, by virtue of their own registration when they are acting alone.

However, it is not inconceivable that some organisations of workers might themselves not register because they sought to avoid the obligations of registration relating to rules and administration and so forth; and they could then seek to enjoy at least some of the advantages of registration through their membership of a registered federation. The members of a federation as defined in Clause 59 can be trade unions—and the noble Lord mentioned, I think, a confederation of 33 railway unions and the Building Trades Operatives' Federation—or they can he representatives of trade unions; and as an example one might think of the Ford negotiating committee, or the workers' side of a joint industrial council. Because of this wide definition, a federation may exist where an employer negotiates with more than one union. The officials of the federation can also in some cases be officials of their constituent unions. If, therefore, a federation was able to register while the constituent unions remained unregistered, strikes might be threatened or called on the authority of the federation. The protection of Clause 92 would thus be invoked, and the unregistered unions could thus shelter under the protective umbrella of the federation without themselves having undergone the obligations of registration.

Again, a registered federation might take a recognition dispute to the Industrial Court and be granted at the end of the road statutory recognition as a sole bargaining agent. This is entirely right and as it should be. But if the constituent unions which were members of that federation were themselves unregistered, they could enjoy—and I suggest unjustly—the benefits of statutory recognition, even though their rules and procedures did not satisfy the requirements laid down in Schedule 4 to the Bill and when they had made inadequate provision for the safeguarding of the interests of their members. This would obviously defeat the object of the registration provisions, and for this reason alone the Amendment as it stands would be unacceptable.

But there is also another objection. The deletion of subsection (2) would leave a federation free to register even if it was composed entirely of organisations under employer domination, provided that the Registrar was satisfied that the federation itself was not so dominated—and that I know would not appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. It is true that in the circumstances the Registrar might not consider such an organisation suitable for registration, but I suggest that the matter is too important to be left open. For those reasons I hope that the Committee will not accept the noble Lord's Amendment.


The last argument which the noble Earl used seems to have no validity, having regard to the fact that I said quite clearly that if this subsection goes out it will have to be replaced by another, in which there should be a mention of the possibility of a federation actually registering, provided that there was a sufficient majority to justify that registration, and that the desire of the majority to register should not be frustrated by a minority of the unions which would be constituent members of the federation.

The other argument that he used seemed not to have perhaps the validity that one would expect from the Government Benches. As I understand it, the federation wishing to register would seek protection for its acts as a federation; and in my opinion it would not, by seeking registration, automatically ensure to the constituent members the protection which registration would provide for its acts as an individual trade union. The trade unions that make up this federation do not, of course, necessarily have the totality of their membership within a particular federation. Quite often it is only a part of their membership which comes within a confederation of the kind I have been talking about. For example, in the confederation of shops' unions I have been talking about almost invariably the 33 unions that form part of it are craft unions and, therefore, are in industries in a horizontal band right across the industry. But the part that is a part of the confederation is extremely important in this connection.

I believe that for what is done by that confederation, it ought to be possible for it to secure registration. However, it would be quite wrong, merely because the unions were inside that, to have them registered if, for the rest of the unions, wherever they happened to be, whatever work they were doing, they ought not to be protected by a federation registration. This was my point. Perhaps it does not seem very clear to noble Lords, but it does to me, because I have had some little experience of confederations. I should have thought this was a matter which the Government might look at again. It is not the sort of Amendment that I would press to a Division, but there is certainly something to be said for it. If the noble Earl will say that between now and Report the Government will look at what I have said—and I do not ask for any more specific undertaking than their saying precisely that—I will withdraw the Amendment. I myself will consider very carefully what they have said, and if they say that they will consider my remarks, that will satisfy me and I will withdraw the Amendment.


Of course we will look very carefully at what the noble Lord has said. I think there is a lot of substance in what he says, in so far as he is concerned that a federation which genuinely wishes to seek registration, and the various protections which go with it, should be allowed to do so. We should not wish federations who wish to register to have unnecessary impediments put upon their so registering. The difficulty we see is one, in a way, of presentation, whereby if one accepts that the registration of a union or a federation is an act of responsibility it is difficult to see how such a federation can take on this act of responsibility when its constituent members, or some of them, have for various reasons decided or elected not to do so. This is the great difficulty.

We hope that in the cases which the noble Lord has postulated, where there are just one or two unions that would not be prepared to register, the remaining members of the federation would prevail upon them with arguments to suggest that they do so register. That is the problem which I think would present itself to the Government: how to enable a federation to be a registered member when some of its constituent members have failed to register. But we take the point the noble Lord has made and, while I cannot give any guarantee that his wishes will be met, we will certainly look at what he said.


In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.16 a.m.

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No. 258D: Page 54, line 28, leave out ("trade unions") and insert ("either trade unions or organisations for the time being entered in the special register").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 258D standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. This Amendment is consequential on the Government Amendment No. 257R which we debated earlier. In case the content of that Amendment is not clear in noble Lords' minds, it added the words— organisations which are entered on the special register to a clause in an earlier section. We do the same here, so that the effect is that the federation must either have members which are registered trade unions or on the special register. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 65, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 66 [Application for registration as trade union]:

LORD DONOVAN moved Amendment No. 259:

Page 55, line 13, at end insert— (" (c) that there exists no other trade union to which the members of the body making the application could conveniently belong,")

The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment is designed to put some kind of brake on the unnecessary formation of splinter or breakaway unions, and on the undue proliferation of trade unions generally. A similar enactment has been adopted in Australia and in New Zealand. On some occasions the formation of a breakaway union may be justified, and is the only course open to the dissidents who wish to form it. If so, the Registrar can register it if the other requirements of registration are fulfilled. But on occasions, which I should think are more numerous, it is simply the expression of transient dissent from or dissatisfaction with trade union action on some particular matter although that action may have commanded the assent of the majority of the members.

Now that every member of a trade union is to have a statutory right to leave it on giving reasonable notice and complying with any reasonable conditions, and it will be an unfair industrial practice to take, or threaten to take, any action to interfere with this right, responsible trade unions may be facing a new or enhanced risk. I imagine it is not the policy of the Executive to make the creation of splinter unions more easy but rather that established and responsible unions should be accorded reasonable protection against having their influence and strength eroded by less responsible elements.

We want, it is often said, strong trade unions. Australian legislation, which so far as I know is still in force, directs the Registrar to refuse the registration of a new trade union if there is one already existing to which the members of the applicant organisation could con- veniently belong. This direction is, however (or was), qualified by the words, unless in all the circumstances he thinks it undesirable to refuse registration".

I gathered in Australia that political and ideological considerations had led to this discretion being, in the opinion of some, over-exercised, so that breakaway unions had become registered and thus competed with established reputable unions in the same field. There is no reason, so far as I am aware, to reject this Amendment because of the fear that the same thing would inevitably and unjustifiably happen here.

As to the threat which splinter unions can present to established and responsible trade unions, there are Members of this House with practical experience who can speak with much greater authority than I. But your Lordships will remember, I expect, the graphic account given by the noble Lord, Lord Cooper, in the debate on May 11 regarding the strike at Pilkingtons and the threat which was posed to his union by the breakaway union formed at that time and which is still, I gather, in existence.

As to the unnecessary proliferation of trade unions there were, when the Royal Commission reported in 1968, some 574 trade unions. They covered some 10 million workers, but of these 10 million no fewer than 8 million were in 38 unions. So that 536 unions catered for the remaining two million, and 480 of those unions had less than 10,000 members. The position has probably altered since by amalgamations, but the picture of several hundred unions catering for the great minority of trade unionists is, I think, not significantly changed.

On that view some brake, I suggest, might reasonably be imposed, although it need not be an embargo. What is envisaged is that if, for example, a breakaway union were formed on the railways by seceding members of the N.U.R., so that we had in that industry the N.U.R., ASLEF, the T.S.S.A. and then this new breakaway union, the Registrar should be entitled to refuse registration to the newcomer. He might, for example, say to the applicants, "What is wrong with the Transport and General Workers' Union or the Engineering Union?" There would be a right of appeal against his decision at the hearing of which other railway unions would have the right to appear and make representations. The machinery is not spelled out in this Amendment pending its consideration by the Committee. I beg to move.

12.25 a.m.


I am a little worried about this. It is not a matter on which of course I am an expert in any way and I realise that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, is very much more capable of dealing with the situation than I am. I do see that we do not want a lot of breakaway dissidents to get themselves registered as a trade union. On the other hand, having spent most of my life in minorities of one kind and another, I also see a position arising where a substantial group of. say, younger men in a certain industry or profession (since professions come into the Bill) might look upon the existing respectable, well-established trades union or other body as being conservative, as re-electing the old gang every year, as entertaining no new ideas, as perhaps even having restrictive practices which interfere with the introduction of new and more productive measures.

I therefore. think this is a somewhat dangerous Amendment, although I should like to hear further arguments for or against it. Particularly, I do not like the word, " conveniently ". Quite clearly, these young men I have in mind could conveniently belong to the old union, but the fact is that they do not want to do so and they may be the people who are really progressive.

12.27 a.m.


I am always glad to hear from the noble and learned Lord on the Cross Benches who moved this Amendment. The Amendment would effect a purpose which, speaking from memory, I cannot find in the Donovan Report. I cannot help wondering whether, if the noble and learned Lord who chaired that Commission had tried to persuade his colleagues on the Commission of the necessity for this Amendment he would have had a majority in its favour. I personally think he would not because it seems to add a new dimension to the legislation which would lead to a number of disagreeable consequences.

Let us start, if we may, with common ground. I fully agree with the noble and learned Lord that a proliferation of unions, whether they are breakaway or established unions, is something contrary to the desirable ends which, on the whole, public policy should seek to obtain. I would add that I am in full sympathy with the Party opposite when they try to urge that breakaway unions as such are intrinsically undesirable things. We wish to see a situation where industrial relations are conducted by relatively fewer unions and relatively stronger unions.

There I think we are on common ground, but the noble and learned Lord proposes to add a paragraph (c) to subsection (4) of Clause 66, and I think with respect that in doing so he misconceives the whole purpose of registration, at any rate under the Bill. I am bound to say to him that I suspect he is departing from the conception of registration in his Report. The conception of registration under this Bill is not to decide what right of association there shall be. People, under the Bill, as they are now, are free to make whatever association they like. I should like to say in parenthesis, although it forms an essential part in my chain of argument, that under the present law, they can, if they choose, form a breakaway union, however undesirably. Whether desirably, or undesirably, they can form a new association. They can register it under the 1871 Act, and it will be a trade union for that purpose. There is nothing to stop them. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether this new weapon. which the noble and learned Lord would put into the hands of the Registrar, is either desirable or compatible with the general philosophy of the Bill. In my judgment at any rate, it is not.

The purpose of the limitations which are contained in subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) of Clause 66 and elsewhere in the Bill is simply to see that the bodies which get on to the register are bodies which conform to a minimum standard of rules —that is to say, that the rules comply in general with the rules of fair play which we have been discussing—and that the administration, as regards finance, complies with the rules of a respectable body as regards finance. The present law does not insist on that. I am not, of course, accusing any existing union which is on the register (most of which we know to be highly reputable bodies which observe the rules of fair play and the canons of good finance) but this is the purpose of Clause 66 as it stands. The noble and learned Lord would add a third criterion, which is quite different in character. He would add the criterion that another union is not there doing the same sort of job. I fully share with him, and I think with the Party opposite, the idea that you do not want to proliferate unions, and it is not a desirable end; but to refuse them registration of any kind simply on the grounds that, in the judgment of the Registrar, as confirmed on appeal (if the decision is appealed against) by the Industrial Court, that there is something else doing the same job, is really to interfere with the right of free association at its source. I doubt whether one could do it compatibly with our international obligations. If one does want to do it, it is not to be done in this way.

The noble and learned Lord referred to the practice in Australia. I suspect that the practice in Australia has weighed with him. The practice in Australia, from the point of view of the present Bill, is a false analogy, because registration in Australia confers something more than the mere right to exist as a trade union and to have the privileges of a trade union as distinct from an unregistered organisation of workers. The right in Australia confers a certain limited right of recognition by the employer.

The provisions relating to recognition by the employer in this Bill do not depend on registration in that sense. The provisions regarding recognition arc a matter for the C.I.R., and so far as they are dealt with by the Bill they are dealt with under the sole bargaining agent provisions; they are dealt with under the right to recognition, and the right to form an agency shop or an agreed closed shop under the earlier clauses we have been dealing with. Registration simply gives the body, whatever it is, the rights and immunities of a trade union. It does not, in itself, give any right of recognition at all. The right of recognition is within the jurisdiction not of the Registrar or of the registration provisions; it is either a matter for negotiation with the employer, or its a matter for the Commission on Industrial Relations.

With respect to the noble and learned Lord, therefore, I would ask him to consider quite seriously whether he has not really misconceived the compatibility of his proposed Amendment with the Bill as it stands. In our view, it is wholly incompatible. But I would also ask him whether he has considered adequately the practical consequences of what he proposes. His admitted (and to my mind wholly laudible) object is to reduce the number of breakaway unions if possible by this method, but the only effect of this Amendment is that if a breakaway union is formed it will not register. It will not be able to register, because the Registrar will not accept it under the new paragraph (c). So it will go on as an unregistered organisation. Now it will not cease to exist because it is an unregistered organisation: it only ceases to have the immunities and privileges of a trade union within the meaning of the Bill.

The effect of what the noble and learned Lord is proposing in actual practice, on the ground, will inevitably be to encourage the existence of a number of breakaway unions which are not registered; and the effect of not being registered is that not merely are they undesirable in the sense of being breakaway, hut nobody has any hold on what they do at all except by the more severe penalties of this Bill. For instance, they will not he bound in their rules observe the rules of natural justice or fair play as defined in Clause 63. They will not be obliged to run their finances as is prescribed by Schedule 5. They will live a sort of underground existence, or an open existence but without privileges or immunities, but without anybody being able to look at their rules to see that they are reasonably in conformity with proper principles or whether their financial arrangements are satisfactory from the point of view of Schedule 5. At the end of the day, I think there are two overwhelming objections to the noble and learned Lord's Amendment. The first is that it is incompatible with the structure of the Bill as we see it, and the second is that the consequences would he not satisfactory from the point of view, which I think I share with him, that one does not want a number of uncovenanted unions suddenly springing into existence in order to compete with existing unions.

But at the end of the day I must bring the Committee back to what I regard as fundamental in our philosophy about trade unions in this country. It is that they are voluntary associations, and being a voluntary association means that people are free to associate in that way if they choose to do so. I do not myself see why, if they comply with the requirements of the law, they should not be allowed to do so in the last resort, even if one may disapprove of their existing at all from the point of view of industrial policy. I am bound to say this to the existing unions. At the moment, they dominate the industrial scene and will continue to do so whether this Bill is passed or not. They are occasionally faced with breakaway unions. Nearly always the formation of a breakaway union is followed by a period of unrest, and finally by a re-unification in the full union structure. That is the law at the moment. But I cannot as a matter of constitutional propriety or fundamental human liberty say that they have a divine right to remain in existence uncompeted with, however badly they manage their affairs.

I must quite honestly say that in the last resort people who do not agree with their practices or their principles, or who think that for some reason they are not being adequately represented by them, should in the end be allowed to survive as a separate organisation. I do not want to mention individual names, because this would be an extremely invidious task, but we have known the proliferation of unions in the teaching field; and we remember, at any rate from my youthful days, the breakaway union in the mining field which followed the disturbances of 1926. Although they have not got a happy experience behind them, I do not think at any stage anyone really would have said that they should have been denied registration and denied the ordinary freedom of association simply because one did not approve of the policy which brought them into existence. If one does not approve of the Welsh N.F.U., which is a breakaway union, one does not necessarily think that it ought not to be allowed to continue. I would suggest there is a third objection to what the noble and learned Lord is proposing. There is the constitutional objection of breaking into the freedom of association, to which we are deeply devoted on both sides and which is part of our international obligations.

12.40 a.m.


After the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, I think that the Committee will see clearly the difficulties which are raised by this Amendment. But at the same time I think one is bound to have the feeling that this proposal commands more sympathy than it might otherwise command because of other provisions in the Bill, the combined effect of which seem to many of us likely to increase the possibility of splinter unions being established. The provisions for definition of bargaining units and assignment of negotiating rights, and so on could be reasonably expected to make it more likely that splinter unions will come into existence than has been the case in the past. Equally—and the noble and learned Lord said this was common ground in the Committee—this will be felt generally to be an undesirable development.

There is a belief, I think well founded, that the right course is to move to larger units in the trade union movement on the basis of voluntary mergers and amalgamations. This is often a difficult process, and inevitably a slow one; but it is a very valuable one. If it is to be carried out it should be done on a voluntary basis over a period of time. We should not, as the noble and learned Lord said wish to see a movement going on in the direction of increasing splinter unions; and in respect of the observations made by Lord Platt I should have thought there was a great deal to be said for those who are dissatisfied with the existing units remaining within them and effecting changes rather than moving out to form a separate union. This is bound to produce, at any rate for a period, a division of energy which does not on the whole contribute to the development of the trade union movement. I take the point of the noble and learned Lord that the process is completed by the splinter union merging with the union from which it originated. But if it is too easy for splinter unions to come into existence they produce a lessening of trade union effectiveness. Therefore it is a real problem to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donovan, has drawn our attention. I wonder whether it would not be Possible for some further consideration to be given to it, even if not precisely along the lines he suggested.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for the very careful consideration he has obviously given to the Amendment. I feel the strength of his argument. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, for what he has said. I knew that I should be asked, " If you recommend this, why was it not in the Royal Commission Report?" I have been trying hard to remember. I seem to recall that I did propose it, but I got just as cool a reception as I think I have had tonight. Nevertheless, since there are a number of things in this Bill which were not in the Report, I felt there might be room for just one more. As apparently there is not, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.45 a.m.


Before we go on to the next batch of Government Amendments I wonder whether I might ask the noble Lord what his intentions are. I think it is fairly clear, that we are now nearing a stage when the law of diminishing returns will begin to apply. It has been a very heavy week, and, I should have thought a very productive week. I respectfully suggest to the Government Chief Whip that he ought not to press the Committee too far, and that he might do much better to call it a day, or a night, at this point; or if not at this point I suggest that we might possibly get the next five clauses which seems a reasonable bargain, especially in view of the fact that my very firm understanding was that we should rise at midnight.


I have great sympathy with what the noble Lord has to say. I had hoped that it might be possible for the Committee to rise fairly early tonight but, to be perfectly honest, we have not made tremendous progress. I am not blaming anyone for it. I had hoped originally that we might complete Clause 73. I appreciate that that might be asking rather much of the Committee and I think the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has now suggested that we should go to the end of Clause 72.


I said the next five clauses, including Clause 66, which would bring us to the end of Clause 71.


There are only Government Amendments on which I understand there is very little.


With respect, we have points of substance, and in view of the time situation I should say that we are likely to take a long time on Clause 72. I suggest that it would be better to call it a night at Clause 71 and start afresh on Clause 72.


If it is a question about income tax on Clause 72 I have a reasonably short answer to give. I do not think the noble Lord need assume that it will take very long to discuss. The noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, gave me notice that he was going to raise a point on income tax, and I hope Ito be able to give him a fairly satisfactory answer in a very few words.


I have a great respect for the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but it is sometimes the case that a few words on a legal point extend over a considerable length of time. If there are a few words, then it is all the more reason why we should reserve them until our next Sitting Day. We have gone now well beyond midnight, and I should have thought that if we go to Clause 71 noble Lords opposite might feel well satisfied with the progress we have made.


If in fact I am right—and the noble Lord has not disputed it—the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has been waiting rather patiently to put this point to me for quite a long time. I think he may be satisfied with what I say to him, and I should have thought that, even if there were more to be said about it, it would possibly be in the interests both of the Committee and of the Party to which the noble Lord belongs if they listen to the short remarks that I have to make and then had have an opportunity to reflect on them before they discuss their at great length.


If I may say so, I should enjoy hearing them all the more Ito-morrow morning.


Tomorrow morning is the one time when my remarks will not be heard.


I should have said " on Monday ".


There are other matters that may well be raised on Clause 72. We might well have—and I should say we shall have—a discussion which will go on a very long time indeed if we take Clause 72 to-night. I am saying to the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, that he will do much better to leave Clause 72 until Monday.


I am not concerned with the management of the debate; I am only trying to be helpful. It is no good the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, suggesting things to me. I was only trying to be helpful, because I know that the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has been waiting patiently for an explanation, a matter on which he had given me prior notice.


In the circumstances, I think perhaps there may well be longer discussion, in spite of the obviously helpful answer which my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor proposes to give. I only hope that it will still be as helpful on Monday next as it was intended to he to-night. In view of that, if we agree, we shall complete Clause 71 to-night.

12.51 a.m.

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 260: Page 55, line 14. leave out ("on payment of the prescribed fee") and insert ("subject to the next following subsection").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps in moving this Amendment 1 may deal at the same time with Amendments Nos. 261, 262 and 263. The object of the Amendment is to adjust the provisions in Clauses 66 and 67 governing the payment of fees by organisations which register as trade unions or employers' associations. As the Bill stands, these clauses specify that the Registrar shall register an organisation only on payment of the prescribed fee. It is desirable that the associated fees be set out in the Bill, subject to alteration by order, thus avoiding the otherwise inevitable delay while regulations are prepared. 1 beg to move Amendment No. 260.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 261 is a consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved

Page 55, line 16, at end insert— (" (5) Except as provided by section 77(5) of this Act, the registrar shall not register an organisation under this section except on payment of a fee of £25 or such other sum as may be prescribed.").—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 66, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 67 to 69 agreed to.

Clause 70 [Application for registration as employers' association]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 262. This is a consequential amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 56, line 27. leave out (" on payment of the prescribed fee") and insert (" subject to the next following subsection ").—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


Amendment No. 263 is also consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 56, line 29, at end insert— (" (5) Except as provided by section 77(5) of this Act, the registrar shall not register an organisation under this section except on payment of a fee of £25 or such other sum as may be prescribed.").—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 70, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 71 [Provisions as to certificates of registration]:

12.54 a.m.


Page 56. line 38, at end insert— () A certificate of registration of an organisation as a trade union or as an employers' association under this Act shall specify the name by which it is registered. () The name so specified—

  1. (a) shall not be identical with the name by which another organisation is for the time being registered as a trade union or as an employers' association under this Act or by which an organisation is for the time being entered in the special register, and
  2. 709
  3. (b) shall not be a name so nearly resembling the name by which another organisation is so registered or entered as, in the opinion of the registrar, to be likely to deceive."

The noble Baroness said: The effect of this Amendment is to give the Registrar power to refuse to register an organisation under a particular name which is likely to cause confusion with other registered organisations. This power is necessary to avoid the risk of confusion with organisations which might otherwise seek to gain advantage by operating under a familiar name. Of course, similar powers are to be found in existing legislation relating to the registration of trade unions, industrial and provident societies and companies. This has been an omission from the Bill, and I hope that the Amendment will be acceptable to the Committee.


This is of course an Amendment on which one could say a great deal, because the history of the names of trade unions is a very fascinating subject. But at this hour of the night I do not propose to pursue it. I would merely raise the question as to whether paragraphs (a) and (b) a re really necessary. There have in the past been trade unions with virtually identical titles, but I do not think that any confusion has arisen as a result. So. while not in any way wishing to pursue the point, I rather question the necessity for this provision.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 71, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.